Sunday, July 29, 2018

My vacation in Michigan

We just returned from a 10-day trip to Michigan. My wife's parents are originally from Grand Rapids and their generous friends let us stay at their lake house near Lake Michigan.

We first spent a couple of days in Grand Rapids visiting my son's two surviving great-grandmothers.

We stumbled across a restaurant called Al-Bos. The name is derived from the owners. The wife is Albanian and the husband is Bosnian. There is a large Bosnian population in Grand Rapids and the food was incredible. I spoke with the Bosnian owner. He fled Bosnia via Croatia and ended up at a refugee camp in Germany before being welcomed by America.

Michigan has a lot of American cars. A lot. I didn't spot a single BMW i3. I did see tons of Pontiac Torrents, Pontiac Vibes, and Hummer H3s. It's like an alternate universe.

We visited the Gerald Ford Museum. Ford was a Congressman who represented Grand Rapids before he became president. He seemed like a nice guy and someone the country needed.

The museum houses his and his wife Betty's remains.

A section of the Berlin Wall.

A pen light and wire cutter from the Watergate break-in.

The pen Ford used to sign Nixon's pardon.

Ford also ordered 2,000 Vietnamese orphans to be brought to the United States. When they were flown here, he and his wife flew to California to welcome them. This was a particularly touching photo.

We then drove three hours to the lake house. This map was hanging in the breakfast nook.

One of the things my father-in-law and I enjoy immensely together is eating smoked fish.

This is the road to the lake house. I rented a Dodge Charger and my in-laws recently bought a demonstrator 2017 Volvo XC60 with the T5 engine.

The sunsets are wonderful and different every day.

We climbed up one of the many sand dunes.

My boy also got to hang out with his only cousin, who coincidentally had the same due date as him.

I didn't post many pictures during the trip because the lake house didn't have wifi and I was conserving data. But I had to show you all this beauty.

One of the reasons I enjoyed the trip so much is because the crowds were non-existent. When I take vacations in California or Hawaii, I can never totally relax because there are so many tourists around me.

Every summer as a child, my wife's family would vacation in the area. Her parents tired their kids out by encouraging them to run up and down those steep dunes.

When we got back to Grand Rapids, I was dying for some steamed rice. We went to a pho/Chinese/Thai joint run by a Chinese family from Vietnam. It was an amazing meal because of what they were able to make with limited access to authentic ingredients.

On our final day, we did a bunch of Dutch things. My wife's family is a part of the Dutch community there. We first went to a bakery.

And then we went to a Dutch store. This book's cover caught my eye.

I was hoping to find some Max Verstappen gear, but no luck.

I'm looking forward to my next trip. In two weeks, I go to Bonneville!

1 comment:

Ed Kim said...

We have an automotive supplier client with offices in Holland, MI. I was always told by them that their city specializes in tulips. It wasn't until years later that I put two and two together and realized the connection. Holland and tulips, of course!

That's how I learned there was a significant Dutch population in western Michigan.

If you want to see something really esoteric, let me know the next time you are down here and I'll give you the 10¢ tour of Bellflower. I didn't know until recently that the city that borders us to the north is an old Dutch community and there are still remnants of it everywhere if you look. Including a few Indonesian restaurants because Dutch, of course. And just now as I'm writing this, I'm now thinking the name Bellflower must be a reference to tulips, which are indeed flowers that look kind of like bells!