Posts Tagged ‘michigan’

back in the saddle

Friday, August 19th, 2011

Did I mention that we drove home? From Michigan? To Louisville, CO, the best small town in America?

No trip would be complete without the obligatory picture of Crockett and our coffee cups. This place was called Diane’s, and it was in Gaylord, Michgan.

Of course I didn’t giggle at all about the name of the town.

That you know of.

Anyway, the restaurant had full 80′s decor and the item on the specials menu that I wanted was sold out – a fact that was shared with me after I’d ordered it and while the waitress stood there tapping her toe. I defaulted to the benedict, and wished I hadn’t – by weight it was half hollandaise. I would have taken a picture, but I believe in your ability to picture a place of yellow sauce with lumps underneath. (I feel like I’m being awful, but Yelp confirms that it’s hit or miss, so… awful it is.)

We stopped at the beach after breakfast, for one last view.

I may or may not have been yelling ‘ahoy, mateys’ when Crockett took this picture.

You can’t go to the beach with your man without taking a kiss picture.

Seriously, it’s against the law in Michigan.

I checked.

When I took this picture, I said ‘wow, you’re a badass, babe’. When his mom saw this picture, she requested that I stop goading her son into dangerous actions. (Cough*trampoline*cough).

We had big plans for a quick drive home. 19 hours, two people, one kick ass car – power through, amirite?

We stopped not once but twice. Once in Appleton, WI (a stop we were expecting, because we left MI very late in the day), at a La Quinta that was spacious and clean and delicious smelling and gave us a coupon for the Texas Roadhouse that shared a parking lot.

La Quinta, I love you.

The second time, there was no La Quinta, and we’d had good luck at the Super 8 on the way to NY, and…

It was my decision, and I admit it was a crappy one. We had to switch rooms because the first one smelled musty, and when I took my shoes off, the carpet was WET. Like, 100% of it was 100% wet. BLEAAHHHH. The second room came with a card that talked very seriously about the security risks and recommended that we never spend time in the room without both engaging the chain and manually locking the additional deadlock. Also, the air conditioner sounded like there was a gimp locked in it.

The view of corn was the best that the Super 8 in York, NE, had to offer.

I had such high hopes, York. Your balloon made you seem whimsical, but you in fact welcomed us with a hotel receptionist that (I’m 99% sure) had a meth problem.

We arrived home to happy puppies and an empty fridge. I pulled a half&half-fruit grocery run, because otherwise our coffee drinking selves would have been miserable in the morning, and then threw together this delicious looking sampler platter.

Crockett’s grandma’s pickled beets were on there, but I ate them before I even took the picture. I loved them so much that she took some back from a neighbor just to send me home with a jar. (I’m sure that neighbor is a huge fan of me right about now, because I get the sense the neighbor was less into picked beets than I am. The jar had dust on it.)

Fudge sampler there in the front. Cherry chocolate, vanilla walnut, and dark chocolate.

And my sampler was the end of my vacation:

Dinner tonight, left to right: a ginormous pile of old probability and statistics exams (Why do I have exams when the section I’m co-teaching hasn’t started yet? Only the shadow knows.), a bowl of Thai Kitchen Garlic and Vegetable Instant Rice Noodle Soup (my least favorite flavor, therefore perked up with frozen veggies and sauteed tofu), a tiny glass of Toasted Head chardonnay, and the ubiquitous grad student laptop.

Back to real life.

 

No, YOU’RE Superior

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

The whole first part of my recent vacation took part on Lake Michigan.

I would totally put a little star on this map with a note saying ‘I was here’ if I had any idea where I was, but I don’t. Definitely up top somewhere. I do know that where I was was glorious.

Thursday, though, we got a chance to hop up to Lake Superior.

(Again, where was I? No idea.)

I do know I was in a town called Marquette, the home of Northern Michigan University and a little restaurant called L’Attitude. One of the branches of Crockett’s family tree has bloomed (see what I did there?) in that area of the state. We took Crockett’s uncle and cousin to L’Attitude because his other cousin (son of the uncle, older brother of the first cousin) is a busboy there and was working, and that was the best way to see him because we were short on time.

I mean, yeah, the service (other than the bussing), was a little spotty. We were missing silverware and … stuff. (Ok, I don’t remember exactly, I just remember her being inattentive.)

But the thing pictured above (called Three Ways to Heaven, sadly) was freaking amazing. Restaurant made tabouleh, hummus, and tapenade with little flatbreads? Yes please.

We also had this cheese platter – holy crapadoodledo. Sadly, our waitress had no idea what the cheeses were, just that they’d come from Wisconsin farms. If I knew what that soft blue in the far upper right was, I would buy it by the barrel. (They sell cheese by the barrel, right?)

My Thai Salad was particularly un-photogenic and mediocre to boot, but those cheeses and the heavenly trio more than made up for it.

Plus the view wasn’t ugly.

Since we had a Reunion 2.0 deadline in mid-Michigan, we were short on time, but we had to stop by Lake Superior.

 

So very beautiful.

So very cold.

We drove east along the Superior coast before dropping back south, and we found ourselves at the entrance to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

Who are we to deny serendipity?

Do you think you’re hallucinating? Do you think that I photoshopped the Caribbean with pine trees?

That’s what I thought, because I apparently picture all of the great lakes as dark bluish brown.

This is seriously Lake Superior.

This is called Miner’s Castle. At some point, between when Crockett’s dad used to climb up there when he was a teenager and when we arrived last week, half of it fell down.

I still think it’s purdy.

Almost as purdy as Crockett.

On the way back to the car, I saw these and, quite seriously, said “babe, blueberries!”

I realized as I was speaking that this is not what blueberries look like when they’re growing.

Crockett is still reminding me.

We did finally make it to our evening’s destination: Mackinaw City.

When you’re a tourist, what can you do other than eat ice cream?

This was mine – Toasted Almond Coconut. I need you to understand two things. First, I asked Crockett if he wanted any and he said no, he was not in the mood for ice cream, and then he ate half of this despite me only handing it to him so I could take a picture. Second, I asked for and paid for a single scoop cone. I think the fella behind the counter thought I was adorable. This was confirmed when he threw ice cream at Crockett a few minutes later. (Fine, that second part didn’t happen. Jeesh.)

Here’s the weird thing about Mackinaw City. Every business is a spin off of an original business. They’re famous for fudge and white fish, and they all share all or part of a name. The fudge I bought as gifts came with a certificate of authenticity, for reals.

Crockett’s dad beat us there, so he had time to scope out the local eateries. He recommended a place – you know, a place? Four stores down from that alley where the third fudge shop is? Right by the eighth place that sells mocassins? That place.

The fish was delicious. The side portions were overwhelming. The hush puppies you aren’t seeing under the fries practically disintegrated, and not in a good way. Maybe the best street restaurants are only good at one thing.

Maybe not, though. I mean, the honky tonk bar made a damn good vodka martini, preceded by this conversation:

Me: Vodka martini, please.
Bartender: Sure, honey. You want it dirty?
Me: That’d be great.
Her: How dirty?
Me: More dancing on the bar dirty than going home with a stranger dirty.
Her: Ah. Balls dirty, not sweaty balls dirty.

The whole rest of the night she referred to my drink as a sweaty balls martini.

I love honky tonk bars.

 

 

bye-bye beach

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

It’s Tuesday.

    These pictures are from last Wednesday, because last Wednesday is that last time I had internet access.

    That’s how the Upper Peninsula of Michigan rolls.

    There are four things one can do while on vacation without violating Emma’s Law of Vacay.

    • Eat.
    • Rest (this includes sleeping at night, napping during the day, and laying around staring at the water).
    • Talk (loved ones, strangers, everyone in between – go for it).
    • Read.

    On Wednesday I had a day packed full of all of the above. Every single relative of Crockett’s, on meeting me, shoved books into my hands. I left the house last week with three, read two in the airports and planes, and arrived home with 10 – the original three, two from his grandparents, one from his dad, two from his uncle, and two from his aunt.

    That’s a lotta books.

    Oh, I forgot something you’re allowed to do on vacation: CELEBRATE! Crockett has two nieces and three nephews, and two of the five have the same birthday. (Is this a really number heavy post? It’s all those books.)

    When we visited the Escanaba park, I zoomed over to the stand I’d seen while running the day before.

    Gram’s Pasties in the Park.

    PASTIES in the PARK, people.

    This? This is a pasty. Pasties are all over the damn place in Michigan. Like, ALL over. I actually knew what one was, theoretically. My understanding was that pasties were essentially meat turnovers for British working people – an old school Lunchable, basically. A traditional Cornish pasty is made from beef, swede (a sweet root), potatoes, and onions. In the UP, the swede is replaced by rutabaga, and you can order your pasty with or without said rutabaga.

    Everyone said use a LOT of ketchup…

    And then sat around watching me take a bite.

    I didn’t adore it. It was a tasty vehicle for the ketchup, but that’s about it. However, the local experts told me that it wasn’t a good sample – I really needed to wait until the church ladies did their thing. Hopefully when that happens, Crockett’s grandma (behind me offering lots of advice on the eating) will mail me one?

    Fortunately we had pizza:

    (Domino’s Pizza started in Michigan, so this totally counts as eating local).

    I had a slice of buffalo chicken pizza that may have permanently altered how I think about Dominos. It was that good, people.

    Also? Cake:

    I didn’t get a picture before it was sliced, but since it was for a birthday boy and a birthday girl who were three years apart in age, they went with the adorable and always relevant surfing Mickey and Minnie. So cute. Soooo much frosting.

    After dinner there was a free concert in the park. Every Wednesday the town band does what, based on my experience, seems to be whole bunch of awesome cover medleys.

    Escanaba is a happening town full of happening people.

    After the show, we headed back to our beachside motel to get ready for an early start on Thurs – the start of Reunion 2.0.

     

     

    beachy keen

    Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

    It’s a hard life, here at the beach. There are so many questions that need answering.

    Does Crockett have enough time to finish his sandwich before his scheduled nap?

    Should I focus on my lunch…

    or on the view?

    Should I make a run for it before this bee dive-bombs me (as he’s clearly considering)?

    Is the water more gorgeous, or the sky? (Does little Jack, sitting on the edge of the water, have questions like this?)

    Is a water trampoline safer than a regular one?

    What if it’s waaaaaay out there?

    Is there something about the beach that turns normally mature adult brothers into gladiators?

    Will I ever get in the water?

    Or will I just keep following the wildlife around?

    And most importantly: burger or brat?

    Fortunately there’s no question here. A scoop of everything, please.