That Wow Moment

Occasionally in life there are those moments of unutterable
fulfillment which cannot be completely explained by those symbols called
words. Their meanings can only be articulated by the inaudible language
of the heart. Martin Luther King Jr.

Hopefully, we have all had that moment in travel when we’ve had that
mystical experience that spirals you into awe and wonder. I called it
that WOW moment. The moment you express wonder, amazement
or great pleasure. The moment you are so overwhelmed with what
you are seeing or experiencing that it leaves you breathless, but in a
good way. It’s a moment you never forget.
In my many years of travel I must say, I have had many, sometimes
expected and sometime not.

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One of my earlier Wow moments came from the first time I ever went
to Paris. It was a dream for me growing up and I never thought I would
ever get there. I remember the first full day in this beautiful city,
I was in the Louvre standing amongst the worlds most famous paintings,
paintings I never thought I would be lucky enough to see, when It suddenly
hit me that here I was in Paris, in the Louvre, with the most glorious
paintings surrounding me. I remember that moment so well, I teared up
and actually had to sit on a bench to let this overwhelming feeling pass.
I know it sounds so dramatic but this was a dream come true for me and
I will never forget that moment.

There are so many Wow moments for me but I wanted to ask others
what their Wow moments were, so here are a few:

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Dave R. said his Wow moment was:
“I could list several, but I have one that, to me, is the most striking. That
is arriving in Venice by train. You get off on the train platform and walk
into the nondescript train station. You continue walking through the
ordinary looking station to the far side and go out the door. Suddenly,
in front of you is the Grand Canal and the Venice you have seen in movies
travelogues, and magazines through the years. The vaporetto dock is
right in front, people are bustling everywhere, boats and water traffic
of all types are going by, and it is a stunning experience. I compare it
to the movie, The Wizard of Oz, where the movie starts out in black and
white and all of a sudden turns to brilliant color”.

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Jen R. said her Wow Moment was:
“I remember my very first trip to Europe, I went on a Cosmos Tour, like
10 countries in 7 days. I remember getting to Rome and being in love
immediately. The biggest thrill was seeing the Colosseum. It was a
place I’d read about and seen pictures of and I was anxious to see it in
real life. We were on the tour bus and we drove down the street and I
spotted it between some buildings. I can still feel the chill of seeing it
in real life; it seemed unreal and very thrilling”.

Another Wow moment from Jen:

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“I was in New Orleans for a short trip. We went to a french restaurant
that only served a limited number of people each night. It was a smallish
group and everyone was seated at the same time so it became a bit of a
communal experience. There were a number of French people in the
restaurant and towards the end of the meal one of the women started
singing Edith Piaf songs. She had a beautiful voice. Everyone stopped
talking and listened. The meal was already good, but the music made it
even better”.

Janet R. said her Wow moment was:

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“In late June of 2006, on a vey hot day, I was walking up the steps of the
“Sacred Way” to visit ancient Delphi and the Sanctuary of Apollo in Greece.
Delphi is located on the slopes of Mt. Parnassos, and once reached, the
view of the land below is spectacular. I stood quietly and took in the ruins of the Temple of Apollo and Athena, statues, the theatre where plays were
performed, their Treasury, the stadium where athletes competed (the
starting point for sprinters still marked) – all dating back 3,000 years!
Delphi was regarded as the center of the world according to mythology
when Zeus released two eagles at the opposite ends of the world and they
met in Delphi. It is a place where those seeking enlightenment from the
oracles went. Delphi, still splendid looking in ruin. It wasn’t only the
view that took my breath away, but the thought of people living their
lives, just like us, walking the same path I was walking, thousands of years
ago. That was my Wow travel moment”.

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Marian P. said her Wow moment was:
“Growing up in Michigan in a family of 5 children, there wasn’t much
travel. Vacation for us was going “up north”. Michigan is the Great
Lakes state and there are lots of lakes within the state with many vacation
cities where you would rent a cottage and spend a week before returning
home.
I began to travel as a young adult. My Wow moment was New York City.
The excitement of The Empire State Building, Statute of Liberty, and
being on Fifth Avenue. Even the simple act of buying a hot dog from
a street vendor, was a thrill. I realized then that there’s a whole big
world of new experiences and I wanted to see and try as many as I could.
New York continues to give me that Wow moment. I will never grow
tired of it”.

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Lee M. said his Wow moment was:
“While Jen and I were visiting the Painted Desert we stopped to view the
ruins of an Indian Pueblo. At this point the other tourists had all driven
off. We just stood there and after a few moments she asked me “did I
hear this”. What we heard was the sound of silence. There was no
traffic, animals, wind or people. There was nothing but stone silence.
It was so quiet I could hear the blood rushing in my ears. That was a
moment I will never forget, staring at the vastness of the sand in the
desert and the sound of nothing at the same time”.

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Lee M. has another great Wow moment that I felt when I visited Russia:

“We took a train from St. Petersburg to Moscow and while on the train
listening to my music and reading, I had the sudden realization where I
was. I looked out the window and saw the countryside whizzing by.
This was a place I never thought I’d be, in the heart of Mother Russia.
I felt privileged to be able to experience this, knowing how many years
this was not a possibility for an American”.

Everyone of these people, including me, have had so many Wow moments in their travels. Isn’t that what travel is all about. Travel is getting to a
new place and experiencing it with all your senses. Don’t we all want
to return home with a changed and renewed vision of the world and it’s
people and to be able to experience and remember that special Wow
moment that forever changed us.

What Wow moments have you had in your travels?

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The Real Reason I Love Mackinaw Island

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There are so many reasons why I love going to Mackinaw Island in
Northern Michigan. This year I would go on Labor Day Weekend,
Mmm maybe not such a good idea due to the overwhelming crowds,
but nonetheless it was still oozing charm and beauty.

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I love walking the streets and admiring the charming houses.

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A little lawn candy to admire.

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I love discovering new places to stay while traveling. Might have to give
The Cottage Inn a try sometime. They were totally booked so we were
not able to see a room, but the owners were very confident that we would
not be sorry if we stayed with them.

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I love this simple idea of putting an old bicycle amongst the flowers
to add more lawn candy.

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One of the many things I love about the island is the flowers. Today they
seemed their brightest.

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I loved this Harley Davidson Bicycle. Now I could manage that.

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St. Anne Parish was built-in 1874 and is one of the oldest Roman Catholic
Parishes in the interior of North America and in 1992 registered as a
Michigan Historical site.

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I love walking the streets of Mackinaw. It’s always so full of life.
Riding bicycles around the island is one of the favorites amongst the
visitors. Always fun.

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This is one of my favorite places on the island. I love The Carriage
House restaurant in the Hotel Iroquois. It is my tradition to have a
nice lunch here whenever I visit the island. It is so lovely and the food
is always good. I don’t think I have ever missed a visit to this charming
restaurant.

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Eating on the outside terrace.

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Ok now I confess, this is the real reason I Love Mackinaw Island. I look
forward to this every time I come. It’s the Best Grasshopper Drink I
have ever had. I have tried ordering this occasionally elsewhere but
never can they come close to this. Total perfection.

I know Mackinaw Island is one of Michigan’s top attractions, I know it’s
mine. From the charms of the island, the activities, the restaurants,
the retail shops, the harbor, and the hotels, it holds a special place in
my heart that I never tire of, BUT it’s those Grasshoppers I really love.
Don’t judge!

The First City In The First State

It would be the end of my trip to Delaware where I would make one
last stop before heading home. Lewes is a small historical city with a
population of 2,747 per the 2010 census. What arose my curiosity
was something I had read along the way to describe this picturesque
town, “The First City In The First State.” Enjoying history as I do, I needed to make a stop in this city.

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Lewes, Delaware is situated where the Delaware Bay and Atlantic Ocean
meet at Cape Henlopen.

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Lewes’s historical district is a delight to walk. Being 1/2 sq. mile, it has
a beautiful waterfront, museums, Inns, Bed and Breakfasts, fine restaurants,
and a variety of fine shops.

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Cannonball House was built in 1765. It is the last remaining Lewes House
bearing a scar when a cannonball hit this house in 1813. It has been
restored and is now the Lewes Historical Society.

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Saint Peters Church, The First Church in The First Town in The First State.
The Church was established in 1681. This is the third building on this
spot representing St Peters. This building was constructed in 1854.

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In addition to the churchyard, Saint Peters owns the oldest cemetery in
the state of Delaware.

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Among Saint Peters interesting historical possessions are the communion
table used in the original church in 1724, a prayer book showing the changes made after the War of Independence, and a silver communion
service given by John Penn, grandson of William Penn, on June 10, 1773.

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I have not been so impressed by stained glass windows in a long time,
but just look at how beautiful these are. They were absolutely stunning.

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After walking the town and waterfront, we had lunch at a small restaurant
on Main Street, Blue Sea Cafe. We had a great lunch and so enjoyed
the ambience of this bright blue, purple and orange decor.

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It was time to get back on the road and head for home. Delaware is
such a beautiful state and has so much to offer, from the beautiful
mansions, museums, beaches, and rich history of this state, it is surely
a perfect place to visit. I would love to return one day, perhaps at
Christmas time. I could only imagine how beautiful it would all be.

A Life Time of Travel

Having just had a birthday and being retired for three years now, I
suddenly started thinking, I have so much more I want to do and see.
Places, countries, cities, and states, will I have enough time and money
to see it all before I leave this earth.

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My Birthday dinner on vacation

I am a healthy youngish (I would like to think) baby boomer that has a
long Bucket List and I need to start checking them off much faster these
days then I am. But just when I think that, I came across a great article
that gave me hope and certainly inspiration.

It was written in 2012 by a woman who was born in 1923 and has travelled
her whole life. Let me share some of that article.

“In the fall of 2012 I was 78, I found Rome a city of beauty, food
and smokers galore. Wine Wine Wine. Cathedrals were everywhere,
each more beautiful than the other. I pinched a good-looking Italian man, who turned and frown, then saw me and said with a big smile, “Signora,
Grazie, Grazie”. Evidently I made his day and he certainly made mine”.

Lucille would go on to tell about her continuous travels that would include
Malta, Greece, Brazil, and India. All with a cute story like the one in Rome.
Along the way, she would meet new travel companions and they would
continue to travel to such places as New Guinea, Japan, and China.

In 2012 Lucille, who by then was almost 89, was still traveling. Her
travel companions had passed away, but she was still in pretty good
health and nothing was stopping her.
Lucille would say:

Here it is, May 2012, and I’ve got a stack of brochures and am
looking to go to Tanzania. My friends all think I am crazy, I say, “Your
missing out on so much”. They say, “There could be riots,” but I say,
“Something could happen anywhere. You might as well go.”
And I once read something I will always remember, life should not be
A journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive
and well-preserved body, but, rather, to skid in sideways, Chardonnay in
one hand, chocolate in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn
out, and screaming, “Woo hoo! What a ride.

I loved this article. It proves that you can continue to do all that you
love, even in your 80s. What stamina Lucille must have. Could I do that
at her age, not sure, but she gives me inspiration and hope. I wonder
about her, is she still traveling or has she traveled on to be with her
travel companions. I guess I will never know. But thank you, Lucille,
for that great inspiring story.

My Two Days Spent On The Delaware Beaches

They say, if you live in Jersey you go to the Shore.
If you live in Maryland you go to the Ocean.. And…
If you live in Delaware you go to the Beaches.

Well the last two days of my Delaware vacation would be spent on the
beaches of Delaware.
Driving south on Hwy. 1 you begin to feel the cities slowly disappearing
behind you. I knew we were getting close because I had my first Sea Shell
City sighting. Just like any other typical coastal towns, they are everywhere.
Yes, many years ago it was my thing to hit everyone I saw, no matter
where I would be. I had Seashell Picture Frames, Seashell Candy Dish,
Seashell Mirrors, you name it, I had it. Well that was then, and this is now.
Whatever happened to all those Seashell Chotchkies I had? Mmmm

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After checking into The Best Western in Dewey Beach, we headed right
for the beaches. The Ocean was pretty rough but beautiful. Being from
Michigan it is always so fascinating for me to see and be near the Ocean.

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Out of the 30 States with coastline, the Delaware Beaches ranked number
1 in water quality in 2011. Dewey Beach is known as a party town in the
summer months but also a popular family resort spot.

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We would jump on a trolley car that would take us to the number 1
hot spot in that area, the ever popular Rehoboth Beach. It is a popular
tourist town with a list of activities, restaurants, shopping and a small
amusement park for the younger ones. It also has a great mile long boardwalk that has tons of fun things to see and do. I must say I really
enjoyed our afternoon spent there. We had a great lunch and just
strolled the boardwalk, going in and out of little shops. The weather
was perfect in the afternoon. A great day to sit on the beach and people
watch.

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A little shopping street called Penny Lane with some cute shops and
tempting restaurants.

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Back at Dewey Beach after a great dinner and drinks, listening to a live
band playing some good Motown music and watching the sunset. Life is
good.

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The next day we headed down highway 1 toward Ocean City, Maryland.
It would only take about an hour to get there and as I had never been,
I figured I’m this close I may as well see what it had to offer.

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Well I am so glad I did. I loved Ocean City. The Boardwalk is much
bigger and had so much more to offer the tourist. A lot of hotels and
Condos line the 3 mile boardwalk, with all kinds of other attractions in
between.

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It was still early morning and the crowds were few, so we were able to
have this part of the Boardwalk pretty much to ourselves. People
riding bikes, jogging, or just walking the Boardwalk, it was surely a
perfect morning to be there.

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Ocean City’s Boardwalk is 3 miles long and is a considered to be one
of America’s Top 10 Boardwalks. I certainly can understand why.

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Prior to 1870, what is now called Ocean City was known as “The Ladies
Resort to the Ocean.” It can see over 370,000 visitors during the summer
months and a popular place where Maryland High School Seniors will
spend their week to party.

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Hotels, Cottages, and Summer Homes lined the Boardwalk along the
Ocean.

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And then there is the Ocean. The beaches were clean and on this
particular morning no crowds yet. The Ocean was calm and beautiful.
I wanted to sit there all day and just take this all in.

Delaware Beaches were clean and the area surrounding them was
absolutely gorgeous. I think my favorite was Ocean City, Maryland.
I had always heard through the years of how nice it was, and I truly
can personally verify this now. I definitely want to go back some day
and spend maybe a week on the Ocean, rent a condo or hotel room
with a killer view and just relax and enjoy. Doesn’t that sound tempting.

Nemours, A French Inspired Mansion and Gardens

Having just returned from a weeks vacation in the state of Delaware,
I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed my time spent there.

One of the areas we visited was in the Brandywine Valley, an area that
is heavily influenced by the The duPont family’s french heritage. First
it was Winterthur Mansion, where we would see a costume exhibit from
the famous Downton Abbey series, and now on to Nemours, Mansion
and Gardens, former home of Alfred duPont.

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The French inspired Nemours Mansion and Gardens is a 300-acre estate.
The 47,000 square foot Mansion looms over the surrounding formal
gardens. Nemours was created by Alfred duPont in 1909 and completed
one year later in 1910 for his second wife, Alicia.

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Now this was seriously beautiful. Loosely based upon Marie Antoinette’s
Petit Trianon at Chateau Versailles, it was truly stunning. It was a cloudy
rainy day but you will get the idea of how beautiful these gardens were.

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The Mansion and Gardens is the grandest residence to be built in
Delaware and it’s 222 landscaped acres, is considered to be the largest
formal gardens in North America.

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This is just a sample of what the interior looked like. It was stunning.
I particularly loved the beautiful conservatory.

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Media sources have described the Mansion as “French glory as it was”.
As a visitor you feel like you have stepped into Europe. Like a trip to France without crossing the Atlantic.

These are some of the comments heard from myself and others:
“Wow”, “A wonderful place”, “Outstanding”, “Must come back”,
“France for a day”.

I only wish it would have been a better day, my pictures do not do the
gardens justice. It was so much nicer in person, even with the rain.
I have been to France many times, including Versailles, and this was truly
a magical and lovely place, and so much cheaper.

“it being my particular desire that this memorial… shall
Become consistently more beautiful and attractive to those who view
it as time passes.”

Alfred I. duPont

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Mackinaw City

If you live in Michigan then you certainly have visited Mackinaw City
a time or two. It is said by AAA it is the most visited city in Michigan.
The census in 2010 states approximately 806 residents reside in this
city, except in the summer, when the population surges with workers
from all over who labor in hotels, shops, restaurants, and other
seasonal facilities.

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Mackinaw City is the gateway to Northern Michigan and Mackinaw
Island by Ferries leaving from the city.
It is at the northern point of Michigan’s Lower And Upper Peninsula,
along the southern shore of the Straits of Mackinaw.
This 8,614 ft. Bridge connects the lower part of Michigan to the upper
part, or as we call it, the Upper Peninsula. In looking at the bridge,
Lake Michigan is on one side and Lake Huron on the other side

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I loved sitting on a bench in this park and looking at the bridge, with
Mackinaw Island in the far distance.

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This Statue stands near the bridge entrance in honor of the five laborers
who lost their life in the building of the bridge. They would come from
all over the United States, including Canada, to work on the building of
this mighty Mac that some thought was totally impossible.

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Mackinaw City is lined with hotel after hotel. My choice would be the
Brigadoon Bed and Breakfast of Mackinaw City, which I just wrote about.
There are many fine hotels and motels that line the streets of this city
that are very nice. From what I have seen, the choices are plentiful and
pretty reasonable.

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Lots of great stores to lure us tourists in. Probably any kind of store you
can think of is here. There were a couple of very nice ladies fashion
shops, which I must say, I did indulge.

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Mackinaw City and Island are filled with fudge stores. Mmmm very good.

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Look who came into Joanne’s Fudge store, The Village People. Not
really them, but these guys were a hoot. Just walking around town
entertaining us tourists.

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This would be them the next day doing a form of yoga to music in
an area where they could entertain us again.

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They would now be dancing with the crowds in a line dance. To the left
to the left, to the right, to the right.

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Lots of great restaurants in the city, we would choose to eat at The
Historic Depot restaurant, which was very good. I had a great Whitefish
seasoned and done to perfection.

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Let’s not forget that Michigan has some great Wineries throughout the
state. We would go to the Garden Bay Winery right in Mackinaw City,
actually right across the street from where we were staying. We tasted
about 6 different wines. I would end up buying a bottle of Old Mack
Currant, a Michigan grape wine with red currant concentrated added.

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Mackinaw City is a great getaway, whether it’s for a few days or a stepping
stone to Mackinaw Island or the Upper Peninsula. It has great and
clean accommodations and is family orientated. I will always try to
get here once a year, if possible. Northern Michigan is beautiful and
and a trip through this part of the state, is always a good idea.

My Two Night Stay At The Brigadoon Bed and Breakfast of Mackinaw City,Mi

Two years ago I was passing through Mackinaw City, Michigan, and
spotted this lovely, bright yellow, Bed and Breakfast and knew I had to stop
and see what this was all about. I do that quite often as I travel, if I see
an interesting hotel, I will go in and often ask to see a room, for future
reference. In this case, it would be The Brigadoon Bed and Breakfast
of Mackinaw City. I walked in and immediately fell in love with this lovely
elegant place. The lady behind the desk offered to show us a couple of
rooms, one being a private suite not seen on their website.

After touring through the lovely eight room Bed and Breakfast, I knew I would have to come back and stay here one day soon. Well two years
later, I just returned from a two night stay and am totally smitten with
this wonderful place.

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Now, if you were driving by this building, wouldn’t you want to see what
was inside, or maybe it’s just me. I love yellow painted buildings, so
this intrigued my curiosity.

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The upper bowed turret would be our dining room in our suite, which looks
out over part of the city.

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As you walk through the door, the first thing you see is the reception
desk, attended at all times with always a smile to greet you. The staff
was always so accommodating and pleasant.

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Turning right from the reception desk, would be this lovely elegant room
with a seating area and fireplace for common use

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A dining table and chairs to accommodate an overflow from the dining
room.

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An elegant but small dining room, where a wonderful hot breakfast is
served, included with your room. At 3:00 everyday, homemade cookies,
tea, coffee, and lemonade is served here.

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Every night at 8:00, a homemade dessert is served. Tonight would be a
strawberry shortcake with ice cream and whipped cream, topped
with a cherry. One night it was homemade lemon cheesecake topped
with whip cream. Amazing.

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Another view from the common sitting area. Want to see our suite,
follow me.

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The living room and bedroom combined in our suite.

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The couch opens up into a bed.

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Our dining room set in the bowed turret overlooking part of the city.

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The fully stocked kitchen, although we did not cook.

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This suite was lovely. The bathroom had a great tub area and shower.
Also attached was another bedroom you could use along with the suite
we stayed in. We did not reserve this extra room,but I do know from seeing
it two years ago, it is also lovely. A large family would certainly appreciate
the extra space.

The Brigadoon offers “old world charms” that everyone would enjoy.
It is spotlessly clean, the staff is great, the three featured meals and
snacks offered are prepared by two ladies from Jamaica who are experts
at their cooking and serving, and adds to the charms of this delightful
place. Breakfast, homemade cookies at 3:00, and dessert at 8:00 is just
an added bonus.

The prices start at $95.00 to $265.00 for the rooms with breakfast and
desserts included. If you are ever in Mackinaw City treat yourself to
a stay at the Brigadoon Bed and Breakfast, I know it will be a yearly
tradition for me.

Winterthur Museum and Gardens

A couple of weeks ago I went on another road trip, this time to Delaware.
I had an agenda for this trip. I had tickets to a Downton Abbey Costume
Exhibit, I would tour through two mansions and gardens, and see the
beaches of Delaware. All would be accomplished.

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Winterthur Museum and Gardens is situated on 979 acres near Brandywine
Valley, with 60 acres of naturalistic gardens in the state of Delaware.
Owned by Henry Francis du Pont from 1800 to 1969, the generations
of du Ponts would continually add wings of rooms to the home, making
it the elegant and beautiful museum it is today. With 175 period rooms
and over 85,000 pieces of antiques and objects, it is surely a museum
or mansion worth seeing.

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Winterthur is the only host to the costume exhibit of Downton Abbey in
the United States till January 4, 2015. It is famous for its exhibits and
usually always has an important exhibit running through several months.
After seeing the costume exhibit (which I already wrote on) we jumped
on a tram through the vast acres of trees and garden areas surrounding
the museum.

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This was one of my favorite rooms, the Chinese Parlor. It was stunning.
The wallpaper was hand painted in China in the late 1700s. When it
arrived, it was a few inches to tall for the walls. Instead of trimming it,
Henry du Pont had the walls curved to fit the wallpaper. I guess he adjusted the walls to fit the wallpaper.

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The Marlboro Room where the du Ponts would have afternoon tea with
its beautiful woodwork and family portraits. Another beautiful room.

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The dining room is set with bouquets of flowers and color-coordinated
linens to match the seasons, with a portrait of George Washington watching
over the family meals.

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This is a beautiful sideboard in the dining room with two urn-shaped
knife boxes and six silver tankards made in 1772 by Paul Revere.
Notice the unfinished painting above the sideboard by Benjamin West,
American Commissioners of the Preliminary Peace Negotiations, not sure
why it was never finished.

In traveling through Delaware it becomes very obvious that the du Ponts
of Delaware dominated this state, making it what it is today. The DuPont
Company was founded and this family became a dynasty that would not
only influence Delaware, but all of the United States. From factories,
libraries, art collectors, gardens, and many more accomplishments, we
can all enjoy the rewards.

Delaware is a beautiful state. From the sophistication of the northern
part to the beautiful beaches in the southern part of this state, makes it
truly an enjoyable and pleasant visit.