When in Elmira, NY…

Make sure to visit the gravesite of Mark Twain at Woodlawn Cemetery! Not sure why it was on my bucket list, other than the fact that he was a wonderful story teller and humorist. I swear I thought I saw Tom Sawyer hiding behind the monument. Of course, I had to leave a penny on his gravesite, for good luck! Members of his family are buried along side of him on the same site.

Embrace the season change!

Ugh… it happened this weekend.  I got that feeling… that rainy day, cooler temperatures, stay at home and watch movies and do laundry all day feeling!  Fall is sneaking up on me.  I know its right around the corner, because it keeps reminding me in the most obvious ways.

Leaves are turning colors…  it’s raining more often than it has in the past month…  the outside temperatures are slowing falling.  I need a sweatshirt when I sit outside at the campground.   So now I have to admit it!  I love the fall colors.  I love sweater weather (but I love summertime more).  I love staying home and feeling cozy, padding around in my kitchen creating warm delicious dishes in my crock pot.

So guess what…  I’ve decided that I’m going to enjoy this weekend of summer weather, and then focus on the beauty of Autumn in Northern Michigan.

Things to do in Northern Michigan during Autumn…

  1. Winery/Brewery tour.  Anywhere you go in Northern Michigan, there’s a wide selection of craft brews and spirits.  Old Mission Peninsula, Leelanau County, and The Chain of Lakes region from Elk Rapids through Bellaire are wonderful areas to taste your favorites AND enjoy some of the most incredible views of the fall colors.
  2. Don’t put that boat away just yet!  Color tours via water are amazing.  One of my favorite fall cruises is from Torch River through the Chain of Lakes into the Intermediate River to visit the quaint town of Bellaire.  Colors generally peak the first two weeks of October, and USUALLY the weather is good enough to throw on a light jacket for the day trip.  The trip is an annual favorite for locals too!
  3. Visit some “Foodie Towns”…  Traverse City has tons of restaurants of all cuisine’s…  it’s becoming a good place to visit for a variety of dining experiences.  But I do have a few favorites outside of T.C.  A few of my favorite towns that are just a short drive from Traverse City, are Glen Arbor, Elk Rapids, Boyne City, Charlevoix, Northport, Leland, and Petoskey, just to name a few.   If you get out an explore these towns you will find great dining options like, Art’s Tavern, Pearl’s New Orlean’s Kitchen, Stafford’s Weathervane, Cafe’ Sante, Fischer’s Happy Hour Tavern, and the Cove.
  4. Get out and enjoy outside… Yes… there I said it!  We all need that fresh air and exercise.  We have bike/walking/hiking trails everywhere in Northern Michigan.  Personally, I can’t wait until the TART (Traverse Area Recreational Trail) trail extends towards Elk Rapids!
  5. Camping… there are so many great places to camp around here!  There’s nothing like a great campfire and roasting s’mores.  It’s not just for summertime, afterall.  Timber Ridge Campground in Traverse City offers year round sites and cabins.  My summer experience at Torch Grove Campground in the Torch Lake area this summer has lead me to make some new wonderful friendships that made my summer the best, so why not keep on camping until the snow flakes fall?  Check out some of the best campgrounds in the area at https://mynorth.com/2017/07/10-best-northern-michigan-campgrounds/.

So, don’t just hibernate until next spring… get out there and enjoy our beautiful spot in this world!  Enjoy those vibrant colors…IMG_1805

 

Slow down summertime… slow down, please!

Whew…  sometimes I have the hardest time coming up with a good blog subject.  But this week it dawned on me, as I slipped away from my desk at the end of the day, that we only have 10 more days left of August!  This summer is going by so fast, and soon I’ll be back to finding ways to survive the snow, and cold, with plenty of travel to new and interesting places.  But in the meantime, I’m going to look back and remember what is making this summer one of the best ever.

Glamping!  I’ve had my camper set out at Torch Grove Campground this summer (by Torch Lake, of course).  There’s such a fun group of people that spend the weekends here.  The new friends I’ve made are priceless and fun… Cheers to another month and a half of Glamping fun, campfires, and lake fun!  Oh… and I love the term “Glamping”  (Glamour Camping)…  It’s so much better than sleeping on the ground!  My dog agrees too!38693313_10157318141542069_1771094609921835008_o

Boating… Boating… and more boating… and lots of sand bar time on Torch Lake…  with a bit of swimmers itch thrown in.

 

The crew at the Torch River Marine has been a great one once again this year.  It’s almost mesmerizing to watch the boats come and go in and out of rack storage.  (Cheers to my favorites, Sabrina, Marlon, Shelby,  Phillip and Taylor, and of course Rebecca, John, Jason, Sarah, Jim, Rachel, Becky and a whole host of others that make the place hustle.)   I may be prejudice (My brother, John, and his friends, Jim Brewer and Jim Ennis make the place rock), but when I stand back and take a good look, they offer five star service, even under pressure of the busiest season of the year.

 

…  and lets not forget the small town fun, festivals and great friends!  The National Cherry Festival in Traverse City rocked, as usual.  Elk Rapids hosted a great 35th Class Reunion for my fellow alumni, and the Annual Torch Lake fireworks display was amazing, with a fantastic sunset and good fun!

 

All  that, and somehow, I missed my favorite festival of the year, Elk Rapids Harbor Days…  but I had fun with my visiting long lost sand bar siblings from way back in the 1970’s that week anyway…  I love these guys!

 

Ohhhhh… and summer’s not over yet.  I can’t give up on it.  There’s more to come for sure!  But I must admit, I’m looking forward to some fall adventures that I have planned.  Just a few places I have scheduled to travel for work and play…  Elmira, NY, Tunkannock, PA, Tinley Park, IL, Lexington, KY, Fort Lauderdale, FL, and Havana, Cuba… and that’s just for fall.  Who knows what winter holds… but I don’t even want to think about snow!

That’s all for now… keep enjoying those summer days as long as we can!!38422392_10157308032517069_878782731469717504_n

 

Lunchtime blog: Summertime… Sandbar… Sunshine… Swimmers Itch???

Summertime in Northern Michigan means spending time on some of the clearest, most beautiful waters in the world.  (No… I’m not exaggerating… it’s so blue, it’s almost like you are in the Caribbean!)

A lot of my weekend time is spent out on my pontoon on my favorite sand bar on Torch Lake, which borders both Antrim County, and Kalkaska County.  When you look in the water, it’s so clear you cannot imagine anything lurking in the waters.  But as the warmth of the summer months draw in the ducks and geese…  it brings this nasty parasite (carried by the birds).  It’s the dreaded SWIMMER’S ITCH!  It might not hit for a day; it might hit right away…  It might even bypass the occasional person who is completely immune to it!

Its itchy, nasty, and can ruin a good time for a few days.  But somehow it never seems to slow us down from enjoying the summer.  We cope… We slather down with hydrocortisone cream,  and we move up the lake to deeper, cooler waters where the parasite doesn’t seem to thrive.

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The skin condition doesn’t last long… but it’s still an inconvenience.  So, don’t let it kill your good time!  Lotion up your skin before you get into the water (with SPF 15 at least, of course).  Dry off as soon as you get out of the water.  Keep a bar of Lava Soap on hand too, because it seems to scrub those little buggers away very well once you hit land.38422392_10157308032517069_878782731469717504_n

In the meantime… I’m spending today itching just a bit… Next weekend I think I’ll park North of the Sand Bar in the deeper water so this doesn’t happen for awhile again!

Until next time…  Float on!

Enjoy!

10 things no one ever told you about being over 50!

  1. You aren’t 25 anymore.  Partying every night just makes you super tired for days on end.

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  2. You really do get to mow the lawn any way you wish!  Straight lines, circles, figure 8’s… anything goes.  The world will not end.

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  3. Your doctor will want to see you at least once a year… just to make sure you are still alive!

    stainless steel stethoscope
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  4. Walking is now more fun than running.  Running causes pain…  walking is still a great form of exercise.

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  5. Visiting the beauty salon now takes more time, because of those pesky gray hairs you have to cover up to stay looking young!

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  6. Cold weather brings thoughts of tropical vacations.  Snow is no longer a fun thing!  Sure it’s pretty, but oh so cold!

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  7. The old pictures where you thought you looked fat, now suddenly show how amazing you looked in your younger days!

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  8. A fun weekend may consist of cleaning out your closets and simplifying your belongings.

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  9. Your close friends become closer, and more important in your life!

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  10. Life in general becomes more enjoyable!

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    Photo by Nina Uhlíková on Pexels.com

 

This thing called cancer…

It’s been 18 years since I’ve gotten the “ALL CLEAR”, and I’m happy to say there’s no signs of my cancer recurring…  But everytime I turn a corner, there’s someone new out there heading into the cancer center for treatments.  That word has just become a part of life around here.  So, here’s a few thoughts I have running through my brain on the subject.

  • Chemo sucks… it’s rough.  It’s poison.  But it’s treatment.  In many cases, it works.  In some cases it doesn’t work.  If you have a friend going through it… BE THERE FOR THEM.  (Yes Mike, if you need me to come over and mow your lawn, I will…)
  • Radiation…  It’s just exhausting, even though it doesn’t hit you right away.  Again, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
  • Cancer isn’t always a death sentence.  They’ve come a long way with many types of cancers, but not long enough with others.
  • Every cancer has a different make up.  There is no one magic cure.  But I sure wish there was.  I wish Marijuana really did kill cancer cells.  But the fact is, every cancer is different.  Although I do feel like its a huge help with the side effects from chemo, radiation, etc…
  • Oncologists typically aren’t the most personable people.  But when you find a good one, you need them to be point blank about everything.  It’s not necessary to be their best friend.
  • Oncology nurses are amazing.  Enough said!
  • Everytime someone I know looses someone to a cancer battle, I get a huge empty ache in my heart.  (That goes to a few people I know lately…)
  • Once you survive cancer, you are a part of an elite group of truly blessed people.  You learn who your friends are, that is for sure!
  • Donation’s to organizations that fight cancer are a good thing.  My personal favorite organization is the Munson Healthcare Regional Foundation that supports the Cowell Family Treatment Center in Traverse City, Michigan.  It’s local for Northern Michigan.  The money stays in our community.  The staff is very supportive and professional.

Yes… Unfortunately, today I have that terrible heartache for the second time this week.  But at the same time, I know that people are fighting this disease with all they have.  Someday, “that word” needs to be history…  gone… forever.  I hope that happens.

So I remind myself, once again…  18 years… WOW!  I am blessed.  I have hope…. TONS of hope.  Now I’m going home to hug my doggie as hard as I can.

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Ancestry fascination continues…

When I got my DNA results from Ancestry, it matched me up with cousins I never knew.  But one 4th cousin in particular contacted me with quite a story, that we’ve both researched the heck out of!

So, she was adopted at birth, and has never known anything about our family.  However, the DNA results have matched her with cousins, and even an Aunt.  So exciting!  We became Facebook friends, and message back and forth about our findings.  When I look at her pictures, I do see some family resemblance.  It’s kind of freaky, but really cool!

Her next step has been to consult with one of Ancestry’s experts, who has narrowed down to who her biological father may have been… But no DNA is really available, because he hasn’t taken a test.  She is SO CLOSE!!!  I’m finding myself really excited for her.

She was born in 1963, I do know that.  Her DNA results keep matching with people of the surname Kornoelje in the Grand Rapids/Wyoming, MI area, and her father may have that last name.  She has a beautiful family in the Long Island, NY area.  While I’m sure her adoptive parents provided her with a good upbringing and lots of love, I completely understand her wanting to know about her biological family.

It’s a very exciting story… and I got a new cousin out of the deal!

So many reasons you should attend your next high school class reunion!

This weekend marked the 35th Reunion of the Elk Rapids High School Class of 1983.  Wow… what a great party of the best people!  So… you may think you don’t want to attend your next class reunion, but think again, because you are probably missing out!37094900_10157249396172069_2538177057477623808_o

  1.  You spent every weekday of the school year with these people, and whether you like it or not, they had some impact on who you are today.37150900_10157249391267069_114224603697512448_n
  2. You’ll get to see your best friend, that you just don’t get to see enough!37112591_10157249392667069_5267147505820237824_n
  3. Everyone will be surprised by the unexpected person you haven’t seen in over 35 years.37106275_10157249392417069_3625641959118340096_n
  4. Even the exchange student from Brazil showed up for the party.  37130315_10157249391437069_1257980708224237568_n
  5. Guaranteed fun with your favorite people in the world!37095157_10157249391047069_3750223090471141376_n
  6. You might even find out that your ancestors knew about your beautiful home town, long before you did!37145287_10157249391617069_7938141934390870016_n
  7. Some people just never age!37118482_10157249391027069_2477411336187805696_n
  8. Having the big party at a place you had your 6th grade play…  priceless!

I think I hugged every single person that walked through those doors…  My face hurt by the end of the night, from smiling so big.  A great time was had by all!

Bottom line…  This is just seriously one very fine bunch of people that I grew up with!

Happy Independence Day!

The 4th of July has always been a favorite of mine…  Wonderful fireworks all around Northern Michigan!  But there’s more reasons that its a favorite.

Happy Boat Dogs

img_6635My favorite wine and a sunset on the water!img_6637Boat time with friends and familyimg_6644Dinner served boatside

img_6656Beautiful sunsetimg_6659My happy place… the captains chair on my pontooon!img_6662Patriotic Boaters

Beautiful skylines and warm nights!

img_6673Beautiful clean clear watersimg_6674Splashing through THE Sandbar… yes…  It’s the world famous Torch Lake Sand Bar.  This is where I grew up… and where I celebrate the freedom of our country every year.   img_6676

Enjoy every minute, and appreciate whats around!  Never take these things for granted.  It’s all great!

Happy Birthday America!

Things to know before heading to the Torch Lake Sandbar

Summertime in Northern Michigan… yes, it’s that time of year, and there really is no better place to be than splashing through the beautiful waters of the Torch Lake Sand Bar on a hot summer day.  BUT, if you’ve never been there, there are a few tips you need to know before heading out.

  1. When anchoring on the sand bar, use at least two anchors to secure your boat.  Front and Back Anchors can keep your boat from swinging into other boats around you on a windy day.
  2. Lotion up before getting into the water.  This helps keep “Swimmers Itch” from affecting your skin.  Also dry off quickly when you get out.  This is another good preventative for the parasites carried by duck feces in the water.
  3. The sand bar is a public place.  You can get arrested for public drunkenness, drugs, indecency, etc…  Be respectful of families around you. There are Antrim and Kalkaska County Sheriff boats out there, along with Michigan State Police, Michigan DNR Boats, and even Coast Guard helicopters monitoring the crowds every day in the busy summer.  They are there to ensure safety at all times.
  4. Mark your anchors with floatables.  This will save a few toes from stubbage.  Walkabouts are a must when on the sand bar to socialize and meet new people.  An unmarked anchor can lead to  a painful toe if you happen to stub your foot, or step on an anchor that isn’t marked.
  5. Take care of your garbage.  If you brought it with you, take it back with you!  Torch Lake is one of the most beautiful lakes in the world.  It needs to stay that way!
  6. The locals love to grill!  If you get offered some of their grillings, by all means, try it!  It’s great stuff!
  7. Bring money for the Burger Barge.  Dave does a great job with his burger flippers, and has the best souvenir’s on the water!  https://www.facebook.com/The-Burger-Barge-280618472591/
  8. If you park in an open spot, don’t be surprised if someone maneuvers up and anchors next to you.  It’s a big place, but the shallow spots are in demand.  Many times, regular’s will even jump in to help you get where you want to be and help you anchor.
  9. Locals hang out on the East Side.  It’s more protected from extra wakes caused by boats cruising past the sandbar on the West Side.  The younger crowd hangs out in the center, where all the action happens.  Take your pick of places, depending on your mood!
  10. Relax, enjoy, float, and socialize!  It’s one of Michigan’s premiere spots to cool off.   The clear clean (and sometimes cold, depending on the wind direction) is worth the trip!
  11. Fabiano’s delivers pizza to the sandbar!!!  Just give “Pizza Boy” a shout along with a description of your boat with MC #’s, and approximate location.  Check them out at www.fabianosontorch.com.   They also have a limited number of short term boat slips and pontoon boat rentals available.
  12. Torch River Marine is a seasonal boat slip marina.  Plan on putting yourself on the wait list for a slip here for the summer.  It’s a first class operation with both in water boat slips and on demand rack storage.  Boat rentals are available as well.  www.torchrivermarine.com
  13. This year’s fireworks are scheduled at Dusk on Tuesday, July 3rd, 2018.  Check them out… They are spectacular!

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This is where I grew up most every summer of my life…  It’s a place I don’t take for granted.  What can I say, it’s made me a “lake snob”!  See you out there soon!

Another good dining establishment! Blue Water Bistro and Pizzeria, Alden, MI

Last week, Alden got an addition to its already wonderful cast of businesses.  The Blue Water Bistro and Pizzeria, (formerly Poma’s Pizza, and way back Sonny’s Pizza) opened last Friday night with  good reviews from the locals.

So, OF COURSE, Saturday night we had to venture over for a taste.  The new restaurant has a few bugs they are actively working out, but overall, I think its going to be a hit!

First off, they have a full bar with a nice selection of wine and beers, including some great local craft beers.  Of course, my refreshing favorite choice:  Tito’s and Soda with Orange slices served tall in a jar mug.  img_6562

My favorite part of the evening, was the small plates that were served.  There were five of us at the table, so we ordered a little of everything to sample.

  • Flaming Cheese and Bread…  This is a must have!!!  Tequila lime flamed at tableside… this is a gooey fantastic treat to start with.  I HIGHLY recommend it! It’s on the menu as “Blue Water Cheese Bread”… Don’t miss out!
  • Hot Wings…  These were nicely done as well.   They were just spicy enough to be perfectly flavorful.
  • Bruschetta…  Always one of my favorites where ever I go.  This place does it up very nicely!  Very fresh and flavorable… those are the words I choose to describe this selection.
  • Drunken Mushrooms…  Marinated in a wine/garlic sauce.  Good on its own… great if you add a little of the flaming cheese on top! (Just our tables experimentation… )
  • Shrimp Scampi Fritta…  OK, so I cant review this one, because of my severe seafood allergy.  But it certainly looked good.

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Oh… and did I mention the amazing bread plate that showed up before dinner?  No words needed… just enjoy the picture.  #honeybutter #yumyum

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Then dinner was served…

  • Three of us ordered the Blue Water Trio, which included an Olive Garden type combination of Lasagna, Fettucine Alfredo, and Chicken Parmesan.  The Lasagna was good… the Chicken Parmesan was OK (but it’s not always a favorite of mine anyway)…  The alfredo sauce on the fettuccine was delicious, but I wish there would have been more sauce.  The fettucine was sadly lacking moisture.  Overall, it’s an OK choice, but next time I’d try something different.
  • Another diner ordered the Lobster Mac and Cheese…  I heard a few yummy noises being made across the table over this one, so I’d say it was a hit.
  • The almond crusted scallops on a bed of linguine with white wine sauce was another choice at our table.  It looked tasty to me, and I didn’t hear any complaints, so I’d say it’s a keeper on this menu

Next time, I’d love to try the Steak Gorgonzola…  Yes, there will be a next time.

Oh… I cannot forget to mention the wonderful Creme’ Brule’ for dessert… Simply delish!  It was a perfect finish to our meal…  And we all left with full happy bellies.

One last note on the atmosphere of the place… I love the garage doors on the front of the building for outside dining and cocktailing in the summer months.  The place was packed Saturday night, so the tables inside seemed a bit crowded together.  The high top tables were super cool looking, but seemed a bit over tall for a few shorter people in our group.

Of course, keeping in mind that the restaurant just opened, they do have a few service and kitchen issues to work out over time.  But I really have confidence that this place is going to be a big hit in the Torch Lake area.  I will definitely go back!

Check out the rest of their wonderful menu at www.torchlakepizza.com!

 

 

5 Reasons to visit Alden, Michigan this summer!

This little gem of a town in Northern Michigan often goes unnoticed… What people don’t realize is just how adorable Alden, Michigan really is!  Why?  Well, here are just a few of my simple reasons:

  1. Torch Lake!  Yes… this town is located on the east side of Torch Lake.  Beautiful views can be enjoyed from the docks at the boat launch.  You can visit by boat, or by car.  A quick 30 minute drive from Traverse City is all it takes.img_6524
  2. Alden’s Mill house…  This is a must stop for my favorite spice blends and fun kitchen gadgets.  It’s a quaint unique shop with something for the awesome chef in everyone!  Check it out at their website…  https://aldenmillhouse.com/  They ship anywhere as well, so treat your favorite chef to some Miracle Blend, or Big Dave’s Burger and Steak Blend.  No kitchen is complete without it!
  3.  The Alden Bar & Grill.  Burgers, Ice Cold Beer, and friendly locals gather here.  My personal favorite is the Alden Bar Burger.  They even have an outdoor patio for those warm summer evenings.  You just can’t go wrong.
  4. The Alden Depot Park and Museum.  Stop in for a visit and learn about the history of this beautiful little town, relax in the park overlooking Torch Lake, or play a quick game of volleyball in the sand courts. It’s the epitome of “Pure Michigan”.  You can check out all it has to offer at https://www.michigan.org/property/alden-depot-park-museum
  5. The Stroll!  Every Thursday in the summer it’s all about Alden…  Meet up with friends, Stroll the streets, listen to live music, and check out all of the shops.  Alden has so much to offer.

For more details on this great town, check out VisitAlden.com.  Enjoy  your visit… You will want to return for years to come!

New Boat… Shakedown Cruise…

Here in Northern Michigan, we get boat fever if we don’t get out on the water enough.  Those of us who are lucky enough to own boats, often get this condition called “Two-foot-itis”…

This is a condition where you have a nice boat that is enough, but then you walk down a dock and see a slightly bigger boat that just might just be a touch more your style!  My friends, Terry and Susan Roote, remedied this condition this week, by upgrading from their 28 ft SeaRay Express, to a 32 ft Regal with twin engines.  Note… my knowledge of engines is limited, so I have no idea what kind of engines, HP’s, etc…

So…  as soon as they rolled back into town with their boat they invited a couple of us for a “Shakedown” Cruise to run out any bugs that might exist.   Off to Torch River Marine we went to meet up for our cruise down Torch River, through Lake Skegemog, and into Elk Lake.

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Good times for sure!  The boat ran like a champ, topping out at 55 mph across shorelines of Elk Lake, and onto the South end Sand Bar, where we tested out the water with our toes for a minute.  Elk Lake is actually about 63 degrees.  Not bad compared to the icy waters of Torch Lake! img_6487

The day wasn’t a top notch sunny day, but we threw on sweatshirts and had a great day!

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Of course the cruise down Torch River is always a relaxing treat!

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Siri, the boat dog!

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Getting the hang of the twins!  Terry did great with his new boat…

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The sun tried to come out for a few minutes, casting a glow across Lake Skegemog’s “Stump Hell”…

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Susan got a quick minute to handle to boat as well.  Boat’s just make people smile really big!

What a super fun day we all had!

Did I mention they have a beautiful Bed and Breakfast at the South end of Torch Lake also?  If anyone is ever curious about visiting this amazing area, just check their place out at UpFromTheRoote’s on Facebook!   They are great hosts!

 

Summer is here… and Torch Lake is back in full swing!

Yes…  It’s memorial weekend.  The weather is amazing here in Northern Michigan, at last!  The boats, yes…  the boats are ready to be in the water zipping around the lake and loafing on the sand bar at the south end.  It’s good to be a Michigander this weekend, especially if you own a boat!

7583841840_img_0308The water is a bit cold, but it sure doesn’t stop anyone from dipping their toes in to see if they can handle the ice cream headache that may result!  (Sparty on friends, Sparty on!)

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I personally just love days like these!  The water is so clear and clean… and did I mention COLD????  The air temperature was a solid 85 degrees. They tell me the water is 60 degrees, but my feet completely disagree!  Still… This place is the best place to be.

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A cruise up the river was a nice break from the crowd.  Happily, this natural piece of artwork on Torch River has survived yet another winter!  It’s a favorite of mine.

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Swanny even tried to pay us a visit to see if we had extra crackers on board.  Sorry buddy, no crackers for you!

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Days like today, it gets so hot cruising the river, you just have to stop off for a dip before you head on under the bridge.

… and we get an additional day of this!

Happy Memorial Weekend to all…  Take time to remember all the veterans who gave their lives so that we can enjoy weekends like this.

 

BBQ Ribs… I forgot how much I love them!

It’s been a few years since I’ve had a propane grill…  so BBQ isn’t always a staple around my house.  So this weekend, I broke out the ol’ charcoal grill with some applewood smoke charcoal and did up some delicious fall off the bone ribs.  So good, simple, and absolutely delicious!  So… here’s my not-so-secret recipe!

1 rack of ribs (Pork or beef… depending on your personal preference)

1 12 oz. can of beer

1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Alden Mill House Chef’s Pork & Poultry Seasoning (www.aldenmillhouse.com)

Sweet Baby Ray’s Vidalia BBQ Sauce (or whatever your favorite sauce may be!)

Preheat Oven to 325 degrees.

In a 9×12 baking pan pour in the can of beer.

Prepare ribs by rubbing them with olive oil, and Pork and Poultry seasoning.  Then add them to the baking pan.

Bake covered for 2 1/2 hours.

Next, prep the charcoal on your favorite grill.  Get it good and hot!  🙂

Once you take the ribs out of the oven, transfer them over to the charcoal grill, and baste with BBQ sauce.  Let them grill for about 5 minutes on each side to maximize the flavor.  (Baste the ribs on both sides, of course…)

The ribs will be falling of the bone…  Serve them with your favorite summer picnic sides, like broccoli Salad and potato salad!  They will disappear fast once they hit the table, so if you intend to take a picture be quick about it!  (Yep… I didn’t catch a picture of the goodness on the table this time!)

ENJOY!  Happy BBQ season!

Retirement… thoughts that enter your mind in your 50’s.

Yes, we all know we think about it.  What do we need to retire someday?  Well… financial advisers tell us we need to have $1,000,000.00 in the bank to support ourselves through our retirement years.  Seriously???  This just isn’t going to happen here in the real world.  I’m no financial adviser, but I’m just a person who hopes to be able to take it easy someday…  So here are just a few thoughts I have on making it happen for myself someday!

SIMPLIFY!  Right now, I live in a 4 bedroom 2 bath home on a little less than one acre. With any luck, I will have enough equity in this home when I retire (lets just say in 15 years for all intensive purposes), that I can sell it, and buy a house outright with cash.  Let’s imagine a home equity as it stands today is right around $110,000.00 (which doesn’t buy much… but it will get you a roof over your head…)  So in 15 years, imagine the equity that will build towards a mortgage free home.  So, when you ask yourself, “should I include the equity of my home in my total net worth?”, my personal opinion is YES!  Not having a house payment in retirement years will be a big plus.  Just don’t forget that there will always be taxes and insurance, along with possible HOA (Home Owners Association) fees to pay!img_6067

LIVE IN A WALKABLE COMMUNITY!  Right now I have a car payment… I’ve had one all of my adult years, with the exception of the 1975 Ford Granada I bought for $1,000.00 when I was 20 years old.  Having a reliable newer vehicle is a must for me at this time in my life when I drive 15 miles to work each way.  Gas prices, auto insurance, and car payments really add up.  Luckily, my job affords me the be able to pay for this.  I have never really lived in a walkable community, but the whole idea sounds fantastic to me in my later years!  Of course, I will always have a car, but at some point, I hope that I don’t need a 4 wheel drive, snow busting SUV.  The older I get, the better it sounds to be able to live close to a community where I could walk or bike or (yes…) GOLF CART to places I need to go.  It’s a quiet dream I have to be “That lady” with the basket on her bicycle riding down the road to collect sea shells on the seashore.  Those “Over 55” Active Community’s don’t seem so bad after all!5-5 Lady alone in Heraklion

HEALTH INSURANCE COSTS…  Wow… these go up every year, along with health care costs.  This is huge when making the decision of what age to retire at.  At 62, Medicare isn’t at option.  So working full time may just be the best decision.  Eligibility for Medicare begins at age 65. Just don’t forget about supplemental insurance for major health care costs if something catastrophic hits, like cancer, heart disease, among a million other conditions that may create a medical financial disaster if you aren’t properly insured.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

SOCIAL SECURITY… Right now, it does still exist.  We’ve all been contributing to this fund every day of our working lives.  Our parents are drawing on what they’ve contributed in their retirement.  So what we do today is cross our fingers, and hope that it still exists to supplement our retirement savings in the future.  Right now at age 62 we can collect Social Security at a lower rate.  Full retirement actually is set at age 67.  Can we exist on Social Security alone in retirement?  Do you enjoy poverty?  The answer to both questions is a big NO! Unless you really do enjoy poverty…   So…

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Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

RETIREMENT SAVINGS!  Yes, it’s soooooooo very important; SEP, 401K, IRA, Roth IRA, etc…  the list goes on and on.  Make a point to put away as much as you can each paycheck!  Each person is different.  So I don’t feel like it’s a good thing to define exactly what a person should have in the bank at the time of retirement.  But, it’s so very important to have that financial adviser who can help you set up just the right plan. Be upfront and forthright with the lifestyle you wish to live after you retire.

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Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

KEEP WORKING…  If you don’t like slowing down, by all means, keep working!  No one says you have to stop, especially if you really love what you do.  If you retire, and decide you can’t stand it, you can always go back and find a new job (even if its just a part time gig!)

So that’s all I have for today’s blog!  Feel free to share your thoughts and ideas as well.

Happy Spring!

Another Small Town Saturday Night… Bellaire, MI Short’s Brewing Company’s 14th Anni Party!

Oh boy!  Northern Michigan is all about everything craft beer these days, and a big part of the reason why, is a Northern Michigan guy from Bellaire, Michigan, named Joe Short.  14 years ago, he took his favorite hobby and turned it into a business that he’s kept his passion for through out the years.  Yesterday, the town of Bellaire shut down the streets and turned into a festival of all things Short’s for it’s 14th Anni party.  People lined up from all parts of the state to get into the big party!

7518834608_img_0240Performances by several bands from throughout Michigan happened here on this day.  In this picture, Braxton Hicks (aka…  Joe Short and Seth Bernard) and the Contractions performed their comical musical genius from the top of a  semi trailer downtown Bellaire.

7518834608_img_0260The Detroit Marching band showcased it’s Louisana style jazz, wowing the crowd!  I’m a new big fan!  These guys really rocked it!  The evening ended with Michigan’s own “Steppin’ in it” on the main stage.

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My new favorite beer of the day (and of the summer for sure!) is Short’s Soft Parade Shandy; A lemonade infused fruit based beer.  7518834608_img_0247

Even though it was a brisk, sunny, 40 degree day, everyone kept warm until the sun went down!

Cheer to Short’s Brewing Company…  Happy 14th. Anniversary, and wishing you many more!

It’s Trout Friday in Northern Michigan!

It’s something that happens the last weekend in April every year… like clockwork!  Yes, folks… the first festival of the season UpNorth is officially underway.  The 82nd National Trout Festival in Kalkaska, MI, happens all weekend!

Trout Friday is somewhat like homecoming… Oh heck, that’s exactly what it is!  Any establishment that you may frequent this evening may be filled with Native Kalkaskian’s having a great time.

The places to be seen:

  1.  The KalHo Lounge…  Kalkaska’s original, longest standing establishment for cocktails, great pizza, and beer bucket specials!
  2. Trout Town Tavern and Eatery…  This place makes my hungry just thinking about it!  My favorite is the UpNorth Salad, but they have some wonderful barbeque dishes that will make your tummy very happy!
  3. The UpNorth Grill… aka, the Fireball Lounge, aka Whitetails…  This is where happy hour starts.  Go early so you can find a spot at the bar!  The place will be packed.
  4. The carnival… who can resist the rides, and the carnival food?  I hear there’s a pizza truck that is totally OFF THE HOOK…  And did I mention the Gibby’s Fries trailer is onsite?  Now that has “Northern Michigan Tradition” all over it!
  5. The big parade on Saturday!  They actually close down US-131 for the big parade.  It’s a great way to celebrate Trout season, and the beginning of Spring!
  6. The trout pond…  Make your way down to the trout pond and see how big of a fish you can catch…  It’s what its all about!

Don’t be afraid of this great little Northern Michigan town!  It’s not as bad as the news makes it sound.  There are some fun people to meet around this town that I work in!

… and while I won’t make it to Trout Friday festivities this year… I guarantee, from past experiences, its a gooooood time!

Meanwhile, I will be off to another favorite little town tomorrow, Bellaire, MI, for Short’s Brewing Company’s 14th Anniversary party…  Stay tuned for pictures and story’s, because there’s another great place to be!

This is what happens when the snow melts, and we can make it out of our houses!

HAPPY SPRING!

My first drone adventure…

Some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten…  if you think you are interested in operating a drone, buy a $30.00 one first!

My original intent was to share beautiful drone footage out and around Northern Michigan.  So I followed the advice I got from my real estate continuing education, and got a $30.00 drone (A Syma X5C) with a little camera on it, just to practice with.  It’s light and pretty much indestructible.  BUT…  then you turn it on, and put that baby into motion, and wizzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…  away it goes!  Quickly, I got it under control, and practice turns and forward backward motions…  Then the wind picked up, and carried it into… THE REALLY DEEP SNOW!   Crash!   I look down at my feet, and decided to go retrieve it, as fast as my flip flops could carry me.   Crunch crunch crunch… all the way to the little toy and back…  I suffered a bit of an ice cream headache by the time I got back to dry land!

Try #2…  This time I fired it up just a little more slowly, thinking I had better control of it.  The higher it went, the faster it zipped around, until ZINGGGGGGGGG….  It crashed into my roof…  at which point I pulled my ladder out of the garage and retrieved it off the roof.   Pretty nice view from up there!

At that point, I decided to wait a day, let the poor thing rest, and try again tomorrow.

So I got home from work last night, did a few chores around the house… and then decided to go back out and give it another whirl.

It was going pretty well, and I was getting more confidence in controlling the little quad copter, so I decided to go a bit higher.  Yes, the wind caught it once again, and wizzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz….. away it went, so I tried to circle it back towards me, and CRASH…  right into a group of trees!  So I crunched my way back through the knee deep snow to see where it landed.

It didn’t land on the ground!  I looked up at this tall pine, as I hit the control switch… wizzzzz…. there it was, stuck way up high in the branches.  Wizzzzzz wizzzz whizzz…..  It wasn’t moving an inch!  So I tried the ol’ shake the tree trick, with no luck.

So my poor little $30.00 drone spent the night (and probably the rest of its life) about 30 foot up in a tree.  Glad I didn’t buy a $500.00 drone right out of the gate!

Next purchase… a chain saw!  (Just kidding!)

 

Out of Blog Practice! Time to Review another favorite.. McGee’s 72 in Acme, MI

Most Friday’s I don’t feel like cooking… so what’s a girl to do, but cruise on down M-72 to her favorite Friday night happy hour spot.  Namely, McGee’s 72 in Acme, MI!

What’s so great about this place?

  1.  The bartenders…  once they see you, they do remember what your favorite is…  even after just one visit!  Oh, and did I tell you about the “sister bartenders” Hannah and Rebecca?  Pure jolly happy entertainment… always guaranteed to make you laugh.  Make sure you ask them about “Pancakes”.  🙂  Yes, ladies, tonight I will be having my favorite cocktail, Tito’s, Soda, with an Orange Slice, TALL…  🙂  Usually, they are mixing my drink as I walk in the door.  img_6368
  2. The steakburgers are THE BEST!  When you want one, you want one! What’s this blue cheese crusted option???   Medium Rare, please!  Oh… and add those great duck fried truffle fries to cure my carb craving!
  3. Location…  They are located right next to the Grand Traverse Resort.  Dinner on the patio means a great view of one beautiful Jack Nicklaus course!  … and of course, a few novice golfers searching the ponds for that ball that took a wrong turn.
  4. The Chef’s…  These guys come up with some amazing dishes, especially for Sunday Brunches.  It’s a great place to take the family for a wonderful afternoon gathering.  Try a steak (blue cheese crusted of course), or Pulled Pork BBQ/Mac N Cheese combo!
  5. The Locals… sit on the bar side, instead of getting a table for a true local feel of the area.  It’s a favorite local hangout, especially if there’s a good game on!  Large screen TV’s are located throughout “Matty’s Place” so you can get the best view of your favorite team.  So whether you are “Go Green, Go White”, or “Maize and Blue”, chances are, your fellow sports fans are right there with you.  Get to know the locals for lifelong friendships.

Want to check out more about this place?  Check them out at www.mcgees72.com.

… or just get in your car and  check them out in person!

Happy Friday… I think Spring is finally here to stay!

Onward and upward…

Enough with the negativity!  I never meant for my blog to become a political tool, or a rant fest, but occasionally I do catch myself venting about bad happenings in our society, sometimes when its not even political. But then I kick myself just to remind my brain that this isn’t what its all about.

I started this blog as a tool to practice my writing skills, and talk about positive lifestyles, favorite travel destinations, along with favorite local places, and continuing life over 50!  So…  I had a few days of negative after the Parkland Shooting, and the Benton, KY shooting.  I voiced my opinion.  I wish there was a time machine that could send someone back to change all that happened here. But that doesn’t exist yet (Elon Musk, can you do something about that, please?), so I need to reset my thinking.

I promise to do better on the next blog, not only for the readers, but for myself.  I need to lighten up life a little!  So stay tuned… Life has to get better!

When the cold weather prompts a vacation reminder!

I found this picture when I was cleaning out my files on my computer today… Definitely a keeper!  One of my favorite scenes from a vacation in the Key’s circa 2011.

14 days until my next vacation!  (Does anyone else do a countdown every time they leave town???)

Have Dog… Will Travel!

In 15 days, I’m off on a trip to Florida, with my bestie, Daisy Mae, the Hilarious Havanese!  She loves Florida, chasing lizards and lounging by the pool in the sunshine.  But in the past I’ve driven the 22 hours, just so I didn’t have to put her on a plane.

Well, these days, everyone seems to travel with their pets on airplanes, so I think I’m going to give this a try!  I bought this great travel bag (with wheels) for her to ride in.  It should fit nicely under the seat in front of me on the plane.  My next worry…  she could be a neurotic mess in that bag under the seat… so of course my Veterinarian recommended light sedation, which he advised me to test in advance.  So, two weeks ago, I picked up the goods from him, and gave her 1/4 of a pill on a Sunday afternoon while she was loafing around the house.

No effect…  She stayed pretty much how she always is.  Chasing toys, flipping her blankey’s around, and just all around, being her adorable rowdy self.  So this week, I slipped 1/2 of one of the pills into a cheese treat.  Within an hour, she was in complete loaf mode.  Whew!  I think this will work…  Now the tough part will be to hope that the flight leaves on time.  It’s a straight through flight from Grand Rapids, Michigan to Punta Gorda, FL on Allegient Airlines.

I think, the two of us are ready for travel!  Perhaps by the next trip, I can get her to cooperate in a service dog program, so she can be on my lap instead of under a seat…  Wish me luck!

Resolutions…

Happy New Year everyone!

So far this year I have no insights on resolutions.  Not too sure what’s up with that!  But I feel like it’s just fine.

Northern Michigan is frozen…  We have a heat wave today at 20 degrees fahrenheit!  Wintertime…  it’s here.  So, I’ve booked a plane ticket for my dog and myself to head south at the end of this month for a few days of fun and sun (and work too, of course). The big challenge will be to get my 12 lb. ball of energy, named Daisy, to be able to settle down on the plane.  18136955_10155827168812069_1224365527_n

It’s just not easy being this cute sometimes!

One thought did run through my head at midnight.  I have a pretty good life…  If you look around at midnight and think “there’s no place I’d rather be”… you know your friends are the best!

In the meantime, I’m just going to continue being me.

“Side Hustle”… I love this phrase!

This year I turned 52…  I’ve been working at my current job for almost 27 years now.  When I got my SEP statement at the beginning of the month, it dawned on me, that I might actually be able to retire someday!  But do I really want to retire?  Maybe I will just look into doing something else with a little less stress involved someday.

Then I saw the term “Side Hustle” on the internet one day… Let’s take a look at this!  A “Side Hustle” can be an extra way to make money on the side, in addition to your job.  It can be a monetized blog, a direct marketing consultantship (not sure if that’s a real word, but I’m using it anyways…), weekend bartending… even selling crafts at a craft sale.

So then my brain started ticking!  Hey… if I start a side hustle now, maybe someday it can be my main hustle?  I do love my blogging, so yes, I’m hoping that someday it will pay off with Ad clicks and views.  For now it’s only about $.25 per month… but it seems to be growing each month.  It’s worth a shot, and I love writing, so why not?  Blogging is one of my favorite side hustles, even though the payoff is minimal for now. Feel free to share my blog if you like it!

Of course there is always direct marketing.  I’ve been involved with one company for a couple of years, just for the benefit of a discount that I can share with friends.  But, their products are constantly changing, and my best sellers are now discontinued.  This month I decided to jump ship. So that’s where my Mary Kay business came in… (Yes… check it out at www.marykay.com/tpeal).

Mary Kay has been around since 1963.  The company is older than I am, and, lets face it… I love the products and the pricing doesn’t send people over the edge.  Good products sell themselves, and if people really love them, they want to use them on a regular basis.  So why not jump in?  For $99.00 I bought my starter kit with a giant bag full of goodies to share with friends.  I can choose to keep an inventory on hand, or order them as my customers need them.  Personally, I’m loving the products I’m using.  So… of course, this side hustle may actually be a good option for me!  If anyone ever wants to sign up for a Mary Kay business, I recommend it, and I can even show you how!

My third side hustle (why just have one?) came to me last winter when the snow was coming down in buckets here in Northern Michigan.  I didn’t have any desire to leave the house, but I was bored silly!  So to keep my mind off the bitter cold outside, I took an online class for my Real Estate Salespersons license.  So I’m now a licensed Realtor with my license in escrow.  I’ve always been fascinated with the real estate industry, and since my full-time job doesn’t allow me the time to practice this profession, I keep my license in escrow with a local company, and refer clients to some of the best realtors in the industry.  In return I can make a little commission off it.  It really paid off last spring when I sold my house (referring the sale to another realtor), and bought my new house.

None of these are “easy money”… they do take work… and I honestly enjoy taking time to work on them.  Someday I’m hoping to end a blog with “The Pay Off is real!”  In the meantime, why not hustle.

That’s all for my lunchtime blog for today…  back to bean counting!  Happy Holidays to everyone!

 

 

 

Today’s lunch time blog! One of my favorite local hangouts… A review of Peegeo’s in Traverse City, MI.

Thirsty Thursday… yes, it’s a weekly holiday where the ladies all meet for dinner and drinks.   This week we ended up at one of our favorites, Peegeo’s on High Lake Road in Traverse City.   I realized I have never reviewed this place before!  So here it goes.

This place holds a little piece of my heart.  The minute you walk in the door, it’s like walking into “Cheers”.  Everybody knows your name (No I don’t run a tab like George or Cliffy…).  After one visit, you are considered a local by the owners, George and Susan VanKersen.  Of course, I’ve been a local to this place since 1992.  So my opinion may be a little biased.  But I do believe its general just a fun place to go!  The bar is lined with locals telling stories and spreading cheer, no matter what time of year it is.

My menu picks:

  • Hangar Steak (George does it right!)  It melts in your mouth!
  • Mexican Chicken wings…  One of my favorites!
  • Cherry Chicken Salad… for those times I feel like a need some veggies.  But it’s soooooooo delish!
  • BBQ Ribs… Mmmmmmmmmmm…
  • Mexican Combo Plate…  So much goodness on one plate.
  • Mike’s Sicilian Pizza…  Seriously the best pizza I have ever eaten in my life!
  • The London Broil… Comfort food at its best!

Of course there’s so many options on the menu other than this.  But these are my favorites!  Did I mention the Mike’s Sicilian Pizza is the best ever???  Check out their menu at www.peegeos.com.

Cheer’s to the local’s at Peegeo’s!  Nice job!

P.S.  to my people at McGee’s in Acme, MI… you are next!  You know I love ya’ll!

Somedays all you can do is shake your head…

Everyday, lately, when I turn on the news, there’s a new case of sexual harassment arising on some supposedly upstanding celebrity/politician/executive.  What the heck is going on???

Well, as young ladies, our generation was taught to be quiet and respectful.  Don’t make waves.  Graduate from high school, get married, have babies, and enjoy life’s finer moments.  It’s a nice dream, but it’s not reality today.  I even have a recollection of my high school counselor advising me to by-pass college, because it wasn’t what girls did.  What the heck???  I’m pretty glad I didn’t listen to him, even though I was a bit directionless at that age.  Back in those days, confidence wasn’t exactly instilled in the average female student.

And what’s up with these people? (yes, that goes for both sexes…)  Did their parents not teach them respect for others?  Seriously, a joke is a joke… but there’s a fine line between a joke, and sexual harassment.  The easiest way to avoid trouble is to stay on the right side of that line.  Be clear that there is no intention of contact or intimidation, and keep your body parts to yourself.

Now can the news please report on something else for awhile?

That’s all I have to say about that…

Restaurant Review: Calypso Mediterranean Grille on the Munson Miracle Mile, Traverse City, MI

 

After passing a few favorites in search of something different, we landed at Calypso, a new Mediterranean Eatery on Munson Avenue.  Here are some of my thoughts on the place:

  1. There’s been a few restaurants located in that particular building throughout the years.  They have all been short lived, with the exception of “The Clock”.  I think Calypso could be around for awhile!  Maybe I’m just partial to Mediterranean food, but I found this place great!
  2. The pricing… well, it may be a little pricey. But the salad’s we ordered with our dinners were enormous!  Next time, we split the salad.  Dinner pick:  Green Tomatillo Chicken Alfredo.  You just can’t go wrong!  This dish is positively wonderful, comforting, and flavorful.  Overall, the price was worth it.
  3. Tempting options: Blue Cheese Crusted Delmonico Steak… This was one of the specials of the evening.  We may have to go back for this!  Oh… and pumpkin cheesecake…  I passed on dessert this time, but, next time may be a different story!
  4. The service was excellent. We had an attentive professional waiter who knew the menu like the back of his hand.
  5. Will we go back??? Oh, by all means, yes we will!  Calypso is a nice addition to the Foodie community of Traverse City.

Looking forward to my next visit to this one!

For more information on this restaurant, please visit their website at www.calypsogrilltc.com.  ENJOY!

My Latest Obsession: Ancestry.com

There are two sides to everyones family!  So, my dad’s side of the family has been well documented by my Uncle.  Who traced the family way back to pre-revolutionary times in the United States.  This side of the family pretty much traces back to Great Britain, Ireland, with a touch of Italian, French, and Scandanavian, etc….  This side of my family were explorers and founders of the State of Kentucky, migrating from North Carolina to settle in West Kentucky to farm its lush landscape.  It’s a place I’ve become familiar with because I still have family in the area.  Upon tracing the history on Ancestry, I found decorated Revolutionary military, and British Lords and Ladies, and lots of farmers.  Not just small time farmers. But 1000 acre farmers.  Pretty exciting stuff!  Meet my Great Great Great Great Great Grandfather Major John Finley…

My Mom’s side I was a little familiar with, but the tree pretty much stopped as far as history goes, when my Great-Great Grandparents, Gerardus and Wilhemena (Minnie) Vernooy,  came across to Ellis Island on a boat from the Netherlands in 1900 with their children.

Curiosity set in!  So of course, I went directly to Ancestry.com to get a DNA test kit.  My overall result…  55% Western European.  This is no surprise, since the Netherlands is located in this area.  So I started tracing back this family history.

The Vernooy side was easy to trace, since there are previous Ancestry members who have posted their family trees that match mine.  Dutch!  Tulips, wooden shoes, the works!  My Great Great Grandfather made wooden shoes before he came to the USA.  His profession is listed in the census statistics on Ancestry.  Landing in Waterford, MI, and eventually Kent County, Michigan my family planted their roots.  Good choice!  Who doesn’t love the Grand Rapids area?

My maternal grandfather was a bit more difficult history to track…  I finally broke through when my DNA results came back, and I was able to find matches of distant cousins throughout the country.  I know that my Great Grandparents moved to Michigan from Indiana.  Eaton Rapids is where my Grandfather hails from.  This side of my family has a long history of Military Service, Blacksmith, and Farming.  They also pre-date the USA from pre-revolutionary times, landing in NY in the early 1600’s from Scotland, Great Britain, and yes, the Netherlands.  They migrated from Upstate NY, through Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana, until eventually settling in Michigan.

Death Certificates particulary catch my attention in this venture.  Causes of Death range anywhere from “Old Age”, to Heart issues, obesity, pneumonia, cancer, etc…  Says a lot about my own heath issues!  It even gives me incentive on areas that I can work on.

What surprised me most in this process is my new sense of who I am in the big picture.  I am redominantly Dutch/Irish/British, with a long family history in the United States.  But a visit to the Netherlands has gained a spot on my bucket list!

Shades of Autumn in Northwestern Lower Michigan..

The boat is put away for the season.  Summertime 2017 is in the books with great memories.  So this weekend, when Mother Nature offered up some beautiful summer-like weather, a trip to one of my favorite spots was in order.  Deadman’s Hill, overlooking the Jordan River Valley, just North of Alba, MI.  IMG_1796

When I was a kid (like 5 or 6 years old), my family would make the trip UpNorth to visit cousins.  The visits would turn out hours worth of fun and adventure throughout the beautiful Jordan River Valley, whether it was four-wheeling, snowmobiling, hunting, or canoeing the crisp clear waters of the Jordan River.  It’s one of the biggest reasons my family ended up moving North.

Deadman’s Hill was always an annual favorite autumn stop with my “Grammie” Scripter.  Color touring Northern Michigan was one of her favorite pastimes.  This place brings back so many memories for me!

Years ago, there was no fence holding people back from touring down the hill, so as energetic little kids, we all loved to hike down the log slide, and attempt to race back uphill as fast as we could.  Nowadays, the log slide is something to just enjoy overlooking with a good camera.  Oh, don’t we all wish we had that childlike energy???

One the way back from the trip, a stop in Boyne City for lunch was in order.  Café Sante was just the ticket… with views of Lake Charlevoix to love!  The food was amazing, and desert at the Alpine Chocolate House…  enough said!  #chocolatecoveredpotatochips!  It was truly a five star day!

Weekend drives in the autumn are one of my favorite things!  Now we all get to prepare for what comes next… yes, that fluffy white stuff that falls out of the sky.  For now, we’ve been blessed in Northern Michigan with an unusually long Indian Summer.

 

What’s a girl to do on a weekend in North Carolina???

Last weekend I visited North Carolina for the first time in YEARS, for my cousin’s wedding.  Of course, I have to do a quick travel blog about it!  🙂  The wedding was absolutely amazing!  One of the best I’ve been too.  Since it was my birthday weekend, a group of us travelers decided to take a quick afternoon visit to the Duplin Winery in Rose Hill, NC, before the wedding.

This place is certainly a treat!  Normally I like my wines a bit to the dry side.  Sweeter wines normally knock my teeth to the back of my head…  (that means… “dang…  just can’t do it!”)  Chardonnay is normally one of my favorites, with a nice Pinot Noir coming in second.  HOWEVER…

Duplin Winery specializes in Muscadine (Emphasis on MUSK-a-DYNE to be proper in Southern speak) Wines.  So many songs have been written about the Muscadine variety that our group just couldn’t resist the visit.

Too my great surprise, I found these wines fragrant, fruity, refreshing,  sweet, and delicious; perhaps even perfect for a hot summer day on the boat!  My favorite was the dryer (of course) award winning Magnolia label.  So I had to bring a bottle home to Michigan, along with their Habanero Pineapple Jelly for cracker dippin’.

Kudos to my new friends at Duplin Winery!  I thoroughly enjoyed the visit.

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Oh Nashville… how I love you so!

Last weekend I visited one of my favorite towns in the whole world… Nashville, TN!  I don’t know if its the music, the downtown stretch of Honky Tonk’s on Broadway Avenue, or the history behind the town.  But everything about this wonderful place keeps me coming back for more.  I’m pretty sure this weekend was about my 15th visit. This is a group of friends that joined me… I’ve known them since elementary school…  img_5812

Elements of my visit included Music, History, and Honky Tonk…  along with a little shopping thrown in for good measure.

SHOPPING SPOT!  Opry Mill’s Outlet Mall…  Yep.  It’s big, and it’s got a giant Bass Pro Shop…  along with some fantastic boot stores…  I came home with some fun additions to my wardrobe!

HONKY TONK!  Walk up the Streets of Broadway… there’s no end to the fun.  My personal favorite:  the four level Honky Tonk Central.  There’s a different band on each level… and dancing galore!  A few worthwhile stops… George Jones Country (Love that Red Chevy… and the Stilson girl’s polka on the way out the door), Margaritaville, Nudie’s Rooftop for great views, Acme Feed and Seed… the list goes on!  (How do I get this truck out of here without getting caught??? )img_5813

HISTORY!  Our group took a day to drive off the beaten path…  we toured out to Barbara Mandrel’s Fontanel Mansion, which was closed for a private event.  But we did stop to enjoy some wine and cider tasting and gift shopping.  Next time, we will call ahead to make sure the mansion is open to the public… it looks like its worth a tour!

Next we drove towards the Hermitage, General/President Andrew Jackson’s Home and now Museum.  This amazing  estate is over 1000 acres of rolling green country side.  We witnessed a reenactment of a gentlemen’s duel, and learned about the elements leading up to a duel.  Then we wandered the estate on a self guided tour, and through the beautiful mansion, and back through the slave quarters.  Yes, Andrew Jackson was a slave owner.  It was a different time in his day, and a big part of this country’s history that we cannot erase.  Overall, we learned that he was an interesting character with a wealth of friends surrounding him.  Many of his slaves continued on working for him after they were freed, including “Uncle Alfred” who served as the Hermitage Caretaker until his death in 1901.

MUSIC!  Everywhere you go in Nashville, there is music…  The town and its surrounding suburbs are loaded with untapped talent.  A visit to Nashville is never complete without a visit to the Grand Ole Opry.  Every time you enter, it shoots a ray of excitement through your core… like going to church on Sunday.  No matter how big or unknown the performers are, there never really is a bad show at the Opryhouse.  img_5811

Oh yes… and how could I forget the Country Music Hall of Fame!  The History of Country Music is showcased in this beautiful facility….  along with Elvis’s famous Solid Gold Cadillac, and Webb Pierce’s pimped out Bonneville…  They sure don’t make cars like that anymore!

Nashville…  you never disappoint! I’m sure I will be back!  <3

 

This thing called Hurricane Harvey…

Our country is divided by politics…  But when disaster hits, we show our best.  We pull together to come to the aid of everyone.  Lines of traffic flow out of every state in the direction of Houston this week, hauling boats, trailers full of supplies, and helpful citizens ready to come to the aid of people left in the devastation of Hurricane Harvey.

In August of 2004, Hurricane Charlie slammed into the Gulf Coast of Southwestern Florida.  Three months afterwards I went on a trip to Florida to visit my family.  The quaint town of Punta Gorda had been transformed into what looked like a war zone.  Blue tarps covered holes in roofs of homes awaiting reconstruction… 12 foot piles of scrap metal lined the streets next to what used to be a mobile home park…  homes with major damage had been spray painted with insurance company names and policy numbers for adjusters to locate.   Reconstruction literally took years.  The community banded together in the days following.  Soup kitchens popped up in the parks.  Truckloads of supplies showed up in town for distribution to families in need.  Neighbors checked on neighbors.  The town of Punta Gorda today stands as a stronger, more beautiful community.

This is going to be Houston in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.  Right now, the people in Houston, and every community in the path of Harvey, need our help so they can reconstruct their lives, homes, businesses, and communities.  Humanity is showing its best…  People are putting aside differences to help each other.  It’s a big wake-up call!

Be a part of the solution.  Contribute in any way you can.  Donate clothing, supplies, money, etc…  If everyone that can donated $10.00 to the Red Cross, or Salvation Army, just imagine the difference that can be made.

Best wishes Texas!  #standtogether #makeadifference #wevegotyourback  #i<3texas #donated Read more

This place called “Up North”…

In Michigan, we have distinct area’s that have their own character… Me, I live in the Northwestern Lower Peninsula of the Mitten.  I can point right at the spot I live on  my hand, as everyone who is from Michigan can.

When I was a kid,  we lived “downstate” in Horton, Michigan, which is just south of Jackson.   My family would load up the car on weekends and head north for “Up North”.   Everything north of Clare is what we considered “Up North” until  you hit the Mackinac (pronounced Mackinaw) Bridge.  Then it turned into The UP, which is a whole new fantastically wonderful place that I will blog about someday.

Once we got here on the weekends it was time for fun and relaxation.  Up North is a destination where snowmobiles and boats become a major source of transportation, depending on the season.  Of course, my favorite of the seasons is summer!

When I was 5 years old my family moved “Up North” to a beautiful place called Torch Lake.  I’m pretty sure this is the place Kid Rock sings about in his “Summertime in Northern Michigan”.  I grew up “splashing through the sand bar” at the south end of the lake.  It’s hard to find amazing places like this, so when you do, you can’t help but share!

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Now that I’m an adult (OK… so I’ve been an adult for awhile now), I still get that giddy anxiety that comes with arriving at the Torch River Marine every weekend that I get a chance.  I just know that my pontoon is waiting for me to load up an head on up the water for a day of fun, friends, and relaxation.  There really is no better place to be on a super hot summer day, than anchored off with friends, hanging out on floaties all day!

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This is what keeps all of us locals here…  The water is clear, clean, and a bit cool… Salt Free, and Shark Free.  But we wouldn’t have it any other way.  When the winter’s hit, we break out our winter fun activities, and fly off to tropical locations on occasion to break up the bitter cold.  But every spring, the anticipation of going back to the lake brings happiness and hope.

This is “Up North”… and this is where I live!

 

 

The Eagle soars best with great balance…

There’s so much going on in this world!  Everyone seems to have made a label for their individual groups.  There’s ISIS, Muslims, Al Quada, the KKK, Liberal Left, Conservative Right, Moderates, White supremicists, black people, white people, people of latin origin, baptists, catholics…  etc…  the list goes on and on.

I understand it is human nature to be a little aloof with people I’m not totally familiar with.  But something dawned on me this weekend while I was deep in thought while floating around the lake on a beautiful sunny day…  The Bald Eagle, which is the majestic symbol of this great country of the USA, soars through the air with great balance.  Its direction is guided by a tip to the left, or a tip to the right.  If the Eagle tips too far one way or the other, it runs the risk of spiraling to the ground.

Do ya’ll understand what I’m saying???  Human beings are similar.   We all bleed the same color…  We direct our fate with moderate tips in either direction.  We need to follow our beliefs with humanity in mind.  Extremism in any direction, will send us spiraling to the ground.

My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Charlottesville.

 

Chicago… my kinda town!

18813395_10155965132027069_1377367352625071081_nIt’s been a few days since my return from the big city of Chicago.  As a small town girl, I have to say, it’s truly a place where you don’t lack for fun events to occupy your time.  Friday evening we made our way down to the Huntington Pavillion at the Museum Campus for a Jack Johnson Concert.  (Something I highly recommend… there’s nothing like a lake breeze while listening to great music!)  Jack Johnson is a down to earth performer who puts on a fantastic show!  I’d give him 5 stars.  🙂

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Saturday, of course, we trekked on down to Michigan Avenue for a little shopping and fun.  After one too many cab rides, we decided to take the carriage ride option to the Navy Pier.  The beautiful horse (I believe she is a Percheron) in the picture is “Talula”. She is a real sweety!

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The Navy Pier is one big playground for people of all ages.  We did, of course, partake of a ferris wheel ride.  The brand new ferris wheel has gondola’s that are enclosed, heated, air-conditioned, and ride like a dream!  The best views of the Chicago Skyline are here.  The Navy Pier is a MUST DO for anyone traveling to Chicago.

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Our Saturday evening ended with spectacular fireworks (which are set off every Friday and Saturday evenings during the summer months at the Navy Pier.)

The neighborhood…  Oh yes, I can’t end this post without commenting on the neighborhood of Pilsen, on the Southwest side of Chicago, where we stayed in an “elegant apartment” booked through Airbnb…  While the apartment was clean, it was not so elegant… but very functional for our trip.  Pilsen seemed to be an older neighborhood, in what seemed to be a pretty safe part of town.  We checked out Simone’s for dinner and drinks on Friday night before the concert.  It had a friendly neighborhood atmosphere, and decent bar food.  Transportation from Pilsen to downtown was convenient via Bus and Uber.

Bottom line on Chicago…  Great place for a fun long weekend with friends!  Downtown can be expensive, but totally worth every penny…  I’ve been there about 4 or 5 times now, and it’s proven to be a great time over and over again!

Happy Labor Day!

Cheers to the bridge walkers through out Michigan today… Whether it’s the Mighty Mackinac Bridge, or the Aarwood Bridge… It’s been a great day! Photo credit:. Becky Shepherd… September 3, 2018. Aarwood Bridge, Rapid City, Michigan.

It’s Barkbox day!

My dog is so spoiled… Is $21.00 per month worth it? Let’s see…

She is so happy to get a new box of goodies to destroy each month!

All of of this good stuff… It’s like Christmas once a month!

… And we have a new favorite!

Yes… I give Barkbox five stars! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ So does Daisy!