A Road Trip to Holland, Michigan

Despite emerging from adolescence and my subsequent adult years without having read Moby Dick, I can answer most Herman Melville-related Jeopardy questions and I can also spit a handful of quotes from the whale of a novel (see what I did there?) into a conversation. Such as – “I try all things, I achieve what I can.” and “It is not down in any map; true places never are.” The latter being one of my favorite travel-related quotes that hipsters have commandeered on Instagram, along with man buns and ironic Bill Murray shirts.

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Tunnel Park – Holland, Michigan

Last week, we embarked on a whirlwind long weekend adventure that had us pulling back into our parking spot (no garages in the historic building we call home on Fort Leavenworth) at 5pm on Monday. We were tired, hungry, and ready to get out of the car. But we were also a little more learned, we were still laughing about a joke told in Iowa, and we were carrying a memory or two that will be added to the lifetime pile.

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We left Thursday evening intending to drive four hours and stay the night in St. Louis. However Waze had other plans and didn’t even offer a route through St. Louis because of construction traffic. So we ended up driving through rural Missouri (e.g. serial killer territory) in the blackness of night and stayed the night on the Mississippi in Hannibal. The next morning, we explored the town a bit before getting on the road, quickly becoming enamored with the river town charm and slower pace of life.

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And of course we couldn’t leave without visiting Mark Twain’s childhood home. When in Hannibal…

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{Earlier that morning, I discovered that I forgot to pack shorts, like not one piece of day clothing for the bottom part of my body. I’m technically wearing pajamas in this picture.}

We wanted to make it to Holland, Michigan before dark so we didn’t have much time to see Hannibal but we were able to walk along the Mississippi and get a cup of coffee from Java Jive – some of the best coffee we’ve had in a long time. I’m not sure when our travels will bring us through Hannibal again, but if they do, we totally want to go on a Haunted Hannibal Ghost Tour…spooky!

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We ate lunch at a Steak & Shake in Springfield, Illinois, where Violet fell asleep in the booth and we attempted to convince ourselves that it wasn’t fast food (it pretty much is) and totally ignored the calorie content of our delicious choice of beverages.

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Corn was the name of the game for the majority of our drive through Illinois until we hit Chicago Friday afternoon traffic. We stopped at a LOFT in Indiana so I could purchase a couple pairs of shorts (thank you vanity sizing) and by 9pm, we pulled into our hotel, The Hayworth Inn in Holland, Michigan, which was conveniently located directly across the street from the brewery where some members of my family were partaking in pre-wedding festivities.

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So we did what any parent would do – we took our kids to a beer garden, ordered them a late dinner, and personally enjoyed a well-deserved beer while we caught up with family. Yup – we were those people. I suppose I should state that the reason we drove to the west coast of Michigan was to attend the wedding of my cousin, Nick. Back in April, Clay and I traveled to California for the wedding of my cousin Matt (pictured above right with his wife Angie), who is Nick’s brother…it’s been a busy wedding season for our extended family!

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On Saturday morning, we met my parents and my siblings at Tunnel Park in Holland so we could squeeze in a beach day before the wedding later that afternoon. My aunt, uncle, cousin, and her son joined us as well – our get-together totally dominated the beach…my apologies to the other beach goers that day!

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Me and my siblings.

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If you haven’t been to a Lake Michigan beach, I am sorry. You are missing out. I grew up vacationing in Glen Arbor, Michigan and have so many fond memories of #puremichigan. Three years ago, my parents rented a lake house in Glen Arbor and we all met up there for the week surrounding July 4th. Clay and Weston were able to experience the Michigan coast for the first time that week and I’m happy that Violet was able to have her first taste of Michigan this past weekend.

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The wedding ceremony and reception were at The Felt Estate in Holland. The mansion was built by Dorr E. Felt in 1928 and served as a family summer home until it became the St. Augustine Catholic Seminary preparatory school in 1946. The state of Michigan purchased the property in 1977 and since 1995, the mansion has been restored and preserved by the public.

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The pacifier didn’t help – Violet lasted about 3 minutes before I removed her from the situation. The two of us ended up watching the ceremony from about 200 yards away. Who brings a two-year-old to a wedding anyway?

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My entire family (children included!) were able to attend the wedding. This photograph was the best of the lot and perfectly sums up life with Violet. I love how you can see Clay getting ready to take off after her.

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The kids had a blast playing with their first and second cousins on the estate grounds during cocktail hour. At one point, approximately 12 children were hunting for ghosts near the stables. The Felt Mansion is rumored to be haunted, after all.

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Autumn Rae Photography

The beautiful bride and groom.

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While we weren’t able to stay until the sparkling send-off, the kids did great and were troopers. We got back to the hotel about 10pm and they promptly fell asleep – probably due to the copious amount of cupcakes consumed and hours spent rolling down the hill in front of the mansion.

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We left Holland the following morning and decided to drive back to Kansas through Iowa, just for something different. I hadn’t been to Iowa since I was a preteen and Clay and the kids had never been so we couldn’t think of a reason not to go. We were surprised by just how much we like Iowa. Seriously – it is an awesome state. We stayed Sunday night in Hawkeye territory – Iowa City, Iowa – home of the University of Iowa. And did you know that the Iowa City is the only City of Literature in the United States as awarded by UNESCO?

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On Monday, we ate lunch at Zombie Burger + Drink Lab in downtown Des Moines, Iowa. The creative burgers lived up to their reputation. I also had a root beer float – it was good but not the best I’ve ever had. We ate outside and finished just before this rolled in…

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I took this picture at 12:30pm.

The storm was intense. No tornadoes, thankfully. We couldn’t see 3 feet in front of us due to heavy rain so we pulled off the interstate and sat in a Target parking lot until the sky let up a little bit.

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We picked up Lucy at her pet hotel and by dinnertime, we were home. It was a whirlwind weekend – busy, tiring, and a hell of a lot more fun than just sitting at home.

Our Trip By Numbers

  • 1,000,000 + ears of corn
  • 1450 miles
  • 40+ members of extended family
  • 35 minutes in a supercell storm
  • 6 states
  • 5 cupcakes
  • 4.25 days
  • 4 zombie burgers
  • 3 hotel rooms
  • 2 college towns
  • 2 root beer floats
  • 1 famous author’s childhood home
  • 1 pretentious coffee shop
  • 1 beach
  • 1 wedding
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