We arrived in Traverse City Michigan in April 2018. The drive from New York was long, but the food along the way made the ride easier. We had hoagies in western Pennsylvania, I tried my first pickled egg. I had no idea pickled eggs were good! In Ohio we had chicken fried potato wedges. We spent the night in a Detroit Hilton where we had a delicious Indian feast delivered. On arrival at our Airbnb we disappointedly had to cleaned the house before moving in. It’s unfortunate that about 75% of the Airbnbs we stay in are unlivable unclean! the other 25% either ask me to deal with drying laundry from the last guest: Italy, or they are perfect which was the case in the London ones and only one of them in the US.
This Airbnb had a huge backyard and a creek. As the snow started to melt we found mammoth rainbow trout in the shallow creek. They were beautiful to watch. My dog Onawa had great fun chasing them in the creek. Every weekend was some sort of event, or activity to drive to.
My brother and I worked on the weekdays then explored during the weekends. We went through two to three tanks of gas a week due to our exploring habit. We had to see it all! Winter was quickly replaced by the spring and in only two weeks of being in Traverse City the daffodils popped up. Then tulips decorated the roadside. On our first trip we attended the tulip festival in Holland Michigan. The whole town is covered in tulips! Just outside of town there are rows and rows of tulips growing in parks and even more on the tulip farms. The town even has a Dutch style wind mill.
After three weeks of being in Michigan our mom came to join us and so did the trillium flowers. It was my first experience with trilliums, but my mother was very familiar from her years living in Tennessee. The forests floors were covered with white flowers, some green and white and even light pastel pink and white.
There was the morel mushroom festival, an asparagus festival and then even a lilac festival. The morel fest is in Boyne, a beautiful little town toward the north. The craft beer festival rang in the morel festival with a tasting of fantastic beers, even a cherry beer. Every restaurant in the surrounding area contributed with at least one morel themed dish. There were morel tamales and morel soup which was most amazing, then morel mac and cheese, morel tacos, morels stuffed with sausage and then fried, it was amazing, everything was incredible. We were even able to buy fresh, or dried morels. We took a pound home to experiment with.
Traverse city has a great farmers market, but they are not dog friendly so we only went once. While there I bought 6 bunches of ramps to make a ramp kimchi recipe.
The asparagus festival takes place in Empire, it’s just around the corner from the famous Sleeping Bear Dunes. The first night of the festival opened with a Scandinavian style fish boil. Wild caught trout from Lake Michigan was boiled with potatoes and cabbage, covered with melted butter and served with an amazing asparagus salad. After the delicious food and even an asparagus themed beer we drove the surrounding roads. We happened upon an asparagus farm with crates of asparagus for sale. There was no attendant to accept money, the transaction was done the honor system way, the cost was per pound, we weighed them ourselves and then paid our cash into a box. I planned to pickle half of the asparagus and make a potato salad recipe my mom found online with the other half.
We ate all of it within two days. We didn’t pickle any, or make the potato salad. It was ok because another trip to Empire would have to be planned, we went the following weekend and bought ten pounds of delightful purple asparagus. On our way back to Traverse City we came across an iris farm. Over half an acre of irises in every color imaginable stood tall against the yellowing sky while the sun began to set. This time we pickled a fourth in a salt brine with savory flavors, then with an eighth I made a bread and butter pickles, the rest was for potato salad and some was roasted with a squeeze of lemon of course. It was all amazing.
The week before our business trip to Grand Rapids we found a quarter inch of water covering the office floor. We told the Airbnb host, but he didn’t take it seriously and it turned to mold by the time we got back to the Airbnb the following week.
In Grand Rapids we stayed for five nights at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel which is a Curio Hilton located on the river. The hotel is a historical landmark which should be visited even if you’re staying elsewhere. The restaurant on the top floor offers a view of the whole city and a spectacular happy hour offering.
When we returned to Traverse City we headed to the Lilac Festival in Mackinac Island as planned. Getting to the island is easy, we parked our car in the designated parking lot and waited for the ferry very early in the morning, then cruised over with the dogs. The island is beautiful! There aren’t any cars, just bikes and horses. We went to the dog and pony show, our dogs loved it. We also found the best fudge I’ve ever had. We didn’t have to wait long for our return cruise, there was a bit of a line, but we made the cruise we were waiting for.
I had arranged to leave the Airbnb early due to the water problem. The water caused mold just as I speculated it would and we got out right in time.
If only these Airbnb hosts would solve their water issues when I first tell them to, then clean their problems quickly. Too often they shrug it off and leave it too late. That June eighteenth we packed up the van and headed west to Colorado, but with some stops planned along the way. I’ll have the stories of our stops posted in the 2018 blog. I do hope you will keep reading and check Trip Advisor SightingSarah for the restaurants, hotels and activities I’ve reviewed of the places I’ve visited.