The Girl in Kalamazoo

Sunday, September 7, 2008 -- Kalamazoo, MI

Glenn Miller wrote a song years ago about his girl in Kalamazoo. Well, our girl in K-zoo is Dar's sister who has graciously opened a corner of her basement and is allowing us to store a considerable pile of memorabilia and other stuff that Dar can't part with. That same K-zoo girl acted as our tour guide through parts of Europe a few years ago, finding little out-of-the-way boutique hotels and hidden sights that only the locals knew about.  She has a nose for finding the unusual, the interesting, and any winery within driving distance. Last year when we visited the area she searched for an RV park for us, drove out to review them, interviewed the owners, and rated them on a 4-star scale. She directed us to a very nice park, the only negative being the 25 mile distance north of Kalamazoo.  But with all that talent, our K-zoo girl was totally blind-sided this year when Dar Google'd up one of the nicest RV parks we've seen -- and it's only two miles from her home. Markin Glen County Park is a gem... clean, full modern hookups, and smack in the middle of a large park with thick woods, hiking trails, a swimming beach, and more... and all of it is almost within sight from our K-zoo girl's living room window and she never knew it existed. We're having some fun with this.

Friday, we did have that breakfast at the Bob Evans across the parking lot at WalMart in Garlord before hitting the road for Kalamazoo. Dar shared driving responsibilities with me as we ran through a series of light showers interspersed with glimpses of blue sky. As we moved South, the weather improved. After getting a site selected at Markin Glen, we invited Dar's sister and brother-in-law, Cher and Jack, over for drinks and dinner. No white-tablecloth affair, it was cheap wine and a bucket of KFC chicken that Cher bought. Did you ever notice how those cheap impromptu events are often the best?

Saturday, all four of us loaded into the car and headed to Grand Rapids. The objective was the Gerald R. Ford Museum along the river in downtown GR. The day was sunny and bright, conditions perfect for highlighting the positively gorgeous downtown area. As you drive down most any street in the central core the number of really good looking old buildings is impressive. There are still pockets of neglect and decay, but the buildings themselves are a wonderful testament to an affluent past. In stark contrast the few modern glass-walled towers almost seem ashamed of themselves.

The Ford Museum was enjoyable and another example of how well-done displays and period-oriented theme rooms magically transport the viewer to those historic days. Ford was only president for about 2-1/2 years, but there was a lot going on during that time. As the only President for whom not a vote was cast, he acted to heal the national wounds of the Watergate scandal and provided leadership in rebuilding a shattered economy. He's buried on the grounds of the museum.

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