As an oblivious East Coaster, I never thought to consider Michigan as a vacation destination until meeting a girl from Traverse City at the Healthy Living Summit — eight years ago. How was that eight years ago? What is time, even?
My best friend/partner in crime Meg’s family lives in Holland, MI and she suggested we head there for Memorial Day, since the beaches here aren’t usually warm enough this time of year anyway. Why? The? Hell? Not? (2018 motto?)
I went for a quick run since our flight didn’t leave until noon, and if I was going to be hanging with someone’s parents, the me who has run is a preferable version to any other Theodora.
We flew into Grand Rapids, whose call letters are GRR, something that brought me infinite amusement.
We went to the cute Boatwerks restaurant on the water. Obviously I found the tacos on the menu. And something to know about me — beyond that I will always order the tacos — I will always find “reading material” anywhere a place offers up a free magazine or newspaper and stockpile it.
True story 1: one of my internships was at one such magazine writing hard-hitting articles about bar openings in D.C.
True story 2: I was reading another such paper on the train on the way home the day my mom died. It’s still in my room at home.
Weird asides, back to Michigan.
By this time, having run and flown to Michigan my wings (yup, went there) and legs were tired, and we were in need of caffeine. My mom’s favorite drink was Limoncello (followed closely by Riesling), and I saw there was a coffee shop named LemonJello (which, um, is also how she pronounced it!) and requested a stop.
Is there a word for the feeling you feel when you first catch a glimpse of the water? It’s one of my favorite feelings, and here’s a shot of it at the beautiful Laketown Beach.
We also lit sparklers on the beach, and it reminded me of this night, and I hugged my best friend, forever thankful for her.
Especially as we explored antique stores and gift shops — with so much reminding me of my mom. This couch is almost exactly the same as my favorite couch at my parents’. I can still see my mom sitting on it, with her coffee, making her to-do list for the day, on the phone with Joan, her best friend.
I’d be lying if I said big parts of this weekend weren’t incredibly difficult being around someone else’s family when mine is irreparably changed, but I appreciated the duality of it also being a fun weekend and was so appreciative of Meg’s family taking me in for the weekend.
We also explored Windmill Island, home of the only working Dutch windmill in the U.S. (Dress tied up until I get it shortened…)
And tried on wooden shoes…
And just took in the scenery from the ‘mill.
We spent our last day on Ottawa Beach, and I couldn’t resist a dunk in the balmy 53-degree water.
We went to a market in Zeeland whose hashtag was #FeelTheZeel, and I totally regret not buying this typewriter for my desk.
It felt appropriate to be in a place that oozed so much Americana on Memorial Day.
Finally, what would be a trip to Western Michigan without a brewery stop?? We stopped at Founders en route to the airport for a flight before the flight. My favorite was the Nitro Rubaeus, a fruity little fucker. I’m just obsessed with anything served on nitro. (P.S. I don’t update all the beers I have, but I am on Untappd on if you’d like to follow me.)
How was your Memorial Day weekend? Vacation or stay-cation?