Category Archives: Travel

Muirfield Village Golf Club

I had the opportunity to play Muirfield Village Golf Club last Thursday with my father-in-law, Dan, a friend of ours, Mark, and a friend of Mark’s, Bob, who is a member at Muirfield and was a gracious host. Dan flew us down at 7am, which took about two hours. We were shuttled to the course by a young employee of Muirfield named Andrew. Upon arrival, we were ushered in to the locker room and given guest lockers. The attendants checked our shoes to confirm that we had conforming spikes. I had my new True Linkswear University of Michigan themed shoes, so there was no spike changing.


(L to R: Ryan, Me, Dan, Mark, Bob, Preston)

In high school, the TC Central Golf Team flew down to Dublin, Ohio to play a match against Columbus Academy at Muirfield in October. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate and we were rained out. On this visit, I did recall the Proshop and the first hole, but not much more.

The weather was beautiful – sunny and low 80s. We arrived in time to hit a few balls on the range and roll a few putts. The greens were smooth, but not overly fast. The area had received quite a bit of rain recently, and the course was playing soft and long.

As I understand it, Muirfield is Jack Nicklaus’ “Augusta of the North.” It was very lush, green, and very well manicured.

We met Bob on the putting green minutes before our tee-time. Our caddies, Ryan and Preston, joined us at this time. Ryan carried Dan and my bags. Preston carried Bob’s bag and Mark used a cart. It was nice to walk the course and be relieved of having to carry the bag, but having a caddy took some getting used to for me. I found him useful for getting the general lines off the tees, but did not care to discuss how to strategize from thereon in. After about six holes, and some poor advice, I settled in.

I made three birdies – the first hole with a sandwedge to five feet; the tenth hole with a nine iron to five feet; and the 15 hole with a three-wood to 25 feet for a two-putt birdie.

Irving Meyer’s (OSU football coach) is on the left side of the seventh hole. Had I know this, I may have brought my U of M flag and taken a picture in front of it. Perhaps, this wouldn’t have been the most appropriate thing to do as a guest, but would have made for a fun picture!

At the turn, we stopped at the half-way house for some snacks and refreshments. Without thinking, I ordered an “Arnold Palmer.” Turns out that’s not what you call it when you’re on grounds designed by Mr. Nicklaus. I was informed that it’s a “half-and-half” or “Jack Nicklaus.” Woops!

There is a stream that comes into play an most, if not all, of the holes. There are also an abundance of ponds fronting or sidelining many of the greens. I kept my ball dry, but these could be more relevant had I played the course from the Memorial Tournament tees. As it was, from the blue tees, I didn’t hit more than a nine iron into any par four.

The finishing stretch is noticeably more challenging – a tight par five, a medium length par three, and two solid par four finishing holes. My driving was splitting the fairway, which helped tremendously. Less accurate tee shots would have made the holes much more difficult.


(Me hitting wedge to the 18th green.)

When we finished up, I had shot a 75 and was ready to try one of the famous milkshakes I had heard mentioned during the Memorial Tournament television broadcast. There were numerous flavors available, but, in the spirit of being in Columbus, Ohio, I ordered the buckeye flavor – basically chocolate and peanut butter. It was an excellent finish to an enjoyable day on the course.

Florida Vacation Journal

Day 1 – Saturday

Flight down; stop in Athens, GA; Land in Kissimee. Drive Town and Country up to Marriott Harbor Lakes.

Trip to Whole Foods and Golf Galaxy.

Day 2 – Sunday

Sleep in; drive to World Golf Village. There is the hall of fame (see pictures). Ate at Caddy Shack, Bill Murry’s restaurant.

Ate in St. Augustine in return; fed the birds and fish out the window.

Day 3 – Monday

Golf at Grand Pines in the morning. Great resort course, tight but long enough.

Pool time and then trip to Krispy Kreme and Edwin Watts.

Met Vozza family at Universal City Walk. Went to Bice (Beech-Eh) for dinner. Then played both of the new putt putt courses.

Day 4 – Tuesday

Meeting with Karen Johnson about Marriott stuff in the morning. ALL MORNING!

Tested a Mini Cooper; pool time; pirate show.

Day 5 – Wednesday

Lazy morning before lunch with Vozza’s and golf at Idleworth. Cirque du Soliel at 6pm. Dinner at Tommy Bahamas. Dan got Johnny Rockets and then left his bag there.

Day 6 – Thursday

Visit Crlebration, FL. Epcot. Things consumed: nachos, churros, fries, strawberry ice, asahi beer, Moracan mint tea, mousse, and lemonade.

Rode Test Track, Soarin, and a boat through green houses.

Dinner at Les Chefs de France. Illuminations light show to end the day.

Day 7 – Friday

Awake and packed bu 8:30 am. Take off at 9:30 am. Stops in Athens and Lexington before arriving in TC.

Our Year in Cities 2011

During 2011, Lindsey and I spent at least one night in each of the cities listed below. We hope to travel more in the future, but had the wedding and house purchase to contend with this year – worthwhile events for which to stay put, if you ask me. This was the most amazing year of my life, and will be tough to top going forward. Instead, my focus will be on loving every day I get to spend with Lindsey, enjoying time with both of our families (our united family), and anticipating the big events in others’ lives – marriages, babies, retirements, birthdays, etc. I am happy and can’t help but smile while I write this. I will speak for both of us when I wish everyone the Merriest of Christmases and a Happy and Prosperous New Year!

  • Traverse City, MI – (Hometown)
  • Ishpeming, MI – (Grandma Rogers’)
  • Marbella, Spain – (Honeymoon – destination)
  • London, England – (Honeymoon – return trip*)
  • Chicago, IL – (NFDA Conference)
  • Troy, MI – (Christmas shopping and Trans-Siberian Orchestra)

*The night in London was spent sleeping – or trying to sleep – in the baggage claim area of Heathrow Airport. Lindsey slept a little and I did not sleep at all. I paid for it.

Recollection of Driving Alone

I park my 1996 white Ford Explorer outside each night. The snow piles on. The plow plows it in. The moisture inside from the tracking in of snow on my boots is frozen deep into the synthetic gray carpet fibers and won’t escape until late spring. There is ice on the windshield from the warm defroster air blowing on it during my five minute drive home from work the night before.

My car is exceptionally clean on the inside. Especially for such an old car. There are only a few things inside it: an ice scraper, a pair of snowshoes, and a frisbee leftover from summertime fun.

It’s not the detail of my car that I’m reminded of this morning, but the trips I have taken in it. Specifically, not any one trip in particular, but any of the long cross-half-country trips that began before sunrise on the cold like today.

There was a routine to it all. I’d unlock the driver’s door and pull it open slowly so that the snow along the top edge wouldn’t fall and blow all over the driver’s seat. Then I would set my full travel mug of hot coffee down in the cup holder before starting the car. Once it was cleared of snow, I’d jump in (careful, always, to know my shoes together to rid them of snow).

Like we’re taught in elementary school that stories have a beginning, middle and end, the drives that began before sunrise and lasted through the day had the same progression. The beginning and end were enjoyable – the middle I just had to get through.

Early on in the drive, my leather seats were cold and warming up. I was settling into the seat and the heat in the car was still cold. My coffee kept me warm, but the empty bottom of the mug always showed itself before my first stop for gas. Early morning radio – usually Mike & Mike or another news variety show – was better than the repeat information I would hear the rest of the day. I rarely listened to music.

Eventually, there was a point – maybe an hour into the ride – when I would feel settled. I would enter the zone and just keep the car rolling. This was maintained, despite stops along the way.

Getting out to get gas, snacks, more coffee – that was a challenge. Usually the weather was cold and blowing. There were times when the gas would blow on my pants and I’d have to change to escape the smell.

My Year in Cities 2010

In 2010, I slept at least one night in each of the following cities. The asterisks denote multiple-visit cities.

After drafting the following list of cities, I now realize how close-reaching my 2010 travel has been. This indicates a big shift in my life from looking far away for what I want, to being happy with that with which I’ve chosen to surround myself. I have nature. I have family. I have love. I have work and play. I have entertainment and downtime. And all of these things are in my backyard (so to speak). They are closer than they’ve ever been in my life, and I intend to cherish that by spreading my roots far and wide and making a mark on the local community. Of course I hope to travel far and wide for many years to come, but now, more than ever, I’ll do it knowing where my true home is.

  • Traverse City, MI* (Hometown)
  • East Lansing, MI (MI bar exam)
  • Ishpeming, MI* (Grandma’s house)
  • Wilderness State Park, MI (Camping)
  • Charlevoix, MI (Wedding)
  • Holland, MI (Wedding)
  • Ann Arbor, MI (UM v. BGSU)
  • Chicago, IL (Wedding dress hunt)
  • Grand Rapids, MI (Law seminar)
  • Olympia, Washington (Wedding)

Me encanta mi vestido! (I love my dress!)

Hola!

Our trip to Chicago was a huge success! My mom and I found exactly what I was dreaming of at Macy’s. It was such a great experience! By shear luck, the designer of the dress was at Macy’s on Saturday having his first ever trunk show. I had never heard of him before, but I am sure glad he was there! The first dress I tried on was fantastic, a solid 9.5 out of 10, but dress numero dos…..WOWZA! I love it! I hope everyone else loves it as much as I do. The designer is originally from Cuba, but lives in Texas and LA and works in New York. He has designed for demitrios in the past, but this was his first collection, and let me just say, all of his designs were awesome. Each was completely different and stunning at the same time. I don’t want to ruin the surprise, but I will say that it is white, strapless, and has a sweetheart neckline. I can not wait to go back to Chicago in a few months for a fitting!

For anyone who is in the market for a wedding gown, I would definitely recommend at least checking out Macy’s! I would also recommend going to Lou Mitchell’s for breakfast and Adobo in Old Town. The food was fantastic and they made guacamole at your table – very fun place!

Chicago is great, but I am glad to be back home! Next up….finding bridesmaid dresses!

Chicago Bound!

Chris, Dan/Dad, Peg/Mom, and I will be headed to Chicago this weekend! I am hoping to find “the dress”, so send me some good vibes…..It occured to me yesterday, not only do I get to find a dress, I also get new shoes! I am not sure which I am more excited about, but I can not wait! I will report some time next week, hopefully with good news!

My Year In Cities 2009

In 2009, I slept at least one night in each of the following cities. The asterisks denote multiple-visit cities.

Note that Concord, NH was home during my three years of law school. Time passes quickly, as the eight months since I was last in New Hampshire are a blurred memory of moving, bar examining and life sorting.

Chicago, IL was home for a brief period during which I thought I wanted to live and start my career there. It is a wonderful city where I have a few good friends, but, upon closer inspection, it didn’t hold a candle to where I’ve chosen to settle down…

I can now call Traverse City, MI home again. For awhile, it was relegated to “hometown” status, but it has been hoisted from shallow depths of my high school memories and, I must say, has reemerged in technicolor with added features.

  • Concord, NH*
  • Traverse City, MI*
  • Ann Arbor, MI
  • Chicago, IL*
  • Austin, TX
  • San Antonio, TX
  • Ishpeming, MI
  • Minneapolis, MN
  • Grimsby, ON, Canada

Texas Trip Photographs

I took nearly 700 pictures on my trip to Texas. I’ve pared them down to 316, named, tagged, and grouped them, and posted them on Flickr for your viewing enjoyment.

Link to pictures.

My favorite five of the 316 are:

1) Woman on bike

2) A church in Austin

3) Sister playing cards

4) Rumbo

5) Sunset from Congress Bridge

When I get some sleep, I’ll write more about the trip. I will say that it was fun, allowed me to relax some, and towards the end I started to feel like writing creatively more than I have in a while.

I’m Traveling by Train to Austin, TX

Because summer hasn’t been hot enough in the Midwest, I’m taking a train trip from Chicago, Illinois to Austin, TX with my sister. The idea for the trip originated with my sister wanting to “get out of Lansing,” a location that, I believe, she has a love-hate relationship with. I’m going because taking trips is fun and it’s been a long time since I’ve been on a long train ride.

Initially, we planned to travel out west, but we sat on the idea so long that the ticket prices outgrew our pocketbooks. Thus, Austin, TX in August. I’m anxious to see the sights, eat the Tex-Mex and BBQ, and feel the heat. We’ll be traveling for about eight days start to finish before I’m back in the Midwest.

I won’t have my computer, but I’ll be posting here from my iPhone. Also be sure to check my flickr (right, as well) for iPhone photo uploads. I’ll have my DSLR with me, but won’t be able to upload until I get home.

My goals for the trip are to enjoy the heat, finish a book or two, and do some good writing. It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to write without feeling guilty that I should be doing something else (e.g., studying for the bar, searching for jobs, etc.). That stuff will have to wait until I’m back.

Without further ado, I’ll sign off and leave you with the following video of physicist Richard Feynman explaining how a train stays on the tracks. Link

The Smithsonian Life List

The Smithsonian Lift List is below. I’ve been to the Great Wall, The Louvre, and the Grand Canyon. The Grand Canyon is easily the most impressive natural sight I’ve ever seen. The Great Wall was impressive, but it was extremely foggy on the day I visited it. I visited The Louvre in 7th grade and 9th grade. I would have a better appreciation now.

Here is the list:

Portals into the Past
Walk the timeless streets and byways of ancient cities on three continents

– Mesa Verde
– Pompeii
– Tikal
– Petra

Feats of Engineering
The world’s surviving architectural wonders hewed from stone and mortar beckon as ever

– Pyramids of Giza
– Taj Mahal
– Easter Island
– The Great Wall

A Matter of Timing
Choosing the right year, month or even moment can make all the difference

– Aurora Borealis
– Serengeti
– Iguazu Falls
– Machu Picchu

Triumphs of Vision
Come face to face with history’s finest works of art and design

– The Louvre
– Zen Garden of Kyoto
– Uffizi Gallery
– Fallingwater

Scale New Heights
Don’t just see nature’s most spectacular sites—experience them

– Yangtze River
– Antarctica
– Mount Kilimanjaro
– Grand Canyon

In the Presence of Gods
Encounter temples so magnificent then could only have been built by divine inspiration

– Pagan
– Parthenon
– Angkor Wat
– Ephesus

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow?
Visit these deteriorating or threatened destinations before they disappear

– Venice
– Amazon Rain Forest
– Great Barrier Reef
– Galápagos Islands

My Year In Cities: 2007

Here is a list of the cities in which I spent one or more nights in 2007. I visited the cities marked with asterisks more than once on non-consecutive occasions.

United States

* Chicago, IL*
* Edmond, OK
* Herndon, VA
* Hilton Head Island, SC
* Ishpeming, MI*
* Lansing, MI
* Newark, NJ
* New York, NY
* Niagara Falls, NY
* Park City, UT
* Portland, ME
* Raleigh, SC
* Richmond, VA
* Traverse City, MI*

International

* Beijing, China*
* Shanghai, China
* Toronto, Ontario
* Xi’an, China

Top 5 Toughest Courses in 2007

The toughest courses on the PGA Tour in 2007:

1. Oakmont Country Club (The U.S. Open)
* Avg strokes over par = 5.705
2. Augusta National Golf Club (The Masters)
* Avg strokes over par = 3.881
3. Southern Hills (The PGA Championship)
* Avg strokes over par = 3.016
4. Firestone South C.C. (WGC – Bridgestone)
* Avg strokes over par = 2.787
5. Carnoustie Golf Links (Open Championship)
* Avg strokes over par = 2.381

Looking at the top five courses with regard to the winning score, it is even more apparent that the U.S. Open and the Masters were the toughest tests of golf. Angel Cabrera’s winning score of +5 at the U.S. Open is just under the average strokes over par. Zach Johnson’s winning score of +1 at the Masters bested the average strokes over par by 2.881 shots.

The bottom three courses were less difficult for their tournament’s winners. Tiger Woods won the the PGA and the WGC with totals of -8 and Padraig Harrington shot -7 at the Open.

It seems clear that the U.S. Open and the Masters did a better job of keeping the entire field together, although there was a playoff at the British Open.

Hello, Shanghai!

Shanghai, despite being hotter and more humid than Beijing, is far better. The air is relatively clean, I can see blue sky during the day, and the city is far more modern. During the day there is less congestion – both pedestrian and automobile. At night every street is like walking down the Strip in Vegas. Neon lights flicker on-and-off calling my attention in all directions.

It’s busy, yet I don’t feel rushed or scared the way I did in Beijing. It’s simply stimulating.

We made the mistake of starting our first day with a long walk to the metro, which left us momentarily cranky while we cursed the heat and wished to be back in the air conditioned hotel room watching HBO, CNN or ESPN. Yes, you heard me right. There are actual American TV stations here in Shanghai. A few of them at least, and we’ve been taking advantage of them.

We took the metro to the train station to buy our tickets back to Beijing. Flying to Shanghai wasn’t much less hassle than taking the train is. Our flight was delayed, the airport was busier than any I’ve ever traveled in, and the heat was unbearable when standing in line for the taxi in Shanghai. Thankfully, finding the hotel was easy. As was checking in and finding a good noodle place called “78 Noodles,” which we’ve eaten at twice now. (The BBQ pork noodle bowl is tasty.)

From the train station we headed over to Pudong, the modern part of Shanghai east of the Bund. We took a trip up the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, visited the Aquarium, and took a pointless trip up the Jin Bei Building. Both the Pearl Tower and the Jin Bei offer the same view from Pudong back over Shanghai. Beautiful in both instances, but too much overlap.

We saw Nanjing Lu, which was once the busiest street in Shanghai. They’ve since closed the street to cars and pedestrians are free to roam. We went down to the west side of the Bund, which is lined with buildings built in the 1930s and 40s. On top of the Peace Hotel South we had hugely overpriced drinks, but were able to take some nice pictures of Pudong at night.

The only downside to the day was that I lost about 1500 RMB. My backpack was open and someone either reached in and stole it or it fell out for the taking. I think I “Shanghai-ed” myself.