October 2014 - Mason, MI

(Written by Jeff.)
I am not good at planning ahead for events, birthdays, holidays, trips, gifts, vacations, honeymoons, anniversaries, etc., while Caitlyn, on the other hand, gets excited and looks forward to planning events.
 (She is already planning our second anniversary vacation.) To that end, I had been thinking of ideas for a couple of months for our first anniversary, asking co-workers what they have done, advice on how I can become a better ‘gift giver’. After bouncing a couple of ideas off of Caitlyn and her shooting them all down, I decided not to tell her anything else and took her along for the ride.

In order to keep my title as Bad Planner, I only did minimal planning and lined up a bed & breakfast for the weekend and dinner for one night of our weekend. (I also neglected to pack clean underwear.) I had some vague ideas of a couple other places to visit, but not much set in stone.

Barnes Street Bed & Breakfast

Our bedroom.

Our weekend started at noon on Friday, as we drove home from work, ate lunch, and packed the car. Fast forward 3 hours, and we arrived at the Barnes Street Bed & Breakfast in Mason, MI. After we were given a quick tour of the house and unpacked into our room, we were on the road again. We went to a restaurant suggested by a co-worker, The Beggars Banquet in East Lansing. The atmosphere was great, and the bar had an impressive wood carving hanging on the wall. The style of the food was trying to be sophisticated pub food, and was tasty.

We walked a two or three block route that lead us past typical college town shops, such as a hookah shop, skater shop, and a bookstore juxtaposed. We found a shop that sold air plants and other neat trinkets and clothing, and we bought some inexpensive maps of the US and the world. We plan to attach them to corkboard, mount them on the wall back home, and then stick pins into the places that we visit in the future.

On our way back to the car, we stumbled upon a cookie shop. They serve and deliver cookies; what college student wouldn’t pay for warm cookies late one night while cramming for a final?

Saturday morning started with breakfast; it was a menagerie of breakfast foods. Toast (YEAH TOAST), bagels, fruit, Cheerios, OJ, milk, coffee, and the centerpiece was bowl of oatmeal with bananas, chocolate, and brown sugar.  I drank a second cup of coffee while admiring the antiques and enjoyed the atmosphere.

This was a statue of an older style of spinning wheel, complete with the wool being held on the distaff.  Note that she is reading a book on her lap as well.

The victorian house was full of original stained glass.

The next thing I had planned for us was a visit to the Mason Antiques District. The first few stores we visited were fun, and I enjoyed looking at the items and thinking about the people, the moments in time and memories that were made while holding or using the items.  However, I quickly realized that while I enjoy looking at the stuff, I still see a lot of it as junk and could not envision it in our home.

Two dragons from the toy store.

So after that disappointment, we ended up wandering around downtown Mason and stumbled into a toy shop that was also a Hallmark, candy and jewelry store. The best and final surprise which we walked past twice was a staircase leading down to the studio of Twisted Fiber Art, which also was a yarn store. We had met Twisted Fiber Art at some fiber festivals in the past, and Caitlyn really enjoyed the tour of their studio and dye process.

While we were walking around, Caitlyn and I reminisced about how nice it was having coffee every morning on our honeymoon.  We found the nearest coffee house, and each enjoyed a warm cup of coffee while staring out the windows at the busy people.

After we had finished in Mason, we drove 35 minutes to Charlotte, MI. I had planned our first destination in Charlotte to be our first yarn store visit of the weekend. Unfortunately, they had closed early for the day, so we were thankful we stumbled into Twisted Fiber Art earlier in the day. We wandered around Charlotte until we found a coffee/cafe shop and decided it was time for lunch.

 A beautiful shop dog.

A beautiful shop dog.

With our stomachs full, we ventured back onto the streets of Charlotte, going up and down two or three streets and visiting some stores along the way. We had successfully spent two hours, but we still had 3 hours until dinner, so we went back to the coffee/cafe shop, ate some cookies, used their Wifi, Caitlyn spun yarn with her drop spindle, and I napped. About an hour and a half later we decided to go sit in the car and be more comfortable and listen to Radiolab, while wishing I had planned a little more to occupy our time.

5:30PM finally rolled around, and we drove four minutes to our dinner location. Dinner was scheduled to start at 6PM, so we were a bit early. When planning a surprise for your significant other you sometimes need to lie to hide the true details, and when I say, “scheduled to start” that is one of those lies. I really meant that boarding started at 6PM for the Murder Mystery Dinner Train!

Apparently, I am a bit of a smart-aleck troublemaker and often stand out in a crowd, and this time it landed me the role of “patsy”. Even though I wasn’t chosen as one of the “suspects”, I was the center of many of the jokes and was the last person to see the victim alive. While all of the “suspects” had costume pieces and back story provided, I was all on my own. Fortunately, I was not an actual suspect; I was just the subject for all of the scripted comedic relief. The part that makes me smile a little was when I was able to make the actor laugh and almost drop character.

Sunday's breakfast was just as impressive as Saturday’s, but with the oatmeal dish traded out for a type of pastry topped with all sorts of sweet things. I think it had cream cheese and jam, with fresh berries.

Itty bitty tea cups.

We spent the morning relaxing and enjoying the house. We checked out around noon and headed to lunch at one of our favorite restaurants, Mongolian BBQ. If you have not heard of Mongolian BBQ, its essentially a create-your-own-stir-fry place. I had one final thing planned before our drive home; something that I learned is a sure fire winner with Caitlyn and an easy thing to plan while traveling is visiting local yarn stores. My first attempt on Saturday had failed, so I was happy that we had better luck on Sunday. We purchased yarn and fiber, as I hope to learn how to spin yarn. Our drive home was quiet and uneventful, and we were happy to be back home with our dogs again.