Wednesday, September 9, 2009

New adventures, new blog

Mar now has a new blog called Life at 55 MPH.

You will find it by clicking here: Life at 55 MPH

The new blog is more of a photo album than a travel blog so please take a look, bookmark it, become a follower, leave me a comment, and enjoy!

Monday, August 31, 2009

The end of the road

Dear Readers,

We are sorry to say that Bella’s adventures have been disrupted.

Bernie had to return home suddenly to take care of some family responsibilities (no emergencies, everyone is ok). Mar hasn’t yet decided what she’ll do next.

We thank you for being our loyal readers and we hope you have enjoyed the adventures of Bella and the Road.

You may still leave us comments here on the blog, we will get them, and we love getting your comments. Or if you prefer, you can email Mar at

Until we meet again,
Mar, Bernie and Bella

Monday, August 24, 2009

Time flies

Today we were able to take some time for ourselves and rode our bikes into town just like we did last week. This made us realize that we haven’t posted to our blog in a while. We don’t really have anything new to report. The past week has been spent working. Lots and lots of work.

Bernie has been working on some big projects for the B&B, mostly outdoors, working long hours, and now has a suntan to show for it.

Mar has been busy with the new class she’s teaching online and spending a lot of time job hunting online, she would like to find more work she can do online.

Sometimes before the rooms at the B&B get cleaned Mar has been able to watch the Food Network, while working on her laptop. This makes her very happy and makes the work go quicker.

The weather has been quite unpredictable this past week. Most nights it has been nice so we don’t even need the fan. Other nights it has been down right chilly so we had to pull the space heater out of storage. The days have ranged from wet and cold to sunny and hot. It is most unusual weather.

Today we went to the post office to pick up our mail and ship some things. Then we went to a very cool store called Del Sol. Everything in the store changes color when exposed to the sun. We had a coupon so now we own a very cool, free Del Sol glow in the sun tote bag.

We decided to treat ourselves to ice cream at an old fashioned ice cream fountain in town. It is all the way in the back of the Saugatuck Drug Store and has the traditional counter with red stools. We shared a chocolate shake and we almost couldn’t finish it. The ice cream was so good we took some home with us.

After that we headed back to the inn. This place is busy all the time. They are full or nearly full every night, both on the weekends and on weeknights. The B&B is very quaint, the rooms are beautiful, and the breakfast is delicious. A perfect place to spend some time off.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Good breakfast and great produce

We started our day with a knock on the door. It was Danielle with carrot cake and milk for us. She brought us breakfast! It was so sweet and we appreciated it so much. The people here have been wonderful to us.

Bernie went back to work today washing more outside walls. This takes a lot of scrubbing with detergent and brushes on long poles.

In the late afternoon we rode our bikes to go to the post office and the weekly farmers market. It was warm and muggy today, but it sure is nice to be able to ride our bikes.

The farmers market was small but the produce was lovely. We bought some small golden yellow plums that we’d never seen before. They are very sweet and juicy and they are called Shiro Plums.

Our dinner tonight was quiche, which was left over from breakfast, and it was delicious. Later Danielle came to tell us that one of the cottages didn’t get cleaned today after the guests checked out, so we could use go in and watch tv.

The bad news is there was no Food Network. The good news is that we sat down in time to watch the Great American Road Trip. Next we watched My Name is Earl and then we called it a night.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Working in the rain

It sure was warm today and being in the shade did not seem to help much. Bernie rode her bike to the small, local grocery store to pick up a couple things we needed.

When she got back she went back to work. Today she washed the outside of the cottages and a deck. She uses a hose and bucket and two types of brushes for scrubbing. The exteriors of the buildings at the B&B range from wood to siding.

It started raining in the late afternoon. Bernie stopped for a few minutes but when she saw there was no lightning she went back to work and she was able to finish all three cottages today.

Mar spent the day grading student papers for her new online class. She had a slight headache by the end of the day from too much reading!

After dinner we watched a movie that we borrowed from the B&B’s library. Today was a good, productive day.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The work begins

It was another beautiful day today but quite warm. It looks like it will be quite hot for the next few days. Not exactly good timing for the warm weather, as Bernie will be working mostly outdoors this week.

Today Bernie started to work on the project list for the B&B. She swept cobwebs and started washing the outside of the buildings. There are three cottages, a garage with a loft, and one huge main house. Bernie made some headway today.

The B&B is very busy this time of year but Danielle was nice enough to figure out the housekeeping schedule to give us a chance to do our laundry. So today Mar got to do the laundry. It’s always nice to have clean laundry so we are very grateful to Danielle.

After a long, very hot day we were able to sit down to a nice dinner. Danielle said that we can have the leftovers from breakfast if there’s any. Since we don’t eat breakfast the leftovers can be our dinner, and this works out really well for us.

Today it was egg and sausage enchiladas and coffee cake. It was a great dinner, the enchiladas were delicious and the coffee cake was light and sweet. It had nuts but no cinnamon, which makes it even better because Mar loves nuts but doesn't like cinnamon. We are happy to say it is some of the best food we have tasted.

Friday, August 14, 2009

An excellent day

We are in a perfect little corner of the parking lot at the inn. We are shaded at all times of the day. This means cool breezes with no direct sun to heat us up. There are birds singing, neighbors working in their gardens, and the sounds of people lounging around the inn. We sit here comfortably in Bella, listening to these little pieces of life as we sip our iced coffee, before we start our day.

When we were ready we rode our bikes into town. Today we had our very first job as a mystery shopper, where Bernie got to pretend to be a new customer at a local bank.

Then we got on our bikes again and rode up and down tree covered streets with tons of tourists everywhere. We went to the post office and then we stopped by the office of a local realtor, Laura Durham, to say hi and tell her thank you, because she had emailed us to offer us a place to park in Saugatuck

As we were exploring around town we saw a sign for Sit!, an exhibition at the Saugatuck Center for the Arts about the history of chairs and the stories they tell. The opening reception was today and starting in less than half an hour, so we got on our bikes again and went to the Center. There we had a wonderful time chatting with the locals, enjoying the wine and cheese, and learning about chairs. Who knew chairs were so fascinating.

We heard that Wicks Park was a good place to get a bite to eat, so once again we got on our bikes and headed to Wicks. We split the turkey burger, because we are trying to eat healthy. The burger was ok but we think we’ll stick with regular burgers from now on.

After dinner as we rode our bikes down Water Street we happened upon Marianna's massage chair. We had met her online and wanted to meet her when we got here. She wasn’t there but her chair was just outside a cute fair trade store, called Monteverde.

We went inside and met the owner, Jennifer, who is a go-getter. She’s only 25 and already owns her own store. Jennifer called Marianna to tell her we were there. When she got there, we had a great conversation with both of them and it was really nice meeting them both.

Marianna told us about Uncommon Grounds, a pretty cool coffee bar, where the staff is very friendly. On their door we saw a poster for a free musical performance that was about to start. So we headed to the patio with our mocha latte and sat down to listen first to Zack, who accepted a request by Mar for a Beatles song, and then to Kathryn, who performed for us because by then we were the only people there. They were both awesome and gave us complimentary copies of their recent CDs.

By then it was getting dark and we were ready to head home. We rode our bikes and made it back to Bella a bit tired, but very pleased after such an excellent day. We are delighted to be in Saugatuck MI.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Back to the dentist

We woke up to rustling leaves, birds chirping, and a soft breeze. When we looked outside we saw beautiful skies and the water, what a beautiful day in Saugatuck MI.

Bernie took her estimate in to the B&B owners and then we went back to the dentist today for Mar's cleaning. We love this place, everyone at the dentist office is so nice, warm, and friendly. We feel like we’ve been going there for years.

Mar was seen by the female dentist today, Dr. DellaVecchia and she was great! Very professional and at the same time, very personable and fun to talk to. Mar needs a little more dental work done so we will be back next Friday for that.

Dr. DellaVecchia also talked to Bernie today and upped her meds. The swelling has not gone down yet and it still hurts.

Lucky for us there is a bus service here, the Inter-urban, that offers door to door transportation for $1 per person per ride. This is much better for us than having to unhook Bella, drive around town, and try to find parking.

So we called the Inter-urban to take us back to the B&B. Once there, Bernie went to discuss the project list with Margaret and Danielle and came away with another project to add to the list. Then Bernie cleaned up our bikes and replaced Mar's seat with a bigger one. Mar's toosh thanks Aram and Miriam, who gave us this seat when we visited them in Smith Island.

After dinner, we continued working into the night on our laptops. The weather is so nice, we don’t need the ac or even a fan. The people are so welcoming and friendly, we could be here a while.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Twin Gables Inn

Douglas MI is such a quaint, lovely little town. Michigan is truly becoming one of our favorite states.

Mar walked to the post office where she got her mail and sent some. Then we both worked on our computers for some time. Mar is teaching a new online class that is very time consuming. Bernie is trying out a new job working with her sister and it is taking lots of time in front of the computer.

When we were done we drove less than five minutes to the Twin Gables Inn on Lake Street in Saugatuck MI. The owner’s daughter had emailed us about some work they might have for Bernie.

This B&B faces the water and is nicely tucked into a wooded lot, it has 15 rooms, three cottages, and a loft. We met Margaret, the owner, and then went to park Bella in an out of the way corner of the parking lot.

After getting set up, we met the daughter, Danielle, and her husband David. They both work full time at the B&B. Bernie talked to Margaret and Danielle about the projects they need done and came away with quite a list. Bernie went back to Bella to prepare the estimate and materials list for them.

The area is quiet and serene, it is a beautiful B&B. There is a spa and a pool, which they invited us to use. David and Danielle have a five-month-old baby girl named Anakin, who became attached to Bernie as soon as she saw her.

We look forward to spending some time in Saugatuck and getting to know the area. So far everything we’ve seen, tells us that we’ll really like this small, unique town.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Drum circle

We were both feeling a little under the weather today so we decided to stay put. Since we had free wi-fi we sat down to watch the last few weeks of the Big American Road Trip that we missed.

Afterwards we knew we had to find a dentist because Bernie had a fever and her face and throat felt swollen. Lucky for us it only took a couple of phone calls to find a dentist in Douglas MI that could see Bernie today.

The staff at Dr. Raebel’s office was friendly and welcoming. Dr. Raebel said Bernie has an infection, prescribed her an antibiotic, and called a specialist for her. The problem seems to be with the root canal she had done a few months ago.

We went to the Saugatuck Drug Store to pick up the antibiotic and since we were both hungry, tired, and not feeling well, we asked where there was a good place to get a burger. They recommended Phil’s, right next door and that’s where we went. We split the ahi tuna appetizer and the gorgonzola burger. The appetizer was delicious and we both agreed this is one of the best burgers we’ve had.

Then we went to Shore Acres Park for the drum circle there tonight. This was our first drum circle. The drum instructor had brought extra instruments for those who didn’t have one. Bernie jumped in the circle and started playing, she even led one of the circle songs. It was a ton of fun and what a beautiful day for it.

Then we drove to the post office in Douglas MI but there wasn’t much parking so we went to the library, a couple doors down, to park for the night.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Wooden shoes

After our cup of coffee we decided to drive to Veldheers. We walked through the garden but there were no tulips at this time and we didn't get to see any bison either. But we did get to see the unique process of making Delftware, the famous Dutch pottery. You can watch as these masterpieces are fired, glazed, and painted.

You can also watch them making wooden shoes. We tried on several of the wooden shoes and it’s hard to understand how these would ever be comfortable enough to actually wear.

Then we drove about ten minutes to Tunnel Park. This park has a unique tunnel through a dune leading to the beach. The sand dunes
here are awesome. it was a lot of work to get up and down, we got a workout. Once we sat down, Mar read her book and Bernie tried the water, but it was too cold.

Then we just relaxed and people-watched, while enjoying this beautiful beach. As the sun went down, we left and went to Walmart to get a few groceries. Then we parked at the Staples next door for the night.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

We're back!

Last Wednesday we drove west for three hours to Hart MI. From there we went to the Michigan Women’s Music Festival where we’ve spent the last four days.

This is a huge festival with lots of concerts, workshops, and activities. It is a camping event, there were tent campers and RV campers. Every night there were campfires burning late into the night and the sound of the music coming from the stage was our background as we fell asleep. The weather was great until the last day when it rained all night.

Today we packed up and got ready to leave. We headed south about an hour to the beach in Muskegon MI. This is a nice beach and there were tons of people there today. Bernie worked on her crafts in front of the water. Mar had to work on her online classes, so she got on her laptop while watching the water.

Today was pretty hot and humid, when it threatened rain we took off and drove south another half hour to Grand Haven MI. After driving around downtown, we parked near the marina. A little while later, the sky suddenly got dark and the wind picked up. At one point the wind was so strong it felt like it could almost flip Bella over.

We checked the weather online and saw there was a thunderstorm warning for the area. We had checked the weather before coming here but it didn't say anything about a thunderstorm then. Luckily it didn’t last long and we were able to stop worrying.

As it got close to 10 pm we walked over to the marina and sat down to wait for the Musical Fountain Show. After a few minutes someone announced the show was canceled because of a power outage due to the earlier thunderstorm. We were so disappointed. Then we headed to Walmart to park for the night.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tackling stuff

Today was a crazy busy day. Because we are staying put for a couple of days and have shore power, we were able to tackle some stuff we’ve been meaning to do for a while. We worked all day long, and Mar did the rest of the laundry on top of that.

We pretty much turned Bella upside down, while cleaning and organizing shelves and cabinets, looking for things we have not used since we’ve been on the road so we can get rid of the clutter.

We ended up with two bags full of clothes that we can’t wear anymore and we gave them to our hosts to sell in their yard sale this coming weekend.

It is amazing that after a year on the road with very little storage, stuff still seems to accumulate. We don’t know how, but it must come from somewhere. We have made a commitment to eat healthier and lose weight and not to get any stuff we don’t absolutely need.

It has been so nice being here to park and socialize with our new friends. They are very welcoming and know just how to make us feel right at home. Christina made ribs for dinner tonight. They were yummy and we even went back for seconds. We can always start the diet tomorrow :-)

We’ve made all the preparations we can think of for our camping trip this week. We will be boondocking for several days and may not have internet access. If that is the case, please know that we will update our blog as soon as we can.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Some more errands

Today we woke up at the post office in Williamston MI. We went inside to get our mail and shipped some things.

Then we started our journey to finish our list of things we need to get done before we go camping later this week. We went to get our tires checked and decided to get the tires rotated and balanced. It was time to get it done, we knew it was needed.

We found a tire place called Tire Factory and the guy who helped us was very nice. He got us right in and got the job done quickly. He even took the time to check out the breaks. He answered all of Bernie's questions and that's a lot.

After this we headed to Staples to print some flyers so Bernie can advertise her carpentry and handyperson business. Then we headed to meet our new friends.

Larry and Christina follow our blog and when they found out we’re in Michigan, they emailed us to invite us to park in their driveway. We pulled up to smiling faces and open arms. They offered us the use of their shower and washer and dryer. They treated us to dinner and cake!

While Mar did the laundry, our new friends helped Bernie try to set up the satellite dish, but we still can't get it to work. Mar is disappointed that she still can't watch the Food Network in Bella.

After a full day we finally retired to Bella, where Mar went to work on the new online class she’s teaching.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

So many errands, so little time

We got up early today, we had a long day ahead of us. The sun was shining but it was cool outside.

After we had our coffee, Mar read the Sunday paper while Bernie checked out some books on wood finishes and woodwork at Barnes and Noble in Lansing MI.

When we were finished we headed out to run several errands to get what we need for our upcoming camping trip.

First we went to Salvation Army but it was closed so then we went to Goodwill. We didn’t find the rug we want to put outside Bella when we camp, but we found some tshirts for half price.

Then we went to the grocery store, Aldi, because they had milk on sale for only $1 for a gallon of milk. We wish we had more room in our fridge, but we could only get two gallons.

After this we headed to Big Lots because we had a gift card. We got some paper plates and a plastic tarp to use instead of a rug.

Then we went to Radio Shack to ask some questions about how to set up the satellite dish that was given to us. Bernie thinks she now has the instructions she needs to set it up.

After that we went to Michaels so Bernie could look at materials and inspiration for the new jewelry she’s making. Mar found charms for her Crocs on sale really cheap, she couldn’t believe her luck.

Then we went to Walmart for our weekly grocery shopping. By the time we were done, we were exhausted. We drove half an hour east to Williamston MI, found the post office, and parked for the night.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Back to the states

We were lucky to find such a great spot to park last night, but sleeping in a city is quite a challenge, it was really loud all night long. We did not get much sleep but that did not hamper our enthusiasm for today. We headed out to start our walking experience of Toronto.

Our first stop was the Shoe Museum ( where the exhibit covers the complete history of the shoe through many interesting and unusual shoes. Then we walked up the street to a very cool building that caught our eye last night while we were driving around, this was the Royal Ontario Museum ( exhibiting the Dead Sea Scrolls.

We did not tour the museums. We didn’t really have the time or the funds, so we spent time in the
gift shops instead, which sometimes can be as entertaining and educational.

After this we went back to Bella and hit the road. We drove west for four hours to Windsor, Ontario. We paid the $3 toll and crossed the Detroit Windsor Tunnel, the underwater tunnel that runs the width of the Detroit River and is almost a mile long. It is the only underwater border crossing in the world.

At customs, we experienced a first. We were inspected. First, they took our keys. Then they came inside and opened cabinets, cupboards and drawers, while asking us questions. It was over in about a minute and we were on our way.

We got to Detroit and headed to Hunter House Hamburgers, the best burger in the state according to

the Food Network Magazine. We waited way too long for our sliders and chili cheese fries. The food was ok but nothing to write home about.

After dinner we drove west an hour and a half to Lansing MI. We were beat and wanted to park. On our way to Walmart we saw a Barnes and Noble and decided to park there instead, to use the free wi-fi.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Back to Canada

We were excited when we got up today because we were going to see two Frank Lloyd Wright houses in Buffalo NY.

The Martin house is huge. There are actually six buildings on one acre. The main house is connected by a beautiful covered walk to the conservatory, where there is a replica of the Nike statue. You can see the statue all the way from the front door. It is a distance of 180 feet, very impressive.

The Martin family asked FLW to also design them a summer home on Lake Erie. We headed to Graycliff for our second tour of the day. This second house is nothing like the first. The house sits on top of a 65 ft cliff. There are stairs leading down to the beach, but they are not in use at this time. The house is intimate, with views of the lake from almost every room in the house, and ideal for a summer cottage.

Then we went to see a boathouse that FLW designed in 1905 and was finally built in 2007. Everywhere we looked, we could see his unique design touches.

After this we headed back to Canada, we paid the $3 toll, answered a few questions at customs, and drove north an hour and a half to Toronto, Ontario. We were too late to get a map from the visitor center, it had already closed. We got to downtown Toronto and stopped at Union Station. Bernie went inside and found a couple of maps.

As we got close to downtown we saw the CN Tower, the tallest building in the world at 1815 feet. Driving through downtown the first thing we noticed is that it looks just like Times Square in NYC. There are bright lights everywhere and huge advertisements and video screens. There was a concert downtown and tons of people everywhere.

We drove around searching for a place to park. After a while, we spotted a parking lot on a corner that looked empty. We went to check it out and it was perfect, surrounded by buildings and right next to a small park. The lot has free overnight parking and it’s only $8 during the day. It is located at the corner of Bloor and Bedford. The lot can be seen from Bloor but the entrance is on Bedford.

We decided to stay, we were exhausted. Without cell phones or internet access, we just read for a little while and then went to sleep.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hit and run

The good news is that we are happy to be in Canada. The bad news is that we hardly got any sleep last night. This is a small parking lot with a bar, stores open 24 hours, and even a small gas station. There were cars coming and going all night, people talking, and doors slamming.

And the worst thing is that in the middle of the night, someone hit our Bella and then sped off. We couldn’t believe it! Lucky for us, there is no real damage, just a smudge on the rubber part of the front bumper.

We got up tired and sleepy. We drove back to The Falls to take a look at them in the daytime. It was a beautiful day today. The Falls look so powerful that they give you a sense of pure energy. What a magnificent work of nature.

Next we headed to Buffalo NY. We didn’t plan to go back to the states this way, but we realized how close we are to two of the houses by Frank Lloyd Wright, so we just don't think we should miss them. We called and scheduled both tours for tomorrow, one at noon and the other at 2 pm.

We headed across Rainbow Bridge to NY and went directly to the first house to take a look at the area. We then searched online for a coffee shop and after a few phone calls, we found Sweetness Seven.

This is an adorable corner coffee shop that serves coffee and lunch items. This artsy place is whimsically decorated and every table is painted in different patterns. It is definitely a charming setting that mixes paint colors and real block walls with antique cabinets. We tried the American iced coffee and it was delicious. The size was generous for the price as well.

Then we went back to the FLW house and parked on the street, right in front of the house, so we can be here for our tour tomorrow.