Beautiful Fall Sights, Sounds, and Delicious Food

Wednesday, October 29, 2014 , , , 12 Comments

The second anniversary of my dad's death just passed. Last year at this time, I was pretty much immobilized. Though I have struggled with grieving the loss of several loved ones in the past couple of years and I have had my share of setbacks when I thought I was doing just fine, a lot has changed inside me this past year. I decided that on the anniversary day, I should take my mom to do something interesting to keep our minds from being stuck on the memory of what happened a couple short years ago. I thought it was worth a try to attempt to enjoy life as I know my dad would want us to. 

I took my mom on a day trip to Bay City and Frankenmuth. Fall is such a wonderful time to drive through Michigan and especially to head north in Michigan. The fiery reds, rich ambers, and brilliant oranges contrasting with the crisp brown and still lush green leaves of the late bloomers and evergreens paint a picture that seems far too beautiful for the side of an expressway, and more like a beloved painting that you almost don't believe could be based on real life. Yet, these scenes come to life in Michigan everywhere from country roads to city streets to, yes, the side of the expressway. This truly is one of my favorite times to travel through Michigan and it was one of my dad's too. He was at home when we headed away from the city and traveled "up north" in Michigan, and he really loved to see the fall colors up there. With this little trip, we could honor him. We just didn't know what surprises he held in store for us that day.

Beautiful Pure Michigan Fall Colors Autumn Foliage
Beautiful Michigan Fall Colors
Already on sensory overload from the beautiful colors all around us, we stopped in to Heather's Restaurant, hoping for something tasty to warm us up a little on this chilly day. Yet again, we were blown away by the delicious, seasonal food specials at Heather's (see previous post). The Vegan Irish Stew, Seitan Stroganoff, and house-made garlic bread were instant favorites that we hope to see on the menu again. If you want something hot, hearty, healthy, and perfect for a cool fall day, this is it. This is the time of the year when I start craving hearty (and often not-so-healthy) food. My readers who have lived in a four season climate with a serious winter will know what I mean. 

The evening was made more enjoyable by the sound live music wafting through the restaurant. We hadn't planned on arriving so late, but were sure glad that we did since we arrived just in time to catch the band playing classic hits - some of our favorite tunes. We found ourselves actually enjoying the moment - a much different scene than a year before.

Vegan Irish Stew Heather's Restaurant Dinner Special Bay City, Michigan
Vegan Irish Stew

Seitan Stroganoff and House-made Garlic Bread Dinner Special at Heather's Restaurant Bay City, MIchigan
Seitan Stroganoff and House Made Garlic Bread
After dinner, we headed to Frankenmuth and the world's largest Christmas Store - Bronner's. As luck would have it, just as we headed back toward one of the entrances, a flood of Santa's helpers came rushing into the store to spread holiday cheer. Yes, three bus loads filled with more than 130 of Santa's helpers straight from Santa's School - some hailing from as far away as Norway. All were dressed reminiscent of Santa or Mrs. Claus, but each with his or her own unique flair - from Hawaiian shirts to bright red lumberjack-style overalls. Some were big; some were small. Some had backward baseball hats; some had hats they clearly got from the North Pole. All of them were gearing up to help Santa Claus spread love, joy, and gifts this holiday season. As one after another streamed in, my mom and I looked at each other and could not hold back our laughter. It felt kind of like we were in a movie. We weren't the only ones affected. You could laughter and excitement echoing throughout the 320,000 square feet that is Bronner's.

We came across many pleasant surprises on this day trip and felt that we were being guided to be in the right place at the right time. We were somehow able to enjoy a day which we had dreaded and enjoy the beauty all around us. It was a day of sensory overload with breathtaking sights, delicious food, great music, and the kind of happiness that can only be delivered by 130 or so of Santa's newly trained helpers.