Hello and Happy Monday!
I am coming to you after a long weekend filled with tons of activities, friends, and fun. I have been working at the gym since early this morning, so it has taken me multiple breaks in my day to put this extremely long weekend recap together. There’s just so much to cover, and I can’t believe it’s already well into the afternoon. Phew!
I hope you all had a great weekend, and for the Americans reading this, I hope you had a very happy Fourth of July!
Scott and I had an absolute blast entertaining friends from out of town, so let’s get right to the highlights!
• Royal Oak Rib Fest
After a relaxing morning of lounging at home with friends that arrived the night before, we kicked off the holiday weekend with a trip over to Royal Oak for the Royal Oak Rib Fest.
The Royal Oak Farmers Market and surrounding lots hosted the event and provided casual and very family-friendly entertainment.
As expected, there were plenty of ribs to be eaten, there was a variety of live music to listen to, and there were all sorts of food and beverages.
The boys dug into the ribs soon after we entered, and I found a nearby tent selling pulled pork sandwiches. It was delicious with a side of coleslaw!
The highlight of the festival had to be the Hot Dog Pig Races. They’re cleverly named hot dog races for the dachshunds that show up for half of the rounds. For a fully twenty minutes, pigs and tiny dogs dressed up in different colored outfits and raced around the track.
It’s not all too often that you get the opportunity to see pigs and dogs dart past you for a prize, right? It was definitely interesting.
• The Great Escape Room
After we had our fill of the festival, the group of us walked back towards the car in search of something else to do. The boys stumbled upon The Great Escape Room and convinced us it would be an amusing real-life escape challenge.
The Great Escape has locations in Michigan, Florida, and Washington D.C., and would be a great team building activity for co-workers, teams, families, or friends. Basically, you are locked in a room together and have exactly one hour to figure out a series of puzzles that lead to each other and eventually to an escape door out of the room.
There was a moderator with us in the room, but he was only allowed to give us hints if we found one of the three magnifying glasses. In order to escape from the room, we had to work together to solve all of the clues.
We were told that of all the groups that come through, only about thirty percent have a successful exit. It was a true challenge!
There were times where I was completely stumped. I would go from puzzle to puzzle to see what others were doing, and try to help out in whatever way I could. We each found something that made sense to us and kept at that station until an answer surfaced. By the end, we were all working together to complete the final steps. After a stressful finale, we finally made it out with just over five minutes to spare. It was a close call!
I can see how people would get easily frustrated, but it felt great to solve all of the puzzles that led us out to the big exit. There are multiple rooms you can choose to escape from, and each one takes you through a different set of challenges to find the escape route. Tickets cost about $25 per person, per puzzle, so it’s something we might go back to if or when another group of friends want to go.
• Holland & Lake Michigan
Thank you to everyone who provided suggestions for things for us to do over the Fourth! After searching high and low for a marina that still had available boats to rent for the holiday, I ended up booking a 18′ Sea Ray from Holland Water Sports over on the west side of the state. Holland is a charming city, and the lake connected to the marina took us out to a canal that led to Lake Michigan.
Our trip to Holland, however, started on a bumpy note.
We planned to stay the night right by the beaches, and as soon as we pulled into the driveway to drop our stuff and Roadie off, there were cars and people already in the house! We knew something weird was going on, and to make a long story short, we were scammed. The house was intentionally double-booked, and we were very thankful that our friend, Barry, was able to get his money back on it. Talk about starting the day off on the wrong foot!
Knowing we might lose our boat rental, we made our way over to the marina and told them our dilemma. Thankfully, they were extremely understanding and not only let Roadie come on the boat with us, but also provided extra blankets and extended our rental time until we were able to get settled and set out on the water.
It wasn’t the smoothest journey there, but once we were out on the lake, it was worth the trouble.
… and a little bit of chaos (brought on by the boys).
I was initially pretty nervous to have Roadie on board with us. We had originally planned to drop him safely off at the house, but he ended up loving the fresh air and time on the water. (Well, possibly after this happened…)
He spent most of his time up front with the girls, and when he wasn’t snuggled up in my lap, he was taking in the sights and sounds of Lake Michigan. He’s been such a great traveler – well, Roadie – lately!
Lake Michigan was a bit cooler than we anticipated, so we spent the majority of our time out of the fog and closer to the marina in Lake Macatawa.
Our friends Katlyn and Claire joined us for a good six hours on the boat, and we each took turns tubing. While the temperature was still a little cooler than what I am used to in Florida for July 4th, it seemed perfect with a blanket and cover up to snuggle with.
The sun didn’t set until after 9 p.m., so we slowly made our way back to the shore around that time. It was beautiful!
We had planned to drive over to Holland State Park to catch the fireworks, but since we still had to figure out where we were staying, that took priority. We were still able to catch some of the big ones from where we were staying, and spent the rest of the night discovering things to do in Downtown Holland. (Parrots – a total dive bar – turned out to be pretty fun!)
• The Biscuit (Holland, MI)
We spent Sunday morning catching up on rest and checked out around Noon. We all had brunch on our minds and found a great spot called The Biscuit that serves breakfast all day!
There wasn’t much to do in the area, but the restaurant is definitely worth a trip over to dine at. I thought the variety of the menu was awesome and the environment was adorable.
Considerably hungry, I ordered the Mediterranean Scramble that came with a side of breakfast potatoes and their well-loved biscuits with homemade jam. I also threw in a side of crispy bacon for good measure.
Everything was really, really good!
We all left Holland feeling like we didn’t get a good chance at seeing all it had to offer. I’d love the chance to get back over to city and spend a whole weekend exploring… maybe with an actual beach house reservation next time? Sheesh.
• Downtown Detroit
Barry left for home in Chicago from Holland, so the group of us left made the three hour drive home to the Detroit area. Scott wanted to take Darnell and Lindsey around Downtown Detroit, so we didn’t have much time to doddle before we got changed and headed back out to play tourists with them!
Ford Field, Lion’s Stadium (left) and Comerica Park, Tiger’s Stadium (right)
Hart Plaza, Detroit Riverfront
Lindsey and I in front of the Windsor, Ontario (Canada) skyline
Campus Martius Park
We paid a true tribute to Detroit with dinner at American Coney Island. Scott and I like to tell friends about the great rivalry between that and the Lafayette Coney Island I’ve mentioned before. We called it a night after driving around the city, and finished our last few hours with friends up with a recorded playback of the big game (FIFA’s Women’s World Cup). Go Team USA!
This summer has already proven to be a busy one. Balancing vacations and entertaining friends and family from out of town with work and blogging sure has kept me moving. But, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love these people!
Thanks for making the long drives over to spend the holiday weekend with us.
We can’t wait to see you again soon!
All right, friends. It’s time for me to grab a late lunch and get back to work.
I hope you have a great start to the week!
Question of the Day
• Have you ever been tricked into a scam reservation? Where did you book it?
Our answer: Craigslist, which is really disappointing. Scott and I check Craigslist all the time, and even used it to sell Scott’s Jeep and buy our current washer and dryer. We’ll be sure to stick to reputable travel sites when booking hotel stays from here on out!