Sunday, June 28, 2009

Lazy, Sunny Sunday in Michigan

The last Sunday in June in West Michigan began as an incredibly beautiful day and seemed determined to stay that way. The plan was, or so I learned on Saturday, was to meet up with Susan's Aunt Marian and Uncle John at Arnie's Restaurant in Rockford. After lunch we would then head out to their cottage on Clear Bottom Lake. (photo below: Susie and her mom.)

We left home a little after noon and after stumbling around greater downtown Rockford we found a parking place at the nearby dam along the Rogue River.

Lots of changes since either one of us had been in Rockford that's for sure. Bike paths along the river, nice gardens sculpted in here and there; a serious imagination had definitely been at work. We quickly found Arnie's -- the sign was probably visible from downtown Grand Rapids. While we waited to be seated Jennifer, Susie's cousin and Marian's oldest daughter, arrived with her little girl Clare:

The six of us soon found ourselves at a table in one of the noisiest rooms north of the Mason Dixon Line. The place was packed with people, the servers were scurrying around like so many chickens with you-know-what cut off and sadly the management proved to be even worse. The food arrived 50 minutes after we ordered (soup and sandwiches being delicate creatures requiring great attention to detail. (photo below: Susie's Aunt Marian.)

The food was dull, which was being kind. Either overly salty or over-dressed it was not terribly good but there was plenty of it. This seemed to be a recurring phenomenon on our trip back west. The same observation was noted the previous evening at 84 East in Holland. A pasta place in downtown Holland, Susie, her mom and I ate there before heading out to the lake for the after-reception reception. Huge plates of tasteless pasta being served to people way to large to begin with.

But the conversation at our table was lively and it was nice to visit with Jennifer and her mom and dad.

Jennifer and Clare soon had to leave and so did we -- we could only take so much of such good food. We walked to the car and bid a fond farewell to the fast-paced world of Greater Rockford and headed out of town, toward Lesser Rockford. We drove the two minutes to Clear Bottom Lake and John and Marian's cottage.

We all sat on the deck overlooking the lake and listened in to conversations about times long past: about the day Tunis asked Bernice to marry him and about growing up in Passaic, among other things.

You can hear some of these conversations in the next two postings, right here:

After a glorious day enjoying a grand day at the lake and an even grander time listening to wonderful stories, Susie, her mom and I headed back into the hub-bub of Grand Rapids.

About half past six our friend Stan C. came by and picked Susie and I up for dinner. The three of us -- his wife Margie was in Colorado hosting a get together of some of her family -- headed over to the Blue Water Grille for dinner. Located along the banks of an old gravel pit now filled in and turned into quite a pleasant little lake we enjoyed an evening of talking, as we usually do, about good food and wine -- and in this case not so good food. Stan's pasta was more paste and my burger was more perfunctory than exciting. The service was uninspired and the wines uninspiring.

Still it was good to see Stan and to hear the incredible tales of their recent adventure to the Dark Continent. We had seen some extraordinary photographs and now had the stories behind them.

Needless to say good friends are a rare commodity. We're just sorry to have missed Margie.

All-in-all it was a wonderful Sunday, the last Sunday in June and our last day in Michigan. On Monday we headed back to the East Coast (motto: "Not the West Coast") and to work. A short week with the Big Fourth fast approaching.

To paraphrase Stanley, we were just happy to be there.

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