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Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park

August 18, 2017
  • 8313 Pratt Lake Avenue SE
  • Alto, MI 49302
  • (616) 868-6711
  • Website

Did you know we like zoos?  Have I mentioned that recently?  I mean, I guess it has been a few weeks since my last zoo post when we went to the Columbus Zoo.

Our summer has finally settled down.  We’re not on the road every weekend so we’re getting to relax.  We can only relax so much home before we realize, we gotta get out of the house.

All summer we’ve been talking about a private zoo in south east Kent County.  We’ve both had friends who have raved about the place so we made plans before going to bed Saturday night to take a little road trip Sunday morning.

Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park is a private zoo that sits on 80 acres of land with an address in the unincorporated community of Alto in Bowne Township.  The park is near the corner of Pratt Lake Avenue and 84th Street.  Boulder Ridge wasn’t initially built as a commercial enterprise, so location wasn’t of the utmost importance.  The closest highway access is the Alden Nash Road exit of I-96 which is about ten minutes away.  From Kalamazoo, it’s quicker to take US-131 to 84th Street.  That’s about a 17 mile drive through southern Kent County.

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Bella Creamery

August 17, 2017
  • 10098 Shaver Road
  • Portage, MI 49024
  • (269) 327-4057
  • No Known Website
  • No Online Menu

I love it when my wife suggests ice cream for dinner.

We were having another lazy Saturday.  J had taken a late nap because she had to work a rare Saturday morning.  When she woke up, she was hungry but not for dinner.  She was hungry for ice cream.

It was already pretty late in the day so the kids weren’t going to bed anytime soon.  We decided to take them for ice cream then we’d go play at the park for a while.  The ice cream didn’t have to be near the park and J suggested going to “that place we always see the billboard for.”

That billboard is on US-131 just south of Schoolcraft.  It’s for a Mancino’s Pizza & Grinders and Bella Creamery in Portage.

Bella Creamery shares a building with Mancino’s Pizza & Grinders on Shaver Road and Beethoven Road in the far southern tip of Portage.  The ice cream shop and the pizza place appear to be under the same ownership.  The name Bella Creamery appears to come from Bellacino’s which is what this Mancino’s in Portage used to be.

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Cold Stone Creamery (Kalamazoo)

August 13, 2017
  • 4540 W. Main Street
  • Kalamazoo, MI 49006
  • (269) 343-0940
  • Website
  • Menu

I’ve always had the romanticized idea of walking to the corner ice cream shop to get ice cream to end the day with our kids.  I say “romanticized” because I’ve never actually lived anywhere that had an ice cream shop within walking distance and, as I’ve mentioned before, Kalamazoo is kinda missing that walk up seasonal shop where half the neighborhood gathers for ice cream on a Saturday night.

We have been somewhat lazy the last two weekends after an awfully busy summer.  We’ve spent time just lounging around the house and taking care of some housekeeping things.

One of those nights, we needed to make a trip to Walgreens to pick up some pictures we wanted to frame.  I had sent them to the Walgreens on Drake and Main.  J suggested we all go and get ice cream.

I was stumped as to where she wanted to get ice cream from.  We usually go to Culver’s because, again, there isn’t many options and it’s easy to hit the drive through.  She said we could go to Cold Stone Creamery but I couldn’t picture one on that side of town.

Of course, she was right, there is a Cold Stone Creamery on West Main in the Westwood Plaza just to the east of Drake Road.  It’s right next to the Biggby Coffee almost straight back from the main entrance to the shopping plaza.

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Artisan Sandwich Company

August 9, 2017
  • 348 S. Kalamazoo Mall
  • Kalamazoo, MI 49007
  • (269) 220-5665
  • Website
  • Menu

The thing I’ve really noticed after working downtown for a few months is there is not a lot of grab and go places for lunch.  There are a lot of great restaurants and lunch deals, but I’m not really an office worker who actually gets to take an hour lunch break everyday.  I’m lucky most days if I have time to grab a sandwich as I run out the door.

We’ve been pretty frequent flyers at Irving’s Market and Deli and Totally Brewed Cafe because both places are quick and have mostly healthy take out options, but now a new place has opened up on The Mall that will give us another option.

Artisan Sandwich Company is in the Peregrin Square building on The Kalamazoo Mall north of Lovell.  The space that the restaurant now occupies was Exquisite Hair Designs right next to Pop City Popcorn.

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Rykse & Co. Market & Eatery

August 3, 2017
  • 7141 West Q Avenue
  • Kalamazoo, MI 49009
  • (269) 978-8600
  • Website
  • Menu

Alright, let’s get back to some Southwest Michigan blog posts, huh?  Vacation was fun and I blog about the places we eat and places we go because this blog works like a journal for me.  I’ve documented the last 9 1/2 years of our lives together from the move to Lansing, to getting married, to buying a house, the having kids with J through our food adventures.

My first night back at work after a week off saw me paired up with a co-worker I don’t normally work with anymore out of the Grand Rapids office.  She had a task to do in Kalamazoo and the normal guy I work with was off, so the bosses paired us together on her task.

We headed out to Texas Corners just before dinner time.  We were in separate cars because she met me there, so when we were done, she headed back to the Kalamazoo office to do some work while I took advantage of being in Texas Corners and stopped to get dinner.

Rykse & Co. Market and Eatery just opened in Texas Corners on Q Avenue just to the west of 8th Street in the Texas Square Shopping Center.  The building is new construction on what used to be a big grassy lot between the road and the parking lot.

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The Irish Legend

July 31, 2017
  • 8933 Archer Avenue
  • Willow Springs, IL 60480
  • (708) 330-5264
  • Website
  • Menu

Anyone who has ever moved away from home knows the struggle.  Whenever you’re back in town visiting, everyone you know that still lives there wants to see you.  It’s hard to juggle longtime friends, family, and whatever the actual reason for your visit is.

We did the best we could to make time for everyone we could on this last trip home.  We spent two nights at my parents house.  We spent four nights at J’s parents.  We spent the afternoon with one of J’s friends.  We met my buddy and his fiance for dinner.  We met another one of J’s friends and her family for lunch.  We had a busy week, but it was nice to hang out with people we don’t get to see all that often.

Our last meeting was on Saturday afternoon for lunch.  One of J’s high school friends and her family wanted to meet for lunch somewhere between their house in Darien and J’s parents in Oak Lawn.  We told them to pick a place and we’d meet them at noon.

They picked The Irish Legend on Archer Avenue just outside of the main business district of the Village of Willow Springs.  The restaurant is along a very busy Archer Avenue, which doubles as IL-171, just to the southwest of the intersection with Flavin Road.  Read more…

Garrett Popcorn Shops (Millennium Park Plaza)

July 31, 2017
  • 151 Michigan Avenue
  • Chicago, IL 60601
  • (888) 476-7267
  • Website
  • Menu

Chicago is known for so many things.  Pizza.  Hot Dogs.  Popcorn.

Popcorn?  Yeah.  Popcorn.

We had a fantastic day in Chicago with a friend of J’s who just moved to the city.  We spent some time at the Crown Fountain in Millennium Park.  We played in the Slide Crater at Maggie Daley Park.  We went to see the “Big Fountain” as L called Buckingham Fountain on our way in to town.   All in all, we spent almost six hours in the city.

Early in the day, I spotted a Garrett Popcorn Shop across the street from J’s friend’s apartment.  We passed it a couple times on our way to and from the apartment throughout the day, but I was waiting until it was time to go before grabbing some delicious popcorn to take with us.

Garrett Popcorn Shops has stores all over Chicago.  On Michigan Avenue alone there are five shops in the downtown area.  There are ten total shops from about Water Tower Place down through the Museum Campus.

The Michigan Avenue shop we stopped at is the one between Lake and Randolph Streets in The Loop in the Millennium Park Plaza building.    It sits right next to a Lids store in the middle of the block which is just north of Millennium Park in part of the city’s busiest area.  Read more…