I was surprised when Rooster suggested we take an overnight trip to Michigan. We all know his financial tendencies run in the direction of cheap. The fact we’re trying to pay off everything before we retire in two years means we’re watching every penny right now. The reason for his unexpected suggestion center around a winter festival in South Haven, Michigan. We’ve been to that area many times, but never in the winter. I thought it would be interesting to visit this area in the off-season. In the summer, this tiny community is crowded with tourists, searching for a weekend of fun in the sun and to discover unique treasures in local shops. These people rent houses and cabins scattered along the shoreline of Lake Michigan. The streets become muddled with heavy traffic. It’s almost impossible to get a table at one of the local restaurants. There are so many boats in the marina it looks like the town has been invaded by a foreign navy. Rooster didn’t have to work hard to persuade me his adventure idea would be worth the long drive and expense. I wanted to experience South Haven in the winter, with all the invading summer tourists gone.
The event Rooster was excited about was the Icebreaker Festival in South Haven, Michigan. From what he saw online, sculptors would roll into the small town and carve works of art out of blocks of ice. The judging would start at 1:00 p.m. The festival would include ice-skating, a Frozen fish Fling, and a cardboard box sled race. We climbed in Frosty and left town as soon as we got off work Friday evening. Rooster booked us a room in the same hotel chain we stayed in the night before we left for New York City. If you will remember, I had a bad experience with the soap dispenser. It fell on my foot in the shower. I had a deep cut, which made me worry there would be a problem when I attempted to board the plane the next morning. We managed to get the bleeding to stop. I was able to make my flight. By the end of December, the bruising disappeared, and the deep gash healed. I’m left with a long scar, which is starting to fade. I was still apprehensive about staying with this hotel chain again. Our goal for the evening was to check in to the hotel, and then find a unique local restaurant where we could enjoy a scrumptious meal.
We cruised down the highway listening to the blues on the drive north. The road surfaces were dry, and there wasn’t as much as a snow flurry to impede our progress. We drove for over two hours before we made it to the Michigan border. The view from the car window shifted from farmland stripped bare for the winter to a landscape filled with towering trees. I always love the alteration in the scenery, which occurs when you drive from Indiana into Michigan. The transition is even more apparent the closer you travel toward the Great Lakes. The one element I expected to be present in the environment was snow. The ground in Michigan was as clear of the white stuff as we were in the Hoosier state. It made me wonder how they were going to have a winter event complete with ice sculptures and sled races when the temperatures were only a little below the freezing point.
It was dark by the time we pulled into the hotel parking lot. Rooster was required to make four sweeps of the area and change parking spaces three times before he was comfortable with parking Frosty. (Rooster went to get the oil changed in the Sunshine Mobile, and he came home with a brand-new car. Frosty is a silver ice colored newer model of the Chevy Spark. The dealership gave Rooster such a great deal he couldn’t let it pass him by. We both now have his and her Sparks. The vehicle gets about forty miles to the gallon, is good for the environment, and takes up less space in a parking lot. At least it should unless Rooster is the driver. He has to make sure our tiny compact car has enough room on both sides where it won’t get dinged by the car door of another vehicle.) The first thing I did after we entered the room was to check the shower to make sure the dispenser was adequately attached to the wall. This one link in the national hotel chain had the container mounted to the wall in the proper manner. I even wiggled it to make sure I wouldn’t get a surprise when I took my shower.
We drove past what looked like a motorcycle shop with a restaurant located next to it on our way to the motel. We decided Three Blondes Brewing would be our restaurant of choice to enjoy our evening meal. It turned out to be a perfect choice. The moment we pulled into the parking lot located at 1875 Phoenix St. in South Haven, we knew we were in our kind of place. Rooster loves to eat outside. He will select a restaurant many times based on whether they have outside dining. When we pulled to the curb, he glanced to the side of the building. Rooster immediately became fascinated with the igloo type structures with heaters where a person could eat on the patio even in the middle of winter. He asked around inside and discovered that you could reserve these tiny structures for parties often. I know Rooster was thinking about taking this idea home. We both ordered a salad since we’re still trying to work off all the weight we gained over the holidays. I had a bowl of soup. I played it safe and selected the cream of broccoli. I wish I would have lived dangerously and ordered the beer cheese soup. The waitress brought me a sample. It was delicious. The restaurant makes its own dressing, which made the green stuff we were eating spring to life. The feature of the eatery I found which made it stand out from some of the other places where we have dined in the past was the atmosphere.
Three Blondes Brewery is connected to VanDerZee Motorplex. This power sports dealership sells recreational vehicles and motorcycles. The primary manufacturers are Kawasaki and Yamaha. The two businesses are separated by a glass door. Lettering on the door instructed the customer not to carry alcohol into the dealership. The door was locked. VanDerZee was closed when we arrived, but it gave the dining experience a cool factor.
The hotel wasn’t far from Three Blondes Brewery. The plan was for us to get an early start in the morning. The Icebreaker festival was a mile down the road, but we planned to make a side trip into Kalamazoo before the judging started at the Ice Breaker. We watched a little television before we crawled into bed. I must have slept an hour before the noise began on the third floor. It sounded like someone was rearranging the motel room furniture or dancing the polka directly above us. This activity went on most of the night. The noise defeated the purpose of getting a good night’s sleep, which is sort of spoils the intention of getting a room in the first place. It was as if they constructed the building without placing anything between floors to insulate against sound. This makes the second night I’ve visited this hotel chain and been unable to sleep. Strike two. Rooster and I won’t attempt to make it a strike three. We will do a search for better accommodations in one of the competing hotel chains on our next overnight adventure.