Thursday, August 2, 2012

Seattle Washington On Foot

At last I have something to write about in here. I was beginning to think I was never going to get to travel again. It has been a long tough year or so for every one and the traveling we normally do has been limited to day trips to the shore and Atlantic City. Well my traveling luck has taken a turn for the better and I was given the chance to go some where I had never been before. Not only never been but to get there I had to fly.
  I was given the opportunity to go to Seattle Washington.My trip was paid for by and it was the best gift I have received so far this year.I had known about the trip since early May and I did no home work didn't even look at a map to see exactly where Seattle WA was. I absolutely didn't believe I would get on the plane and go. I knew I really wanted to try. Even so I cried and whined about how scared I was to fly and travel in a strange city by myself for months. Before I knew it the date was here and my bags weren't even packed.
  Well I packed a bag and got on that plane. I calmly and with more then a little enjoyment flew across the country. I landed in a city I knew nothing about with no plans other then my Allrecipe activities. It is a good thing AR(allrecipe for short) arranged shuttles for us from the air port to the hotel or I may have spent my entire time trying to figure out how to get out of the airport. I am not a dumb person but the airport is larger then most cities.
  A lot of the AR brand ambassadors that were coming to Seattle as well made full vacations of it and extended their time in WA and enjoyed the opportunity to see more of Washington then just Seattle. I was not able to do that so I contented myself with touring Seattle on foot. Believe you me I wasn't alone. The Seattle side walks are filled with tourist and city dwellers alike. The streets are filled with cars and trucks and to hail a cab you need a loud voice and long arm.Believe it or not with all the bustle and activity going on Seattle is a quiet city.
  My hotel was located in what seemed to be the heart of the city 6TH and Union. The hotel it self is an old building that is completely modern on the in side. The kind of place that has doormen, bell hops, and warm soft cushy white robes in the room for you. I didn't open a door or lift a bag the entire time I was there. Pampered that is what I was. 3 days is really not enough time for treatment like that. Washington Athletic Club is an awesome hotel. To bad I didn't take one picture of the place. To be frank after a while I started leaving my camera in the room. I was just enjoying walking and looking and discovering so much I didn't have time to take pictures.
  There was so much to see in the city that every time I turned my head I saw something new. I walked down some of the streets a dozen times at least and saw some thing new every time.If I was asked to go again I wouldn't say no. I would however do my homework and be prepared a little better so I would get to see more. I saw a lot of the city and enjoyed it all but a part me can't help thinking if only....  Oh well hind sight and all that.
 I was lucky that a friend from cooking and the internet lives in the suburbs if Seattle and my first night there she and her husband snagged me up and took my on my most favorite tour. They took me to the Puget Sound and a beach that I could walk along and collect treasures like sand dollars and drift wood as well as some very cool looking rocks.
 It was so odd to walk along a beach on a beautiful summer day and there only be 10 people or less on the beach and only 1 person in the water. That water was so cold I put my hand in and that was enough for me.
 There were a lot of interesting stores and shops around the city. This one by far was the most interesting to me. The clothing was chic and trendy,it was the decor however that interested me. The entire store was filled with old fashion sewing machines. Different sizes,makes and models.Sewing machines on the walls windows and even the floor. I was in that store a good 15 minutes just standing there staring at the walls and snapping pictures. That's how I knew I was not on the east coast. You could never stand for 15 minutes in a store taking pictures without buying anything,you would be asked to leave. I was asked if I was able to get all the pictures I wanted and pointed to other cool looking machines I may not have noticed.
No matter where you walked there was always something going on something to see. It seemed like on every corner there was entertainment of some sort,as well as a lot of beggars.Not every cardboard sign was a plea for money though some where political statements and others where just nonsense that at times was funny.
 Pike Place Market absolutely lives up to its reputation. A beautiful indoor outdoor market. With all kinds of different shops and vendors. There are side walks but most people walk in the brick lined street with the cars. It is less crowded and you get a better view. If you are a serious shopper you are in side walking along the many booths and stalls, but if you are like me a sightseer you are walking along the outside.  That way you get to see it all, the market,the Sound, the mountains off in the distant horizon and the steep steep hill you have to climb to get back to your hotel.
 This is the easy hill I went down to the market this way and at the bottom turned right. The hill at the other end of that street was twice as high and afforded the most beautiful view. A shot I didn't take due to being out of breath,I told my self I would come back and take the picture. I was back to the top of that hill a few times just never with the camera. I did that a lot this trip I would say to myself come back and try that or you want to come back and get that and it never happened.
 There were so many fantastic looking restaurants it was hard to chose where to eat. I picked a winner every time. I tried a Mexican restaurant near the hotel for lunch, pricey but very good, Lillian made reservations for a group of us(my only planned activity ) at the Pink Door. Pricey,with great art work and excellent food. The best meal I had however had me sitting at a table with the deepest blue hydrangea I have ever seen as my view. That was the home cooked meal provided by My friends Laurie and John.
  Here I am in the AR offices enjoying Happy Hour with some of my new found friends. The offices of AR are very cool not many offices have putt putt golf running through the hallways or hopscotch taped out on the hallway floors. It is also not normal to see employees being able to cook them self lunch but you saw that here. 
  The entire trip was an awesome experience. I had the time of my life and came away thinking Seattle Washington is one hell of a city.


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Philadelphia Folk Fest

Each year for over 20 yrs in mid August I have attended this little event called Folk Fest.
 It is older then  wood stock and not actually held in Philadelphia.
 I have been attending since my son was 7 years old. Give or take a year. He is now 29 years old.
 The  first year I attended the Philadelphia Folk Festival I ....HATED IT.....
   The next year I was convinced to volunteer and I feel in love. I have been attending and volunteering ever since.
  This is a week end of camping, Music, Crafts, Food and friends.
   The music on stage is some of the best you will ever hear, but the music in the camp grounds is what will steal your heart.
  I and many others have the pleasure of saying we know or have met Amos Lee(by another name) because he grew up playing music around the camp fires of fest.
   Philia Festival was once held on a property called Old Pool Farm and sported some of the best mud fest.I was never on old pool farm I have however seen plenty of photos and sat quietly listening to the wonderful and often funny stories about the old farm. Now it is located on the Godshall farm. The festival is held on and between 2 large hills.(I truly believe the good people of Groundz add dirt at the top each year to make the hills even higher).To go from the camp ground to the concert area you walk down the hill across the grove and up the hill.To return to the camp grounds you walk down the hill across the grove and up the hill. We all love the down hill trip!
     As I said there is much to see and do  all weekend long. More importantly there are thousand of potential friends to meet and traditions and memories to make. There is nothing more I enjoy then standing on the hill top in the warm sunshine watching my son play the game washers with friends he made as a young boy at fest,friendships that have withstood the test of time and grown stronger with each passing year.
   This event allows you the chance to see many many acts some as familiar as an old friend and some new and almost always very exciting. . The music work shops give you the opportunity to get to  know your favorite artist or groups as well as allowing the artists a little freedom to experiment and get real personal with the audience.
  I have  the pleasure of saying  I have seen up close and personal so many great and not so great acts like Amos Lee,Kevin Bacon,and this past year Levon Helm just to name a few. I don't come for the line up or the stars, in fact I don't even look at the line up any more(well I do peek at it) because it doesn't matter who is on the program  I am here for names like Barbra,Kim,Darla, Justin,Michelle,Hank,Ned and Lester as well as a whole lot more names of  people that will and have become my friends for life.
  So if you are looking for something different to do this summer check out the Philadelphia Folk Fest. I am more then sure you will have loads of fun and that you will come  back for more.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Michigan's Thumb

When considering a visit to Michigan think about the Thumb and taking a trip there. With all it has to offer, great lakes,Beaches, State parks, Large farms,small towns and  really good food you won't be disappointed. I grew up in Michigan and never really knew about the thumb. I guess because there are no amusement parks and such there is less attention paid to the area.
  Each year I come back home to Michigan.The primary reason for returning each year is my family and spending time with them. My husband and I normally just stay in Pontiac getting one of the fine hotels in what I call corporate alley( our favorite being  The Staybridge hotel). Lately we have been spreading our wings and trying new things when we travel,like the B&B  this past Oct in PA.
  On this visit to Michigan I decided to shake things up a bit and let Bill see that there is more to Michigan then a city that is unfortunately dying a slow death and is being sold off piece by piece.
  If you live in Michigan when you go on vacation in the summer you go up north.Well I have a brother that lives in Gagetown MI which is located close to the center of the thumb,I am not sure this is considered up north or not but it is north and I had never really been there before(maybe when I was real young for the day) so this seemed like the perfect spot to spread our wings and fly.Just like the Bald American Eagle we were lucky enough to see while in the thumb.
   In unseasonable temperatures of 80 degrees and above  Bill and I spent the middle of March doing the tourist thing. In March most of the Parks and Attractions are closed but that really didn't matter to us. We like the lack of crowds and the polite friendly service you get when places aren't busy.  With my families recommendations and our own instincts we spent our days traveling around the thumb doing everything and nothing all at once.

 The coastal tour of Saginaw Bay and Lake Huron is a delightful 6 hr ride that takes you around the tip of the thumb offering sight after sight to see.We traveled on a single lane highway that weaved its way back and forth along the coast giving us plenty of views of the great lake itself,the homes that surround it as well as the state parks that invite you to stop and walk along the beaches edge or swim and frolic in the lapping waves if it is not a fake summer in mid March and the water freezing .
While traveling along this historic route we are well entertained in between the sights by the local radio station, it does indeed play music but what type I couldn't tell you because we only had ears for the news.The format of the news program is old fashion and personal.Full of information and local tidbits we couldn't help but smile and even laugh as we listened to the news caster describe how Mrs X had hit a deer with the right front corner of her car and the side view mirror was knocked off and into the car causing lacerations to Mr X face in the passenger seat. The jaws of life were needed to free Mr X  but he was just fine. If you were lucky enough to ever see the Hee Haw show and watched the news skit then you know just how this news program sounded. 
We enjoy fine dinning and gourmet menus quite often but we enjoy a good dinner as well.I just have to say we did not have one bad meal the entire time we were in the thumb.On our first day as we drove around looking at our surroundings we were a little Leary as we saw what looked like hole in the wall  after hole in the wall joints,after a closer look we found clean,friendly environments with  very very good home style cooking.Each restaurant had its own character and style from a luncheon type dinner with barbed wire garland  decorating the ceiling  to the cute Swiss style restaurant  with flower boxes on the windows and hummingbirds painted along the trim. The one thing  all the restaurants had in common plain or fancy was good food plenty of it and reasonable prices. Making dinning out fun and almost guilt free.....Well guilt free if you don't count the calories.
As I said earlier Most of the attractions are closed. That didn't stop us from stopping and looking any way.At the one and only lighthouse we were able to find we stopped and walked around the closed park.I didn't think they would mind my taking a picture or two,after all I didn't really want to use the picnic tables and swing sets along the waters edge under big beautiful trees of all types.I just wanted a few pictures,I took my pictures got back in the car and traveled on leaving the park almost exactly as it was except for my foot print on the ground. The well worn paths from the keepers house to the lighthouse and all  around the grounds tell the story of how often this lone light house is visited.The pristine white buildings and well kept grounds tell the story of how well it is respected.So very old and still working , surviving the fires of 1881 it is I believe the only one left in the thumb of Michigan. Well at least the only one we found . 

  Open all year long is Frankenmuth a small town in the thumb that displays it German heritage with a great deal of pride and style.This little village of a town is known for 2 things All you can eat chicken dinners and Christmas. Frankenmuth sports the largest Christmas stores in the world called Bronner's. The town also sports 2 very famous family style restaurants that serve the same all you can eat chicken dinner.The restaurants are directly across the street from each other,they are both owned by the same family and are always full. Even out of season the restaurants are busy.
Bavarian Inn  
    Frankenmuth is a tourist town with the Cass river running through it,main street is lined with quaint little shoppes and art work by local artist, even a sculptured May Pole dance. The bushes have been artfully trimmed into the shape of cute animal characters. I opted to stay out side and tour main street enjoying the warm and sunny weather that is so unusual for this time of year.The town was all dressed up for Easter and with all the trees and flowers in full bloom there was just so much to see.There is not enough time this trip to visit Bronners Christmas store, the store is at least another 2 hrs to see the entire thing.We eat out chicken dinner and it is time to go.

Suntanned happy and very tired we head back to our motel. Another great pleasure of our trip.We stayed in Caro MI at the Woody'zzz motel on highway M81. I highly recommend this motel for your stay in the thumb.From the log cabin motif to the spacious clean quiet rooms this motel can't be beat.We enjoyed the time spent at the motel as much as we enjoyed touring around,it always felt like we were coming home when   we returned each evening.I took great advantage of the inviting sitting area out back with its old fashion porch swing,to sit and watch the world go by.Sleeping like a log was very easy in the big comfortable bed. Like I said one of our many pleasures on this trip.



All to soon the week is over and it is time to head home,but not before we have one big bash with the family.So we pack it up take one last sad look around say good bye and head on down to Pontiac.
  In Pontiac we check into the Staybridge  our favorite hotel in the city. They have really nice rooms friendly staff  and they tend to make you feel like royalty while staying there. As we drive the familiar roads of Pontiac to my nieces house we look around us and smile at one another happy with the choice we made to see something new.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


On the way home from Michigan we got a ticket. Now I know everyone hates getting a traffic ticket,no matter if they deserved it or not. My husband and I are no different.
  This ticket however really burned my butt in so many ways. Let me say up front that yes we were speeding that being said let me tell my story.
   Late Sunday afternoon traveling home from MI on the PA turnpike husband and I are happily talking and singing along with the radio,we were keeping up with traffic but not really pushing it to the metal, in fact cars were passing us almost as if we were standing still.
  As we pass the police car tucked up on the side of the road Husband and I both see the officer inside the car snap up his radar gun with a flare of a well practiced move. His car starts to move out on the road behind us with his light  flashing the blue and red warning that we need to pull over. We look at one another with dumb founded looks upon our faces,we can't believe we are being pulled over we are both seat belted and obeying traffic laws(well)The cars all around us are going at least 10 miles or more faster then us.
  Sure enough the officer gives us a ticket not for speeding but for violating the rules of the turn pike. That doesn't sound bad or even expensive correct. Ha think again, the fine is 25.00 the ems fee 10.00 the fee for the fine 36.00 and a few other charges I didn't understand are added to the ticket bringing the grand total to 111.00. We except our ticket with a tongue in cheek smile and take the reprimand with the same grain of salt.I ask you what else where we going to do?
    I will from now til the end of time believe that the only reason we got that ticket is that it is the end of the month and we were the only car going slow enough to catch.