I got to visit Frankenmuth for my very first time! It is a city dedicated to Christmas. But the best part was that I got to go with my cousin, Uncles and Aunt!
So this weekend was the Teeter return to the Bavarian village of Frankenmuth, Michigan — a town dedicated solely to the Christmas spirit. Our family hadn’t been in over twenty years, and in fact it was one of the first trips Danielle ever did with our family.
My grandfather on my Mom’s side had started a tradition of taking his family and their respective herds on a weekend bus trip to festive locations near the town we grew up. In the second year of Danielle and I dating, the locale was Frankenmuth, and fortunately Danielle was invited along.
And then twenty plus years go by…
At Thanksgiving this year, while I was away in California for genius training, Greg brought up the notion of making the trip back there while the family was gathered. Danielle didn’t have to ask me twice, within minutes I was requesting the weekend off so we could go. While the initial plans were for us to just go down and back for the day because hotels would make it too costly, after some web searching Greg found a reasonable deal on a hotel and plans were hatched for an overnight trip.
David, Linda and kids weren’t able to make the trip, as six hours on the road is totally understandable for them to pass on — especially when you add in gas, food and lodging. But as the day approached Mom and Dad had to bow out too, as Mom’s leg was having some nagging issues. So, while not the entire family, with Matthew, Shawn, Greg, Testza, Vaughan, Danielle, Emelia and I, there was sure to be some Christmas spirit to spread.
Emelia was over the moon with excitement for the weeks and days leading up to the trip. It probably didn’t help that Danielle and I were too, and feeding in to the excitement. But, yesterday morning the whole house was up, and ready to go much earlier than we normally are on a Saturday.
Packed and out the door, we made it out of town just in the nick of time. About thirty minutes from the border we had some white-out snow and winds gusting. By the time we made it to the Bluewater Bridge in Sarnia, blue skies had returned and the rest of the trip was under great weather. But the reports from back home told us we were missing an onslaught, that found us under a couple of feet of snow upon our return tonight.
Aside from the very brisk temperatures, we saw no snow the entire time we were in Frankenmuth. We relived a lot of the memories from that first trip, only through the now adult, and in some cases, parental eyes this time. We were up and down the main drag of Frankenmuth stopping in shops that had stayed exactly the same, as well as discovering the ones that were sadly no longer there. It was a thrill trip to relive those moments but to also get to experience it through Emelia’s eyes, like Mom and Dad must have years ago.
The big moment for me was sitting down with everyone at The Bavarian Inn for dinner — the same place we had with Grampa, years prior. There was a lot of laughter, some good food, and of course a great photo for the memories for years to come.
This morning, Emelia and I got up early and left Danielle in the room to sleep while we went down to the hotel pool to have our second swim of the trip — an hour and a half long pruning of our fingers. After Danielle, rested and showered, found us, we got cleaned up and ready to check out of the hotel and off to shopping at the Outlet Mall of Birch Run. While we did find some amazing deals, overall we were kind of underwhelmed with the shopping. I mean I did manage to get a much needed pair of new winter boots (which were obviously needed because of the couple of feet of snow waiting for us at home), but for the most part the best part of the trip was in Frankenmuth.
Thankfully the trip home was largely uneventful and we didn’t find the dump of snow until pretty much the outskirts of London. And when we got to the house, we saw the two hours of shovelling I had ahead of me. While Danielle got Emelia fed and off to bed, I tested out my new boots. (they worked amazing by the way!).
But now with all that shovelling out of the way, and a glass of whiskey awaiting me downstairs, I think I’ll close out my part and go couch potato a bit.
John captured the weekend perfectly and it was honestly the highlight of the last few weeks. We had been really lacking family time and this weekend we got it in spades.
The day after John left for three weeks away for work Greg was mentioning to the family about a family visit to Frankenmuth and would we be interested. With John at the start of a long time away I could not think of a more perfect way to celebrate him being home, then to kick off the holiday season with a trip to the village that celebrates all that is Christmas.
Once securing a more reasonably priced hotel we had the weekend planned, we were all set to make the almost 3 hour trek down and would spend as much time together as we could. And we did. Meeting up for some much needed coffee we met at a local coffee shop as our first meeting point. With caffeine in our bellies we were off. We spent the better part of a couple hours making our way up and down main street tucking into shops to warm up and to do some shopping.
The highlight for Emelia of course was a couple of the toy shops and she fell in love with a flying fairy toy that she is not aware will arrive under the tree in a month. With some help from Uncle Matthew we managed to sneak the package out with a sad little girl wanting one more toy before Christmas.
We did manage to have a quick lunch after a fair bit of searching that would allow me to eat something that was gluten free. Zehnder’s (a Frankenmuth landmark) had a quick service restaurant that allowed us all to fill our hungry bellies. While everyone else was finishing up their meal we left to show Emelia another Frankenmuth must see which is the bells at the Glockenspiel Tower. It was freezing out but we shared the short show and Emelia just loved it. By this time we were all set to get to the hotel and check in.
The hotel was a great deal and was only about 15 minutes from Frankenmuth and about the same distance to Birch Run so it was ideal. And the cost was ½ of what we would have paid to stay in town. So win/win.
We had little time at the hotel but enough to check in with Helen and Doug to see how she was feeling and to say a quick hi from all of us.
And then we were on to dinner, Helen had booked a family dinner at The Bavarian Inn for a family style dinner, thankfully they and a gluten free menu I could order from separately and this allowed the rest of the family to have a meal and I could eat something that agreed with my stomach. It is hard enough to figure out what to eat at times but I always feel terrible that the rest of the family has to work around my illness. This worked out awesome for everyone. Emelia of course had a ball eating dinner with her family and playing with Vaughan. We all had an incredible time and much needed time as a family.
Once dinner was done we were off to the highlight of Emelia’s trip, Bronner’s Christmas Store. The world’s largest Christmas store. She was so excited to arrive, and is Christmas heaven for anyone who adores the holidays but for a Christmas loving 6 year old it was heaven on earth. She didn’t know where to start, she wanted to see it all and in a couple hours we saw everything and we even came home with another new ornament for Emelia this year.
A very tired little girl was ready to be done shopping and we were ready to get back to the hotel. After a quick swim we got Emelia to sleep and then spent the next couple hours in Matthew and Shawn’s room playing Cards Against Humanity. A completely offside version of Apples to Apples. Let’s just say there was a lot of laughs, some drinks and we were all up into the wee hours.
Up bright and early the next day Emelia was ready to go go go. We managed to convince her that 6:30 was not the time to get out of bed and she stayed in bed for a bit longer but eventually she got John up and he took her for breakfast while I enjoyed some quiet. He and Emelia had some daddy and daughter time swimming in the hotel pool and I got things organized and ready for the day.
After getting a small bite to eat we went back into Frankemuth to get coffee and more shopping in town. We didn’t find anything we really wanted and so we made our way to the outlet mall at Birch Run. I have to say it was OK, yes there were sales but some were great and some were less than impressive considering you were at an outlet mall. But we did manage to get John some much needed winter boots for less than ½ of the original price. After freezing our butts off we finally decided we were shopped out and made our way home to face the mountain of snow we had been hearing so much about.
With texts, Facebook messages and emails we knew we had missed quite the storm here. We did not rush back because the storm was due to be finishing up in the mid to later afternoon and we wanted to avoid driving through it. So we got to the border just after 5:00 and were home in London by 6:00, got some much needed groceries and got home just after 7:00. And then faced the mountain of snow. Since we only have one shovel (we tried to find a second one at Walmart with no luck), John had to tackle much of the shovelling on his own. Emelia ‘helped’ with her kid shovel which meant basically shovel for 10 minutes and then play snow angel on the front lawn. I cleared what I could and 2 hours later we have a clear driveway and a tired John.
And that brings us to now, it is late and we both have long days tomorrow so good-night for now.