A Wee Road Trip

On a whim, spur of the moment, fly by the seat of our pants type situation our family took a trip to the western side of Michigan over Mother’s Day weekend. My husband very nonchalantly said to me one day that he would like to see the tulips in Holland, MI , and I was like, well let’s go! We had originally planned to go to Mackinaw for that weekend, so he already had the time off – we just switched our destination at the last minute. And I was really glad that we did! I love northern Michigan but that weekend would have been absolutely freezing – we were cold in Sauguatuck and Holland, but nothing like it would have been in Mackinac.

It was not easy finding reservations at the last minute, especially ones that were not $400 a night. We ended up staying outside of Holland, for which I was grateful, as it was nice to visit the tulip festival and have a place to retreat that was less crazy, especially with our four year old in tow. The hotel we stayed at was one of a few that are out that way that I have always wanted to stay at – the Saugatuck Retro Resort, which is a restored and renovated motor lodge from 1966. The decor is mid-century modern, which I love, and it was super clean. I am one of those weirdos about rooms and cleanliness and this place passed my inspection. I have a love apparently lately for vintage style travel and the Saugatuck Retro Resort did not disappoint. I only wish we could have been there later in the season as the motel offered a communal fire pit and a great looking pool, as well as grills for guest use. Definitely a place to remember for the future.

We left early, stopping only for road provisions at Avalon Bakery in Detroit for croissants and cookies and headed out west, destination Windmill Island in Holland. I was there once as a very little girl but I didn’t remember it. It was insanely beautiful that day, with a super blue sky and a riot of tulips everywhere. I didn’t expect all the people there who came strictly to take photos in the tulip gardens, decked out in particular outfits to strike a pose, although I could see why they would! Some people were very respectful of the flowers, while others tromped all over them trying to get the perfect picture, which was sad. One woman was screeching at her kids and changing her lenses repeatedly trying to get her shot, all while squashing tulips beneath her Hunters -it was pretty sad. For the most part though, people were there to enjoy the scenery and take in the tulips. We walked around, visited the windmill, and poked around the tiny Dutch village replica, where I bought Wyatt a teeny pair of wooden clogs and a wooden duck call. (he loves ducks..)

The Visitors Center told me that there were 4 million tulips planted around the city, which was mind-blowing! That is a ton of tulips. But the results were majestic. They lined every street along the curb, and great fields were planted in open spaces. It was certainly a visual treat. Our motelier told us that it is the biggest tourist event in Michigan, which I was not aware of. I haven’t checked this fact, but I could believe it by the sheer number of people who were there. It is just a small time frame in the spring, during the peak of tulip season, but they definitely make the most of it. We took in the sights and then left the city for a little family time away from the biggest crowds.

We wound up in Saugatuck, which is where we were staying anyway. In search of coffee, we bumbled into a newish looking brewery that was a hop, skip, and jump from our motel, thanks to Google literally giving us the closest place that coffee could be found. The Guardian Brewery was new and bright and clean, and the coffee was delicious, probably because they use it to make a coffee porter. And of course, while we were there, we sampled their menu, both food and beer! I had the asparagus and wild rice salad, which was so good, Billy had a grilled ham and cheese, and since they did not have chicken tenders for my picky eater, he had chips and guacamole, that we of course helped him eat. Everything was absolutely delicious. It was a bit of an early bird dinner/late lunch, which put us at a weird schedule, so we went back to our room and let Wyatt decompress and be a kid for a bit, before hopping back in the car and tooling around town, looking about. We had a lovely evening, sitting outside the motel later, in the gloaming, as my dad would say. The motel was empty at the point except for us, so we had the place to ourselves, so we let Wyatt use his duck call. It was just nice to sit out there with our tea and each other’s company.

The next morning we stayed off the beaten path, and had breakfast at a local diner called Vicki’s, where Wyatt proceeded to eat two orders of bacon and a little bit of pancakes. After filling up on toast and scrambled eggs and bacon, we went to the DeGraaf Nature Center and spent a good few hours there, watching birds and hiking around. We are big nature center people, and they had a wonderful one. Wyatt enjoyed all the animals that lived there, especially the two screech owls who talked to us. He wasn’t so sure about the giant rabbit though lol. He is such a bird kid already! He can imitate bird calls almost perfectly, it kind of amazes me honestly. We saw 6 new birds to check off our list, and the pretty white trilliums that bloom in the woods in the spring. We also spotted fiddlehead ferns near a small stream as well! I love their spiral shape as they grow. They also had a small trail of rocks, as I called it, and I was tickled to see that there was a stone called a puddingstone! I am not sure why, but I really liked its name. It just made me smile.

Wyatt was so ready to go back to the room for a bit and get his wiggles out and watch some well-deserved Daniel Tiger, so we went back there for a bit. We spent the rest of the night shopping our way through Saugatuck’s downtown, where I could have probably bought a billion things, but I ended up buying only a book of poems written by a local poet and writer. For dinner we went to The Butler, a tradition for us. It is situated right on the water, and this time, it had special meaning for me. My aunt, who passed away in February, loved this restaurant and would drive all the way across the state to eat there, and then come home after. I think it was more for the experience of it, to just take a road trip, eat, and come home, but it was something she did. It was a moody evening, raining but very peaceful, and we raised a glass to her memory.

The next morning was mother’s day morning, and when we drove into town for breakfast we saw all the ladies dressed up, surrounded by their families, going to their breakfasts. We didn’t have reservations anywhere of course, so we found an awesome little bakery by the water where we literally got the best cup of coffee we had all weekend, and bagels. We had a water view and the place to ourselves and I couldn’t have asked for anything more but that perfect moment with my two guys.

Book Review: The View from Alameda Island by Robyn Carr

Goodreads Summary:

From the outside looking in, Lauren Delaney has a life to envy—a successful career, a solid marriage to a prominent surgeon and two beautiful daughters who are off to good colleges. But on her twenty-fourth wedding anniversary Lauren makes a decision that will change everything.

Lauren won’t pretend things are perfect anymore. She defies the controlling husband who has privately mistreated her throughout their marriage and files for divorce. And as she starts her new life, she meets a kindred spirit—a man who is also struggling with the decision to end his unhappy marriage.

But Lauren’s husband wants his “perfect” life back and his actions are shocking. Facing an uncertain future, Lauren discovers an inner strength she didn’t know she had as she fights for the love and happiness she deserves.

My Thoughts:

When I picked up this book, I was in the mood for a book that I could really lose myself in – and this book delivered. I really enjoyed this book!

Lauren endures a marriage for twenty-four years that was controlling and loveless, and the reader knows right away that she will not be growing old with her husband, Brad, and that this year together is their last. She knows what will happen, and what she needs to do in order to leave the marriage and plans well and plans thoroughly. However, of course, there are still major issues and problems, despite all of her careful and meticulous planning. With Brad, with her daughters, with trusting her own judgement and decisions to some extent. The title of this book is perfect – Lauren’s new viewpoint is physical, and emotional, as she reflects back on her life and the choices she has made. As she looks out and forward, she is also taking a look in, and back. She undergoes some real self-reflection and finds not just her independence but also that she is tough and smart and and strong.

I found her relationship with her two daughters to be completely realistic, especially in this situation. One aspect I enjoyed in this book was Lauren exploring her new relationships with her daughters out from under the umbrella her ex, and meeting them on new terms. Her whole life was changed, and it was like a rebirth in a way.

I am a relatively new Robyn Carr fan, and every book I read by her, I like her books more and more! I loved this one, and I am looking forward to reading her again in the future!

Thank you to Little Bird Publicity for the review copy in exchange for an honest review~

My Sunday-Monday Post

My Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date

Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz 

Hi all! I hope you have had a great weekend! We have spent ours outside working on our front garden. We let Wyatt choose our color scheme, and honestly he didn’t do a bad job! We have lots of reds and purples and pinks happening out there. Wyatt and I also hung out with my dad on Friday, visiting Greenfield Village and walking around. It was a nice day, and we hope to go back soon. So many schools were there on end of the school year field trips that we couldn’t get on the train ride, so we are definitely going back for that.

We have got a lot on our agenda for this week, but lots of fun stuff! Stuff with flowers and bees and turtles – should be a lot of fun!

Read Last Week:

I finished The Familiars and I really loved it. Review soon hopefully! I also started Common Ground, and I am enjoying it as well.

Reading This Week:

My husband just started Caraval, so I am looking forward to entering this world again so we can talk about it!

Watching:

Criminal Minds on Netflix, Monty Don’s Big Dreams Small Spaces, Game of Thrones, and American Gods. That last episode of GoT!!!! Wow. And American Gods is so good! I am a fan of Mad Sweeney. Anyone else watch this?

Posted Last Week:

In addition to my Sunday-Monday Post, I posted a book review of Bonavere Howl, which was really good.

Book Review: Bonavere Howl

Goodreads Summary:

It is 1955, and the three Fayette sisters have lived their whole lives in the enchanting French Quarter of New Orleans. Though neglected by their parents, they share a close bond with one another–from afternoons in their small, shared bedroom, to trying to speak with ghosts beneath the sweeping trees in their garden. When the middle sister Constance disappears, the family believes she has run away, as she has done before; it is only the youngest–thirteen-year-old Bonavere (known as Bonnie)–who suspects there is more to it. Met only with grief from her family and resistance from the police, Bonnie embarks on a journey to bring her sister home, venturing through fabled Red Honey Swamp, and the city’s vibrant and brutal history. Unravelling the layers of her sister’s secret life, Bonnie discovers a pattern of girls found half-mad in the Louisiana swampland, and a connection to the wealthy, notorious Lasalle family. To rescue her sister, she must confront the realities of true violence, and the very nature of insanity.

My Thoughts:

I will often pick a book for the setting, and Bonavere Howl was one I chose simply because the blurb said New Orleans. New Orleans is one of my very favorite cities to visit, I love its vibe and its energy and its people so much. One of my best friends is from New Orleans, and I love just listening to her talk about her hometown. So when I saw this, I had to read it.

If you have ever been to the Crescent City, you will know what that swampy, sticky, humid heat feels like. And Galway evokes this feeling, that lazy, energy sapping heat, that makes you want to just hide out in the shade with a big old glass of something cold, listening to some music, daydreaming. This sense permeates this book, and I read it during a particularly cold and damp week here in Michigan. The murky feeling penetrates to the plot of the book as well, not just the setting, but also the central mystery. Bonavere is a young woman whose sister just goes up and missing one evening, and Bonavere takes it upon herself to figure out where she disappeared to when it seems no one is looking hard enough. She has many accomplices throughout her search – her best friend Saul, her oldest sister Fritzie, but it is Bonavere’s perseverance that stands out. She is determined to find her sister, or at least the truth of where or what happened to her. Bonavere must contend with many obstacles along the way as well, including putting her friend Saul’s life and that of his family’s life, into danger.

The main focus is on the three sisters and their relationship. In some ways I was reminded of The Virgin Suicides, with the girls having a closeness and no one else really knowing or understanding them fully. Fritzie and Connie and Bonnie have a strong sisterly bond, one forged it seems through some parental indifference to the three girls. Bonnie never gives up on trying to find her sister, and just the fact that Connie’s presence is missing in the house lies palpably upon the two sisters remaining.

I was slowly sucked into this story, which languidly leads you down different paths until the final, chilling ending. A slow read, but a good one.

Thanks to NetGalley for the advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date

Happy Mother’s Day (belated!) I hope you had a wonderful day.

We took a mini-break vacation over the weekend and we had such a great time! We went to the tulip festival in Holland, MI and then spent some time in Saugatuck as well, which is a cute artsy community on a waterfront. I had a fantastic time, and just in time for Mother’s Day!

Read Last Week:

Watership Down is my favorite book and I read it every year. I don’t think I will ever get tired of Hazel-rah and his rabbit friends! I also read The View from Alameda Island, which was the perfect book for last week. I really enjoyed it! Review soon!

Reading This Week:

I worked on some of my review books, now I want to read these before I have to give them back to the library! I am looking forward to them both. Common Ground will be a slow read for me. I love to read a nonfiction book slowly over time, so it will be here for a little bit. 🙂

Watching:

Not a ton right now – just Game of Thrones and the old Criminal Minds on Netflix. I was thinking about watching the Ted Bundy movie too, to see how Zac Efron handled the role.

Posted Last Week:

What Wyatt Read – April

How about you guys? What’s happening in your neighborhood?

What Wyatt Read – April

We read a lot in April! We read some books specifically for Earth Day, and we also read a lot of spring and pink themed books as well. Pink for the Pink Moon last month, of course. Lol.

There were so many great books in this bunch!! Wyatt’s favorites by far were A Big Mooncake for Little Star, which he looked at and we read a million times, Plant the Tiny Seed, which is interactive with instructions in the book for kids to tap, and wiggle their fingers and all sorts of things, to help plant the seed and make it grow. He also really loved Todd Parr’s The Earth Book. I of course had my own favorites. I loved loved loved The Pink Umbrella, and read it out loud to Billy and Wyatt one rainy night after dinner. I loved the art and everything about it. I also loved Blackout, Pink is for Boys, which was about how all colors are for everyone, and A Boy and a Jaguar, which was an amazing true story of a boy who stuttered and ended up establishing a protected sanctuary in Belize for jaguars. He fell in love with them at the zoo, and talking to them was the only time he didn’t stutter. He promised the jaguars that if he could beat his stutter, he would fight for them and be there voice. Such a powerful picture book. I loved it.

All of our combined favorites will eventually be bought and added to our home library, since these were all checked out from our local library.

Flora and the Flamingo was fabulous to look at – the artwork is so pretty and retro. The books itself is wordless, with interactive flaps. And the book inspired Wyatt and I to try dancing like flamingos around the house! All of these books really were great in their own ways, the Jane Goodall book, Planting the Wild Garden, all of them, honestly. Not a bad one in the bunch!

My Sunday-Monday Post

My Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date

Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz 

Hi everybody! I hope you had a great week! I didn’t get a ton of reading done, as I was healing up from a wee accident, but I did get some good time with my son! I had a lot of time to make plans for the rest of the month, and I am super excited about some of our ideas! I also caught up on Game of Thrones, holy cow!! That last episode….wow!! I can’t wait until tonight!

Read Last Week:

This was a NetGalley read that I picked because..well..New Orleans! I will almost always pick up a book set there. And Caitlin Galway killed it when creating an atmosphere – she can set a mood and a feeling, that is for sure! Review soon.

Reading This Week:

I forgot I had The View from Alameda Island to read! I am happy I forgot honestly, I think it is the perfect week to read it. I am also still rereading Watership Down, my favorite. Love those plucky clever tough rabbits.

Posted Last Week:

Tin Can Tourists

Closing the Door on April

Watched:

Springwatch on our Britbox, Game of Thrones, Criminal Minds, lots of Winnie the Pooh, Buzzfeed Unsolved

What about all of you? What’s been going on in your world?