Thursday, August 28, 2014


We've been back now from our vacation for more than a week. While away, I tried to update this blog frequently, but our time at Mackinac Island and Traverse City made that pretty difficult. I'm therefore behind, still behind, on filling in the gaps of what we did while away. Rather than give a day-by-day account, it seems more appropriate to write around some of the common elements of our vacation, such as our accommodations, which will be the theme for this post.

During our vacations, we typically stay in a rented home for the bulk of our vacation. In 2014, this was only true for the four days we were in Ottawa. Our house there was a town home on the outer edge of what's considered downtown Ottawa. It had three bedrooms and a pair of bathrooms on the third floor, a living room, kitchen and dining room on the second, and a foyer on the ground floor. It was clean, in great condition, and roomy. It wasn't as intriguing as some of the rental homes we've had over the years, like the two we had in California in 2012. The neighborhood, as is often the case in with these Homeaway and VRBO properties, is in transition. In a few years, it'll likely be too pricey to be appropriate for such vacation rentals. It did end up being a very short drive from the very center of the downtown. Though it lacked a few finer touches to make it truly homey (and though the trash and recycling standards of Ottawa are bewildering) it was a good base of operations for our stay in the city.

Our home in Ottawa.

Our kitchen and dining room in Ottawa.

The living room of our Ottawa home. 

We eventually found ourselves in Mackinaw City, Michigan, where we made a quaint motel our home for two nights. The Riviera Motel is different from the places we normally stay. It's an old-fashioned motor court. Our room was simple: two beds, a bathroom. It had a spectacular view of the Mackinac Bridge, which aside from the Golden Gate is the most impressive bridge I've seen. I liked the care the owners of this property took. Something of this vintage is easy to let fall into disrepair.

The Mighty Mac from the parking lot of our motel. 
Trying to recreate the photo from the motel's website. 

Our motel at night. 

Our stay on Mackinac Island had us at the Main Street Inn and Suites. By far, the most fancy hotel we've ever called home on a vacation. Of course, we promptly wrecked the place when Caroline decided to crawl up on the very unsturdy luggage stand: fortunately they didn't charge us for the broken piece of equipment. The place was lavish. We had a large living room and a sizable bedroom. Those rooms were separated by an opulent bathroom (jacuzzi tub). On one hand, it was sad to see the kids use it as their base to watch a horrible Disney movie. On the other hand, the size and comfort helped us deal with fairly lousy weather the first half of our vacation. Perhaps the kids would've minded the constant fog and cold and rain had we not had such a nice place to stay. I think the hotel is the biggest reason why Sam said he wants to someday return to the island.

The kids' favorite hotel. 

Living room. 

View looking west from our small balcony. 

View looking east from our small balcony. 

Our other stays were at hotels, none bad but none noteworthy. The kids' disappointment upon arriving at Traverse City's Hampton Inn was palpable. It's tough to go from what we had the nights before to a simple one-room, two-queen-bed room. Our hotel in Dearborn was a bit more spacious, at least.

Relaxing in Dearborn.

Dearborn's Country Inn.
In retrospect, I don't regret staying where we stayed, but the bills added up a bit more than I would've liked, and it would seem I should either look for bargains more aggressively in the future or buy an RV.

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