I was supposed to go to Chicago this past weekend. The plans fell through at the last minute. I almost never get weekends off, so I had to make last minute plans of some other variety and seize my rare opportunity to get away... I guess Steve and I still could have gone to Chicago, but we wanted to do something more relaxing. I booked two nights in Traverse City, MI. It's about a four hour drive, and it's located in the part of the state where the beaches are mostly sandy, not rocky. It's a delicious relaxing tourist trap. There were two local yarn shops, one right downtown and one a little farther out. I had grand plans to go to both, along with a couple of close-ish side trips.
The drive up there goes through a pretty boring area of Michigan. If one of the highlights is Mt. Pleasant (infamous for being a boring college town), you know you're in for trees and sparse gas stations.
So, when you get almost to Traverse City, it's really, really odd to see a somewhat tall building:
This building became a running joke though the rest of the trip, because it towers over everything else in the area.
This is Grand Traverse Bay by daytime. Well, it's a small portion of it, anyway, but it gives you some idea of the delicious sandy beaches. Friday consisted of driving, arriving, shlepping around town to antique shops, and trying to find Lost Art Yarn Shop. It was right downtown, but somehow Steve and I missed it when we were there. It wasn't on any of the business directory map things either! Naturally we found it that evening on the way to the pub when it had closed. I cursed this fact over a lot of vodka and delicious food before having a long walk on the beach back to our hotel.
This is what that walk looked like, minus the blurriness I get from not being able to hold a camera still while somewhat inebriated.
Saturday morning consisted of a delicious breakfast (mushroom, swiss, and ham omelet) which I'd feel silly taking a photo of in a crowded cafe while sitting at the counter. Just trust me, it was good. We then decided to trek the hour and a half to Petoskey, home of the famous... rocks? Oh, and nice beaches and a cute downtown, too.
The beach bumming didn't amount in any swimming. Even though it was almost 90 in Traverse City, it was only 75 in Petoskey when we got there. Swimming didn't seem nearly as fun (the lake water was pretty damn cold), so my idea of a good time on a beach?
Monkey socks out of knitpicks essential tweed to be exact. I did more than just knit... I mean, I did find one (very small) Petoskey stone at the state park. The Monkey socks are much bigger now, though.
Just an aside, people: if you're going to visit pretty pristine beaches anywhere in the world, pick up your damn trash. I'm really hoping this behavior is limited to us lazy Americans; I never remember seeing trash on the beaches surrounding Sydney. I don't care how artsy Steve's photo of this litter is, I promise you this trash was still an eyesore in person.
What was worse were the (undoubtedly underage) kids we witnessed later that night who left an empty twelve-pack of Old Milwaukee (stolen from a dad, undoubtedly) laying around. Ugh.
We shlepped to downtown Petoskey, where I found a yarn shop! Yarn and Fiber Etc., to be exact. I got three balls of Berroco Foliage, which were incidentally on sale! YES! We also stopped at an amazing coffee shop (The Supreme Bean) which had white chocolate hot chocolate, amazing mochas, and an etch-a-sketch:
Then it was time to drive to the Sleeping Bear Dunes. This is a thirty-mile stretch of... sand... along the water in a relatively desolate (sleepy?) part of the state. In a corner of the park, we found a trail...
...which led to a beach! Exactly what we wanted: MORE SAND!
No, really, we did. And this one was far superior because there were no people. But there were more rocks and a dead tree.
We enjoyed ourselves here for a while, too. After we cleaned up, we went to dinner at an amazing Italian restaurant called Ciao Bella. Oh, I paid out my ass for it, but it was worth it. It was followed up by decent Gelato (that still doesn't beat the stuff in Italy) at the American Spoon. We walked back, with every intent of going to the casino to lose some money, but we fell asleep almost immediately...
Only to wake up today, and decide to head out early. There was a race at MIS, and that was definitely going to throw a monkey wrench into our driving time. We planned accordingly. We were going to get home pretty early...
Until we hit Mt. Pleasant. We stopped for a pit stop at the casino (to lose the $5 I was going to lose the previous evening in Traverse City) and Cold Stone for ice cream... Except we got a flat tire at Cold Stone! (The Cold Stone is next to a Curves, which is pretty funny to me.)
We then ended up driving around looking for a tire place that wasn't Wal-Mart, but alas we ended up in my version of hell: the automotive repair section of Wal-Mart. Actually, Wal-Mart in general is pretty much my version of hell. We walked around the store a little, commenting on censored music, video games that aren't carried, and telling stories of shirts pulled from the shelves. We spent the only money we've EVER spent in Wal-Mart, and hopefully it will be the last... so long as we never end up in a strange city on a Sunday with a flat again.
We're home now. And I'm tired. There are bits and pieces that I left out, but for the most part, you've just had a play-by-play of my weekend.