Pure Michigan

Despite having heard the “Pure Michigan” ads on the radio every 5 minutes all spring long until I was ready to shriek, Debbie and I took a 3 day jaunt to Michigan before we get busy this fall.

After dropping the Wonder Dogs, Spenser and Owen, off at the Bow Wow Bed & Breakfast we headed for Grand Rapids and the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park where they were having a special Chihuly exhibit.

I’m no fan of Meijer stores, and botanical gardens are just ok to me. I do like Chihuly though. So I had pretty low expectations for this part of the trip. Was I ever wrong, it was magnificent! Ol’ Fred Meijer gave quite a gift to the city of Grand Rapids.

The gardens have lots of plants and stuff, as you might expect. Debbie could tell you what they were, they all looked green and leafy to me. There are permanent sculptures displayed throughout the gardens. A lot of it is the kind of modern art that you look at and say, “huh.” And then conclude either you or the sculptor must be a dummy. But most of it is very beautiful, and the work that went into creating the settings and vistas is impressive. Even the American Horse, which looks ridiculous in this picture, and also looks ridiculous in person from that angle, is breathtaking when you see it from a distance in its grass amphitheater.

The Chihuly sculptures were impressive as expected. You can see a lot of them in the slideshow on Chihuly’s site.

We spent that night in Saugatuck at the River Suites. It’s a deli with two rooms on the top floor. Much nicer (and more expensive) than it sounds, we had a deck overlooking the Kalamazoo River. Since it was part of the deli we just loaded up with bread and cheese and other goodies from the deli and sat on our deck and had our supper watching the sun go down over the river.

The next day we headed for nearby Fennville to taste wine at the Fenn Valley vineyard and to check out a restaurant called Salt of the Earth in Fennville.

The winery had tasty white wines (the reds, not so much) and was enlivened by a busload of very happy Amway representatives. The Salt of the Earth was something else. Uber-cool decor and food in the heart of Fennville, which is just a crossroads in Michigan orchard country. If you ever find yourself in the Saugatuck area it’s definitely worth the side trip.

From there we headed to Michigan City, which is not in Michigan of course. My Mom had gotten us a gift certificate to a restaurant called Kelly’s Table. It’s located right on the I-94 and US 20 exit. Surprisingly, that interchange is wooded and it sits back a long lane in 30 acres of woods.

Dinner at Kelly’s Table was exceptional. They buy as locally as they can, and serve seasonal dishes. I had a pork loin with a cherry barbecue sauce and Debbie had lamb with a pesto sauce. Appetizers were a chicken liver pate and meatballs with a tomato safforn sauce. Desserts were pots du creme and a chocolate chess pie. All of it was flawlessly prepared and very tasty. Somewhat unusually, the portions were reasonably sized, for example my pork loin was perhaps a 6 ounce cut. Generous, but not the ridiculously sized portion you often get. Prices were reasonable and it was just everything you hope a restaurant could be.

From there it was time to head home. After a detour for road construction led us through the trackless wastes of northwestern Indiana, we were reunited with the wonder dogs and then greeted at home by a bushel and a half of tomatoes ready to be processed.

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