Today is May 2, 2020. Almost the entire Country is still in some form of quarantine due to this COVID-19 pandemic. Michigan residents are currently under a stay home directive that doesn’t expire for another two weeks. Other than a doctor appointment in early March, its been 9 weeks since I have left my home. Stir crazy has a whole new meaning.
The law states that we are to remain on our own property unless we need to go out for essential items like to the grocery or pharmacy. Going to parks is allowed for hiking, biking or boating. It is recommended that you stay near your home and not travel far if you must go out for fresh air but today, we didn’t follow that recommendation.
We have been diligent about protecting ourselves and others in our community by following all the rules and recommendations, and although today, we traveled just over an hour to get our fresh air (which would be a bit farther than I assume the lawmakers want you to go), we stayed within the confines of our camper and never stopped for gas or food.
We made sandwiches for lunch and used the bathroom in the camper.
Today was the best day we’ve had in so long! The exercise of walking through Windmill Island Gardens, and hiking at Saugatuck Dunes State Park are no match for what today’s adventure did for our mental stability.
All of my inspiration, creativity and energy comes from exploring, adventuring and taking trips. Today I feel rejuvenated.
Pretty sure the pups will be sleeping good tonight too!
For as long as I can remember, I have had the Canadian Tulip Festival on my bucket list, so when we relocated to Michigan and I learned of a town called Holland and their annual tulip festival – I was thrilled!
We booked a camping trip for one of the weekends during the Tulip Time festival this year but sadly, like most events around the world – it was cancelled. Since we were able to go see the tulips anyway, in a MUCH LESS crowded environment, we donated our two-night camping stay back to the campground. Told them we didn’t want the refund. Don’t get me wrong, we have no money to burn and live paycheck to paycheck like most Americans but I need to make sure these small businesses don’t go out of business so that when they open back up, we have a place to enjoy!
After seeing the tulips at Windmill Island Gardens - we headed over to Saugatuck Dunes State Park since it was only a few miles away.
Great hiking trails through the trees on sand covered pathways which lead to the sand dunes that overlook Lake Michigan. Lucia and I really love the water so this was a perfect spot to take in the sights!
We kept this hike quite short and were at this State Park for less than an hour. It was very crowded and I think I saw only 2 people wearing masks. People seemed to be keeping their distance but being in a crowded scene didn't give me a warm and fuzzy, especially when passing people and they cough in your direction.
Gas - $50.00 (blew through ½ tank of gas)
Food - $0 (brought lunch in the camper)
Entry fees - $0 (all parks are open and free during this pandemic but are not staffed and no facilities, shops or information booths are open)
195 miles - East Lansing to Windmill Island Gardens in Holland to Saugatuck Dunes State Park – then back to East Lansing
Creativity Inspired Shop Items:
- Pocket Cards - etsy.me/3d7nPzS
- Journal Paper - etsy.me/3fns0JY
- Digital Paper - etsy.me/2YuMzxU
Today is March 21, 2020. This is my travel blog and I’m not traveling. I won’t be writing about some unique touristy Main Street that I just walked down or a fabulous restaurant in a quaint unknown town that we stumbled upon while driving to the next family filled RV park. No, not today. I imagine not anytime in the near future either.
There is a lump in my throat as I sit here and type. The lump has been large and in charge for about a week. If you were sitting across from me right now, you would see my chest thumping as my heart pounds. Pretty sure this is the longest running anxiety attack I’ve ever experienced.
When I type the words corona virus or COVID-19, it won’t shock anyone because everyone in the entire world is well aware of the pandemic that has swept across the earth.
I share my words publicly and I appreciate those who get enjoyment out of my blogs, but I write about this event and my feelings on this particular day, for me – not for you. I write to ease the lump in my throat, get some chaos out of my head, and document this moment so I can revisit it in the future.
I vividly remember the 9-11 attacks in 2001 as if it happened yesterday. I lived in Upstate New York at the time and it hit hard for me. I remember staring at the television for about two weeks straight until my Mother busted in my door to sincerely ask if I had plans to return to work. In my mind, the whole world was ending and I couldn’t bare to tackle daily mundane tasks, especially work. How could anyone put full sentences together at a time like that?
Had I done some healthy writing during that time, it likely would have eased a bit of my self-induced suffering. If I had written down my thoughts and feelings, I would be able to look back now and either realize that everyone was going through the same emotions or that I was just mentally not capable of dealing with such devastation.
This crisis in America is far worse than 9-11 but I guess since I lived through that, it is making this situation a bit easier to mentally handle. There is at least a point of reference for my brain to look back on and know that eventually everything will be ok. We were at war then, just as we are now.
I am a different person today. Better able to mentally process my life – likely due to the larger events that shaped me. Most recently, I would have to add that my bout with breast cancer plays a huge part in shaping my world. I live every day with the fear that the cancer will return and I may die. That doesn’t scare me. Shit, after my 7th round of chemo I begged to die. I don’t live with the fear of my own death. When I think of the people I care about, my kids, my family, friends, neighbors and even the strangers in Michigan with whom I reside today – that is where I become terrified.
A week ago, there was ‘chatter’ about people having this virus and people dying from it in distant lands. Today, the US has over 21,000 confirmed cases and 250 people dead. That number changes by the minute. There is a family in New Jersey who lost 4 out of the 7 family members who tested positive, just this week. My heart breaks for them. I have friends who are sick and may test positive – if only there were enough tests to go around. There are politicians who have made it clear that as the hospitals become overwhelmed and unable to handle the load of people due to lack of beds and equipment – hard choices will be made as to who gets to live or die. Last week, America was disgustingly materialistic. This week we are a 3rd world country who can’t care for their own people. Damn, you can’t even go to the store and buy toilet paper.
Companies are talking about bail outs already and we haven’t even hit the peak of this crisis in America. Who gives a fuck about your company money problems when people are literally dying in hospital hallways right now.
I have zero control. There is absolutely nothing I can do to help a single person right now. Nothing. That alone, freaks me out. I am told to social distance from people but also to limit the use of social media because it can become depressing. Ummmm ok? But I miss my people…
I am told to limit the amount of time I spend watching the news to decrease my panic. Ummmm ok? The entire world is in crisis and people are dying every second…. If it weren’t for my day job, I’d watch it around the clock. I feel better when I am informed.
The sky is blue. The grass is still brown and the trees still bare. It’s 40 degrees outside and strangely silent. There is a blue jay in that bare tree I mentioned and in the past twenty four hours, I’ve been visited by ducks in the pond, crows flying over head, deer in the field, a turkey in the marsh and a few blue herons that hang across the street and stare. I am thankful for this.
Stay safe friends.
Having just moved to Michigan from the coast of Connecticut, which is steps from the greatest city on earth - the city that never sleeps - the city with a plethora of the best food options on the planet... we were hungry for some serious grub! We hadn’t been to a good restaurant in months.
We’d heard that there are some terrific foodie spots in the mid-Michigan area but they are scattered and hard to find unless you are familiar with the territory. There isn’t a particular neighborhood or single street lined with fresh local eats. So when my daughter and her girlfriend came to visit and check out the new house – we went on the hunt for recommendations.
Armed with the knowledge that Frankenmuth is a hot spot with authentic German food – our trip was sure to be a successful food adventure! And so it was!
We visited in November, which is likely one of the busiest months of the year – seeing as though the highlight of this town revolves around Christmas. A hop and skip to Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland for some elbow rubbing like sardines in the biggest store full of Christmas items I have ever seen in my life – and then a final destination into the Village of Frankenmuth. Discovering the main drag lined with quaint shops and good eats was exactly what we were looking for!
Our lunch at The Bavarian Inn did not disappoint. There was a waiting line and no reservations accepted but it went quite quickly.
A summer visit might be fun next time so we can spend more time browsing those shops in warmer weather, take a funship ride down the canal and visit the 150 yr old brewery!
Sum it up in 6:
$30 - Gas for truck (2 hours round trip)
$160.00 – Bavarian Inn – Family style meal for 4 @25/pp, german beer, tax tip
$65 – shopping – gifts, fudge, pretzels
Not into German food? Not a problem, check out plenty of excellent restaurants in the Village.
SAVORING THE MEMORIES:
We took more family fun photos on this trip than we did landscape shots. For digitals, I’ve got a great TITLE POCKET CARD and a STORYBOOK DIGITAL SCRAPBOOK LAYOUT for ya’ll!
We had been in Michigan less than one month and were already itching to explore our new surroundings. I mean, if we were going to call this place home, we really needed to see what this land has to offer.
21 days after arriving in Mason, Michigan (Sept 2019) – we hit the road and headed to the lake. But this isn’t just any lake…
Just 2 hours later and we’re pulling into Grand Haven State Park, along the coast of Lake Michigan. Huge parking lot was a plus – it was late September so that’s also a plus because there was ample parking in this huge lot. And no reservations were needed to stay at the campground right there at the park.
I had the expectation level set pretty low about this ‘lake’. I realize it’s one of the GREAT LAKES but I did just move from the Coast of Connecticut and lived in a quaint little beach neighborhood directly on the Ocean. How could a lake compare to the ocean?
Lake Michigan does NOT disappoint! The waves touched the sand just like the ocean and forget seeing land on the other side of this body of water… it’s THAT big! While we were staying, we even watched a HUGE barge pass through the canal.
We only stayed one night but it was so worth it to just take a break from the chaos of our transition. We had been staying in a corporate apartment while house hunting and though it was a beautiful complex and comfortable living, it was a bit tighter than we are used to, not to mention all our belongings were still in Connecticut. Feeling displaced, lost and lonely – this adventure was just what we needed for a little nature therapy!
There was a storm over night – which was thrilling to watch roll in over the lake!
Our campsite was directly on the beach – sand and dunes outside our door! The pups absolutely loved walking the beach and they too needed a break. They were stressed as much as we were.
Sum it up in 6:
36 HOUR TRIP
$100 - Gas for camper (4 hours round trip)
$25 – Food/snacks- we brought food from home
$37 – one night camping fee
No pets on beach but allowed at camping area. No alcohol allowed at this park but how would they know if you had it in your camper…? J Camping season May 1 – October 27
SAVORING THE MEMORIES:
I’ve got my pocket cards in the book! Grab yours for your bucket list book or if you took one too many selfies but forgot the shots of your surroundings, no worries – I took some for ya!
Since moving to Michigan about 6 months ago, I've been eagerly awaiting the opportunity to take that well known scenic drive up north along the coast of Lake Michigan.
Our weekends have been tied up with ‘getting settled’ in the new dwelling. Turning a stale home into a house takes time, money - if you want to buy new things for the new house – and patience… of which I seem to lack. Thankfully, our neighbors from Connecticut planned a visit for Valentines weekend! This means I get to plan an adventure! My favorite task!
I googled Michigan’s route M22 and Traverse City, which seems to be one of the most visited destinations in all of the state.
We hit the road around 10am on a Saturday and headed for Frankfort, MI. I figured we could catch M22 there and then head to Traverse City, though we never made it that far…
I knew there was a snow storm headed through northern Michigan but do you think I told my daytripping travel mates – not a chance! They may have cancelled my fun. That said, by the time we hit Cadillac, Michigan the snowmobilers were in full force – they outnumbered the automobiles for sure. I put this location on my bucket list for a weekend of riding – maybe next winter!
Our jaws dropped when we landed in Frankfort and saw the Lake in the distance. I have never seen waves that big in all my life. Not from the Atlantic Ocean when I lived on the Coast of Connecticut and not even when I sailed the Caribbean and out ran a hurricane. These Lake Michigan waves crashed with force! And that wasn’t even the best part!
We made it to the beach and walked in the bitter cold with the winds whipping so we could get a closer look. Before any of us knew it, we were literally standing on a frozen wave gawking at the awe inspiring beauty of the enormous body of water, the frozen shoreline and the lighthouse ahead with those intense crashing waves!
Many Michiganders head up north in the summer for vacations at the beach but I am SO grateful that I was able to experience this destination in mid-winter, during a snow storm – because I’m told you don’t see waves like this any other time of year!
We had lunch at Stormcloud Brewing and watched some peeps play a strange game where they throw around concrete circles like hockey pucks… guess it’s a pretty popular sport but what do I know… I thought ‘curling’ was for the gym.
At this point, the snow is piling and the roads look rough. We headed through Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and up to Empire for a view of those giant ICE BALLS. While driving through the forest area, we stopped to take a quick pic of the pretty row trees and the ranger pushed us on our way. That was a good sign that the roads might get worse and we better head home. Guess a visit to Traverse City will happen next season.
Sum it up in 6:
$30 - Gas in our truck – drove from 10am-8pm
$50 – Lunch for 2 at Stormcloud Brewing
$25 – Water and snacks
Memories - priceless
When we left Lansing, Michigan – it was 20 degrees warmer and there were no wind gusts. We headed north and hit a snow storm. Bringing gloves and a hat would be helpful!
SAVORING THE MEMORIES:
I printed my pocket cards and created some for ya'll to get in your bucket list or on your vision board!
When life starts to get mundane and I get sucked into routine - one gander through my adventure book and I'm ready to plan another! At my age, if you don't put it in the scrapbook, it didn't happen... because I will forget. Yes, 46 is old. :)
I'm an advocate of self healing through nature and exploration. Follow along for daytrips on a budget and my journey of memory keeping after the trip has come and gone.