Sunday, October 9, 2011

Marcy's Travel Blog- Wandering Memorie Lane In Holland, Michigan!

   My daughter-in-law Mia had invited me to a day of exploring and revisiting her wonderful childhood memories of Holland, Michigan. I have heard much about Holland, but had never had the opportunity to see it for myself. Coming along for the ride was two year old granddaughter Payton. What luck! I was with two of my favorite ladies, I'm going to see some place new, and Mia will have a special insight to many of the places we visit!
My "try" at moving vehical pictures!
   We were off and heading west a bit before 8 a.m. The trees lining the expressway were bathed in the morning sunlight, giving us a brilliant fall color display that was breathtaking! I wanted to take some pictures! We laughed as click after click of the camera caught too much of the car- or a truck obscured the view. (Note to self: Learn how to take good pictures from a moving vehicle!)

   Mia had informed me that she was not going to share where we were going. She had planned the day carefully, but wanted each site we visited to be a surprise! What fun! This was truly an adventure!
  Once in Holland I marveled at the neatly kept older homes. Mia informed me that some of these homes were built in the 1800's!
My beautiful family!
Payton's breakfast at "The Biscuit"
   Our first stop was "The Biscuit", a restaurant located on Washington Square. We were greeted warmly and seated immediately. Sarah was our waitress. I asked what she recommended, and she suggested the "South African Scramble"! Mia chose a "Huevos Rancheros", and Payton got pancakes in the shape of a butterfly, with a side of sausage. We had a choice of breads and chose the cherry nut bread.
   Oh, my! What can I say! We tried to pace ourselves. We wanted to eat it all! It was fantastic! Sadly, we all left a bit on our plates. We just didn't have room for more! (We were told that everything served here is homemade, except the breads, due to the limited oven space.) Our thanks to the owner and the staff! What a wonderful beginning!

   8th Street runs through the middle of town here. In progress was the "Wedding Walk", an opportunity for future brides to walk the town while the local merchants show them what was available for their wedding and new home. We decided to avoid 8th street for a while and come back to it later. As we drove through town, I was amazed at the windmills that seemed to be everywhere.

   I have heard for many years about Mia's wonderful childhood summer vacations at the Historic Ottawa Beach. Now she had the opportunity to show these places first hand. Bound by Lake Macatawa, Lake Michigan, and Mt. Pisgah this community was founded in 1886. It was developed largely between 1886 and 1930., providing three types of usage; cottage lots, a hotel site, and open spaces known as parks to be owned in common by members of the association.
   The lower avenues and boulevards exist only as concrete sidewalks, even today. In the case of Terrace Avenue, it has undulated elevated wooden boardwalk. Residents park their cars in a designated space outside the Ottawa Beach area and walk to their cottages, often employing wagons to carry their groceries and other items.
   Mia took me first on our walking tour onto the lower walkway, past old Victorian homes and cottages. She told me that the dunes had shifted to such an extent, the lower cottages no longer had a view of the lake, only trees and dunes. At the end of the walkway stood a log cabin cottage, built by Gerald Ford and his family. We walked on down the sand path to the beach. As Mia spoke of climbing dunes, watching the 4th of July fireworks, and a summer crush, I could almost see the little girl in her- reliving those precious moments.
   There is much history associated with this historic beach. Hotels were built and either burned or were torn down. A railroad was built to bring vacationers from Chicago, but was stopped during the Great Depression. Cottages burned and were rebuilt.
   After viewing the sailboats, the wonderful expanse of beach, and "Big Red" lighthouse, we turned back to the cottages, now taking the high road to Terrace Avenue. Mia told of skateboarding on this wooden walkway, and suddenly realizing that the downward switchbacks were not going to be able to be navigated. With a quick decision, she did a "baseball slide", wiping out her Aunt who was following behind her. We walked on until we came to a charming Victorian home, where Mia proclaimed, "There it is! This is the cottage we stayed in!" The front door was open and outdoor furniture cushions were hanging over the side of the front porch- an indication that someone was there, getting the place ready to close for the winter.
   Mia ran up the stairs and knocked on the front door, calling "Hello", but no one answered. She went around the back, and as she did so, a woman came out the front door. I introduced myself and told her who was looking for her. A look of joy came over her face, for she obviously remembered Mia.
   This woman's name is Billie. She owns the cottage. She invited us to sit on the porch, where she and Mia caught up on the latest local news. Mia asked if she could give me a tour of the house, to which Billie graciously agreed. Lovely! It did have that casual cottage appeal, with lovely art work, shells, and bowls of potpourri. The upstairs held four bedrooms and a bathroom that had an old fashion tub with feet! Mia showed me the wonderful bedroom that had a turret cubby, where she would sleep. Mia couldn't get over how the bedroom had the same smell, fresh air with a touch of peach!
Mia's cottage of happy memories!
   After many oo's and ah's on my part, Mia, Payton, and I said farewell to this gracious lady. Though Billie no longer rents the cottage out, she said she may very well make an exception next summer, if we want it. Yes!

   This ended the first half of our day! As you can tell, Mia certainly packed a lot into our one day tour! Tomorrow I will conclude our wonderful Holland adventure. I hope you tune in to see what other wonderful things we did!
   Until tomorrow!

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