I had been looking forward to our day away with Justin and Jamie ever since we planned it back in early September. Both Jamie and I are such planners that we usually have our respective vacations planned down to where we will eat dinner, visit, stay etc. But this day was reserved with conscious effort to go with the flow and that we did. We started with our local fave, @ The Diner in Zeeland for breakfast. Good local fare, everyone is always happy with their selection and since Ryan and dined at IHOP the night before on a whim for pumpkin pancakes, I started with staples, coffee and oatmeal.
From there, we headed south, using the Garmin and road signs as our guides. First stop, Crane's Orchard for some U-Pick Honeycrisps and the search for the perfect pumpkins. Ryan so spoke my love language when suggesting the perfect pumpkin/gourd combo to go on our front porch. (And I have my Welcome up so I will take a pic soon!) We hung out there for a bit, wandering up and down the rows, taking pics and apples.
My dear friend Jamie, who was one of my first friends at Evergreen when we started attending 5 years ago. We have been in various small groups together Ryan and I were engaged and began our married life, prayed with them as they anticipated the birth of their little cutie, Alexis, this spring and continue to value their friendship so much. If God does call us somewhere else in the next few years for Ryan's seminary years or even ministry in another place, I know they are "lifer" friends.
After Cranes, we spent the rest of the day adventuring Southwest Michigan and hit the following wineries:
Fenn Valley, Round Barn, Hickory Creek, Free Run, Karma Vista... I think that is all of them. Gorgeous views and lots of pit stops along the way where we saw God's creation in the trees and winding roads.
At one point in the day, we stumbled upon the Chocolate Garden with the creamiest, most delectable...and expensive truffles we have ever had. Ryan and I shared a 2-pack of dark chocolate coffee truffles. Oh my. Check them out if you are a chocolate lover and travel 94 between St. Joe & Chicago, you won't be disappointed.
We ended the day with a trip to the Stray Dog in New Buffalo for dinner and HAD TO partake in our tradition of ordering a stray dog as an appetizer. Let me break it down: a cheese stuffed, bacon wrapped, deep friend hot dog with caramelized onions and fries. Which without splitting 4 ways would nearly put you into cardiac arrest.
What a gift this day was, between Ryan's 21 hours, my balancing 3 part time jobs (sounds worse than it is), and striving to life in each day for what it has. It totally energized me for a new week and each time I pull into the driveway and see my new little pu'nkins, I will smile for sure.