Sandy Beach is a public park on the Eastern shore of Lake Baw Beese in Hillsdale Michigan. It has been a summer destination for generations of folks from Hillsdale County. It is located near the end of the Southbound paved portion of the Baw Beese Trail. This is where many local residents learned to swim as children.
Hillsdale Rotary Club has taken on the challenge of rejuvenating the landmark park. They have completed phase one of the renovation project which includes the addition of picnic tables and a shelter. Shade trees have been planted and a walking path is newly paved. 650 tons of Lake Michigan sand has been trucked in from South Haven to improve the quality of the beach. Video surveillance cameras have been installed to curb vandalism.
Funding for phase 2 is underway. The goal is to raise enough money to erect a new concessions building and public restrooms with hopes of also addressing an extension to the roadway and paving the parking lot. Phase 3 hopes to address volleyball pits, an extension to the Baw Beese Trail, canoe/kayak rentals, and music.
The Rotary Club is working with the Hillsdale Community Foundation to accept donations and pledges to complete all three phases of this huge project. They are about a third of the way into completing their fundraising goal of $200,000 for the next phase.
Sandy Beach is located about 15 minutes from the Munro House B&B in Jonesville. It is a great place to swim, relax, and enjoy the weather.
I needed a new front tire for my Honda GoldWing Motorcycle and took it to Planet Powersports in Coldwater MI to have the work done. On this day, the people from Victory Motorcycles were promoting their American-Made bikes by offering free test rides at this dealership during their Fuel It Demo Tour. They had a dozen or more motorcycles to ride in various styles and sizes. All that was required was a motorcycle endorsement on a valid drivers license.
I had an hour to kill so I signed up at the registration desk. They made sure I was licensed, took my personal information, and gave me a wristband identifying me as a legal rider. They then gave me a certificate for $1,000 in accessories if I purchase a Victory Motorcycle within 2 weeks.
The touring bikes were already reserved, so I chose a Victory Vision 8 Ball Cruiser. About a dozen riders drove off in formation with Victory representatives in the lead and tail positions. We took a half hour ride around the backroads of Branch County then got up to highway speed on the interstate before finishing the tour back at the dealership.
The repairs on my bike were not yet complete, so I went back to see if there was another bike available. I was in luck--there was one left--a Vegas Cruiser. I hopped on and joined the group for another fun ride on a beautiful day in Southern Michigan.
This is what I know: My next new bike will have a windshield, satellite radio, and an ipod dock.
The power of the Victory Motorcycles I rode were impressive. Very good pick-up, smooth ride, nice to look at, easy to handle, and a light rumble--not noisy like a Harley. American-Made is another big plus for the Victory.
I am not in the market for a new bike right now, so my certificate will probably go to waste. However, when I am in the market for a new bike in the next couple of years, Victory Motorcycles will be in the mix.
About 10 years ago, we changed over much of our lighting needs from the traditional incandescent bulbs to the new energy efficient bulbs. Our biggest concern was our high energy bills. After one month with a majority of our bulbs converted to the swirly energy efficient kind, we noticed a $100 decrease in our monthly electricity consumption. Over 10 years, that's a saving of $12,000! We regularly spend $250-$300 a year on light bulbs, so we are still saving money, and energy.
Our house is bigger than most and it doubles as a small hotel. We have a total of 9 bedrooms at the Munro House Bed and Breakfast in Jonesville and occupy about 6,700 square feet of living space. Much of this space must be illuminated 24 hours a day. These were the first areas that were converted.
Slowly the bulbs have evolved from the ugly swirlys that emitted bright white light to a swirly with a traditional bulb shaped cover that emits a familiar amber colored light. The light now comes in a variety of colors including bright white and soft white. The light output is measured in lumens and is prominently noted on the package. A 540 lumen bulb emits an amber color much like traditional home light bulbs while a 900 lumen bulb emits a color similar to a fluorescent bulb that you see in a grocery store. The key is to find a lumen you like and use the same lumen everywhere to keep your lighting consistent.
We prefer the light bulbs from Ikea. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, bases, and output while being reasonably priced. Most of their lights are in the traditional bulb shape, so that is a bonus.
The traditional light bulbs are being phased out by government order that will become effective in 2012. However, if bulb manufacturers make their traditional bulbs 25% more energy efficient, they will remain on the market in their traditional style and there will be no need for people who prefer these bulbs to stock up.
We take a lot of pictures. They usually end up on a disc somewhere or in a photo album. The discs tend to get lost and the albums don't have much personality. After a recent overseas trip, I decided to do something special and found exactly what I wanted online at Shutterfly. They then helped me produce an original hard cover photo album that looks and reads like a picture book for a reasonable price. The finished project appears to be in scrapbook format but can be completed in an afternoon and is much more compact and durable.
Pictures can be sized and rearranged. There is also room for a description to tell the story of what is happening in the photo arrays. Pictures can be as large as the page or multiple photos can be arranged on a single page.
Folks who visit us at the Munro House Bed and Breakfast are constantly paging through these books. They are great conversation pieces and another way for us to connect with our guests. It is also easy for us to relive our special moments that have been captured on film.
The good thing is that if my book should get lost or damaged, it can be replaced by ordering another copy from the original that they keep on file. They want me to keep creating photo albums, so I have been getting regular email deals for a % off or free shipping to entice me to do it again--which I will.
Geocaching is a fun way to use GPS to find hidden treasures in Jonesville, Michigan, across the U.S.A., and around the world. Coordinates are plotted online for treasure seekers to spend time looking for hidden booty near whatever location they might be.
The Munro House treasure was planted near our sign in 2005 by a guest who introduced us to the treasure hunt and world of geocaching. Since then, hundreds of people have made their way to Jonesville to find the camoflaged container that holds the logbook and the stash of trinkets.
When I catch geocachers looking in the bushes, I give them assistance if needed and ask if I can get their picture to post on my website. This couple has found over 35 caches since they started searching for geocaches in April. A small GPS device attached to a lanyard gets them to within a few feet of the hidden item where the search begins. Smart phones also offer apps that can turn a cell phone into a GPS device for a fun activity involving singles, couples, and families.
The geocaches are usually located near interesting buildings, historic places, small businesses, landmarks, public parks, and beaches. It is a fun way to reacquaint yourself with your local area or to explore a new location.
Another one of Lori Venturini's quilting projects is nearing completion. The pieces were cut and sown together and a border was added. A backing and batting has been purchased, so now it is time to finish the quilt and add another fine piece of personal accomplishments to our collection.
This was another project that began at Trevathan's Sweep and Sew Shop in Hillsdale and was put together in a single day. Trevathan's has a great classroom with instructors who provide tips on being a successful quilter.
The Sauk Theater in downtown Jonesville is the site for plays and musicals put on by Hillsdale Community Theater. The troupe traditionally performs 5-8 plays a year at this 240 seat venue. It is also rented out to other groups like Theater for Youth and Jonesville High School for productions by young people. Each show typically runs for 2 weekends with up to 8 performances.
The current schedule includes:
The King & I - June 9 - June 19
The Drowsy Chaperone - August 18-28
12 Angry Jurors - September 16-24
Frankenstein - October 14-22
Scrooge the Musical - December 1-11
The Munro House offers convenient lodging just 2 blocks from the theater. There are 2 great restaurants on the same block as the theater--Saucy Dogs, and Olivia's Chop House--to make it a complete and convenient night out.
The best part of my job as a Michigan Innkeeper is the people I get to meet. Every day is a pleasant surprise when an interesting person stays over on a business trip, or when a couple comes here to celebrate an event, or when someone comes back to Jonesville to visit family.
We had all of that and more--just this week. The stories they tell about their life, their family, and their experiences enrich my life as a regular guy who lives in a small town and is interested in people. How else could I even meet this cross-section of cultures and spend an appreciable amount of time with any of them?
I refer to the people who stay here as my "peeps". This week, my peeps included a college professor, a desert soldier, an accountant, small business owners, executives, some high school kids, some strangers from my home town, return guests, and visitors from Germany and Switzerland. All of them were fascinating in their own way.
Lori Venturini had just finished horseback riding with her colt, Nero. She had just removed her helmet and was watching the other horses load. Assistance was requested, she obliged, and was struck in the head by the trailer door from the force exerted by a horse who unexpectedly bolted from the trailer.
She got a ride to the hospital where she received 15-20 stitches in her forehead and was informed that her nose was broken. She never lost consciousness and remained alert and animated throughout the ordeal.
To keep the wound clean and free from infection, she is on hiatus from the horse barn. This is usually an enjoyable part of her routine, and will be a difficult chore to avoid. But in the interest of getting well, she will bite the bullet and leave the care of her horse to others.
Is it possible for a Summer Getaway Package in Michigan to NOT include a trip to Saugatuck, Traverse City, Mackinac Island, or Frankenmuth? If you don't want to spend most of your getaway in the car, the answer is YES! The Summer Getaway Package at Munro House B&B in Jonesville has most of your itinerary covered along with flex time to do your own thing. This package includes 2 dinners, 2 massages, 2 movie passes, 2 banana splits, and 2 nights bed and breakfast. The best part is that Jonesville Michigan is within 100 miles of Detroit, Lansing, Kalamazoo, and Battle Creek. It is also within 100 miles of Toledo, Fort Wayne, and South Bend. A Michigan getaway is closer than you think.
If you want the best deal possible, plan your summer getaway between July 1-15. Munro House is celebrating the 4th of July and its anniversary with summer getaway discounts of $100 or more.
Hillsdale County has a very active horse community. There are regular horse shows and competitions at the Hillsdale County Fairgrounds. Many disciplines are for kids' 4-H projects, but adult competition in poles and barrel racing are very well attended. On this day there were scores of 4 wheel drive trucks with horse trailers attached. There were double that amount in horses on the grounds waiting their turn to compete.
Lori Venturini is a horse woman who is very proud of her 2 year old paint horse, Nero. She had to wait for his second birthday to know that he was mature enough to begin riding. Before that, it was all ground work--getting him to understand commands, teaching trust, and bonding with his owner. The ground work seems boring but is very necessary. A horse must learn to be calm under any circumstance because they are a "fleeing animal". Instinct tells them that if anything looks like trouble, the best thing to do is run away. Horses are really chickens in the sense that they are naturally afraid of everything--the wind, vehicles of different shapes and sizes, even their own shadow. These fears must be overcome by trusting that their rider will not lead them into danger.
Horse shows prove that fears can be overcome and animals can learn to perform in unnatural situations. They also teach riders about patience, care, goals, perseverance, and bonding techniques. It is unseen how much work is involved in getting a horse to do what seems like a simple task. When everything is spooky, yet the animal behaves, it is a testament that it has been well-trained.
These horse shows are fun to watch and they are conveniently located within 15 minutes of the Munro House B&B in Jonesville.
Caffe Azzurri in Hillsdale MI has been open since March, but many people have had trouble finding it. With GPS it is easy to plot in 1990 Ash-te-Wette Drive then follow it South of Hillsdale to the shore of Lake Baw Beese. There is a new sign with an arrow pointing to the club house of the Baw Beese Lake Golf Course and the Caffe Azzurri. But where is the restaurant?
Because the golf course and country club had been private for many years, a lot of local people never had an opportunity to go there. Now that the restaurant is open to the public, a little education on where to find it is in order. There are a few parking spaces near the door, but the main parking lot is a short walk from the main entrance. The door to the restaurant is currently unmarked, but that will be changing soon. The photo shows the way in to Caffe Azzurri.
Inside, there are 3 dining rooms. One for dinner with a view of the lake, one for private gatherings with a view of the lake, and the clubhouse that has a sports bar feel. On this day, we stopped in for lunch and enjoyed their pot roast sandwich in the clubhouse while watching golf on the big screen TV. It was unique and delicious.