Vamos Ramos

Sue & Joe Travel the World

Tulip Time in Holland, Michigan

Traveling to Amsterdam isn’t on our calendar this year but we couldn’t resist driving to Holland, Michigan for tulip time. We talked about going for years and decided the time was right this April. Our tulips were out and the weather was sunny and dry for a few days and we hoped the same was true on the west side of the state.

Holland has a Tulip Time Festival for a week each spring.  This year it is May 6-14 so it is going on right now.  You can get information about all the activities at  We decided to go before the festival for a more low key trip. I’m glad we did because the tulips seemed to be at their peak.

Our hotel was an easy 5-10 minute drive to the downtown area but I did see several hotels right downtown that I would check out the next time we go. The downtown has many restaurants, stores, parks, coffee shops, and pubs. We particularly enjoyed our seafood dinner at Curragh Irish Pub. My blackened salmon, mashed potatoes and mixed vegetables were delicious as were the scallops with pasta that Joe enjoyed. It was warm enough to eat outside in their large patio. Open tables were scarce that evening.

Besides the downtown area we visited two other must sees. The first was Veldheer Tulip Gardens/DeKlomp Wooden Shoe & Delft Factory on Quincy Street. You can walk around their fields of tulips and choose the ones you like the best.  You can then place an order for those particular bulbs. They are mailed to you in time to be planted in the fall. I did buy 20 gladioli bulbs to plant this spring.

Oh, did I forget to mention they have buffalo!

When we travel I always ask the locals what to do and see. The sales women who helped us find a book at Reader’s World in downtown Holland asked if we had been to Windmill Island yet. We hadn’t so she suggested we visit the next morning. She volunteers there and  when we arrive the next day we didn’t recognize her. Can you blame us?!

She was able to give our group the tour of the DeZaan Windmill which is America’s only authentic, working Dutch windmill. You can watch a short video at the welcome center which explains the history of how the windmill was brought from Vinkel, Holland.  We got some more history and learned how a windmill actually operates on the tour. It is truly fascinating. We met the woman expert  who operates the windmill and grinds the wheat and bran flour.

 We also got to walk on the outside ledge by the blades. It was an extremely windy day which certainly was appropriate for windmill touring! At the end of the tour I was able to buy whole wheat flour and bran flour ground at this windmill. I have made several batches of bran muffins already.

It was a short visit. I know there is more to see and do but when you travel with vamos Ramos it’s a whirlwind tour. Anyway, another check has been added to our bucket list. Makes me want to put tulip time in Amsterdam on our calendar for next year!

Greenfield Village Opening Day 2017

Blue skies, warm temperature, and a slight breeze greeted us on our first visit ever to Greenfield Village on opening day!  

Springtime in Greenfield Village means being on the lookout for baby animals…lambs in particular. We were not disappointed! Our first stop was at the Firestone Farm and shaggy sheep greeted us like old friends. They were probably looking for a snack but we had nothing. They followed us anyway and came right up to the fence where Joe was brave enough to pet this one. Definitely need to wash hands before lunch!

Firestone Farm has a cooking demonstration in the morning so we followed the savory scent of dinner being prepared in the farmhouse the same way it would have been in 1885. 

Still on the hunt for lambs, we crossed the barnyard and of course a chicken caught my eye.  They are all over but I like the spotted kind. The spotted kind with an attitude!

Next up is the maternity center. Under the barn is a cool, quiet, darkened sanctuary for the mothers-to-be, new mothers, and yes, the  precious lambs!  The poor lighting was not conducive to great photos but I wasn’t about to disturb them with a flash so…they aren’t the best shots but if you look hard you can see the babies.

The mother just nudged this one to stand up and its sibling is still laying down.

If you look closely you can see a lamb nursing.

Further down the lineup was this young calf. He also was looking for food and was not thrilled to find out we were empty handed.

Our next stop was lunch. We went to Taste of History for my go-to lunch–the railroad sandwich. My grandfather worked on the railroad so it’s in my blood. We noticed a sign done in the Corn Palace Motif as we waited for our order to be taken. Also, you know a place has good food when the squirrels are trying to break in!

After lunch we walked along the Swanee Pond and then took part in a sing along at the Stephen Foster House. Well, we listened to Stephen Foster play the piano and sing. No one else was singing either but Stephen was terrific.

We walked to our favorite house, the Daggett Farm, and got to see the dinner being prepared. The history of the farm was fascinating as well.

I spotted this as we walked. Drain covers have always fascinated me for some unknown reason. The covered bridge is always fun to walk across. Watch out for bikes and horse drawn carriages.

The beauty of having a season pass to the Henry Ford and Greenfield Village is that we can enjoy it for a whole day or just a couple hours at a time. We decided to go today on a whim rather than a planned-ahead trip. We arrived at 11:00 and were leaving at  1:00 pm. We passed many people just arriving.  I’m looking forward to returning soon. Opening Day was a win!


We are in between trips right now so I am going to recall our last visit to Curaçao in late February and early March of 2016. It was our 5th vacation there and the first one without our daughters. Flying out of Detroit we were delayed first because of mechanical problems and then because we returned from the runway back to the gate to leave a passenger off the plane. Very weird start to a vacation but also maddening because we figured we would not make our connecting flight out of Miami. And we were right.  Quite a few of us sprinted to the gate but found the plane was still there but the gate had already closed so we were rebooked on the later flight. That flight was delayed as well so we arrived in Curaçao late in the evening which meant the car rental offices were closed. We took a taxi to the hotel and were pleased to see that the Marriott was as beautiful as we remembered! Tip: Prepare for the unexpected and enjoy the things that work out.

View walking into Marriott lobby

The room we got was a regular room with ocean view. Nothing special until you walk onto the balcony and see palm trees and ocean. It was clean and comfortable. I recommend you book a package that has breakfast included. We thought we had but….didn’t. There is a pastry shop that has great coffee and light breakfast options.

There are suites available that are ocean front but we have always gotten the ocean view room since I love the palm trees. We like the Marriott because it is ocean front with a beautiful sandy beach. The swimming is wonderful. Some days the waves are huge and other days it is relatively calm. You can snorkel by swimming out to the drop off area or you can snorkel closer to shore by the rocks that help protect the beach area. We brought our own gear but you can buy or rent some from the Dive shop or check out a mask and fins at the pool area. The Dive shop also offers excursions. The beach is full of shells and I always return with a beautiful collection.  There is also a wonderful pool area that has shade, lots of lounge chairs and a swim up bar.  They serve lunch as well in the area you see behind Joe in the photo below.

Pool area

The sunsets are spectacular and we made sure to be on the beach every evening to experience the beauty of nature.

There are several restaurants in the Marriott and there are a few within a short drive. The city of Willemstad is a 15 minute drive. You can do some shopping, eat at numerous restaurants, admire the colorful buildings, and walk over the Queen Emma Bridge which is a floating bridge that actually swings out of the way of the ships that need to pass. And, it lights up at night!

We drove around the island and stopped at several beaches. We saw our first water snake at one of the public beaches. Tip: wear swim shoes and bring coins for the restrooms.

We also visited the studio of Nena Sanchez and bought several of her prints of island life. You can check out her work on Pinterest or pull up her website to see her colorful paintings. Her studio is across from a Flamingo Sanctuary!  Be sure to check it out.

Nena Sanchez Studio

This trip we decided to brave a submarine type excursion for the first time. It was exciting to see the ocean floor with all the coral, sponges and many small colorful fish. I was hoping to see a sea turtle, dolphin, or a shark but did not.

We love Curaçao and have done  many other  interesting things on our previous trips that I will add to a future post.

Marquette, Michigan

I have been thinking about my week  in Marquette and how lucky I was to enjoy such warm, sunny  weather in November. Before leaving the weather changed quickly as is often the case and I’m going to illustrate its effect on Lake Superior. I actually got to see something I have seen in Lima, Peru and California but never on Lake Superior…surfers and windsurfers! What a site to see. 

Before I show you that, I want to give another travel tip that I am embarrassed an experienced traveler would make. Thank goodness I wasn’t out of the country! Anyway, here is my tip. When you are flying out of a smaller airport such as Escanaba, Michigan the security people ask you if there is any food in your carry-on bag. I took the granola bar and package of crackers out of my purse and confidently pushed everything through the X-ray machine. I walked through the scanner with no problem and waited quite a long time for my bag. Well, my suitcase was removed from the belt and  before I knew it a security officer was opening it and warning me not to touch anything in it. Out came my neatly rolled clothes AND my 4 pounds of candy from Donckers Candy store in Marquette. Candy is food! Put it on the belt separately. It didn’t help that I had also stuffed a pair of shoes with the 2 bars of homemade soap and 2 beeswax candles that I have gotten at the Farmers Market on Saturday. What was I thinking! I do credit the security people with doing a thorough job. I  had to repack my bag on another bench because 2 more people behind me were getting their bags searched as well. Wonder if they went to Donckers or the Farmers  Market too! 

Back to the wonders of nature. This was so fun to witness.

Breakwall with calm waters one day and breaking waves the next.

Again calm waters one day and surfing waves the next!

I have mentioned in past posts to talk to fellow travelers. I took my own advice one afternoon as I took my daily lakeshore walk. I noticed this couple snapping tons of photos and asked them if they wanted me to take a photo of the two of them in front of the lake. Of course they said yes and thanked me. It turns out that they were visiting from England. I said how much we enjoyed visiting Stonehenge and Bath several years ago. They admitted  they had never been to either place. I laughed and said we had just returned from our trip out West where we had seen many important American sites for our first time and they had been packed with foreign travelers! 

Happy travels and remember candy is food!

Marquette, Michigan

I was able to visit some of my favorite Marquette gems yesterday. The weather was unbelievable for November 5th! It was in the 60’s and sunny so my sister, her granddaughter and I headed to the Saturday Farmers Market at the Commons Area on Third Street by downtown. It was an abbreviated size because it is November but we found almost everything on our list: carrots, cabbage, lettuce, acorn squash, pumpkin cookies, beeswax candles, and handmade soap. Paige even had a fruit smoothie made in a blender powered by bicycle.

There is a bike repair station along the bike path by the market. It was in use when we drove up.

After lunch we headed to Donckers Candy store for some candy and then took a drive to Presque Isle Park. You can drive around the beautiful lakeside park or you can walk or bike. You may see a deer if you are lucky. We stopped at the Breakwall first. People walk on it if the waves are not breaking. You can see the NMU’s Superior Dome from here and the North Ore Dock. I missed the freighter that was docked but you can see the railroad cars on top!

Shortly after you enter the loop around the park you see this monument to Chief Kawbagam. Someone had placed feathers in front of it to honor him.

You continue along a canopy covered forest area. We pulled off at Black Rocks where brave souls jump into Lake Superior. It is higher than it looks in the photo.  If you have ever seen the Michigan based show, Under the Radar, the host jumped when they came to Marquette. Someone was in the water when I took these photos but I missed him or her.

Further along you see Sunset Point which is aptly named and a calmer water area where Joe and many others like to kayak. There is a pavilion and an ice cream store to top things off”

We also drove into Tourist Park where there is a camping site, ball field, swimming area and picnic areas. The Hiawatha Music Festival takes place here each summer. We rented a section for our family reunion a couple of years ago.

There is a lot to see and do in the Marquette area. This just scratches the surface. 

Marquette, Michigan

Can you really ever go home again? Well, yes and no. Marquette has been changing quite a bit since I moved away many years ago. I saw this first hand on a recent drive around town on a rainy afternoon. Here is a just a taste of Marquette’s evolution.

The Orphanage is being renovated into apartments.

 A new hospital is being built.

The Public Works building is being moved from the new hospital site to this site in North Marquette.

A new hotel is on the old Bunny Bread site.

A new park is on Lake Shore Blvd.

A Bed and Breakfast was built along Lake Shore Blvd.

Condos are being built along Lake Shore Blvd. as was a Hampton Inn and ground has recently been broken for a multi-use facility.

This power plant will be closing.

Condos border Mattson Park.

Northern Michigan University has a new Wildcat logo and many new buildings.

There are numerous other changes… makes my head spin!  Think I will visit some old haunts tomorrow!

Marquette, Michigan

Lonely Planet recently named the U.P. Of Michigan one of their top 10 best-in-value destinations for 2017. Here I am in Marquette this week so I decided to share some of its current attractions and some probably historically inaccurate memories of growing up here. In other words, how I remember it used to be but I have a sketchy memory! 

First though, I have a little travel tip. I flew from Detroit Metro airport into Escanaba rather than Marquette this trip with 10 other passengers.  It cost just under $200 round-trip. Flying into Marquette cost just under $400 round-trip. You can rent a car there if you want to explore the U.P or if you are lucky like me you know people!  My brother makes the hour and a half drive to pick me up and drive me back. Thank you, Jim! We get to visit and the scenery is pretty awesome. 

Marquette is located on the southern shore of Lake Superior.

Today I went for a walk on the paved pathway along Shoreline Drive. This used to be where a railroad ran. As a child, when I took this walk it was on railroad tracks not the paved path that I walked today. Mattson Park was an industrial site, not a beautiful park. We collected iron ore pellets for who knows what reason instead of breathtaking photos. As you will see, today it is a lovely lakeshore park that has views to die for, a playscape for children, areas to sit and reflect, a bike and walking path, an ice cream/snack shop, access for fishing and boating, and room for dogs to run. In the summer there are all kinds of festivals, an art show, and our favorite Fourth of July Fireworks Display. What’s not to love!

What is left of an ore dock that ran over Front Street.

The Marina is empty now because the water will freeze over during the winter months.

I walked for about 2 and a half miles in a loop around Mattson Park and along Lake Superior to the Coast Guard Station. We used to walk on the Breakwall that juts into the lake from here. I’m not sure if people still have access to walking on the Breakwall since the Coast Guard built their current facility, but it is certainly worth a try! More about Marquette is in the works so stay tuned.

Blake’s Cider Mill

Cider Mill in the fall means one place for us–Blake’s!  We have been going to Blake’s Cider Mill at 17985 Armada Center Road, Armada, Michigan for the past 30 years and have a ton of wonderful memories. Riding the little train to the orchard to pick berries and apples was a favorite. Eating grilled corn on the cob by the earful was a favorite. Getting lost in the corn maze was a favorite. Eating freshly made donuts, caramel apples, and drinking cider was a favorite. Ok, you get the picture. We love Blake’s.

 Over the years it has steadily gotten bigger and busier. Last year we went on a Sunday along with hundreds of other folks. It was still fun but the lines were long and the parking at a premium. This year we decided to try to beat the crowds and go on a spectacular Monday morning a couple weeks ago. Although we spotted several school busses in the parking lot as we pulled up, the parts we visited were actually much quieter than we expected. Since we arrived at lunch time we started out with a hot dog, chips, and cider. We ate outdoors at the picnic tables and had a few wasps join us but nothing terrible. Then we walked around the grounds and saw the new shop and restaurant in an adjacent building. We had already eaten so didn’t even check out the menu. Sorry. 

We walked over to the area that all the school children were enjoying. The Halloween decorations were great and the children were having fun in the play area. We saw a couple goats but didn’t venture too far into the kid’s area. 

We returned to the first building to buy the apples, a small pumpkin and the ugly squash we always buy here. Then we got a half gallon of the most delicious cider and a half dozen plain donuts to go.

Blake’s is always a fun outing and the drive there is quite spectacular when the leaves are changing colors. Expect to drop a few bucks because it is hard to pass up the treats. Check out their  website before you go. There are actually a couple of Blake’s locations with different venues so although the one at the address I gave is our favorite you may like the other.

Guardian Building, Detroit, Michigan

The Guardian Building is located in the Financial District of Detroit, Michigan. It has been designated a National Historic Landmark. I read on Facebook that tours were scheduled for today by Pure Detroit. Joe said he had never been in that building but would love to see it so off we went. Traffic into the city was light since it was Saturday morning. We found parking in a structure right across the street. I had read that there was an 11:00 and 12:00 tour but I read it wrong. The tour was from 11:00 until 12:00. We were late for the tour but joined in for half of it.  We probably missed most of the historical significance of the building but you can google that. We were there to see the Art Deco architecture and the Aztec designs throughout the building. We were not disappointed. We also got to see Detroit from the 32nd floor and today the view was picture perfect.

Exterior on a very sunny day. Couldn’t get rid of the shadows!

We joined the tour group just in time to take an elevator to the 32nd floor. This room was beautiful. I think the tour guide said it was a cafeteria at one time.  The views were incredible.

These photos are of the ground floor which was a bank and still is. The ceiling was designed to keep banking conversations private. The blue windows are not original but were added later to temper sun exposure. 

The lobby area was built to impress from ceiling to floor. I wouldn’t mind going back for the full tour of the Guardian building. From here we walked to Greektown for a late breakfast at Plako Restaurant. Next stop was right across the street, Greektown Casino. After each of us gambled $5.00 and only one of us came out ahead we took the People Mover back to the parking structure. We made one last stop at a bookstore so Joe could buy some books with a gift certificate. Didn’t he find books about artwork we experienced in Sante Fe! Another successful close-to-home trip.

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