2017-08-01 ILChicago (for 2 weeks)

This is a blog about my travel. I like to take pictures and show others where I have visited. Because of the many pictures, it is best to use a desktop computer (rather than a mobile device) to view these posts. Note that because of the many pictures, it takes a long time for a page to load. I have ‘slow’ internet at home and when creating these pages, it also takes a long time for the pictures to upload to the server. I use wordpress software.  
Another note about the name of my blog. My Dad used to call me “Puddin” and I usually travel in a white, cargo van that I named “Vanna White”. I’ve been told that people are confused about my blog name and didn’t understand the background. (In my opinion, pudding is something that you eat. I spell my nickname “Puddin” to denote the southern slang of the word.)

I went to Chicago for 2 weeks to visit my younger son. I had a really good trip – but, alas, there was an ‘incident’ which I will explain after the pictures. The last time I visited him, Vanna White was impounded. Of course, I created a blog post about the details. (2014-10-07 post) For this trip, I decided to fly because of 2 reasons : (1) Since the van was impounded on the last trip and I didn’t pay the parking tickets that they mailed me, my license tag is probably on file with the police. Most cities now have car-tag scanners that link to information about you and I fear that they may want the money that they claim I owe. (2) I looked at the flights available and it only takes 2 hours to fly there. In addition, the gas that I would use would be more than the cost to fly. Using google maps, I can easily see that the trip is over 700 miles and will take over 11 hours driving. Consider the danger of driving that distance versus the risk of flying, I took the flight option. Note: In the future when Georgia changes the numbers on the car-license-tags, I may drive again. (My son often flies to Atlanta on Southwest Airlines and recommended that I use that airline. I left my house at 6:15AM in a taxi to get to the Dunwoody MARTA station. The flight left about 9:30AM and landed at Midway Airport. My return flight was at 6:30PM and I arrived home in a taxi from MARTA about 11:30PM.)

The blog pictures are in sections: (1) Downtown buildings that were near the West Wacker area, (2) Wisconsin State Fair, (3) Graceland Cemetary, and (4) food that we ate.

Downtown buildings —->

Wisconsin State Fair —> 

Graceland Cemetary —–>

Restaurants that we visited (and other food that we ate) —>

The ‘incident’ = We went to the Wisconsin State Fair on Saturday. My sons house is 3 stories high with a back, enclosed staircase. Before going to bed that night, I put some items that I often use on bedroom window-sill. About $14 in one-dollar bills, a few coins, my ladies handbag, and my waist-pouch containing my cellphone and credit cards. The bedroom was on the second floor and if you were to look through the window, you would see an outdoor storage room that was part of the back stairs. After getting out of the shower on Sunday morning, it was quite evident to me that the bedroom window into the storage closet had been opened. As my son and his wife lived on the third floor and I was the only one on the second floor, my first thought was “Why would my son open the bedroom window?” I looked closer and realized that the coin change that I had placed on the window-sill was there, but the dollar-bills that I had taken out of my pocket was NOT. I looked in my handbag and it seemed to have the billfold that was normally inside and I picked up my waist-pouch. It was not as heavy as I expected and I realized that my cell phone was missing. I went down the hall and loudly called my sons name. His wife was upstairs and called back to me that he had gone to get some breakfast. I yelled back that my cellphone was missing. She came downstairs and I told her that I had put it on the window-sill and the window was open after I returned to the room from taking a shower. She looked around the bed to make sure that I had not misplaced it and she went upstairs to get her cellphone. She used the app = “Find Friends” and on my name the indication that the ‘location was not available’ was displayed. She said, “Yep, it’s gone.” She had a friend who lost her cellphone and she knew that when phones are lost or stolen, the first thing that the thief may do is turn it off to not have location-services find it. She recommended that I use the app = “Lost Phone” to lock it. After the time of the detected theft and before my son returned home with breakfast, we heard the front door slam in the house. My son often opens the back door in the mornings and leaves it open for the fresh air. If you open the front door to let air flow faster, it will often slam shut with a wind shift. After the door slammed, there were many dogs in the neighborhood barking loudly and for a long time. We often heard one or two dogs bark, but there were more of them barking than I had previously heard. We suspect that the thief heard me talk with her about the missing cellphone and ran through the front-door and left it open. 
We went downstairs and I used my laptop to lock the phone (using iCloud.com app = “Find iPhone”, my appleid and password). My son returned and we talked about ‘the incident’ for a while. We believe that there was a thief in the back, storage room of the house who saw my items on the window sill and was able to open the window. Carpet had been installed on the second floor the day after I arrived for my visit. The installer had left all of the windows open because of the ‘new carpet smell’. Before I went to bed after the carpet was installed, my son had closed all of the windows, but we think that he did NOT lock the back window to the bedroom. We went into the storage room and the thief had moved his golf clubs from the right of the window to the left of the window. I don’t know the other items stored there, but there were 2 items in large cases that were also moved slightly.
We had ‘activities’ planned for the day and proceeded with the them. While at an outdoor market, my son received a phone call. He answered and the person who called asked about my cellphone. I was not there for the conversation, but – I presume that he told them that it was stolen this morning and I put his cellphone for the number-to-call if it was found. The person said that my stolen cellphone had been found and was available for pick-up at the District 14 police station. I was VERY HAPPY! However, my son cautioned me that the person who called and claimed that they were the police may be a scammer. (Oh-No!) Well, we went to the police station and my cellphone was, in fact, recovered by the police! The officer who talked with us would not give us any information about the recovery – only that there were other items missing in the neighborhood and they had a suspect in interrogation. The officer said that my cellphone would have to be inventoried by the property office before it could be released. We waited about an hour and a half, and the police filled in the paperwork for me about it being lost – but, we were happy to have it recovered. (I had planned to use the Chicago Police website to file a report about a stolen cellphone, but – they found it before I had time to complete the report. Another comment: I should have called the police after discovering that the cellphone had been stolen, but my son and his wife thought that, probably, the police were more involved in serious crime and recommended using the website for the report at a later time.)

My son immediately ordered a Nest camera/motion-activated light device for both his front door and back door. It will send a picture of the item that triggered a motion-detected to his cellphone. He was told that another neighbor had that brand system and enjoyed it.
<<As always, any comments that you have about the website would be appreciated. I have another website. It is about my 1971 MGB (old English 2-seater convertible-top car). The url address is : http://www.PuddinInTheMGB.wordpress.com
Note: When I go camping, I am often without internet service. I try to use my cellphone data plan sparingly as charges may be increased with usage. Therefore, I often let emails collect in my box and try to catch-up reading them when I return home.>>

2017-05-28 From GA,Atlanta to Germany,Bonn (for 5 nights)

2017-05-28 From GA,Atlanta to Germany,Bonn (for 5 nights) <Some text, some pictures, ….    repeat several times> 

2017-05-30_GermanyBonn_nearTouristInformation-BeethovenStatue0
2017-05-30_GermanyBonn_nearTouristInformation-BeethovenStatue0

My older son works for a global company that is headquartered near Bonn, Germany. He was scheduled for a trip and a few days before he left, I visited his house. I told him about my Michigan trip and he asked me to ‘tag-along’ with him on his trip to Germany. I said that I would and bought one of the few remaining seats on the Delta flight leaving on Sunday. I had just washed the clothes that I wore on the Michigan trip, so I packed many of the same ones for the trip. I read the latest information posted on the internet for packing. I.E., use small tubes for liquids and cream, put them in a one-gallon plastic bag, etc. I put a change of clothes in a backpack and carried it into the passenger cabin, in case my suitcase was lost.

The flight left on Sunday at 5:30pm. My son picked me up at my house about 2pm and we rode a Marta train to the airport. The internet directions for overseas flights indicates that passengers should arrive a couple of hours early in order to allow time for security checks, etc. When we got to the airport, we got something to eat as it would probably be a while before we ate again. The flight started boarding about 45minutes to an hour before take-off, and my son is a frequent customer, so we followed the ‘priority’ line. My son was seated near the front of the airplane and I was near the back. We were on a large airplane that had small video screens in front of every seat. While flying, I was unable to sleep (I don’t know why) and I watched movies. (A child behind me cried many times during the 8-hour flight.) Because of the engine noise, and the earphones quality, I wasn’t able to hear the sound as well as what is normal for a theater. We arrived about 9AM, Germany time and my whole ‘time-sensitive’ system was out-of-kilter the whole time we were on the trip.
My son’s company had given him a ticket for the high-speed train between Frankfurt and Bonn. In our research, we had found out that it was probably best for me to buy a ticket on the train. We were too late for the train that my son was supposed to ride so he deciphered the code of the next probable train to catch, and proceeded to the track. On the way, we stopped at an information booth for confirmation of his plan and we only had to wait 30 minutes for the next train.
Everyone has heard of how accurate German trains/airplanes/busses are on their schedules. I was AMAZED by the train. It was quiet, comfortable and -FAST-. There is a lighted display above the door which displays the speed and the next stop. At many points of the trip, we were going 150 mph. Inside, you could not feel the speed. We went through several tunnels. Our departure in Bonn was about 45 minutes after we started. My son found a taxi and we went to his work first and he worked for the remainder of the day. I continued in the taxi to the Hilton Hotel, where his company had arranged for his stay. I checked-in and rested a little, then I found a map and tourist information book.
We had a dinner and snacks on the flight, but after my rest, it was about 5PM there and I wanted something to eat. I found a Vietnamese Restaurant across the street from the hotel and ate there. Pad Thai in Germany – go figure. After eating, I walked along the Rhine River path and found a bench. I watched several barges go past and with the warm day and gentle breeze, I fell asleep on the bench. I had told my son that I was going walking along the river and he found me and called “Mom”. I woke up after he found me!
I take pictures of everything – I think that people who look at pictures on the internet may be interested in seeing pictures of Germany. Anyway, my thoughts are to take pictures of everything. I enjoy taking them and have found that as I age, they are reminders of some memory that I may have lost. So, the problem is – when creating weblog posts, I tend to include too many pictures. It is for the reader to decide if they want to see them all or not. On this post, I will try to post only ‘interesting’ ones.

(Click on a picture to make it larger. Then view the gallery by using arrows on the left and right middle of each picture. To get back to this page, hit the ESC ‘Escape’ key on the top left of the keyboard, or the ‘X’ on the top right of the gallery pictures.)

More text and pictures after this gallery —> 


Monday. In reading some of the history of Bonn, I found that during WWII, it was heavily bombed (as were many German cities). The Allied forces especially targeted bridges. The bridge near the Hilton was obviously rebuilt after the was and was named “Kennedy Bridge” after President Kennedy. The bridge allows for local trains, bicycle lanes on both sides and for several lanes of cars. It was very long and I was surprised at both how wide the Rhine River is, as well as how swift the water flowed. After walking out of the front of the Hilton, I discovered quickly to “look-out” for bicycles as they came across the bridge with speed and didn’t slow for pedestrians to cross.

More text and pictures after this gallery —> 


Tuesday. I decided to go on a ‘walkabout’. I wanted some milk for breakfast and the hotel didn’t have any in their refrigerated kiosk. I asked at the front desk for a nearby place to purchase milk and they gave me directions to a small grocery store – specifically, walk along the main road to the right and a store wasn’t very far. I found it without any problems. Once there, I found no English translations. I didn’t speak any German and just paid with cash. Before I left Atlanta, I had thought that I would be able to use my credit card there as I do here …. WRONG. They have a different ‘system’. They want a minimum credit card charge to be 20Euro, -or- they will charge 2Euro for each transaction. In short, I learned to use cash. My son had let me have some of his cash. I bought my milk, and a cheese biscuit, then found a bench on the street and ate. (My son had told me that the hotel serves breakfast for 20Euro, if you purchase it ahead of time and 25Euro if you wait to pay when entering the buffet area. I thought that was a ‘lot’.) I walked around that area some, found some “Food Trucks”, bought some supper (olives, hummus, couscous and flavored cream cheese), ate it on a bench, walked around more and returned to the room to watch tv. I looked more at the area maps and found that there was a open-air bus guided tour daily starting at the tourist information center.

More text and pictures after this gallery —> 


Wednesday. I walked to the tourist information center about 11AM and bought a ticket for the bus city tour. It didn’t start until 2PM, so – I walked around the area and found some lunch. I also asked about a restroom in the area, and the tourist information center agent recommended that I go to the fourth-floor of the nearby retail store. She added that ‘public toilets are horrible’. I did as instructed, so I was ‘good-for-the-tour’. The guide on the tour gave the notable points in German first and English second. I was really glad to actually know about the points-of-interest. I enjoyed the tour very much. It was about 2 hours on the bus, then we got off and viewed the street of the Beethoven House and other points-of-interest. I.E., the old City Hall, the Medievel Gate, the Beethoven Statue, a church and monastary near it, and a modern art sculpture.

More text and pictures after this gallery —> 


Thursday. I had seen the boats on the Rhine River and thought that there were tourist tours, but I hadn’t seen anything in the books. Remember, that the books were in German and there may have been some information, I just didn’t realize it. I asked the hotel front desk for information on taking a boat tour and they told me to walk under the bridge and look for a ticket-booth a short distance walk. I found it and there was a boat tour leaving at 11AM. The ticket agent told me to get off the tour at Linz (about 2 hours away) and return to Bonn. There were several boats that I could return with, but I decided to only wait 30 minutes in Linz and return. I ate a bratworst burger for lunch while there. It was a wonderful tour and great day. The trip to Linz, I sat on the back deck and could hear a loudspeaker but not understand it. On the return trip, I sat on a different part of the back deck and discovered that I was wrong about the loudspeaker. I.E., it did have an English portion of the tour after the German. I saw many houses and great vistas, and – of course, took many pictures.

More text and pictures after this gallery —> 


Friday. I visited the Beethoven House Museum. It was a short walk from the hotel and I had passed it several times on ‘walkabouts’. I was truly impressed – the preserved house was where Beethoven was born. The family had also lived in several other houses near the area. Information from his house is available on wikipedia.org. All of the exhibits were in German and I wasn’t able to read about the displays while there, but looked-them-up after returning. The sign at the entrance to the house noted that taking photos was not permitted. The house had boards in the floor that were old and creeked when you walked on them. They had some control of moisture in the house, but there was no air-conditioning and it was a warm day. I really enjoyed it – the courtyard allows photos and I took several. There is a nearby annex which houses a digital lab and information about a Beethoven website created especially for children, ages 10 to 13. http://www.hallo-beethoven.de
After leaving the museum, I visited the nearby church, Namen-Jesu-Kirche. It was open for visitors today and there were several others inside. It was a nice church and there were pictures inside that had displays of the destruction of the area by WWII bombs. I was able to take several pictures there. A neaby pizza sidewalk cafe attracted me for dinner.
I walked around a little more and returned to the hotel to pack. My body was still unadjusted to German ‘time’ and I went to bed early knowing that it would be a long travel day the next day.
Saturday. Up at 5AM. Take taxi to train station and ride the train back to Frankfurt. We waited at the airport, because – “it is better to be an hour early, than to be a minute late”. My son directed me to the baggage check-in, security, and boarding. The return flight left at 11AM. There were boarding equipment problems and gate-agents wrote down information about each passenger so that they could enter it into a computer later. The return flight was about 9 hours and, in Atlanta, the international passport control area was slammed with many returning passengers. The line was long and new self-check kiosks were a maze. I was tired and entered in the wrong information – a nearby attendant realized that I had made a mistake and corrected me. I was thankful for his attention and knew that my mistake was because I was tired. Once out of that zone, I proceeded to baggage claim and my son had found my bag for me. We had to go outside and wait in the long line for a bus to return us to the main terminal. It was HOT outside -and- not FUN! By the time we caught Marta and I arrived home, it had been 3 hours since landing and I was exhausted. It had been a great trip and I never would had been able to ‘make-it’ without the help of my son.


Epilog. My adjustment back to Atlanta-time has not been a problem. I presume that is because I never really adjusted to German time. I was very happy (and grateful to my son) to have had the opportunity to take the trip.
Blog note: I had never envisioned that I would take a trip overseas when I retired. I planned to just learn more about the United States. The trip was wonderful and we were fortunate to have had good weather the whole time. When packing, I wasn’t sure whether to expect cool weather or hot. It turns out that the weather in Germany was unusually warm for this time of year and that I didn’t need my ‘cool weather’ gear.

(Your comments about this blog are welcome. I attempt to tell readers a story and show readers the pictures of where I visit. Please feel free to send me an email or post your comment on the website. Please forgive me for my mis-spelling and other mistakes. Note: My ‘other’ blog is about my antique MG car and is found at: http://PuddinInTheMGB.wordpress.com . Dad called me “Puddin”, and I named my van, “Vanna White”. )

2017-05-17 (Day 7/9) Trip to Michigan-Holland and Mackinac Island.

Another hot breakfast buffet and we were outta-there. We had a short-walk to the ferry and took the first ferry of-the-day to Mackinaw City. It was while we waited for Chuck to get the bus that we had the ‘terrible mayfly experience’. They were in swarms everywhere – they got in your hair, and were in your face – no way of escaping them. Thankfully, Chuck loaded us quickly and we were away from them. On the drive, Cathy had us stop at the Frankenmuth Bonner’s Christmas Wonderland. It is hard to vision a store that is 3 football fields long and that hosts millions of visitors each year. It is “Christmas – out-of-control”. Everything that anyone would want for Christmas is for sale. I was tempted, but didn’t buy anything. There was a 10-minute video of the family who started the store and I saw it with a few others. Very interesting – large family business, that, of course, started small. I was amazed to see an indoor waterpark attached to a nearby hotel. Actually, a very large glass house. Another one-of-those things that you have to see to believe.

(Note: I use the ‘gallery’ feature of wordpress to organize and display pictures. To see the complete picture, click on it and use the left and right arrows, in the middle of the enlarged picture to view the pictures.) 


We stayed at the Merv Herzog (a famous musician) Hotel in Frankenmuth (Michigan’s little Bavaria). Cathy had arranged for the group to eat the famous fried chicken at Zehnder’s. It was an experience in itself – we had a side room and were told that the restaurant normally has a long waiting line. We were served ‘family style’ – dishes of food that you dip to your plate. It was absolutely wonderful and, again, I waddled away somehow. I was very concerned about all of the leftover food in the serving dishes – it seemed such a waste. The waitress told me that I shouldn’t worry about such things – I guess that she is used-to-it. More pictures —
We had a hot breakfast at the hotel. I hadn’t eaten oatmeal in a long time, but they had a crockpot full of it. We rode to Berea, Kentucky. Once there, Cathy had arranged for us to have a tour and learn about the town and college. The college received a grant of land and the town grew as a result of the college being there. The college has ‘no tuition’ – the students work and pay for their education. It began as a way to educate anyone in an era of segregation. We shopped at the Kentucky Artisan Center not far from the Boone Hall Tavern Hotel. The hotel is on the registry of historic hotels and is low-energy certified. It has been renovated and is very interesting. Cathy had arranged for our dinner-and-breakfast in the Bowling Dining Room near the registration desk. It was an outstanding meal. Of course, pictures tell the story where my words are unable to describe it —

2017-05-18 (Day 8/9) Trip to Michigan-Holland and Mackinac Island.

We had a hot breakfast at the hotel. I hadn’t eaten oatmeal in a long time, but they had a crockpot full of it. We rode to Berea, Kentucky. Once there, Cathy had arranged for us to have a tour and learn about the town and college. The college received a grant of land and the town grew as a result of the college being there. The college has ‘no tuition’ – the students work and pay for their education. It began as a way to educate anyone in an era of segregation. We shopped at the Kentucky Artisan Center not far from the Boone Hall Tavern Hotel. The hotel is on the registry of historic hotels and is low-energy certified. It has been renovated and is very interesting. Cathy had arranged for our dinner-and-breakfast in the Bowling Dining Room near the registration desk. It was an outstanding meal.

(Note: I use the ‘gallery’ feature of wordpress to organize and display pictures. To see the complete picture, click on it and use the left and right arrows, in the middle of the enlarged picture to view the pictures.) 


We stayed at the Merv Herzog (a famous musician) Hotel in Frankenmuth (Michigan’s little Bavaria). Cathy had arranged for the group to eat the famous fried chicken at Zehnder’s. It was an experience in itself – we had a side room and were told that the restaurant normally has a long waiting line. We were served ‘family style’ – dishes of food that you dip to your plate. It was absolutely wonderful and, again, I waddled away somehow. I was very concerned about all of the leftover food in the serving dishes – it seemed such a waste. The waitress told me that I shouldn’t worry about such things – I guess that she is used-to-it.

2017-05-19 (Day 9/9) Trip to Michigan-Holland and Mackinac Island.

Our final day was mostly travel with a few rest stops. It was sad to end such a wonderful experience. We arrived back in Lawrenceville around 4:30PM. Cathy had ‘bus-games’ for us to enjoy on the last day. If you won the game, you received ‘bus bucks’. Near Atlanta, Cathy auctioned items that she had purchased for ‘bus bucks’. I bought some cherry preserves for thirteen-thousand bus-bucks. We also exchanged ‘gifts’ and I gave my roommate, Sue, some Michigan refrigerator magnets. (We drew names from a bag in the beginning of the trip.) I received a Holland coffee cup from Shirley.
One final comment about the trip. It was perfectly planned and executed by Cathy – with much help from Chuck. For those of us in the group, we were loaded/unloaded a few steps from the bus at every stop, and had every convenience that could be made. Our luggage was given to us at the hotel outside of our rooms and loaded from outside our door in the mornings. This was a truly ‘no-hassel’ trip and little money was spent after paying the tour director. It was wonderful.

(Note: I use the ‘gallery’ feature of wordpress to organize and display pictures. To see the complete picture, click on it and use the left and right arrows, in the middle of the enlarged picture to view the pictures.) 


Post Script: I gained 3 pounds as it was too-hard for me to turn away from the food on the trip. I’m now trying to ‘budget calories’ better.
(Your comments about this blog are welcome. I attempt to tell readers a story and show readers the pictures of where I visit. Please feel free to send me an email or post your comment on the website. Please forgive me for my mis-spelling and other mistakes. Note: My ‘other’ blog is about my antique MG car and is found at: http://PuddinInTheMGB.wordpress.com . Dad called me “Puddin”, and I named my van, “Vanna White”. )

2017-05-14 (Day4/9) Trip to Michigan-Holland and Mackinac Island.

We left Holland the next morning and stopped in Sagatuck. Cathy found the dune-buggy rides (Dune Schooner Rides) for us. (As a tour director, Cathy has said that she especially enjoys finding ‘unusual’ things for her tours.) You have to see the pictures of the ‘buggies’ that explains the ride.

(Note: I use the ‘gallery’ feature of wordpress to organize and display pictures. To see the complete picture, click on it and use the left and right arrows, in the middle of the enlarged picture to view the pictures.) 

A local family bought about 30 acres of property many years ago. Sand dunes have shifted on the lake to encompass much of the land. The family began giving rides there before the new highway came to the area and moved the ride starting-point to the highway after it was constructed. We had a perfect spring day to enjoy the ride and a wonderful guide to tell us about the area.


In the mid-afternoon, we stopped near Williamsburg to see the Music House Museum. Our guide started a player-piano to let us hear a beautiful Gershwin song. The piano was owned by the Fischer family who were one of the founders of GM. It was inlaid with gold and a work-of-art. We saw old phonographs, a replica of the town, and saw a Laurel and Hardy black-and-white film. It was ‘great’. Also, across the street from the museum was a blossoming cherry orchard that was very unusual. Another great ‘find’ for Cathy and our tour.
We spent the night in Traverse City (Cherry Capital of the World) on the shore of the bay – great sunset. Cathy had arranged with the West Bay Beach Holiday Inn for us to have supper in their facility. We ate a buffet and I met Regis’ sister and her husband, and her brother from Michigan. They were able to see Regis and talk with her while we were in the area and they ate at my table with the group. It was interesting to talk with them about what it was like to live in Michigan – I was particularly interested in the winter there. They grew up there and are ‘used-to-it’. They have purchased snow-blowing machines, heavy clothing, etc. Regis has lived in the Atlanta area for a while and I got the impression that she wasn’t anxious to return to Michigan.

2017-05-16 (Day 6/9) Trip to Michigan-Holland and Mackinac Island.

The next morning, we had a hot breakfast buffet and had a tour of the island. (By carriage, of course, as the island doesn’t allow cars.) On the tour, we learned that many years ago, the residents decided to not allow cars on the island. Many of them had summer houses there and lived in the cities. The cities were polluted with industrial production and cars and they decided to not bring that type of pollution to the island – so they developed the use of carriages and bicycles for transportation. (Actually, for heavy construction they allow machines, and I observed a food-truck on the pier loading product for the restaurants and stores. After seeing the result of the many horses ((i.e., ‘horse pollution’ – a man with a cart cleaning the streets)) on the island, I think that they have settled on a resonable compromise.) The carriage tour included a ride through the local cemetary, by the fort, and a stop at the State Park with the arch rock. We also stopped at a ‘junction’ where the distance carriages allowed passengers to get some food and shop and rest-break before a local carriage took us to the Grand Hotel. (Cathy had a DVD of the movie where the Grand Hotel was the backdrop of the film. It was called “Somewhere in Time” and starred Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour. She showed it to us on the bus while we drove an interstate to Michigan.)

(Note: I use the ‘gallery’ feature of wordpress to organize and display pictures. To see the complete picture, click on it and use the left and right arrows, in the middle of the enlarged picture to view the pictures.) 


Our carriage tour ended at “The Grand Hotel”. It was absolutely stunning – no way to describe it – you have to see the pictures, of course. Luxury at its finest. We had a quick tour of the lobby and went into the dining room – I was totally unprepared for the “Grand” lunch buffet experience. They have 8 serving bars and we were seated by the wait staff. My group was separate from the rest of the group by the waiter. The food was outstanding! We ate everything that we wanted and waddled away afterward.

Cathy kept us co-ordinated and shopped some in the giftshop. I sat on the awesome porch and took some pictures. Some of the group walked about 15 minutes to the hotel, while others took a carriage. I had eaten too much to walk and went in the carriage – taking more pictures, of course.
After lunch, some of the group had energy to walk back to the fort and view more of the island. I was a little weary and hung-out in the lobby. When others from the group entered with a bag, I asked them to ‘show-and-tell’. Some bought fudge, famous in the area. Others bought shirts. I learned later that some in the group visited the sauna. The swimming pool was in the center of the hotel, so if anyone went swimming, everyone was able to see them. The sauna was in a side-room and hidden – so, they had to tell us about the experience. Supper was ‘on-your-own’ but since many of us had eaten so much for lunch, we only wanted a light supper. There were many options near the hotel. 

2017-05-15 (Day 5/9) Trip to Michigan-Holland and Mackinac Island.

The next morning, we made a stop at the National Shrine of the Cross in the Woods. We were able to walk around and see the cross and learn how it was constructed.

(Note: I use the ‘gallery’ feature of wordpress to organize and display pictures. To see the complete picture, click on it and use the left and right arrows, in the middle of the enlarged picture to view the pictures.) 


We crossed the Mackinac Bridge and ate lunch at St. Ignace Grill before getting on a ferry to take us to Mackinac Island. We saw ‘bugs’ there and learned that they were called ‘Mayflies’. They are a pest in the area for a few days and are plentiful. They are only near the lake and do not bite – however, they have similar size and shape to Georgia mosquitoes. This was our first encounter with them, when we returned from Mackinac Island, we had a few minutes to wait for the bus and we were covered with them when we got inside. The ferry ride was short and the walk on the pier was short to the Lake View Inn. We stayed for 2 nights in the downtown area. Cathy had arranged for the group to eat supper at the Yankee Rebel Tavern (a short walk from the hotel) and I had whitefish cooked inside a parchment bag. Hard to explain stuff – easier to post pictures ….

2017-05-13 (Day 3/9) Trip to Michigan-Holland and Mackinac Island.

(Note: I use the ‘gallery’ feature of wordpress to organize and display pictures. To see the complete picture, click on it and use the left and right arrows, in the middle of the enlarged picture to view the pictures.) 

In the morning, we went to the Windmill Island Gardens. Sue and I walked to the windmill (named “De Zwaan” and is 250 years old) and were among the first groups to tour. The windmill is the only one in the United States and was imported from Holland. Many windmills in Holland were destroyed during wars, but this one was the only one allowed out-of-the-country before a law was passed to not allow any more to leave. The city promised Holland that they would refurbish it and have tours to help preserve the culture. In addition, they have a millar, who is one of the few certified in the country to actually mill grain. They sell the grain that is used for making dough that is incredible. A very good tour – up several flights of stairs and great view from the platform at the top. After the tour, Sue bought a cloth bag to help pack her items on the trip. As we walked through the tulip gardens, we remembered that the bus was expected to leave in a few minutes and we hurried to meet the group. We returned just-in-time and had wonderful memories of our visit. We shopped at the De Klomp Wooden Shoe and Delft Factory – wonderful stuff.


We next went to Nelis Dutch Village which was near our hotel. It was a beautiful morning and this was the re-creation of a Dutch Village. They had a carousel which we rode – just because we could. We sampled the cheese and looked at many gifts in the shop. We had an arranged lunch at a nearby restaurant – a fast, and uneventful meal (many meals were included in the tour price). We had a slice of ham, some green beans, mashed potatoes and some local bread. It was good and they restaurant was able to serve us quickly as the meal was pre-arranged. The bus was able to park in a special area near the viewing stands of the Muzienparade=Tulip Parade and we had a wonderful seat. We totally enjoyed the parade and it was beautiful weather. The parade started about 1:30 and lasted over 2 hours. We saw many floats, bands, and local company entries. (4,000 participants, 170 units on the longest parade route in Michigan.) I took many pictures and have included some here: (Note: the Michigan Band performs “Tiptoe through the tulips” as they march in their wooden shoes. Additional note: our bus-tour-guide explained that you had to wear many pair of socks with the shoes to pad your feet. She had on seven pair and said that others wear about nine pair. One more note: I wasn’t expecting the end of the Holland band and stopped the video and missed the picture. A person followed the band pulling a wagon containing a cardboard box with writing telling everyone that the wooden shoes may break during the parade and they pick them up and put them in the box. I presume that they also carry several pair of ‘spare’ shoes for band members.) The band was outstanding.

 

Youtube.com link to video: 

(1) Holland, Michigan High School Band – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ejeSTpu2od8

(2) Holland, Michigan Tulip Festival costumed dancers (short video)- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qHkOz6EqSvE

(3)  Holland, Michigan Tulip Festival costumed dancers – (Short Video) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXXe7DvOYBY

(4) Steel Drum Band (double-decker bus float)  – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-93p8rAD3s

After the parade, we went to the cultural building of the city and saw someone making wooden shoes. There were vendors selling local products and a local biologist who told about the tulips that are used by the city for planting and how they are grown. Very interesting information.


After the cultural building, we had a tour of “Coppercraft Distillary”. We were beginning to get weary and the tour didn’t include seating, so many of us returned to a nearby chair. We heard about the company and their making the products that they sell. We also had a sample of the gin and bourbon. Some of us bought gifts and the owner included a glass ‘gift’ to each attendee.
After the tour, we went to a local Methodist church who had a fundraiser of serving dinner to groups. We had a buffet line to serve lasagna. The church volunteers helped serve us drinks and had set-up the room. The tables were decorated with wooden shoes and had a flag for its ornament. We were the only group there for dinner, but it was apparent to us that they were prepared for a much larger serving. Someone asked about their efforts and were told that the church had previously served 1200 meals there. I guess that we were the last group and they would take-away the tables and prepare the room for their Sunday events after we left.

2017-05-12 (Day 2/9) Trip to Michigan-Holland and Mackinac Island.

(Note: I use the ‘gallery’ feature of wordpress to organize and display pictures. To see the complete picture, click on it and use the left and right arrows, in the middle of the enlarged picture to view the pictures.) 

2017-05-12 Friday
The next morning, we left about 7AM and had breakfast in the hotel. Cereal and fruit was perfect for the start of the day. We arrived in Holland around 2pm. Cathy had arranged for a local, costumed, city-tour with a guide who came onboard and told us about the area. We really enjoyed the tour and I took a lot of pictures through the windows. One amazing thing that I learned on the tour, was that the city had put plastic pipe under the sidewalk of over 2 miles in the downtown area. The electric company pumps warm water through the tube in the winter and melts the snow. The area is completely walkable and the locals love it. I’ve posted a picture of a sample tube in below. I’ve heard of houses having tube under slate floor to heat the area, but had not heard of heated sidewalks previously. I loved it.
While touring the city, we passed the downtown area and nearby city park. We saw a bunch of people dressed as Holland residents (klopen dancers) to in a roped-off street ready to perform a dance. We asked the guide if we could stop and see the show and she said it was alright. The bus was parked nearby on the side of the road and the guide asked a nearby policeman if we could park there for the show. We really enjoyed the performance. There was a loudspeaker and information about the many different dress-styles of the costumes. After that, the loudspeaker played music and the people danced in their wooden shoes. It was absolutely incredible. I have included more pictures here:


At night, we attended the “New Odyssey Dinner Show”. The show was at Hope College and I’ve included some pictures. It is hard to describe what a GREAT dinner we had and a very entertaining show. I hate to admit that I can’t remember the group name of the 3 musician performers – but, they were from Chicago and were great. During their show, they asked a front-row attendee for something and asked his name. It was “Chuck” and they thanked him by chanting “Chuck, Chuck, Chuck”. Our bus driver was also named Chuck and after he was able to drive us in many places that were tight, busy, or otherwise difficult, the group would thank him for his work by chanting “Chuck, Chuck, Chuck”.


We stayed at a Holiday Inn Express in Holland for two nights. We also enjoyed the breakfasts at the hotel.