Grand Rapids, April 12-13, 2013

This was my first trip to Michigan and it was great! Here are some of the highlights.

1. When people find out that I’ve gone to Michigan, the first question is usually, why aren’t you going to Mackinaw Island? Well, early April was looking like a prime time to cross a state off my list, so I looked for cheap flights going to one of the “stand-alone” states. Hey, look, flights to Grand Rapids for under $150!

2. What on earth am I going to do for a few days by myself in a random city/state? Well, I’ve never run a 5K, so I decided to also look for 5Ks in the area of wherever I was flying. Yes, I know, I’ve run a marathon (Oct 2012) but never a 5K. I found out that Gazelle Sports was running a half marathon and 5K in honor of the 40th anniversary of Title IX. Yay for the Gazelle Girl Half Marathon and 5K and all women’s sports!

For the run itself, packet pick-up was easy, cute little expo, and just a fun race. On race morning, it started snowing (did I mention that less than 48 hours earlier I had been in upper 80s heat?). Refreshing, fun to run with only women for once. The course was slightly changed due to the path flooding, but there were plenty of people along the route to make sure that no one got lost. I even finished in the top 100!

3. I found a hotel just across the river from the race, rented a car, and planned some activities and places to eat. I visited the Gerald Ford Presidential Museum, the Ah-Nab-Awen park, the Grand Rapids Art Museum, and the Grand Rapids Public Museum. I learned a great deal about President Ford, an era that I honestly don’t know much about. I was also really impressed by the art museum, particularly the items from Artprize 2012, and the digital/technology art. 

4. Food. When I travel I have a tendency to minimize some meals in favor of others. For example, granola bar for lunch in favor in an early dinner Friday night at Grove. Grove specializes in using local ingredients in a gourmet fashion. Also, the 3 courses for $33 was amazing. Risotto with spring vegetables, clams “chowder-style” and salmon with a different assortment of vegetables. If you get dessert, the salted chocolate fudge is amazing- reminded me of a snickers bar, but better. I would say comparable quality to many upscale East-Coast restaurants for a “restaurant week” price. 

After the 5K, I had a late lunch at Grand Rapids Brewing Company. They have up to 12 local beers on tap, with the taps just labeled by number (refer to menu and board for details). Also, kale chips! Ok, so I may be a bit obsessed with those, but it’s like green vegetable serving plus chip/popcorn taste. I also had the smoked chicken bbq sandwich- like pulled pork but with chicken. It was “carolina-style”, a nice mix of smoky and sweet, with fries and pickles. Fantastic run-day food.

Overall, Michigan was a success! I would love to go back and visit Mackinaw Island, and my friends in the Detroit area.