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Monday, November 20, 2017

Luther, Michigan / Silver Creek State Forest Campground

October 2017, Weekday-weekend, 2-nights

We have camped in this campground a few times, and you can find more pictures and information about the campground in my previous post from August 2016. Nothing has changed in the campground since we started visiting it about five years ago. Other than the one Thursday night last August, we have only camped here in the spring and fall, so the atmosphere may be different on the weekends in the summer.

Pine River along the river sites at Silver Creek

Campsite 19

We had noticed this campsite during our August stay last year. We like this site because it is spacious, secluded, and on the river. It is the first site on the left as you start into the campground, which also means there is more traffic because everyone entering has to drive by. 

Campsite 19

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Coldwater, Michigan / Holiday Inn Express & Suites

September 2017, Weekday, 1-night, 2-Queen beds, room 304

Arrival and platinum perks

This hotel is next door to the Hampton Inn. The rates were about the same, and I had a difficult time choosing between the two when I made my reservation. I went with the Holiday Inn Express because I like the Keurig coffeemakers in the guestrooms. The Hampton Inn would have been a better choice for the sunset view, although that side of the hotel also faces the expressway. There was not much of a sunset the night of my stay.

View of Hampton Inn from guestroom 304
The front desk agent recognized my status, and said I would be receiving 500 bonus points, which posted to my account within 24 hours. She did not confirm the guestroom type, and the only thing I inquired about was whether it is on the top floor.

Guestroom 304

This guestroom is located on the top floor, almost at the end of the hall. I was surprised to see Do Not Disturb signs on the door handles of all the nearby guestrooms (at least three of them). I wondered if hotel staff was trying to create a quiet environment, or if the rooms were really booked. Turned out, the rooms were booked, and when the guests returned, they were none too quiet. This guestroom seems to be pretty quiet in terms of the walls between the guestrooms; however, there is a large gap below the door, and noise from the hall can easily be heard.

View from sofa in front of window
The room was comfortable and clean. The desk was comfortable, as was the sofa, and the bed. The desk is located at the foot of the bed, and is not visible in the photo above. A flatscreen TV is next to the desk, and there is a long suitcase bench between the TV and hanging closet.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Fort Wayne, Indiana / Staybridge Suites

October 2017, Weekend-weekday, 2-nights, Queen studio suite #339

I am glad I started this blog, because it did help me choose a hotel this visit. I did not initially recall that I had stayed in the Hilton Garden Inn and Homewood Suites located in this same area, until after I had already made a reservation at the Homewood Suites. I re-read my review from that stay, and then decided to change my reservation to Staybridge Suites, which I had thought was a newer hotel. When I stayed at Homewood Suites, I did not care for the blasé Diamond recognition I received, and I do not like rooms that do not smell fresh.

Arrival and platinum perks

The agent recognized my status and offered further assistance. He did not say anything about Platinum bonus points; however, I received an email within two days telling me I had received bonus amenity points. He did not tell me what kind of room I had. I only asked if it was on the top floor, and he said yes. Although I did not receive an upgrade, my room requests were met. I received a room at the end of the hall in a quiet area, as I had requested online.

Suite 339 view from living area; bed on right

Queen guestroom #339

The guestroom looked and smelled clean. It was a basic queen studio suite with a full kitchen area, working desk, sofa, TV, queen bed, and bathroom with a tub/shower combination. The only thing missing from the kitchen area was a counter/bar or a table for dining. I ate at the desk, when I ate in the guestroom.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Muskegon, MI / Shoreline Inn, Pigeon Hill, Boars Belly, Lakeshore Trail

October 2017, Weekdays, 2-days

Shoreline Inn, penthouse suite 1003

We loved this guestroom! You can see more photos of this fabulous suite in my Facebook album, as I could not fit them all in this post. We booked a penthouse suite with points, and received an upgrade to a lake view penthouse suite. Or, the upgrade may have actually been an error, since the front desk agent did not tell us it was an upgrade, and I had some difficulty making the reservation.

View from penthouse suite balcony #1003
This room is a corner suite with floor to ceiling glass windows on all of the exterior walls. There was a balcony with two chairs and a small table from the kitchen area, and the other glass doors could also be opened.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Grand Rapids, Michigan / ArtPrize, JW Marriott, Knickerbocker Brewing Co, CityBuilt Brewing, Fountain Hill Brewing Co, Atwater Brewery

October 2017, Weekday-weekend, 2-days

One of my ArtPrize favorites!
Not because I am a horse fan; because of the quality/how real it looked.

ArtPrize Nine

We visited on the last Friday and Saturday of ArtPrize, after voting had ended. In previous years (this was our 6th visit; not all consecutive years) when we visited on Friday during the day, the crowds had been minimal. This year, it was busy, busy, busy! There were many students and group tours on Friday, and Saturday became crowded after 11:00 AM. I think I preferred ArtPrize when it was smaller, and more centralized to the downtown area. This year, exhibits could be found as far away as Fredrick Meijer Gardens and Gerald R. Ford International Airport. We did get to see a lot of cool art, some of which I am sharing, along with additional information in this post.

Inside Gerald R. Ford Museum.
You may be able to read the artist's statement, if you click on the photo to enlarge it.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Northern Michigan: Traverse City, Lake Ann, Frankfort

September 2017, Weekday-weekend

We had an unusually warm weekend at the end of September in Michigan this year. I am sharing some info about new places we visited, as well as a couple of re-visits. You can find additional information about all of the following areas in previous blog posts. Rather than list all the links here, I suggest clicking on the labels at the bottom of this post to find the posts with information you are interested in.

Bryant Park Beach
One end was empty when we first arrived

Traverse City: Bryant Park Beach, Brewery Terra Firma, Monkey Fist Brewing Company, Food Court (The Little Fleet), Boardman Lake Trail

We visited Bryant Park Beach for the first time, as we wanted to try a new beach. I had read that there are not many parking spots at this park, which is true. Additionally, the spaces are quite tight. We were able to get a spot when we arrived on a weekday shortly before noon. Our parking space was not one of the better ones, and when we returned to our vehicle to leave, we wondered how the driver of the different car next to us had gotten out without hitting our vehicle. I had to wait for my husband to back out of the parking spot before I could get into our car. Vehicles were also parked on the street when we departed. There is no charge for parking, nor is there an entrance fee.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Sawyer, Michigan / Warren Dunes and Local Breweries

September/October 2017, Weekend, 2-nights, Campsite #37

Sunset from beach/swimming area
Photo taken by our son

Arrival and check-in

The office was staffed when we arrived; however, we were not able to check-in because the computers were offline (or something). After several minutes at both computers, the employee said I would need to come back and check-in later. She had our printed confirmation that I had given her, and I was hoping someone would just bring us our dashboard paper later. No one stopped at our site, so I walked back to the office a couple of hours later. There were campers checking in and campers waiting. Fortunately, the employee I had left our information with, had completed the check-in earlier, and was able to just hand me my dashboard paper without me having to wait.

Campsite #37

All of the campsites in this campground are fairly small, and most of them are not secluded. This site says it is 50' long; however, the mowed portion of the site is only about 35' long. The description says that it accommodates a camper up to 30', which is pretty accurate considering only 30 to 35' of the length is usable. (I guess they are counting 15', or more, into the woods behind the site in that measurement...)? Additionally, we had to park as close as we could to a tree on the edge of the site, in order not to be too close to the fire pit. The fire pit is labeled in the photo below, which can be enlarged by clicking on it. Even though we parked as far away from the fire pit as possible, we rolled our awning up one night when the fire was lit and it got a bit breezy.