Sunday, July 25, 2010

Anniversary weekend!

We celebrated our anniversary early since it lands on a Monday this year. Since Elliot had recently been to South Haven, Michigan a few times for work purposes, we decided to head that way so that I could experience the quaint town, too. We left Saturday morning and drove along the coast through Indiana and into Michigan. We stopped off at the visitor's center (we're such tourists-- we did this all the time on our road trip last summer) to grab a map and learn more about the state.

We then headed straight to South Haven and had a late lunch at an awesome restaurant called Clementine's for lunch where we sampled a very tasty sarsparilla with our sandwiches. We walked around the little town, walked through a farmer's market, and then off to the car for more adventures.

Our next stop, blueberry picking. We chose DeGrandchamp Farms for the U-picking and headed out with our bucket. There were some serious pickers out there! I was hearing others say, "We've got two full buckets... I guess that's enough" -- enough for what? A football team? Our intentions were just to experience the picking and to grab enough for a snack. We only picked about a pint and paid our 75 cents before heading on our way. It was just perfect, though, because we were able to pick only what we deemed suitable for our tastes. This meant that no mushy berries were chosen and there were a lot of reddish (under-ripe) berries because I like them sour, as I do most of my fruits. We hadn't been "picking" since we headed out a few years ago in the California fall (feels like summer) to pick apples with our friends Nik & Solange.

Then we were off to South Haven beach. I'm a Southern California beach girl, born and raised. You can see how I might have been apprehensive about this idea of a "beach" in the Midwest. Well, I thought it was wonderful! The sound of the beach that I love so much of crashing waves was present, the sand was soft and not silt-like as it is in the Florida gulf, the water was relatively warm, and the water was fairly clean. Some differences I noticed were that the water is without salt (it's a lake, after all), the sand area is a bit more shallow, and people brought floaties with them! Though there were waves, people still thought that if they blew up a floaty that they'd be able to lay leisurely and float. Not with those waves!

Most importantly, we felt that this is just as good of a "beach" experience (despite it being a lakefront) as it could or would be in Manhattan, Hermosa, or Redondo Beaches. I guess the most important thing was how family-friendly and unpretentious it felt being there. There were just a bunch of families spending the day together. We pictured bringing our own children there and renting out beach condos to stay for the weekend with friends and their kids. It's becoming clear that our lives have just barely scratched the surface of excitement. Soon we'll get to share this gorgeous world with our own little one.

This is the pier at South Haven. There isn't much to it, really.
We're now at the end of the pier for this lighthouse photo. You can find these lighthouses at many popular lakefront "beach" piers in Michigan.
Pretty nice, right?
We walked in the water for a bit and it was so nice!
After leaving South Haven, we got back in our hot car (thank goodness for air conditioning!) and set forth to Holland. We've been to the real Holland, so we weren't expecting to be blown away or to pay for any replica we'd already seen at the real deal! Well, we weren't blow away. It is a relatively large town north of South Haven along the Michigan coast. We did see that they advertised a "windmill island" of which was indeed a... windmill. It was closed and I'm not sure I'd be willing to pay since we'd seen windmills in so many other countries of the world that were authentic and often still used! While we saw some in Germany, most of them were seen in Amsterdam and the surrounding areas and countries. There are many that exist all over the world as well as in the U.S. Here's a photo of the one I took in Holland, Michigan.
I don't have photos to share, but our next stop was to our hotel-- then to Grand Haven. It's a bigger (and less quaint) version of South Haven but in the north. We drove there just to check it out and have dinner in a new city. We parked, walked around the waterfront there, gazed at everyone's ice cream cones in envy, and sat down for dinner at a restaurant overlooking the water. I generally do not believe in having Mexican food at a restaurant that serves all genres of food, simply because it's never as good as a restaurant that specializes in that type of food. Well, this was no different. Mediocre, but filling. I did enjoy drooling over the mojitos at other tables as I drank my club soda with lime. December will come.

We began to walk back to our car at 10 p.m. (they are on eastern time zone-- a bit hard to get used to for only a night's stay) and saw a very large area of bleachers overlooking the waterfront. The bleachers were packed with people! We walked down and read that they had light shows from Memorial Day until Labor Day, ever night. The light shows are done to the sound of popular music and the water fountains change colors and arrangements. I attempted a photo, but I won't bother. I'll just link you to a better place to see the spectacle. We stayed for only one song as we felt that the trillions of mosquitoes were eating our insides. At some point, the bugs do win. 

On a complete side note, I must mention something that disturbed me. For those who have ever experienced a Rite Aid drug store... this is speaking to you. Growing up in So Cal, we called these "Thrifty" stores. Thrifty served ice cream by the scoop in a strange cylinder shape with a tiny hole in the top from where the scoop extracted it onto the cone. My favorite flavors are (in this order): Chocolate Malted Crunch, Mint Chocolate Chip, Pistachio Nut (though I love pistachios, I hate them in ice cream. I pick them out), Chocolate Chip, and Sherbert. Every Thrifty carried this divine ice cream. And when Thrifty was purchased by this strange sounding name of a store called Rite Aid, they carried on the Thrifty ice cream name... as they should. On our recent trip to Cali, I attempted to purchase a lovely scoop of my ice cream delight... but they were all out of the CMC. Though feeling defeated, I opted for my second choice and stuck with the Mint Chocolate Chip. Fine. Well, there are no Rite Aid markets in Illinois. But, as we drove down a street in Michigan, I saw the lovely sign, assuming I was about to indulge in the best ice cream! We walked in. I see the cashier, photo lab, pharmacy, a bunch of overpriced drugstore items down the rows, but no ice cream. Ugh. Fine. I'll just buy some from the freezer section. None. to. be. found. NONE! Isn't that tragic, my dear west coast friends?

Now completely off topic, I'll continue on to what is today, Sunday. We woke up at our hotel in Holland, Michigan and decided what we wanted to do for the day. We decided to check out another beach at St. Joseph. We headed south past South Haven and to this beach town. Much like the others we visited, they all had waves, lots of people...

We walked the beach for a bit and headed back up to the car. Before we got there, I took advantage of what seemed like a good wash facility for my sandals. Kids were playing in this splash park that was entirely funded by the Whirlpool company, whose world headquarters are located in St. Joseph.
Then, off to another place I'd never been-- Notre Dame University. We left Michigan and headed southeast before arriving in South Bend, Indiana. We drove through the sleepy town to check out the campus. Ray had been to Notre Dame during his Air Force Lacrosse days when he flew in on private military jets to play ND. We parked the car and took a walk through some of the campus and on to the Basilica and Admissions building. As we walked, we listened to a few high school juniors being given a prospective student tour of the campus by a current ND student. Since we're joining the parenthood population, it's really wild to think about our future summers and the campus tours we'll take with our own kids when the time is right.

Here's the Basilica.

This fancy building is actually the admissions and main office building for the university.
We had a great weekend. Life couldn't possibly be more exciting than sharing it with my wonderful husband.
Cheers to two years and a lifetime of more!