FireplaceVertbfLOIt was a dark and, if not exactly STORMY, certainly all could agree it was a DAMP night.

The fire was crackling in the grate, Mark, Andrew, Bob and Don were out doing the karaoke thing; and Rich had turned in after a soak in the hot tub. He hadn’t slept well on his first night here, and no one REALLY wants to hear me sing at them – when it comes to music, I play a mean iPod – so we opted to stay in.

Let me say, as the VERY happy owner of a gas fireplace, that there is NOTHING that can match a fresh (and expertly laid – thanks, Mark!) real wood fire. The smoky tinge to the air and the crackling of the logs are truly a thing of joy.

Maybe we just appreciated it more because there was more involved to making it than simply flipping a switch? Perhaps, tho’ I will take that flipping of said switch over starting a ‘real’ fire on your average cold winter’s morning on our own edge o’ the prairie. Just sayin’…

FireplaceMarkbfLOThe iPhone is streaming Pandora’s ‘Sunday Brunch’ station, which seems to have evolved from a cross between show tunes and bad Yanni into some COOL soft jazz – just now Stan Kolev ‘Croatia – the Opening 2009’ – and I am thinking back on our day in food…

We PLANNED for one dinner and one breakfast at the cabin – meaning that we all thought we’d bring enough food for two meals.


Stuff happens.

You start to think you’ll just do steaks on the grill and maybe waffles for breakfast.

Simple, no?

FrenchCarrotsbfLOKinda… see – if you have the steaks, then you begin to think – hmmm – why not grill onions and peppers and little, tiny, baby yellow tomatoes? OK, that means packing skewers, and then buying the onions, peppers, and little, tiny baby yellow tomatoes. It also means Bob’s soon-to-be-famous steak marinade featuring Mr. Yoshida’s Teriyaki and stuff (I’ll wrangle that recipe out of him just as soon as he finishes making the waffles).

Irregardless… with the planning of two meals (one dinner and one breakfast), the floodgates opened and we arrived in deepest, darkest Western Michigan with PastaSaladbfLOsteaks for twelve, bacon for fifty, cheeses from Wales, England, France, and some kinda snooty (but tasty) Spanish sheep; my contributions of whoopie pies, French carrots, and pasta salad; plus assorted crackers and chips and cheese danish and cheez-its and stuff and…

You get the idea.

SO, we had a ‘casual’ breakfast of coffee, cereal, and cheese danish at the cabin this WhoopiePiesVanillabfLOmorning before setting out to explore – and, ermmm, think about lunch. Tomorrow will be the ‘big’ dinner out at Restaurant Toulouse, so today we planned on having the steaks and such after a bit of slouching about.

ONE thing to remember when traveling: when faced with the biggest restaurant on the block with the largest ads in the local tourist books touting their ‘famous’ ‘big-restaurant-name’ burger/chicken/shrimp/cocktail/pretzels, etc. – RUN – do WhoopiePiesChocbfLOnot walk away from said restaurant. If the food or the service isn’t exactly BAD – it will almost surely be a disappointment in timely delivery. Our lunch was, all agreed, nice.

Think how much NICER it would have been had the food not arrived late, tepid, and more than a bit soggy?

On to the tasty, TASTY steaks…

ermmm. tomorrow.

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