.: windmills and tulips for days :.

“I love tulips better than any other spring flower; they are the embodiment of alert cheerfulness and tidy grace, and next to a hyacinth look like a wholesome, freshly tubbed young girl beside a stout lady whose every movement weighs down the air with patchouli. Their faint, delicate smell is refinement itself; and is there anything in the world more charming than the sprightly way they hold up their little faces to the sun? I have heard them called bold and flaunting, but to me they seem modest grace itself, only always on the alert to enjoy life as much as they can and not be afraid of looking the sun or anything else above them in the face.” – Elizabeth von Arnim, Elizabeth and Her German Garden. 

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If I could have known how much I would have enjoyed Holland, I would have stayed an extra night or so. I mean, I made it up in the coming years, and Holland remains a favorite weekend getaway, but the next morning I had to be off for the next bit of my trip. I kept my first trip rather short – I basically only went as far west as Grand Rapids, and as far north as Muskegon, so all in all I was only about 4 hours away from home at any given time, or less. I like to jump headfirst into things, but occasionally I can be reminded to be prudent. This was one of those times. That time I lost all cell service in the mountains on almost no fuel while the sun was setting in the late fall – not one of those times. Meh.

I made the bed and gathered what few things had made it out of my carry-on bag the day before. Washed and dressed in one of the array of sun dresses I’d packed, I headed out into the kitchen to see that Bob had left three peaches and a note on the table for me, wishing me well on my trip. I picked them up and smelled them. My dad and grandfather, when he was alive, were both super into fruits, so we always had a ton in the house and ate them after lunch and dinner every day. As a result, I learned from both of them how to poke and prod and squeeze a fruit, testing for ripeness. I’m excellent at picking out the best ones at the supermarket.

As I was considering the peaches, which according to the note had been grown in nearby South Haven, Bob came in through the front door. He smiled when he saw me and offered me a cup of coffee. Despite the nagging feeling of FOMO, telling me I needed to get on the road and keep exploring, I felt like staying.

Bob made us coffee and led me out onto the back patio. Buster nosed about in the clover, and we sipped our coffee and watched him. I must have sat there for about two hours, just talking to Bob. He told me about the history of this part of Michigan, the environmental issues affecting Lake Michigan, his various life experiences, and he asked me about mine. It was a very, very pleasant morning, and we parted warmly, the three peaches tucked away in a brown paper bag under my front seat, out of the hot sun.

I needed gas and stopped at a place just off the main road. A woman got out to access the pump next to mine, and something made me turn to her and ask if there was something else in Holland I needed to do. I had a carefully planned itinerary, of course, and I was already late getting to the next brewery, but I loved Holland so much that perhaps I just wanted to prolong my stay.

“Oh, that’s easy – Dutch Village,” she smiled. “It’s totally campy and kitschy, but if you’ve never been here before, you need to go.”

Sold.

I headed over to the Dutch-themed theme park, and as someone who has always dreamt of going to Europe, including Holland, but has not had that opportunity yet, it did not disappoint.

I had a great time walking around the picturesque town, watching cheese- and shoe-making demonstrations, and a bunch of high school kids in costumes doing a clog dance. It was a fun excursion, and I spent exactly the amount of time I needed to there, leaving without feeling like I’d been rushed or missed out on anything.

I picked up my itinerary again and booked it over to Tripel Root in Zeeland. Apparently, Zeeland used to be a dry town until fairly recently (2006), and Tripel Root was their first brewery. It was an absolutely adorable town, picturesque (see a theme?) and friendly. I headed into the brewery at lunch time, and ended up sitting next to two friends named Nick and Nora, like in the old-timey detective film starring Myrna Loy.

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I perused the beer list while I talked to them, and was disappointed to see that Tripel Root had very few of its own beers on tap. I ordered the ones I could, and resumed my conversation with Nick and Nora. They had been lifelong friends that were super into beer while their spouses weren’t, so the two of them would do occasional beer trips around the area, seeing as how Michigan is such a great state for beer. (Thank Lake Michigan for that!) They had been to 187 breweries together that way. At the time I thought that was a lot; by now, I’m pretty sure I’ve blown that number out of the water. Which I don’t know if I’m proud about or a little embarassed about. Ah, well.

I had just come from Millgrove, so I made sure to recommend that to them. Predictably, they’d never heard of it – it was in a tiny little town, after all, that didn’t get much through-traffic. I told them they needed to go, and to tell the brewer/owner that I sent them. We chatted pleasantly while I drank my small pours – the eighteen99 hef, the training session IPA, and the erdbier, a strawberry weisse from Rockford Brewing – and they headed out.

I ordered a pizza for a lunch and texted Chris – yes, we’d exchanged numbers; don’t hate my game! – that I was doing my best to get the word out about his great brewery on my trip. We chatted a bit while I ate, and I loved the look of Tripel Root’s stainless steel growler so much that I picked one up before I left.

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All in all, Tripel Root was a pleasant little stop, but it wasn’t super memorable. I haven’t been back since and don’t consider it a huge loss. I’m sure it’s super fun on warm summer nights in town, if the brewery even exists anymore, but it wasn’t a stand out to me at all.

I drove over to Osgood, the next stop on my itinerary. Unlike Tripel Root, Osgood had no shortage of their own beers on tap, and it took me a minute to settle on a flight.

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It was such a light, airy space that I snapped a quick panoramic shot.

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I had the 358 pale ale, which was hop forward and nice, and ordered chips and mango pico de gallo (fantastic) to help me make my way through the rest of it. The Yippee Ki Yay was a nice little blonde with a slightly bitter finish, and the Charlie Work IPA was super sessionable. The Journey IPA, on the other hand, was super bitter (at least, to me at the time) and resinous, and I finished off with the Razzle Dazzle cider, which was super sweet.

I befriended two women sitting near me, the only other patrons in the joint, and between us and the young female bartender, we had us an uproariously good time. The older woman was hilarious, and we cracked jokes one after another. It was a very pleasant interlude to the slightly gray day as stormclouds moved through the area.

My next stop was Pike 51, which I drove past about three times before I saw it. It’s joined to  a winery, and was as dark and cool as Osgood was bright and airy.

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I ordered a flight and used the super informative menu to work my way through.

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The Pants Cream Ale was pretty good, as was the Day Walker IPA, which smelled of ginger and lemon. The Brett Pale was a great Belgian pale ale, and I thought the Jolly Stave was fantastic.

Is it even interesting for me to mention the beers I had? This blog is still pretty young so I’m feeling it out. I have no idea if it’s interesting or not, but I’m not super passionate about it, so maybe that’s my answer.

Anyway, a ton of guys entered the brewery right after me, which I wasn’t complaining about. There were two super cute young guys taking their dad out for beers, and I got to know them pretty well. We traded Untapped info, which is frankly the only way I have friends on that app because none of my real-life friends use it. The bartender was a hot guy named Steve who kept pouring me samples of whatever I happened to mention, which is always fun, and happens QUITE A BIT if you’re a young woman alone at a brewery.

I finally left because I was freezing and couldn’t stand it anymore, and drove literally like two blocks away to White Flame. It was packed, but I wasn’t feeling particularly gregarious, so I sat and read a book I’d been meaning to read while I worked my way through a flight and a bowl of pretzel sticks.

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I had the Golden Boy golden ale, the Eagle Eye Rye pale ale, Red Shoes which was aged with fresh habaneros, the Double Tap session IPA and the Passed Out Willy DIPA.

And then it was time to begin my drive to Grand Rapids, one of the best beer cities in the entire state.

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