Escape Route

(originally published November 22, 2013 at

Kilwin's 2Where do you go when you need a break from the everyday pattern of your life?

Is there a place in this world that you run to where you feel safe and secure, inspired, more alive?

I go west along the eastern shores of Lake Michigan to Holland, one of many picturesque towns along the western coast of Michigan. Interestingly, it was named the most secure mid-sized city in the U.S.

I like walking the downtown corridor with its Victorian-era architecture, unique shops and restaurants and brick-paved streets.

Founded by the Dutch, and with visitors from all over the world, it’s easy to feel like I’ve traveled much further than the three hours it takes me to drive there. In no time, I am transported to a quaint European village with not a care in the world.

But what really calls me to Holland is the opportunity to spend time with my long-time friend, Dawn, who offers warm-like-a-blanket hospitality, conversation that inspires, reasons to laugh, and new places to explore together.

Last weekend we took advantage of the “Shop ‘Til You Drop” late-night event. Many of the stores were open until 10 and the longer you shopped the higher percentage off your purchases. We both snagged toys at 30% off for our granddaughters at Tip Toes.

On Saturday, we hit a couple of resale shops in the area. At Not So Shabby Antiques and Fine Furniture, Dawn couldn’t pass up a whimsical cookie jar that looks like her new retro-style camper. I was tempted to buy a long, slate-topped school desk to repurpose as a funky buffet table at The Decades Mall. Instead I opted for a pretty water pitcher with matching glasses and a set of Christmas-themed coasters to use during the holidays — all for under $13.

We ate outstanding enchiladas, tacos and OMG-good homemade ice cream at El Hurache for an early lunch. When my legs were screaming for a break by 3 o’clock, we stopped at Kilwins for a snack of peanut caramel corn and (my favorite) chocolate coconut clusters, with a side of hot chocolate and ice-cold Coke. If that wasn’t enough to kiss our weight-loss efforts goodbye, we shared a wonderfully sloppy gluten-free Chicago-style pizza for dinner.

Hopefully all the walking we did counter-acted some of the calories we consumed! A girl can only hope.

These short getaways always whisk by as quickly as the weather can change in Michigan. This time fierce, howling winds and heavy rains chased me all the way back home, from one safe place to another. Storms aside, I re-entered my everyday world charged up for anything — until the next time.