Tulip Timing is Everything Thursday, May 5 2022 

Have you ever experienced a time when everything you did turned out perfectly? You set out for an adventure, and with each step, you happened to be at the most opportune moment for the ultimate outcome. Everything you hoped for fell right into place.

Well, this week, my boyfriend and I went on a quick three-day get-away, and most everything we experienced, wasn’t that. In fact, the trip was quite disappointing.

Paul and I drove about three and a half hours to Holland, Michigan, a sweet little town on the east side of Lake Michigan. The plan was to enjoy the views and experiences of Holland a few days before their annual tulip festival. We imagined discovering a tulip haven, a mini paradise with tulips growing everywhere prior to the expected crowds.

We arrived late afternoon on Monday and checked into the Staybridge Suites on James Street. The hotel was very nice with friendly, accommodating staff. We had a full kitchen with counter seating, a sitting room, and a comfortable bed. The price was reasonable as our reservation was a bit off-season, and they offered a military discount. So far, so good.

We unpacked and went out to find a restaurant. Initially, we only spotted fast-food chains, which rarely are our food of choice. Google showed most of the local restaurants to be on a main strip, but with so many one-way streets, it was tricky to get there. We could see where we wanted to go but had difficulty figuring out how to get there. Later, we learned that U-turns are a thing in Michigan for just this reason.

When we arrived at the four-block downtown area on 8th Street, our next challenge was to search for a parking lot that had an open spot that wasn’t reserved. After touring several of the area’s public lots, we finally found a space and walked over to a lovely street with trees in bloom and attractive shops.

Restaurants were scattered throughout. To our dismay, they were closed on Mondays. At the end of the downtown area, we found an Irish Pub that was open. Damp and chilled from the drizzling rain, tired, and very hungry having only eaten snacks all day, we got a comfy table by the fireplace. A friendly waitress served us a couple of beers and a delicious, hearty dinner of Irish stew for me and shepherd’s pie for Paul. Rejuvenated, we were ready to go again.

Since tulips were the reason we ventured to Holland, we headed out to the main parks. We expected the town to be decked out in the blooms. Surprisingly, few homes showcased them. More tulips are blooming in my own neighborhood.

The main location to see tulips in Holland is Windmill Island Gardens. Unfortunately, we arrived a few minutes after 5pm and were told that the last tickets for the day were sold. The ticket vendor said that we could come back after 6pm when the windmill closed (a key viewing spot) and wander through the gardens. However, she added there was little to see. Because of the unusually cold and rainy weather, only about 25% of the tulips were open.

The lady suggested we check out a nearby park called Window on the Waterfront that had more open buds. The tulip photos shown here were taken at that park. The location claims 100,000 tulips. The winding paths were pretty, but it was difficult to take a photo that didn’t include the cars and buildings on the streets surrounding it. And much like Windmill Island Gardens, the majority of tulips were yet to open.

We woke Tuesday morning to heavy rain, and the forecast stated it would continue like that all day. We searched online for museums only to find ones of interest were not open. We did try one that some online information indicated was open. After running through a downpour from the lot behind the building to the museum door in front, we discovered it was closed until Friday.

Soaked and frustrated, we decided to pack up and return home. Paul was just getting over a bad cold, and the weather was not good for him especially. Plus, I had a work event to attend on Thursday and a meeting on Friday.

The drive home took us two extra hours due to the weather and a truck accident, which thankfully, did not include us. We crawled in traffic long enough for me to read through my hundreds of emails.

In retrospect, we should have done more research on the sites and restaurants in Holland, their hours and days of operation as well as ticket prices, and considered the weather forecast. We also could have checked this online tulip tracker to learn how many flowers were currently in bloom. No doubt, the parks will be beautiful next week.

Holland wasn’t what we expected but probably is a good destination for young families. The beaches along Lake Macatawa are said to be clean and fun. There also are some activities, such as the wooden shoe factory and Nelis’ Dutch Village, a cute, albeit small, Dutch-themed park that young children would enjoy.

Do you have any advice on where to or not to go for a little getaway? I’d love to hear about it.

***

Alzheimer’s disease is frighteningly common. Help out your friends who care for loved ones with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Give them the gift of information and understanding with the books, The Alzheimer’s Spouse, Navigating Alzheimer’s, and the Inspired Caregiver.

Hello Spring Tuesday, Apr 27 2021 

Spring

the awakening                        

of tulips in bloom.

the morning hymn

of doves in chorus,

the light, fragrant whiff      

of bright hyacinths,

the gentle caress

of fresh, warm breezes

the vibrant colors

of young life anew.

*

God is Love

Have you seen my website?

Tornado Season Monday, Apr 8 2013 

Tornado season is upon us, and although there are people who are intrigued by these violent rotating columns of air, most of us hope never to experience one up close.

Tornadoes may strike without any warning, but some of the signs that indicate the possibility of a tornado are a dark, often greenish sky; large hail; large, dark, low-lying clouds, particularly if they are rotating; and a loud roar like a freight train.

A tornado watch means that tornadoes are possible. You should listen closely to instructions by local emergency management officials.

A tornado warning indicates that weather radar sighted a tornado and you should seek shelter immediately. This shelter is preferably away from windows and in a basement. If this is not possible, look for an inside space protected from falling and blowing debris. Residents of mobile homes are advised to go to a nearby shelter facility, if time permits. It’s also advisable to designate a place to meet family members in the event you are separated.

Tornadoes are very unpredictable but here are a few averages of interest:

  • The U.S. typically has about 1,200 tornadoes every year.
  • Peak season for the Midwest is late spring through early summer.
  • The average speed of a tornado is 30 mph.
  • Most tornadoes move southwest to northeast.
  • Tornadoes typically occur between 3 and 9 p.m.

For more information, go to:

http://www.ready.gov/tornadoes

http://www.nssl.noaa.gov/education/svrwx101/tornadoes/

©2013, Mary K. Doyle

Nothing to Sneeze About Monday, Apr 1 2013 

The sneezing has started. The long-awaited hope and beauty of spring may appear late in coming to the Midwest, but I already feel it is in full swing.

According to my Zyrtec ap, tree pollen is at medium level. Flowering trees are beginning to bloom and they are some of the worst offenders of allergies. Their pollen carries in the wind for miles.

Here are a few precautions to help lessen the effects of outdoor allergens:

  • Avoid parking under trees.
  • Cover up with a light jacket and slacks to keep pollen off of your skin.
  • Wash your hair, face, hands, and any exposed skin after being outside.
  • Remain indoors on days you feel particularly affected.
  • Talk to your doctor about allergy medications.
  • Try rinsing your nose with a neti pot. Many find it helpful, but it is recommended to use distilled or boiled and cooled water with it to avoid tap water that may contain bacteria.
  • Dust and vacuum your home often to remove airborne allergens.
  • Don’t plant shrubs, trees, and plants close to your home.
  • When you are really uncomfortable, consider relocating for a day or two.

©2013 Mary K. Doyle

Summer in the Spring Saturday, Mar 17 2012 

March is typically rainy and dreary in the Midwest. We make the best of it by getting together with friends and family, readying the yard for spring plantings, and moving our heavy winter clothes to the back of the closet. We also celebrate any chance we can. Perhaps this is one reason why we love St. Patrick’s Day. In Chicago there are two St. Patrick Day parades; one on the North Side and one on the South.

But this March is unlike most. It’s actually 80 degrees and sunny today. The kids are out playing and the barbecues are smoking. No need to escape to a Florida beach this spring break.

There are some who worry about the ulterior motive behind such a gift. Will the weather progressively heat up roasting us by June? Will it suddenly turn cold again, killing off the early buds? And the bugs are already out. Will we be totally infested long before we usually bring out the fly swatter and insect repellent?

I’ve decided not to dwell on such thoughts. Today is a glorious day, and I’m going to enjoy it.

©Mary K. Doyle

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