Wine buzz to Manistee and Traverse City

Hello little Reader Family!

I hope you are soaking in every crisp breeze that Fall has offered thus far.  Last year I wrote of my passionate love affair I have with this season and it seems that time has not weakened our love for one another.  

In honor of Fall, I took a short trip up north this past weekend to enjoy some Michigan wineries, food, and of course, Michigan’s finest Fall colors.  

Okay, it was also in honor of Ryan, who’s birthday we were celebrating.  (One of these days I’ll tell you that whole story.)

We left early on Friday afternoon and hopped on US31 for the scenic drive up towards Ludington, where we planned to begin our wine adventures.  

We started here, at Jamaghra Vineyards

Insanely cute, right?


Wrong.  Through that front door, friends, lie 5 million fruit flies – deceitfully dormant until wine is poured, at which time they will surely attack.  Around your head, in your glass, in your ears, eyes, jacket, shoe, butt crack.  Everywhere.

The helpful man who assisted us in our wine tasting stood completely oblivious as we covered our glasses and dipped our fingers into our wine to remove the tiny bodies.  I waved my hands about dramatically and even opened the front door, hoping the flies would notice an escape route and flee from their inside chamber.  When that did not happen, we made our escape instead, our first tasting exceptionally disturbing and hilarious.  “Off to a good start!” we laughed as we drove off to our next spot while I continued to find fruit flies in my nostrils.

Stop #2 was this 


and it was closed.  Since we were in the middle of nowhere and I had to take a serious leak, I was forced to use their outdoor bathroom, which happened to not exist, so I peed behind the building and had this remarkable view.


We left with empty bladders and a fading buzz and journeyed on to Manistee, where we planned to stay for the evening.  

Our goal, upon our arrival to downtown Manistee, was to find a local hole in the wall to quench our thirst that our first couple stops could not.  We parked the car, stretched our legs, crossed the street and walked down a couple stairs to a magical place known as TJ’s bar (  It’s a local hot spot – with a cozy fireplace, brick floor, and friendly service.  We set up camp and never left.  Or so we wanted.  We each had a drink and shared a bowl of cheddar broccoli soup and left prepared to find what else this surprising town had to offer.  

We visited one store, and we again hit the jackpot. Surroundings ( offers incense, cigars (we’re talking a walk-in humidor, people), antiques, and other unique gifts.  Neither of us are cigar smokers, nor do we care to burn incense, and I don’t necessarily need any antiques, but holy cuss, we stayed there forever, chatting away with the sweetest of women behind the counter.

At this point, we love Manistee.  We went golfing at Manistee National Golf Course (correction, Ryan golfed, I read my book and drank vodka tonic), and ate at a fantastic local restaurant called The River Street Station.  We ended the day as some of the happiest Michiganders.

Saturday morning rolled around and we were determined to find wineries that were both open and free of flying insects. 


Why we chose to follow signs to another discrete and middle-of-nowhere winery, I have no clue.  But we did, and the wine gods must have decided to show us more favor on that glorious morning, because low and behold, we found Douglas Valley.  And there, at 11 am we sipped ecstatically some incredible wines and ciders.  Under the shade of a Willow tree.  In the country.  With a perfect fall breeze.  And then I died from happiness.

I didn’t.  But I felt like that could have been a possibility.



From that point on we stopped at winery after winery (consuming only a wise amount of alcohol at each spot) as we continued North, our destination being Leelenau Cellars.  

Every spot was killer. I don’t know how many times we high-fived in glee.

After the wine, one must dine – and we did so at Mackinac Brewing Company ( Ryan’s cousin, Jamie (also your local news star), where we ate Lemon Pepper Parmesan encrusted Whitefish.  Sorry, let me rephrase – we destroyed whitefish.  That fish did not stand a chance.

Towards the end of our meal, ominous dark clouds began rolling in, threatening to rain on our glorious day and we stared back, daring it to ruin our tenting night we had planned at the KOA campground just south of Traverse City.

It responded to our dare by pouring as we set up camp in the rainy darkness.

We did not give a shit about the rain and the puddles and waking up in a half deflated mattress when we woke up to realize we were in Fall Heaven.


(please ignore the ridiculously placed rain fly…)

We packed up, the weekend gone too soon.  

It was a good tribute to Fall, to Ryan’s birthday, to celebrating life and enjoying this great state we live in

So Cheers!!

this time to beautiful Michigan


Being an old fart in college and things I can no longer silently ignore

The other day in class, I was talking with my peer editing group.  We had covered our subject matter and had started chatting about our lives.  I looked at the girl next to me and asked, “Any plans for this weekend?”

“Yeah,” she replied.  “I’m celebrating my birthday.”

“Happy Birthday!” I responded, “How old are you?”

“I’ll be 18!”

I stopped, mouth agape, before setting my head on the table while mumbling, “holy shit, I feel old.”

This is what returning to college at 26 is like – with a lot of moments where I just want to set my head on the desk and cuss.

But it’s also been refreshingly not at all like this at the very same time.

Also know that I understand that 26 is not impressively old to be returning to college, but I hope you understand that if you haven’t done this, it does feel impressive, from time to time.

And though I do feel a bit out of date, out of place, out of the loop in my classes now and again, there are also a majority of moments when I feel like I am exactly where I’m supposed to be.

I love what I’m learning, I love my professors, to whom I make sure to write mushy e-mails about how great I think they are and “thank you so much for being a teacher” (no, I’m not majoring in Kissing Ass, I’m just naturally a professional at this.  Ask my boss).  I love my campuses, a beautiful blend of city and country (this is also something I would NOT have said during my previous college years).  All of these things have molded me into this brand new optimist of higher education.  It’s true, miracles do happen.


view from GVSU’s downtown campus


view from the second floor of GVSU’s new library in Allendale.

Despite this incredible new development of me absolutely loving school, there are still some things that boggle my mind.  Some things that I just can’t wrap my head around when it comes to college and it’s students.

The first being – Why the hell are people perfectly okay with wearing pajamas to class?  I counted the other day and five, yes FIVE of my peers were wearing sweatpants, sweatshirts, and looked completely disheveled; like they woke up, took a piss, put on shoes and walked to class.  I will never understand it.  You are in public.  I repeat, in PUBLIC.  Show a little respect and at least throw on jeans.  I mean, just pretend that you give a shit about your education.  Your professor put pants on, the least you can do is reciprocate the gesture.  Remember that phrase “dress for success”?  No, clearly you do not.

Secondly, skateboarders and bikers on campus.  GVSU is a fairly large campus, and getting around can take some time.  This I understand, so I get that wheels make things quicker, more convenient.  What I don’t understand is your dire need to terrify pedestrians as you frantically pedal amongst the crowds.  Am I obligated to jump off the path out of your way?  Or are you going to cut into the grass and go around me?  Why aren’t you using your hand signals or at least make eye contact with me?  We end up doing the most awkward dance between feet and pedals, you topple over onto the concrete and I trip over my own hurried boots and spill coffee all over my shirt.  I wish we could all just agree to walk. (Note:  This has never actually happened, but this image flashes in my mind every time a biker comes at me)

Lastly is the inability to use words and direct them at one another on public transportation.  Yes, we’re talking conversation here, people.  The bus is an incredible tool for commuters to avoid the massive on-campus parking fee, and plenty of us take advantage of it.  Plenty as in, our bodies are touching as we cram in every last passenger we can fit.  As in, if a stranger got this close to me in any other situation, I would assume they were trying to rape me.  You get the picture.  So can’t we look each other in the eye and acknowledge on another?  I mean, simple things like “Good morning,” “Hello there,” “How are you?”

The other day I was one of the last people to get on the bus.  We could fit a few more.  Three more people slowly tried to squeeze in.  We could make it work, but there was such an uncomfortable squashing of bodies that no one would acknowledge.  I grated my teeth, I couldn’t handle the awkwardness.  The tall gentleman next to me inched closer, trying not to touch anyone.  I snapped.  “Come here big guy,” I said as I grabbed him around the waist and pulled him toward me.  He said NOTHING in return.  Still, two more people could board.  “God bless the bus, where strangers are forced to cuddle,” I attempt at humor.  Two chuckles, two nods of agreement.

I guess if I can’t text you, we just shouldn’t communicate, right?  Sorry, next time I’ll make sure to put my headphones in and keep my eyes on my feet, completely ignoring that two pairs of pants are all that separate our private parts which are being forced to grind in an awkward non-dance that would look totally acceptable if only terrible rap music was blasting over the speakers.


In any case, I’ll deal with the unexplainable and continue to throw myself lovingly to my studies.

To good grades, may they be mostly A’s