When we left Chicago (Thursday, 10/3), we did not have a plan or a concrete decision about where we would be going first or staying.
It was raining pretty heavy when we left Chicago and while our initial idea was to drive through South Bend to see Notre Dame on our way up north, given the weather, we scratched that idea and continued up Route 12 into MI. Our first stop on the drive was the town of Sawyer. Exit 12 on 94.
Renee had suggested driving through this town and stopping for lunch at Greenbush Brewing Company. It is not so much a town as it is a small village with a few shops and restaurants – and of course, home to Greenbush. Fruit and farm stands line the streets of this old fashioned quiet town.
Lunch was out of this world. We shared a pulled pork sandwich with potato salad and a wedge salad. And, of course had to taste some of their beers! If you are passing through, we highly encourage popping into Sawyer and stopping for a bite and beer at Greenbush. The vibe is very chill, everyone is so nice and they give you as many beer samples as you want! Our suggestion, the Unicorn Killer Pumpkin Ale!
Shortly after our lunch, we received an email back from Emily (read previous post! We met Emily through Instagram). She was running around and asked us to call her. So, we did.
Not even two minutes into the conversation, it already felt like we had known each other for years. We told her we didn’t have a concrete plan, were thinking of going to Grand Rapids for the night, but were really open to anything.
And, then…she invited us to stay with her and her husband in Grand Haven. We didn’t know Emily more than through the photos she had posted on Instagram, from what we had read on her photography website and the short 5 minutes on the phone. Was this a bad idea? Should we say “thanks, but we’re gonna just head to Grand Rapids.” The answer was no. Our guts said go. This is meant to be.
Before we hung up and told her we would be there early evening, she gave us a list of places to stop along the way. Much to our chagrin, they were the same places Renee had suggested we stop. Love that everyone is on the same page up here!
Our next stop after Sawyer was Saugatuck. This small town of 925 people was quiet, desolate and bare. But, one thing was for sure. They love fall and Halloween. The town is right on the water, a beautiful marina outlines an artists haven. Antiques, local artists at work and gallery after gallery line the streets. In between them, ice cream shops, home made candy and fudge shops and small local restaurants. Apparently this is a big beach town and as we walked through the leaves and fall air, we could just imagine the masses gathering in their bathing suits for a double scoop of peach ice cream.
From Saugatuck we continued up to Grand Haven passing through some very beautiful towns including Michelle’s favorite Holland. Just the day before Michelle was telling a story of how her aunt or uncle had given her a wooden shoe with a windmill in it and was wondering where at her parents house it was. She was curious where it had come from and made a note to ask her aunt/uncle next time they spoke. It wasn’t until we drove through Holland that the bells went off and after talking to her mom, it was confirmed that years ago her aunt or uncle had visited this town and brought Michelle the momento from here. Crazy.
Emily and her husband Ian are currently staying at her mother’s cottage right on the beach. Steps away from the beach. She had given us directions to the house, we were making our way around the last curve and stopped dead in our tracks to the most gorgeous sun setting right over Lake Michigan. We quickly pulled into park where Emily was waiting for us with hugs and laughs along with her sweet pup Tasha. We went for walk down to the end of her street to watch the sunset together, Michelle and I mesmerized and entranced. Who knew this place existed, not us.
The night was spent sitting on Emily and Ian’s front porch under beautiful strung lights talking, talking, talking and sipping some delicious red wine. I will say it again, from the minute we met Emily, we felt like we had known her for years, she was one of our friends from back in the day and we were just sitting around catching up.
We talked about where and how we grew up, stories of Mr. “Cool”, college, photography, work, travel and the list goes on. We shared with her the story of how Michelle and I had met and much to our surprise, Emily knows the Pat McGee Band and has been to several of their shows and their music on her iPod. There wasn’t a moment in the night we were searching for the next subject of conversation, it flowed and flowed and we didn’t want it to end.
Emily and Ian were working and living in Chicago before they came to the conclusion that it wasn’t the life for them anymore. They were craving something different, a change, what that was – to be discovered. Emily started to focus more of her time on her photography which has now turned into a full time booming business. She is a lifestyle and wedding photographer, although weddings and engagement sessions take up most of her time. And, Ian has joined along. Not to mention, when she photographs you she brings you homemade chocolate chip cookies. I mean, come on!
Part of what drew me to reach out to Emily was this concept of “pop up weddings” that I found on her website. Emily and Ian recently invested in a 1987 airstream and are in the process of cleaning it up and getting it ready to hit the road. They leave in just three weeks to begin an epic journey across America, and to possibly marry YOU!
Emily and Ian came up with this amazingly genius idea to marry you, yes, marry you while they travel across the USA in their airstream. Pop Up Rolling Elopements is simple as this. They come to your city, they do all the wedding arrangements for you (the officiant, the bouquet, the snacks, photography – and of course the champagne!) and you get to get married in front of their amazing vintage airstream as the backdrop. Can you imagine the photos and the stories you can tell your grandkids some day? Genius, simply genius.
We strongly encourage you to head over to Emily and Ian’s site to check out more of her work and see if the pop up chapel/airstream is coming to a city near you. Think about it this way, if you sign up, you don’t have to invite your 56 cousins and 87 great aunts.
In addition to this amazing journey they are about to embark on, they will be keeping up with their other photography projects. We have seen her work first hand kids, contact her now. In addition to her keen eye to capture beautiful shots, this girl has a sense of humor that will keep you laughing all day long. Oh, and did I mention she is in love with Pat Conroy? Exactly.
Ok, back to our evening. As the night continued on, and as the storms rolled through, we moved into the screened in porch to continue the story telling. Emily and Ian’s neighbors are Dale and Karen and have become great friends of Ian and Emily. While they were supposed to have traveled back to their home in Minneapolis weeks ago, something about the Grand Haven air just kept them there. And, after our time in Grand Haven, we can completely see why!
Dale Johnson is an extremely talented artist who spends his time between Minneapolis and Grand Haven painting. We were honored to have spent some time with him in his home as he shared some of his favorite pieces with us and told the stories and inspirations of his work. We were floored when Dale offered us one of the most beautiful pieces to take on our trip with us.
Dale joined us later in the evening on the screened in porch as we continued to talk life and plans (or lack there of). Dale spent over an hour with us telling us of his life as a young artist just when he was getting started. Driving all the way to NYC from Minneapolis to try and get his foot in some of the galleries – and successfully we might add. Dale is sharp as a whip and has the greatest sense of humor. Not to mention a captivating story teller. At one point in the evening, he began to recite William Blake poetry as we sat around engaged in his presentation of the poem.
Shortly after Dale left for the evening, Ian returned from work in town. The four of us stayed up way into the night talking and talking and talking. We were all very sad to know we just had one night together (they were off the next morning for an engagement session in Chicago, we were off to Grand Rapids). We were all craving and wanting more time together, more storytelling and more adventures.
While we were sad to say goodbye to our new friends, we are thrilled to know that we will most likely see them “out on the road” in the next few months as it is very likely our paths will cross in one state or another.
An unforgettable night.
All because of Instagram.