Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Back to Michigan

This summer has been one highlighted by lots of travel back-and-forth to Michigan, at least for Susie. A sudden illness in the family over 4th of July weekend prompted us to hop in the new car and drive straight through to Michigan.

Notwithstanding the rain when we left our apartment, the drive got off to an auspicious start when we came across a curious accident just minutes from our home before getting on the expressway. No one appeared to be hurt but it was a curious looking affair to be sure.

It took us a little over 13 hours to drive the 830 miles, with the now-typical holdup at the Canadian and US border crossings. We were in Michigan for about a week. Joyce was already there and Dick and Dorothy drove out several days after we arrived. Once things stabilized a bit we returned home, staying overnight in the utterly unremarkable village of Brookville, Pennsylvania. For Susie it was a brief return, though, and several days later she was on a flight back to Grand Rapids.

The crisis eventually passed, and after ensuring that things had stabilized after several weeks she returned to Rhode Island. Again, her stay was brief and on Thursday, August 14, the two of us flew to Michigan, this time for a family reunion but also to allow Susie to remain in Grand Rapids for another couple of weeks.

Anyway, since we had a bit of a layover in Detroit we found ourselves a venue for lunch, settling on a Sora, a Japanese restaurant/sushi place. While the beer was cold,  the food was not terribly tasty but there was lots of it, for what that's worth. But it was nice to sit and relax before the second leg of our journey. It was a gorgeous day to travel and our flights were uneventful.

That evening we had the great good fortune to be the willing recipients of Bernice’s incredible Swiss Steak with roasted potatoes and fresh green beans. Comfort food just doesn’t get any better.

Friday we awoke to 46 degrees and another beautiful day in western Michigan.

That morning Susie gave me a tour of the Fulton Street Farmer’s Market. I had fond memories of this place some 20 years ago when we lived in Western Michigan and was astounded at how much it had changed: a slick look to the facilities and incredible fresh, local fruits and vegetables with fantastic colors to catch the eye.

I’ve already posted a lengthy note on the big event that weekend: the Van Halsema family reunion held out at Clear Bottom Lake so I won't take up any more of your time other than to say it was a beautiful day and a wonderful time for people to share memories and just to be together.

Although the weekend was short we still managed to enjoy two very casual dining experiences during that fun-filled weekend: Blue Water Grille for lunch on Friday and Nonna’s in Ada for breakfast on Sunday.

Blue Water is located on the edge of an old quarry that was filled in and is now touted as a little lake; a very clever use for an old eyesore. Anyway, the sandwiches were imaginative and tasty.

Run a former American expat who once lived in Florence, Italy, and knew Warren and Gladys DeVos when they lived across from Santa Croce, Nonna’s is a remarkable little place to enjoy a delicious cup of good coffee and a wonderful omelet — their lunch menu looked very appealing as well.

(We had lucky enough to spend a little time occasionally with Warren and Gladys when we lived in Florence briefly before moving to Paris in 2006. Wonderful hosts, kind and generous, and I'm still in awe of those delicious dishes that Gladys concocted in that tiny kitchen I a amazes me. See my post from April of 2006.)

On Sunday, after a small, intimate family lunch at Houlihan’s in Breton Village, the site of Arnie’s for years one of the Vanden Berg and Van Halsema meeting spots, several of us drove to nearby Woodlawn Cemetery to pay our respects to family members who have passed. on.

Tunis Vanden Berg

sisters Helen and Bernice visit their parents, Emo and Nellie

Willemina Van Halsema Quackenbush and her husband Jim

Marc Van Halsema
Later that afternoon Susie drove me to the airport to catch a flight back to Providence. She would return in a few weeks and begin planning what next to do with her life.

Stay tuned!

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