Night 2 of 3 on Silver Lake

June 20, 2011 at 10:51 pm
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Drake and I are sitting on the balcony outside our hotel room overlooking Silver Lake in Mears, MI. We poured ourselves some drinks. It’s relaxing to watch the water and the sky just past the sunset over the dunes.

We got here yesterday evening, after spending the day taking the scenic route. We left Warren at around 1:30, having said thorough goodbyes to our cat, and we took 96 west through Grand Rapids. It was Drake’s first time west of Lansing, I think. We ended up visiting Grand Valley State University, where we parked and took a 45-minute walk all around campus. I loved showing him where I once went to school. It feels like lifetimes ago. It’s more beautiful than I remember. We walked across the bridge, through Zumberge library, through the gardens and all around the central parts of campus. I was glad we made the stop.

We went on, straight west to Lakeshore Drive, which ended up being a neighborhood road with no real lake access. We took it up through Grand Haven. It was Sunday afternoon and beautiful out, and the beach at Grand Haven was packed. Drove through past the lighthouse, past the ice cream shops and the river, and it was picturesque as a Michigan beach town ought to be. I was happy to show Drake the west side of the state. It made me realize how much I love Michigan. We’re so lucky.

On up through Muskegon, we stopped at Meijer to buy a few last-minute vacation supplies. Finally we ended up at our hotel. We checked in to our room, lakefront with a jacuzzi. It’s quiet here, created for a pleasant getaway. We got back in the car and looked for a good dinner spot, but we soon found out that there were slim pickings outside of gas station pizza on Silver Lake proper, so we landed at one of the dives on the short strip of civilization near the hotel. I ordered a grilled chicken breast and it came butter-smothered. His chopped sirloin was a giant bunless hamburger. It was food, though. The water tasted like licking rusted iron, as did the Diet Coke, so I waited til we got back to the room to have pop from a bottle. We walked to one of the nearby fudge shops, and he had an ice cream cone with peanut butter cups and I had one that was birthday-cake flavored as we walked along the water. Back in the room, we soaked in the hot tub and watched hotel television. Miss USA was on and California won, with flowing red hair and an emerald green ballgown. So many white teeth. So many thin, waving arms.

Drake is taking pictures of the lake right now, using the balcony banister as a leveling ledge, and he’s showing me the tricks of his fancy camera. Look at this picture versus this one, he’s saying. I changed the something-or-other. I love him and his fondness for gadgets. He learns how to use them. Gadgets are made for men like Drake.

This morning we slept in and went to Hart for breakfast. All of the street signs in Hart are painted with hearts. I was thrilled that we were able to find a place on the water without mineral-laden beverages. They had homemade bread for sale in 6 flavors. We had hearty meals with homemade toast, which I was so pleased with that I made sure to add the restaurant on Foursquare so I could rate it highly. It was raining and muggy. We walked around Hart then, and I dragged him into a little antique shop where I had a wonderful time looking at old jewelry, colored-glass dishes and silk scarves. I bought a Christmas ornament and a trinket for my mom’s birthday, I think, unless I decide to keep it for me. We went to a vintage clothing store next, again, my choice, and I tried on a $5 dress. It clung a bit and I didn’t buy it, but I asked Drake to take a picture of me in it for fun. I wish I’d gotten it now. It was blue with a flower print, knit and comfortable and wrinkle-free. Maybe I’ll go back for it.

We stopped at a memorial park in Hart where a fighter jet was parked and some teenagers were fishing. We took some pictures.

After Hart, we drove down to Shelby to check out their Main Street. We stopped in an uninteresting pawn shop and then stopped in a very interesting bakery. After much hemming and hawing, I decided on the biggest and best-ever-looking apple fritter. 90 cents. We got it to go and split it in the car later. It tasted like my dream. Thickly glazed butter crumbles. I don’t even know. I loved it. I want to hit rewind and eat it again.

We drove through Stony Lake, which wasn’t much of a town. Our next stop was Tartan Hill Winery, a little house among some vineyards. We tasted five wines and the young lady serving them was informative, subtly enthusiastic and quietly friendly. She eventually asked our relationship to each other and I announced that we’re recently engaged. She was extraordinarily happy at that. We bought a bottle of Cayuga Jazz, a rose blend we liked, and she awarded us with two of their engraved glasses that she’d sneakily packed up for us as an engagement present in brown paper bags. It made me feel special and important. Drake and I would go back there in a second. Their wines were good, too.

We drove back up and I forced Drake to stop the car at Cherry Point Market. I felt drawn to the place and I didn’t know why. The red awnings and red petunias planted everywhere looked familiar. When we got out of the car, I remembered that this was the place that sold my dad’s favorite ever cherry strudel. We bought half a strudel for the two of us, plus some maple sugar candy which makes me feel like Laura Ingalls Wilder, and a chocolate chip cookie which made Drake happy.

We started to drive toward the lighthouse but it wasn’t the right way, so we turned around and went to The Fox Barn Winery for another wine tasting. They had lots of hard apple cider flavors and tart cherry wine, as well as a wine made all from asparagus, no grapes. We tried that, but it was too weird to buy. I watched the two server girls watching us as we tasted it. They seem anxious to witness tourist reactions to the asparagus stuff. I can’t blame them. They work in a country store. We bought a bottle of semi-dry red and went on our way.

Then we drove to the lighthouse at Little Sable Point. The sun had come out, finally, but it was beating down. The lighthouse itself was beautiful, but we decided not to go in it because it was hot and would’ve been a lot of stairs, and the haze was thick so we could barely see the water at all. We asked a couple to take our picture and it didn’t turn out well, but I told them it was great and thanked them wholeheartedly. We didn’t spend too long there. We came back to the room, ate sandwiches I’d brought from home, and we tasted the strudel which was heaven with frosting on top. I’m eager to get to the rest of that, not to mention go back to the market and buy some for Dad as a souvenir and post-Father’s-Day present.

Mac Wood’s Dune Ride was next. As we arrived, the couple who’d taken our picture at the lighthouse were exiting the dune buggy to go home. They waved at us and said they’d had a good time. I was glad. We sat in the front row of the dune buggy with the driver and a couple other families got on board too. Drake sat at the end and took lots of pictures. The big hills were exciting and he laughed. We scared away the seagulls and got out at Lake Michigan to walk around in the sand. Drake got his toes wet and said it was bitter cold. We have plenty of pictures. The dunes were impressive. Drake says it was like an amusement park ride built out of sand, only more than 30 seconds, and on a truck rather than a roller coaster.

When that was over, we stopped at a colorful little strip where we walked into the candy store and I bought too much saltwater taffy and some dill pickle flavored popcorn, overpriced. Poked our heads in souvenir shops, bought half a slab of fudge, and walked around Craig’s Cruisers where the lake with bumper boats smelled fishy. We got back in the car and drove to Open Hearth Grill where we ordered beer battered asparagus and steaks for dinner. 3 stars out of 5. Much better than the Silver Lake restaurant options. I guess it’s probably 5 stars for the area, since it’s so limited here. This place needs help in the restaurant department.

We bought bottled water at the gas station and milk for morning coffee, then we came back to the room to take pictures of sunset. Tomorrow we’re getting on the water. We’re having a really nice time so far. Not a single argument and our phones have little service which is always a blessing in disguise. I’m happy and in love. One more night and we check out on Wednesday. I think we can fit some lake time in, either on a canoe or a boat with a motor, but I can’t decide which. Probably a canoe. Back at home I’ll need to exercise extra to catch up on the points I haven’t counted, so I can get back on track for pre-wedding conditioning. Ahhh I’m excited for that. Still no idea when or where to have it, but I’m not in a super rush. I think the right options will show themselves in time. More or less this is the time of my life, and I’m happy to slow down and savor it.

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