The Road Trip Adventure - Day 1: On the Road

July 4, 2013

The trip, like all trips, started off simple. I had a shiny new card in my possession and I needed a quick amusement park hit. Plus, we had a four day weekend coming up. The universe was basically telling me I needed to hit the road. The only decision needed was where to go.

I called Elias. The choice was Cincinnati or Muskegon. He hadn't been to either. And the drive was only 3.5-5 hours (depending on the location). As we talked about the options, I asked if he'd like Mom to come along. Or I just asked Mom if she wanted to come along. Either way, to my surprise, she said yes. Mom and Elias talked. Michigan was the winner. Worked for me. It was less time for me to drive. The final road trip question was answered in a way I didn't expect.

A few days before we were heading out, I asked Elias to start putting together some CDs for the car. I made a reference to Mom and Dad's Camry. Mom responded, "Oh, I thought we were going in your car." I drive a MINI Cooper. There are three of us. So no matter what, some poor bastard is going to get stuck in the back seat. Granted, the Super Cooper and I have taken many road trips in the past few years and SC is a trooper. But I didn't think either of the family members would be willing to be stuck in the back seat. Mom took one for the team though and said she'd sit in back. With that, the plan was done. All we needed to do was wait for the Fourth of July to show itself.

And that it did. The short work week was...short. The packing was easy (backpack and a beach bag for water park goodness). I picked up Elias and Mom, packed the trunk of the car and we were on our way. Well...we were on our way after the first stop at Starbucks. Road Trip Lesson #1 - There is always a Starbucks stop at the beginning of the trip.

Ultimately, the drive was uneventful. We drove up the coast of Lake Michigan to Muskegon and Michigan's Adventure. It took maybe 3.5 hours to go to the park from the house. So, it's good to know for any future amusement park itch that needs to be scratched. We did have a few issues with Nigel the GPS. I'm starting to worry about Nigel's state of being at this point.

After a few minutes of trying to figure out the parking lot (not enough signage and weird traffic patterns), we bounded out of the car ready to hit a ride or two. And it was only going to be a few rides. We have Elias, the scaredy cat and Mom, the one who had the back surgery. I can only go one one upside down ride before my brain tries desperately to leave my skull, so between the three of us, we may have gone on this adventure for nothing. We did like the fact that there was a water park inside the amusement park. Unfortunately, it was just a smidge too chilly during most of the day for us to go to the water park. Totally disappointing. Cause there was this ride that looks like it sends you into a toilet bowl thing that I was ready to try.

We walked the park to get the lay of the land. First stop...a little train that took you around the park. The little trains are always a winner. This was the time of the trip were Mom shocked both of us. We walked by a ride called the Rip Cord. This is the type of ride that shows up at many amusement parks. You're strapped into a harness, pulled up into the heavens and fly through the air. Kind of like a bungee cord. As we walked by, Mom said, "I'd love to go on something like that." That statement pretty much stopped both Elias and me in our tracks. Mom?!?!?!? Unfortunately, Rip Cord was one of those not-a-part-of-the-park kind of ride. You have to pay extra for that one. And while I have said I'd take one for the team on The Amazing Race for all jumping off Detours, I think I will be willing to hold off until that exact moment.

Ultimately, there are only a few rides we actually went on. We started off on the Lakeside Gliders. This went around in a circle and the user could control the swing of the vehicle. Well...it was a hard start for both Mom and me. As the universe keeps showing me, I'm not as young as I used to be. The swinging got me off to a bad start and we quickly found a bench to get our inner ears back into a functional position. Luckily, the slight motion sickness went away soon and we continued skipping through the park.

Here's the thing about Michigan's Adventure...it was a lovely park. The park is supremely clean. There was no crap on the streets and the bathrooms were spotless. That is a great sign. It was also very, very family oriented. In other parks (Knott's Berry Farm, Six Flags), the bands of teenagers roam free and are wildly obnoxious. Here, they were around, but just not so...teenagery. Families ruled the roost at this park. There aren't huge, huge rides, so it's not the best place for thrill seekers. We enjoyed it though. And the food was excellent. We stopped at a diner restaurant called Coasters. While we didn't eat a full meal, we had a gigantic fruit bowl for only $6. Elias had a shake and some fries. Everything was good and the food that was passing by us looked even better. Total win.

A decision had to be made about dinner. Even though we had our fruit bowl and shakes, actual real food should be consumed from time to time. The park had a BBQ Buffet that sounded pretty good. We had the option to eat that or to go find a place to eat in Muskegon. I had researched a few places and found a location on the water. Everyone voted for the same thing. The place on the water. But first...we had to find our hotel.

Ten minutes or so from Muskegon is Montague. Mom had found a hotel after a few tries at other places. Turns out trying to snag a hotel on the 4th of July weekend in Michigan near the lake was not as easy as it sounds. She was steered to the Montgomery Inn and Suites. The hotel was very centrally located. Right off of Route 31. I was a little concerned as we drove in. It is a motel, but nicer (I'd assume). The hotel was clean and the bathrooms were recently remodeled. The front desk area...while we didn't see him, there is obviously a dog that lives there. It does come with a free continental breakfast (a few bagels and pastries...they were ok), but I never found the WiFi. And the data coverage was nil. So it wasn't as easy to keep connected. But the hotel did the job for two nights.

After we checked in and got our lives together, we went to find the restaurant I'd researched before we left. The Lake House Waterfront Grill was everything I wanted it to be. We sat outside on the water and watched the world go by. I love sitting outside eating, but we don't have a ton of time in Chicago to enjoy outdoor dining. It's too cold for forever, then it's too hot. We have like two days to partake in the joy of a glass of wine and a meal out in the elements. The meal itself was great. Mom had a BLT sandwich (with a FRIED EGG!!) that she couldn't stop raving about. Even the next day, she talked about the sandwich. I had a lobster roll, but should have had the BLT. The only thing we didn't expect was the temperature drop. I had a cardigan in the car, but Elias stole it. We actually had perfect seating to see the fireworks that night, but we didn't know when the fireworks would start and Elias had chattering teeth. So instead, we drove back to the hotel and popped in the CBS Fall Pilot DVD. It was kind of a perfect end to the day.


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