Skip to content

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

March 6, 2018

  • 1000 E. Beltline Avenue
  • Grand Rapids, MI 49525
  • (616) 957-1580
  • Website

Cabin fever is setting in.  It may not be with the kids but it always does with me this time of year.  I would love to just sit around and watch Netflix all day but the kids need stimulation and if we’re cooped up in the house, that stimulation is usually using daddy as a jungle gym.

I decided it was time to start venturing out on weekends again.  We need to do some exploring and just get away from the house for a while.

This past weekend I noticed an event in Grand Rapids I thought the kids would like so after swimming lessons, we headed north to Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park.

The Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park sits on 132 acres in Grand Rapids township just off the I-96 and East Beltline interchange.  The park opened in 1995 after the Meijer family donated the land to the West Michigan Horticultural Society.  The Meijer’s also donated their entire sculpture collection and contributed financially to get the park up and running.

We pulled in to the parking lot just before noon on a Saturday afternoon.  The lots were packed.  We ended up having to park quite a ways away and walk back to the main building, but the whole point was getting out of the house and walking anyway, right?  The lot we found with empty spaces was actually right in front of the Amphitheater which hosts a pretty good line up of musical acts throughout the summer.   Read more…


The Toasted Pickle

March 6, 2018
  • 112 Washington Avenue
  • Grand Haven, MI 49417
  • (616) 414-7990
  • Website
  • Menu

I don’t get over to Grand Haven much anymore.  When I worked out of Grand Rapids, I was there every couple of weeks.  I love their downtown and waterfront area but it’s too far of a drive from Kalamazoo when we have South Haven and St. Joseph.

My Kalamazoo colleague  was off a couple of days last week so I got moved back to the Grand Rapids office.  By the time I got there, the only assignment left was on the lakeshore.  It was an easy one that would also give me a chance to grab lunch before heading back to G.R.

When I got down with my assignment on U. S. 31 just outside of town, I decided to head downtown.  The last time I was there was 4th of July.  I didn’t have time to eat then, but I remembered seeing a sandwich shop that I thought looked good.  I assumed it was still there but you never know in the winter.

The Toasted Pickle is on Washington Avenue just east of 1st Street in Grand Haven’s downtown.  The street is a traditional “Main Street” with old brick buildings all in a row connected to each other.  The Toasted Pickle is run by the family that also runs The Pump House just a few blocks away on Harbor Drive.  They set up their sandwich shop in the building that was vacated by Downtown Dogs in early 2016. Read more…

SW’s Donut Mill (Plainwell)

March 1, 2018
  • 554 E. Allegan Street
  • Plainwell, MI 49080
  • (269) 225-1025
  • Website
  • Menu

We’re gonna have to share, Kalamazoo.  No longer is Sweetwater’s Donut Mill something you will only be able to get in Southwest Michigan.  Pretty soon you could be seeing Sweetwater’s wherever you travel.

The franchising arm of Sweetwaters is SW’s Donut Mill and is headquartered in Plainwell.  They opened a new store/training facility just a few weeks ago right off US-131 on East Allegan Street.  The new construction building sits on a lot across the street from Wesco and Borgess-Pipp Hospital.  The franchise stores will all look like Sweetwater’s and will have the same incredibly delicious donuts as Sweetwater’s, but they will use the name SW’s Donut Mill.

I had to work for a couple of hours in Grand Rapids on Sunday morning.  I was done by a little after 9:00.  On  my way back to Kalamazoo, I decided to surprise my kids with donuts from SW’s which would also give me a chance to check out the new location.

The big difference between this franchise location and the three flagship locations is that this building was built as a stand alone store on an empty piece of land that it shares with nothing else.  The shop is much bigger than the flagship stores and has plenty of parking in it’s large parking between the building and Allegan Street.   Read more…


K-Zoo Coney

February 21, 2018
  • 1903 W. Michigan Avenue
  • Kalamazoo, MI 49008
  • (269) 387-0442
  • Website
  • Menu

Surprises aren’t always bad.

I had some free time on my lunch break so I decided to head over to WMU and get lunch.  Last year, they had a really good taco place and I was kind of in the mood for tacos.  I haven’t been back to the Bernhard Center this school year so I had no idea if they were still there or not.  Turns out, they’re not.

Even if they weren’t there, I figured I’d grab something from Santorini Island Grill.  They had been there for quite a few years so I was really shocked when they were gone as well.

I wasn’t totally out of luck there.  There was a new place and they have food that I will eat, so just by sheer accident, I found a new restaurant today.

K-Zoo Coney is on the lower level of the Bernhard Center on Western Michigan University’s campus.  If you’re unfamiliar with the buildings on campus, it’s the corner of Michigan Avenue and Archer drive.  You can get to the lower level food court through the main entrance but there is also an entrance to the Bronco Mall on the east side of the building. Read more…


Wings Event Center

February 21, 2018
  • 3600 Vanrick Drive
  • Kalamazoo, MI 49001
  • (269) 345-1125
  • Website

I grew up in Central Northeastern Illinois (south of Chicago but not quite far enough south to be considered the central part of the state) during the 1990’s.  Hockey was not popular.  I used to get made fun of for wearing my Chris Chelios Blackhawks jersey to school.  Things aren’t like that now.  The Hawks are good so everyone likes them, but back then, the Wirtz family prevented Blackhawks home games from being shown on TV which really hurt the fan base outside of the city.

Despite not growing up around the sport, heck we didn’t even have an ice rink within 90 miles, I’ve always really liked hockey.  I didn’t start going to games until I moved out on my own.  My first job was in Peoria, Illinois…home to the Peoria Rivermen…and I went to as many games as I could afford to the first few years I was on my own.

Fast forward fifteen years now and I still really enjoy watching hockey games.  We’re lucky enough to have a couple of options in Kalamazoo.  There’s Western Michigan University games as the top tier of NCAA hockey.  Some of the best teams in the country come through Lawson on a regular basis.  As for the pro game, there’s the Kalamazoo Wings in the ECHL.

We haven’t been to a lot of K-Wings games since moving to Kalamazoo nine years ago.  I could probably count on one hand, but that has more to do with life situations than anything.

Our first K-Wings game was not long after we moved to Kalamazoo in 2009.  J got some tickets through work so we headed to our first game at what was then called Wings Stadium.

We’ve been to a few different events at Wings over the years.  J has taken L to see Sesame Street Live and we even went to the USA Curling Nationals the year they were held in Kalamazoo.

Last week, my work offered up tickets for the whole family and even though it was a weeknight, we decided it would be fun.  J’s always enjoyed hockey games and we haven’t taken B to one yet so it would be fun to see how he reacted.

Wings Stadium is Wings Event Center.  It’s located on Vanrick Drive just off Sprinkle Road and I-94.  It’s easy to see as you’re heading east on the freeway and pretty easy to get to from Sprinkle Road.  They have huge surface lots with multiple entrances off Vanrick Drive and an entrance on the south side at Covington Road.  Parking for the game was $5 which was paid by cash at the entrance to the lot.

Read more…


Charlie’s Piggin’ N’ Grinnin’

February 6, 2018
  • 136 Territorial Road
  • Benton Harbor, MI 49022
  • (269) 934-7675
  • Website
  • Menu

If you see police cars in a restaurant parking lot at lunch time, STOP!  The local police always know the best places to eat, so if you’re in an unfamiliar town, just look follow the police cruisers.

A co-worker and I were in Benton Harbor for a quick assignment.  We literally drove there during a snow storm for about fifteen minutes of work, but it’s what we had to do.  Not wanting to head back in to the storm right away, C.W. asked if there was a sandwich shop somewhere to grab something to eat.  Of course, I always do my research when we leave Kalamazoo.

Charlie’s Piggin’ N’ Grinnin’ is about a block north of Main Street in Benton Harbor near the corner of Territorial Road and Water Street.  It’s in what looks to be an old mixed use building that had two separate streeet level storefronts and apartments above it.  Charlie’s takes up both of those storefronts now.  The parking lot next door was home to the Bell Opera House many, many years ago.  The building appears to be from the turn of the 20th Century and the only remaining building on this block that used to be a vibrant downtown Benton Harbor.

Read more…


Mr. Gyros

February 2, 2018
  • 398 N. Willowbrook Road
  • Coldwater, MI 49036
  • (517) 278-6699
  • No Known Website
  • Menu

Some days are busier than others at work.  We spent last Friday in Branch County on an assignment but most of the day was spent sitting in the car waiting.

I had parked near I-69 in the Big Lots parking lot while we were waiting for a phone call.  We sat there for about a half hour or so before I realized that I could make better use of the time and get something to eat while we had some down time.

The area around I-69 in Coldwater has a lot of fast food options.  You should know me better than that.  Fast food is no fun when there are other options.

I chose to head back down Willowbrook Road to a small strip mall with a Goodwill and a couple of shops.  One of those storefronts is Mr. Gyros.   Read more…