Michigan: Lakes, Dunes, and More!

After our departure from Cleveland, we were on our merry way to the next state on the list: Michigan! We were very excited to check out the coastline area of the state as it is supposed to be gorgeous! It was Monday, July 21st. We decided to make a stop to Ann Arbor for night. Michael was in charge of reserving our hotel, and he decided to select Weber’s Inn, which was about 6 minutes away (driving) from the downtown area. I was so surprised when we checked in because since I drove, I did not get to see any photos of the hotel. It was a boutique hotel, and it was so sleek and modern with a very rustic/wooden flair. It had a spiral stair case that overlooked the indoor pool, hot tub and sauna area with two entrances/exits from our hotel room…very cool! They also had a small pool table, ping pong table and a game room. We decided to just stay in for the evening and have dinner at the restaurant. It was so good! We appreciated the fact that they brought an assortment of breads with butter and a salmon spread for our enjoyment after we placed our drink orders. I also particularly enjoyed the peach tart.

The following morning, we took advantage of the fitness room where they laid out some fresh oranges too! We had lunch and took an afternoon stroll downtown.  We parked our truck along South Main Street, and paid $1.50 an hour for the public parking. Upon arrival we came across a Mongolian Grill Restaurant, which essentially reminded us of Fire & Ice Restaurant back in Providence. We had the lunch bowl, which gave us the freedom to select our own raw vegetables and meats for the chef to cook right in front of us. It was a really good and filling lunch and prepared us for our walk. We roamed the town and ended up meandering across a shoe store specifically for runners. Michael’s previously purchased pair of sneakers from Kohl’s was falling apart already, after his morning jog. So he ended up getting properly fitted for a shoe. And we discovered he also has wide feet, just like me! He enjoyed the feeling of the soft socks as they were made available for customers to try on, so he got three additional pairs of socks too!

Ann Arbor was all about University of Michigan (blue and yellow). It was everywhere! And, apparently is a strong rival between Michigan and Ohio. We learned that Michigan is known for its cherries, when we discovered a store called Cherry Republic, located right on South Main Street. Products included all sorts of cherry foods and products, from cherry wood bowls and cutting boards to cherry sour candies, jams and wines. I convinced Michael to get us some of the Hikers Mix, which has dried fruits, nuts, and chocolate pieces. The cool thing about the bag it came it was it had an attached compass to it, just in case we got lost in the future when hiking.

After Cherry Republic, we walked into a random local artsy store, where all of the items in the store contained some sort of magnet. The first item we noticed was a 4×6 magnetic picture frame, which we thought was quite appropriate because it contained “road trip” embellishments. Next Michael pointed out to me a huge magnetic board of the U.S.A. We thought “wow!” that would work out so well because our trinket or souvenir of choice in each state we hit is the good ole magnet!  After much debate we decided against purchasing it. One of my concerns was that it only included the mainland states. We made an inquiry about whether or not Alaska and Hawaii were included in the map, but they informed us that the artist has yet to create those states. Although a request could be made to create those additional states through a special order, we decided against that at that point. Another concern was storage of the large board after it was purchased, so we also asked if shipping was an option and sure enough it was possible to ship within the U.S. At that point, I was torn on the decision to purchase this, but Michael really did not want to.

The reasoning you may ask? He had been trying to convince me that he could make it on his own…yes, his thinking was that he could buy a large sheet of wood, print out a large map of the states in sections and then use a jigsaw to cut the wood. Then spray the large object with magnetic spray. I have never seen him use a jigsaw in my life, but if he wants to take on the project after we come back, I’m all for it! Just in case, I did happen to grab the business card of the local shop as a backup.

 

A few days before our drive up to Michigan, I got in touch with my roommate from college, Jessica, who lives in Grand Rapids. She hooked us up with a parking spot in downtown Grand Rapids at her old job. We arrived there from Ann Arbor around 7pm, and we walked into town for some dinner and drinks! It was so nice to see a familiar face, for Michael to meet her, and to catch up about life in general post-Bryant.

Grand Rapids has been called Beer City U.S.A. so it was a must that we try some local craft beer during dinner time, as Jess had encouraged us to do so. We took a nice leisurely stroll into the downtown Grand Rapids area, and we passed the Grand Rapids Art Museum where there was a crowd of youngsters hanging out on a Tuesday night across the way. The city had a small town feeling where everyone was out and about having a good time and enjoying the evening.

For dinner we decided on tasting the so-called crack fries with burgers at HopCat. It just so happened that Michael came across a burger that was literally calling his name on the menu. So he had to get it! It was called the Cowboy. The crack fries were pretty good, seasoned with a bunch of different things. Afterwards we followed Jess to the duplex she was kind enough to let us stay the night. As we were moving the stuff into the place, it started pouring outside! It was a nice cool evening.

The following morning we had a late start. We decided on checking out the dunes in Michigan, and we selected to camp the night at Hoffmaster State Park in Muskegon, MI. First we stopped at the local flea market downtown and got some fresh sweet black cherries and some small potatoes for dinner. After exploring the downtown area a bit, we were on a search for a grocery store for some meat and vegetables for dinner. On our way to the park, we found a Meijer, which stated it was open 24 hours. Across the street there was a Walmart too! We decided we would check out what Meijer had to offer. So, we ended up getting some chicken, hot dogs, turkey bacon, and some veggies.

We headed to the campsite around 3pm, and got settled in. We used our truck tent for the first time that evening, and used our air mattress. We were really excited to check out the lake area as we got a campsite with walking distance to the beach area. After we got settled we put on our flip flops and headed down to the beach. This particular campground had a bunch of modern bathrooms, and we noticed there were so many little kids riding their bicycles. There were also an overabundance of RVs and other campers and people with all sorts of different types of tents with screening. We selected a campsite that had a creek that ran right behind it with the bathroom and shower area right across from the site, which was very convenient for us.

That afternoon we walked along the beach area, and it was quite windy and cool in the mid-70s. We took some pictures along the shore, and then headed back to make dinner together. I was in charge of the French fries, cooking the extra chicken, and Michael was got the task of grilling the barbeque and buffalo chicken and the corn on the cob. I made the extra chicken tenderloins two different ways: one with cubed chicken with a southwestern flair and one with lime and soy sauce.

We had a nice dinner on the picnic table that was on our site and I was tasked with starting the fire from the firewood we purchased at the park ($4.50/bundle). S’mores were next on the agenda! Yum. Yay, then we were ready for showers and for bed in the truck tent. We woke up early the next morning and packed together our belongings. Frisbee #3 was placed at the state park in the morning, and we took a nice little hike into the park which led us straight to the beach. It was a quiet and calm morning for a nice promenade along the shore. It was so beautiful and serene at about 9am.

Overall, we found Michigan to be really proud of their college sports teams. The people here seem to be really nice and welcoming. They also really value the arts and are keen on their local craft beer in Grand Rapids. The Great Lakes are very “Great” to say the least. Lake Michigan is beautiful! It definitely reminded us of the ocean because we could not see the end of the lake from shore on a clear day. Ann Arbor was a neat little town with lots of things to do.

We were finally ready for our departure to the next state: Indiana!

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