Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A closing and an opening

Latest update from West Michigan STOP We close on our new condo this Thursday at 4pm STOP More to come along with photos STOP A new chapter is about to open. NO STOP ONLY GO.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Back to Clear Lake for rest & relaxation and a family photo shoot

This past Sunday we drove out to Clear Lake to see Uncle John and Aunt Marian and were rewarded with being able to visit with several cousins as well. Besides Jennifer and Scott (and their daughter Claire), Susan's cousin Garrett, his wife Laurie and their kids were also out at the lake for a family photo shoot -- part of an anniversary gift their kids gave them for being together 30 years.

It was a gorgeous day just to be alive and on the drive back to Eaglecrest we commented to each other how restful and relaxing it was just to sit outside on the deck, overlooking the water (lakes large and small have figured prominently in the past few weeks) and catching up, one cousin with one another.
Scott and Jennifer's daughter Claire
the Ten Have-Chapman clan: Maria, James Garrett Laurie, Joe and Lisa

Maria Ten Have-Chapman
Berenice (all the way from Normandy)
Aunt Marian and Uncle John

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Dinner in Worcester, night in Ontario and a shipwreck

We were back in the Northeast barely 48 hours before returning to Michigan. While we barely had time to catch we did manage to have dinner with Lee at Nami in Providence on Tuesday, and then dinner on Wednesday with Dick and Dorothy and Frank and Cathy at the "Sole Proprietor" in Worcester, Mass.

The "Sole" claims to sport the world's largest inflatable blue crab (who measures these things?). True or not it is huge although far from attractive. One wonders whether a large number of people in the greater Worcester area choose their seafood restaurant based on the size of the inflatable sea creature on the roof.

Anyway, the really important thing is that we had a nice chat with family to catch up on all the latest news before leaving the Northeast, pretty much forever. After spending the night at Dick & Dorothy's house -- giving us a half-hour closer run to Grand Rapids -- we left about 9am Thursday.

Twenty minutes after leaving Douglas, Mass., while cruising up I-395 heading for the Mass Pike and I-90, we suddenly found ourselves having to scramble to find a Firestone Tire dealer (the one in Auburn is great by the way) to pull a nail out of our right rear tire.

Curiously, before we left Michigan on Sunday we had the very same thing happen but that was a screw in the left rear (tire). Our auburn stop convinced us then and there how great those Firestone folks can be. Otherwise our drives out and back were uneventful, enjoying reasonably moderate traffic, great weather and smooth border crossings.

Cathy, Frank and Susan
Susan and Dorothy

With our tire repaired we pushed straight over to I-90 and headed west for New York and pulled into our hotel in Ontario about 6pm.

Over the many years we've driven back and forth between New England and Michigan we had often thought about staying at Ramada Inn that you can easily see squeezed between the QEW roadway and the edge of Lake Ontario and also about  having dinner at the nearby Lake Shore Inn, just up the road, and so we did. While certainly not dramatic or picturesque, the view from our very tired room was spectacular in its peacefulness.

After having a drink at the hotel's equally tired and rather unkept bar (but also overlooking the lake) we drove to the Lake Shore Inn for dinner. Originally built in 1867 as a farm, the Inn serves delicious food to the droves of people who were packed both inside and out on the patio. We had a lovely window overlooking the lake and enjoyed the coolness of being inside.
blue crab cakes

On our way back we stopped at the beached ship which we've wondered at for so many years (you can see the masts and a portion of the upper deck from the QEW). Apparently the Grand Hermine ("big weasel" -- the name of Jacques Cartier's largest exploring vessel) began it's life as a ferry near Montreal in the early part of the 20th century, and eventually became a replica of Cartier's ship, only to end up derelict and alone, it's owner having died before deciding what to to do with the thing.

A group of kids (it's always those pesky kids) apparently lit a fire on board to keep warm one winter day and burned off most of the wooden superstructure, leaving the rest to rust in peace, beached but visited often.

We were on the road bright and early the next morning and after a 20-minute wait at the US border we were in Grand Rapids by early Friday afternoon.

And then the fun began. . .

Clear Lake on a beautiful afternoon in summer

It was a gorgeous day last Saturday when Susie, her mom and I drove out to Clear Lake. Located about 10 miles north of Grand Rapids, this family compound has become a source of relaxation and recovery for the two of us as we ease through our transition to Michigan from Rhode Island. This time, though, we also had the opportunity to catch up with one of our cousins who lives in Missouri.

Susie also brought along one of her classic rustic berry apricot tarts to share.

Susie brought out a classic rustic berry apricot tart for the Loaney and Ten Have families to enjoy

three of Ruth P.'s daughters

Monday, July 20, 2015

Overnight in Port Huron on the way to Providence

We left Grand Rapids late in the afternoon after an early dinner with Susie's mom. It was a beautiful day for a drive and we made great time crossing the "mitt," as the state in euphemistically called. This very short leg of our latest return trip to Providence would leave us in Port Huron for the night and we soon found ourselves in the parking lot of the Doubletree Hilton right along the western shore of the St. Clair river in the shadow of the Blue Water Bridge.

Truck traffic on the bridge

In addition to a lovely view of the hotel parking lot, our room overlooked the river looking south towards Detroit, but also the Michigan Culinary Institute (part of the Baker College system). And we had a nice terrace to sit outside and enjoy the quiet evening air.

After settling in to our room we headed downstairs and outside to the hotel's restaurant "Freighters" to enjoy a drink and appetizer while we enjoyed a view of the Casino on the Canadian side of the river.

The appetizer consisted of squid steaks (yep, steaks): long strips of squid casing that are then marinated in milk overnight before being lightly breaded and then quickly fried. They were nothing short of incredible -- and I mean the melt-in-your-mouth incredible.

From the hotel we drove downtown and and a tasty dinner at Thumbcoast Brewery right along a channel leading into the river.

As we returned to the hotel we poked our way along the river. We soon found ourselves at a wonderful little waterfront park right in front of the Doubletree where we strolled for a bit taking in the evening air and absorbing the colors of the settling sky.

Looking north to Lake Huron

looking east, more or less, to Canada
looking south east to Canada
And this, folks, is why it's called the Blue Water Bridge:

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Odds n ends: woodchuck in a tree, Clear Lake, Eaglecrest dinner and Fulton Market

Just a few bits and pieces of one of our recent trips back to Michigan looking for a place to live as we Continue our efforts to leave our Providence condo behind.

 Right out of my mother-in-law's dining room window we could see what appeared to be a woodchuck p in a neighbors small tree. Strange.

We also spent another lovely afternoon out at Clear Lake visiting Uncle John and Aunt Marian.

One evening Susan fixed used a en egg recipe casserole recipe she got from her mother who got it from susie's sister Mary. . . Delicious!

And then there's the Fulton Street Farmer's Market. . . .Open in the spring and summer, the market has already become one of our favorite places to pick up fresh, local fruits and vegetables.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Day trip to Saugatuck in Allegan County, Michigan

The other day Susie and I took a half-day trip out to Saugatuck in Allegan County. Located just south of Holland, Michigan near the coast of Lake Michigan Saugatuck is today quite a tourist destination: lots of shops, art galleries and a local government that grasp the importance of being creative.

After parking in front of the local arts center, we walked a couple blocks to Monroe's Cafe where we sat outside for lunch.

After lunch we just strolled around the main streets of the village, and down to the marina, enjoying the gorgeous sun and the comfortable warmth of just being outside in the summer.