Adventures in moving cross country- Volume 6 : Exploring the Neighborhood

After visiting the house for the first time, with all the sleep deprived joy and horror that it entailed- it was time to hang out in Michigan during the winter. 

We'd visited Michigan a few times, but always during the summer.  I fell in love with the thunder storms, lightening bugs and lush greenery.  James always said that we weren't allowed to move there until I had visited during the harsh winter- so this trip was a great opportunity to check that box.

Fireflies are basically magic, duh.

So we set about exploring the awesome things about Michigan, like furniture stores! Seriously though, Grand Rapids, MI was at one point considered "The Furniture Capital of the World"!  Sure, there are IKEAs everywhere, but there's a place called Design Quest, a Danish furniture store that was full of amazing pieces that were definitely outside of any budget we will have in the near future.

But how freaking Hygge would our living room be with this set?!

We also visited Art Van, a chain of furniture stores that were not only closer to our potential budget, but full of football fields worth of furniture. The sales guy was sure to highlight that fact, which made me a little tired to think about how far I would have to walk to avoid him.

I could get into these big tables with their cool industrial elements.

Much time was also spent visiting the various Meijers around Grand Rapids and Lansing, because it's just a wonderful place. It's a grocery department store not unlike a Kroger's or Fred Meyer's (for the Oregon peeps) and for me, it brings a similar joy that Target brings.  Meijer is a Michigan original and is credited with pioneering this kind of super-center store.  In summers past, we have even visited the Meijer gardens, where Jerome met Fred Meijer shortly before his death. One of the things I love about going to Meijer is the great specialty food sections. You can find all the Dutch licorice you could ever want there.

Don't be fooled by it's cute cat shape, this stuff is brutal and not for the casual licorice eater.

Most of my time was spent freaking out about the snow to whoever would listen. Examples of my normal conversations during my stay: "OH MY GAWD!!! IT'S THE KIND OF SNOW THAT'S LIKE GLITTER FALLING FROM THE SKY!!!" and "LOOK, IT'S PICKING UP!!! THE FLAKES ARE SO FLUFFY!!!!"  and "THE ICICLES ARE SOOOOOOO BEAUTIFUL!!! SURE THEY COULD KILL US ALL, BUT THEY'RE MAGICAL!!!" and "IT'S STIIIIILLLLL SNOWING!!!!"  The locals put up with me, but were very clear that this beautiful white peacefulness was not the majority of the winter.  Apparently after awhile, it turns all dirty, gray, gross and slushy. Obviously Michigan was trying to show off and be all pretty for me during my stay, not that it had to try and impress me or anything.

Needless to say, the 4 days I spent in the "harsh Michigan winter" did not dampen my excitement to move there in any way.

(also pictured- a possible Red Tailed Hawk)

We also took a chance to explore Lansing a little more.  We found Jerome's new school, which was conveniently located 2 blocks from our house in an epic old Gothic building, complete with bell tower.  

Definitely his school- it's on the corner of Jerome Street.

We also tooled around the Michigan State University campus, which stretches long into the country and features an Arboretum and lots of different highly specified agricultural departments.  I didn't even know that there were scientist studying oncology in birds! 

Horses in the snow. So majestic!

We had a chance to eat some delicious food near our new house, in an up an coming area called REO Town that feels reminiscent of our own Whiteaker neighborhood in Eugene.  Initially we had wanted to find a house in this area, but ended up with one just a mile away, I was happy to be able to enjoy a meal at the Good Truckin' Diner.  

We opted not to eat outside.

Apparently I am not the only one that thought this was an iconic image worth capturing. (see prior photo)

We also took a chance to eat in a middle eastern inspired cafe, Marie Catrib's, in Grand Rapids.  It was delicious and easy food, but had a history that brought out the fact that there are a lot of different cultures represented in Michigan.  There are a lot of different countries that contribute to the overall culture of the area. Beyond the obvious Dutch and Nordic influences there are also very strong Polish ties (I had my first paczki during my trip!) as well as a lot more Middle Eastern restaurants in one city than I have ever seen in the whole of Oregon. 

I'm 100% sure this is the most flattering picture of myself from the past 5 years.

Having a chance to explore the area and to see how well everyone gets around despite the weather was extremely reaffirming.  Even after a sizable fall of snow, the roads were clear and ready to go. Here in Oregon, everything shuts down with an inch of snow on the valley floor, but I was able to confidently drive (after a little while) at 70 MPH down a freeway during a snowstorm. 

This trip gave me a chance to not only get some of the business end things tacked down with our friends in town, but also to fall further in love with Michigan and all the different cultures and climates that it offers.


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