As mentioned in yesterday’s post, The Wife & I packed up The Wee One and seventy-three pieces of luggage last week for a good old fashioned American road trip.  Whereas last summer we had quite a bit of ground to cover getting all the way out to Teton National Park and back in ten days, this year’s edition proved to be a bit more manageable on the odometer.  Seeing that we lowered the degree of difficulty in one department we opted to over-compensate and throw a three month old into the picture just to keep us on our toes.  To her credit The Baby proved to be the rock star of the trip showing an uncanny ability to roll with the punches of new scenery and adventures every day for a full week.  Aside from an uncanny ability to fill a diaper within the first ten minutes of getting back on the road after a stop, she absolutely exceeded expectations in every way.

Without going all family slideshow on you here (it’s like a carousel going around and around…) I figured I’d provide a quick summary of the excursion in the tried and true Quick Quips format.

  • Redamak’s burgers are good but let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves with all the hoopla shall we?    
  • Crane’s pies on the other hand…
  • Western Michigan’s big thing is cherries.  That’s cool.  I appreciate a region tying themselves to their most bountiful agricultural crop (see DeKalb to Iowa embracing corn, Boston & seafood, Jackson Hole & huckleberries, etc.).  There’s not a five mile stretch of road once you hit Grand Rapids that doesn’t have a roadside stand selling them.  My question is, why do all of these signs go out of their way to ensure they publicize that their cherries are washed?  What’s the problem with cherries before they receive a good soaking?  Is there poison on them?  Should I be worried that other fruit I buy isn’t washed unless they tell me it is?
  • We were fortunate enough to hit Traverse City for their (in)famous National Cherry Festival.  I must say that I was pleasantly surprised.  The town of Traverse City is a nice thriving little metropolis unto itself, but throw in a full blown carnival, live music, Indian pow-wow and a Redwings prospect camp?  Color me tickled red.  Cherry red. 
  • Poor Meg Howard by the way.  If you’re named the 2012 Cherry Queen the local boys get a free full year of ammunition to make jokes at the expense of your innocence.  But look at the field she had for competition.  I don’t know which is worse, winning or losing this contest.  It’s lose-lose.
  • Charleviox is a lovely little place to stop for lunch but imagine my disappointment when we got home on Sunday morning and the Chicago Tribune ran a feature on Petosky, MI in their Travel section.  We drove right through Petosky without even thinking of tapping the brakes once.  Had I known Hemmingway used to whet his whistle there I would have most certainly made a point to grab a pint.  Life is all about timing.
  • The middle part of our week was dedicated to replicating the movie Castaway as we stranded ourselves on a remote and deserted island to test our survival skills.  Well deserted may be a bit inaccurate but it certainly was set back in time several hundred years.  For those who don’t know, Mackinac Island is a self-contained world of horse drawn carriages and cobble stoned streets.  Basically they decided to make every aspect of life more difficult so you can relax more.  Trust me, it’s as backwards as it sounds. 
  • We had the opportunity to stay at the world famous Grand Hotel during our stay, and take it we did.  I’ll be honest, it was pretty sweet.  Particularly if you are under the age of ten or above the age of sixty-five the Grand Hotel is the place to be.  The kids love it because there are bikes, bocce, croquet, a movie theater, & a sick pool with an enormous inflatable snake in it (insert snake in the pool joke here).  The more senior of citizens appreciate the grandeur of the establishment, the 600+ foot front porch completely with rocking chairs, the history, and the ambiance of the main dining room.  I think all sides would agree that the booze is of the highest caliber as well, so really everyone wins.
  • We just so happened to arrive on the 125th birthday of the hotel and were received after dinner with champagne with tight bubbles and a one hundred and twenty-five foot long cake which was just obscene to look at.  When it was all said and done just about every person in attendance was responsible for eating a square foot of cake.  I appreciate the gesture but I don’t think passing out diabetes to all of your guests is the mark of a good business plan. 
  • The Grand Hotel is famous for their geraniums of all things.  For whatever reason they really love them there and have marketed themselves accordingly.  I think they went over the top however with the geranium shampoo, conditioner, and bar soap in the rooms however.  Not once in my life have I taken a deep drag off a geranium and said, yep, I want to smell like that all day.  They’re pretty flowers but can’t we just leave it at that?
  • The good people of northern Michigan take quite a bit of pride in the Mackinac Bridge.  It’s a very nice bridge don’t get me wrong, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves as it’s not even in the top five bridges I’ve ever crossed.  I don’t buy post cards of bridges that fall outside of my top five.  It’s a personal rule.
  • For those who are wondering, Tim Allen and the good people at Your Trip Begins at remind the residents of their own state they should travel to Michigan because it’s so fantastic.  I had always wondered if this was just something they did to those of us in the Chicagoland area. 
  • Upon crossing into the Upper Peninsula of Michigan a part of me felt like I was coming home.  The Yoopers (aka “the locals”) treated me well during my time at the University of Wisconsin and I have many fond memories of my times at the Continental Cup Ski Jump competition.  Or more appropriately I have more pictures that should be memories, of drunken weekends standing in the snow watching Nordic foreigners fling themselves into the air at altitude for our viewing enjoyment.  I owe quite a bit to the Upper Peninsula so if you take nothing else from this site please click on this to learn how a silly dispute between Ohio and Michigan in 1836 resulted in Andrew Jackson giving the U.P. to Michigan as a consolation prize for Toledo.  It’s as weird as it sounds.
  • If you’ve never had a pasty (or sometimes spelled “pastie” but always pronounced pass-tee) then you my friend have never lived.
  • On our way back down through Wisconsin we went through Green Bay and I have to admit that my curiosity got the best of me and we went out of our way to go past Lambeau Field.  It pains me as a Bears fan but I must say that it was pretty awesome.  It’s very Wrigley Field/Camp Randall-esque up there in this mecca of a sporting complex is built right in the middle of a residential neighborhood which has embraced it to the fullest.  I can only imagine how the real estate in the area is marketed and marked up because being close to the stadium allows you to hold parties eight Sundays a year and pickup Silo cups eight corresponding Monday mornings.
  • The last night of our trip we decided to check out Door County and breath in all that Wisconsin has to offer.  Believe it or not this produces this.  They also have restaurants that look like this.  You have to love this state. 
  • Finally, to complete our tour de artery closure, we swung through Kopp’s for burgers and custard as we passed through Milwaukee.  Can someone please explain to me why these have not found their way forty miles south into the Chicagoland area of yet?  This wrong must be righted.

So that was our eating trip around Lake Michigan.  I gained thirteen pounds and a ton of memories of our first family vacation.  It was everything I could have hoped for, however for the sake of my waistline, I am happy that this carousel only made one revolution.