Week 17: Farewell to My Fabulous Fifties – The High-Ropes Course and Williamsburg Edition

Good morning! I’ve got a few more things checked off of the bucket-list this week and I am excited to share them. First, we did the high-ropes course at Treerunners in West Bloomfield, Michigan. Well, sort of. After being all suited up, getting our orientation and doing a medium level course, we were lined up for a double diamond course (the highest level of difficulty, much like the hill designations for skiing). We were then told the course would be closing due to thunder. Because we were only an hour or so in to our visit, they issued us all rain-checks and we will be returning at the end of September to fully experience it. So this week’s post will be part 1 of our experience.

Registration is online but you check in here!
Ready for our adventure!

Treerunner Adventure Park was a little difficult to locate initially. It is just off the parking lot of the Jewish Community Center. It had something for everyone, from kids above 3 to grown kids like myself. I went with my 23 year old daughter Samantha, my 26 year old daughter, Jenna, her husband Kristianth and my husband, Mike. After receiving an orientation you proceed out on your own. It’s very safe as you are always secured with a carabiner to a line, much like belaying in rock climbing. There are a variety of different level courses to choose from and there are staff members floating around should anyone require assistance. I think it is fair to say, despite being there for only an hour, it exceeded everyone’s expectations. We are looking forward to part 2 of our adventure and I will definitely be sharing a bit more in-depth about the experience afterwards. If this is something you would like to do, here is a coupon code to get $5 off your visit: TRWRC18. It is not combinable with any other coupons or discounts. Reservations are required. It can be booked online and here is the link. https://www.treerunnerwestbloomfield.com

You can see a few of the lower courses here.
A few courses of various levels.
We headed to lunch after our rain-out and were treated to a double rainbow!

Last Thursday, I headed off to Williamsburg, Virginia with my mom. So here’s the back story: For her birthday this year, we let her pick anywhere in the continental US or the Caribbean for a trip. As my dad isn’t a big traveler, my mom’s adventures have been mostly limited to those she takes with her kids so this was to be a girls trip with yours truly. Initially I was thinking maybe mom would pick the Caribbean, but after hurricane Dorian, I ended up extremely grateful that she didn’t. Williamsburg contains the historic triangle comprised of Williamsburg, Jamestown and Yorktown. This was right up our alley as we are both history buffs! We stayed at the Williamsburg Inn which was a beautiful splurge and one I highly recommend, especially for a trip without kids. It is a beautiful 62 guest room/suite hotel in a Colonial Revival style, elegantly appointed in 19th century Regency decor. The design and construction were overseen by John D. Rockefeller in 1937 and it has served guests such as Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, Winston Churchill and Ronald Reagan, among other notable dignitaries. Our room overlooked the fountain and golf course. One of the little luxuries is a turn down service, complete with chocolates and Disaronno liqueur each night. We felt totally spoiled! Hey, I could get used to this. If you remember, # 14 on my list is to create my own signature cocktail. I am planning on using this lovely liqueur as a base! The other wonderful thing about this hotel is that it is located in historic Williamsburg and an easy walk to most of the things you might like to do there. The whole of the street is about a mile, so not too demanding an undertaking.

Mom in front of our hotel.
This is our hotel from the back. Our room is the middle three windows on the second floor in the curved section. Our view was this terrace with the fountain and the golf course. In nicer weather the patio is open for dining. It was open the Saturday evening of our stay.
Mom with her birthday present from the hotel. Delicious gourmet chocolates which she was kind enough to share!
Evening turn down included two chocolates (one milk, one dark) and my new favorite liqueur!

As far as dining, the hotel also offers several dining options. We dined in the Terrace Room for breakfast and we also enjoyed the Rockefeller room for our last evening meal. The service was great and the food was amazing.

Love the Nespresso machine in the room!

Thursday, our first day, we explored Williamsburg. I had gotten a package that included most of the things to see and do in Williamsburg. Rather than give a day by day play by play, I’m going to give a quick overview of our visit.

There was a lot to see in Williamsburg. We dined at Kings Arms Tavern one day for lunch for an authentic colonial experience. I enjoyed peanut soup, a dish I’d never had, which was amazing. Our servers were all dressed in colonial garb. As a matter of fact, while strolling through historical Williamsburg, all of the workers were in period costume. Historic Williamsburg is a little like Greenfield village here in Michigan. There are cobblers, weavers and coopers at work on authentic equipment. As you pass various employees in full garb, they may tip their hat and say, “Good day to you!” We saw the Art Museum and went into the Governor’s Palace. The entrance hall looked more like an armory! I am sure the town was well-convinced of the Governor’s ability to defend their city. We also toured Basset house with a knowledgeable docent. This was the personal home to John D. Rockefeller and his wife Abbey during the time they were building the Williamsburg Inn and helping restore Colonial Williamsburg. It is an 18th century farmhouse with 586 acres of lawn and garden. It has been lovingly restored to the 1930’s, the era that Mr. Rockefeller and his wife lived here.

Peanut soup, rich and delicious! I need the recipe!
Lesson in Flexibility. You can make a plan, but Mother Nature may have other ideas!

Day two, we decided to do all of the indoor museums as we were under a tropical Storm watch due to the remnants of hurricane Dorian. It sounds far worse than it actually was. We ran between a few raindrops, nothing a raincoat and umbrella couldn’t handle. And bonus for us, the museum was practically empty and we had the place to ourselves. We hit the American Revolution Museum first in Yorktown. We were even given a raincheck to return to see the grounds so that is what we did on the following day. The grounds included a re-creation of a soldier encampment as well as a revolutionary era farm. My mom grew up in the south, so this actually brought back some early memories of her grandparent’s farm. It was priceless to be able to share these moments and memories with her. We also visited Jamestown Settlement. By the afternoon Jamestown opened the outdoors and we were able to see the grounds which held an authentic Powhatan Indian village, a fort and two ships. We were unable to go on the ships due to unsafe water levels making boarding difficult on that particular day. We enjoyed every part of our trip, even the road to Yorktown. Colonial Parkway was a beautiful drive, reminding me a little of Upper Michigan’s tunnel of trees, only with scenic overpasses.

Beautiful scenic drive along Colonial Parkway.
We learned how meals were made for revolutionary armies. Each group of 6 men had a bucket with a stew type food in it. This group of men was called a mess, go figure. There were separate fires built for each mess. They were responsible to keep the fire going and for making their own food. The fire pits were dug in a trench below ground level, like the one above, to be unaffected by wind.
Fun Fact: The Governor’s Palace at one time was home to both Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry.
Mom and I on the grounds of the Governor’s Palace.
Mom with George Washington in front of the Revolutionary Museum at Yorktown.

While Williamsburg wasn’t exactly on my bucket-list, what WAS on my bucket list at #41 was “Try Something new I’ve never done before.” And in that spirit, mom and I decided to do an evening ghost tour. I bought tickets for Haunted Williamsburg on our last evening. We planned an early dinner so we could make it to the Playhouse Stage where our 8:30 pm tour began. Our tour guide was named Iris and she was amazing. We talked with her a bit and found out she was a dramatic literature major in college. (who knew that was a thing?). Well, she certainly put her degree to good use! There are other ghost tours in Williamsburg but this one was recommended by our hotel and is the only one that brings you inside of buildings for the story telling. We stopped by Wythe house which is supposedly haunted by a woman in a blue dress who has lost a shoe(?). We also went to the Governor’s Palace as well as Randoph House which is supposedly haunted by a child. Most, but not all, of the stories involve employees who encounter things when they are alone in the houses. As I am a skeptic, I wasn’t convinced. Iris said she used to be a skeptic too and worried she wouldn’t make a good ghost guide. Her colleagues said to wait long enough and she would have an encounter of some sort. She did, she heard a baby crying in one of the empty historic homes. (twice). Iris was a great guide, and despite not leaving as a believer, I enjoyed myself tremendously. My mom was on the fence about ghosts before taking the tour, where I believe she still remains. While I don’t believe in ghosts, I do believe in signs from our loved ones that have passed on. But that, is an entirely different story.

This plaza in front of Jamestown Settlement has flags from all of our states with pertinent information.
Michigan’s plaque at the Centennial Plaza. I would like my family to note it was explored and settled by the FRENCH!

If you are thinking about going to Williamsburg, I would do it! It makes history come alive, though perhaps for smaller kids, some of the museums may not hold their attention. I have to mention another option for staying in Williamsburg which sounded intriguing, you can stay in one of the colonial era homes. That sounds like it might be nice for families with children. I was very delighted with our stay at the Williamsburg Inn. It would be a great place to go for an anniversary or special occasion. Make sure you tell them if you are celebrating something! They gave my mom a lovely little box of chocolates and a welcome gift of a small porcelain box on check-in. Our visit ended with a very nice thank you note to thank us for staying there. All in all, it was an awesome experience and one more checkmark on the bucket list!

Mom at the Jamestown Fort

As far as remaining items on the bucket list, I completed book #50! If you know me, you know I love to read on vacation, especially on the plane ride. I managed to finish two more books, The Road to Bittersweet (excellent) and The Friday Night Knitting Club (light and fun). I am currently reading My Not So Perfect Life (by Sophie Kinsella) with We Were the Lucky Ones in the on-deck circle. French class for the fall semester resumes tonight. My Duolingo streak remained intact throughout the vacation. I am happy to report they’ve added additional skills so now I have more to do than just review. I’ve completed 35/50 NordicTrack workouts. I am still working on the MasterClass series from Margaret Atwood (author of The Handmaid’s Tale). I’m still meditating, though I didn’t while on vacation. And speaking of vacation, upon my return I was absolutely delighted to discover a surprise package I didn’t order. THANK YOU to Deana for sending me “Flour Water Salt Yeast The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza” along with a dough bowl. She had received the book as a gift and it changed her bread-making life. I am so excited to crack it open and check off item #22, “Bake a loaf of bread from scratch.” I will be happy to share the recipe I end up using. (Deana, recommendations please?) So thank you, thank you Deana! That was such an amazing surprise!

Thank you Deana! Can’t wait to try this!

Here is the link to my original bucket list if you are curious. I am thinking of posting an updated list showing those things I’ve managed to check off at some point in the future. https://wordpress.com/block-editor/page/farewelltomy50s.home.blog/10

Well, that’s it for this week. Here’s to amazing surprises. I hope your week has a few in store for you as well!

Week 16: Farewell to My Fabulous Fifties

Happy Labor Day! Hope everyone is out enjoying the day with friends and family. I will be heading out to do a high ropes course at Treerunners in West Bloomfield (Bucket list item # 47) with my family later on this afternoon. Looking forward to telling you all about it next week!

This week, has been a bit low key. I am keeping up with most of my ongoing goals, which I’ll tell you more about in a bit. First I wanted to share a new-to-me recipe using herbs from my garden (items# 23 and 40). This one comes from Healthy Cooking magazine June/July 2008. It is simple, quick and delicious, three of my favorite things in a recipe, emphasis on simple because, hey, I’m no Julia Childs.

Chicken Provolone

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (4 oz each)

1/4 teaspoon of pepper

8 fresh basil leaves

4 thin slices of prosciutto or deli ham

4 slices of provolone cheese

Directions:

  1. Sprinkle the chicken with pepper. In a large skillet coated with cooking spray, cook chicken over medium heat until a thermometer reads 165 degrees, 4-5 minutes on each side.
  2. Transfer to an ungreased baking sheet; top with the basil, prosciutto and cheese. Broil 6-8 inches from the heat until the cheese is melter, 1-2 minutes.
  3. Garnish plate with parsley if you want to be fancy (and who doesn’t?).

I ended up using ham instead of prosciutto which I am sure would have been delicious, because that is what I happened to have on hand. I also did not use a meat thermometer, I gave it the old eyeball test and cut into it a bit to check for doneness. I served it with a baked potato with sour cream and chives from my container garden.

Nutrition: 1 serving equals 236 calories, 11 g of fat (6 saturated,) 89 mg of cholesterol, 435 mg sodium, 1 g carbohydrate, trace fiber, 33 G protein.

It was deceptively simple, but tasted amazing!

Help!! I am on the lookout for ways to use my herbs before the season ends. As they will not over-winter, I would love to find a good pesto recipe for the basil or any other suggestions to make the best use of my remaining herbs. I did manage to use some basil when I had my wonderful Book Club ladies over for a floating meeting on the pontoon. I put together a caprese salad as well as used a little rosemary for garnish on the charcuterie board. It’s awesome spending time with these articulate intelligent women. Most of the time we converse about books in our private facebook group, but once a summer we head out on the pontoon. We also try to meet up at a restaurant at least one other time in the year. We seem to have a lot more to say in person than we do in writing! These ladies are partially why I’ve been able to read some extraordinary books in my 50 book quest. They come up with some awesome suggestions and I much prefer curated books, when someone has read it and recommends it. I used to commit to finishing a book once I’d started it no matter what. Now my motto is “Life is too short to keep reading a bad book.” I’m not afraid to abandon mid-read if it’s just not holding my attention (of course, then it doesn’t count on my list either!) We came up with a few more suggestions for this year, and selected “The Silent Patient,” which I had just finished, (highly recommend) as our next read. I am on book #50 of my 50 book goal. Huzzah! My current read is “Pieces of Her,” so far, so good. I anticipate finishing it up today or tomorrow. Now I’m curious to see how many books I can read in a year.

We started at the house, then packed it up for the boat!

In other updates, French class at Alliance de Francais continues. No class this week due to Labor Day, but we are planning to meet for dinner Tuesday night. I am anticipating that we will be speaking French to one another but I am not counting this as my “meet-up” (item #24). Our instructor David has started conducting class entirely in French. I’ve perfected my “I understand what you’re saying” look while I frantically search my brain for the right translation. Did he just say, “The city hall is very ugly,” or did he just insult my mother? Two very different responses are required! And so we learn. Mistakes are made but I learn best by my mistakes. I just wish I wasn’t given so many learning opportunities! By the way, my Duolingo streak remains intact at 747 days. I am determined to keep it going as long as possible.

I have been working to continue yoga at least once a week. And since I can’t convince my awesome sister-in-law Sharona and niece, Ashley, to move to Belleville to teach (I mean really, is that too much to ask?) I am on the look-out for a nearby studio with a restorative yoga class at a convenient time. I have found that quick 10-20 minute classes on YOUTUBE have been fabulous. I like morning and evening routines with yogis Adrienne or Sarah Beth. I’m still meditating with the Headspace App. I remain in Costa Rica on my NordicTrack, half way through the walking series there and still enjoying it. They get more difficult within each series as it progresses. I have completed work out #34 of my 50 work out goal. It still holds my interest and keeps me working out on my days off of boot-camp.

Forest trails, beaches, mountains. Ecological diversity is amazing!

New things I am working on include taking an online Masterclass in creative writing with Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid’s Tale (item #30). I have really enjoyed Masterclass. We have an all access pass and in the past, I’ve taken cooking with Alice Waters and writing with Judy Blume. They have things like stand-up with Steve Martin, magic with Penn and Teller, or how about Martin Scorsese, Ron Howard or Jody Foster on film-making (what?!!). There are classes on just about every interest. The reason it’s on my bucket list is that something that can be done at any time often gets done at no time. You know, there’s no time like the present, Carpe Diem, strike while the iron’s hot, never put off until tomorrow what you can do today, insert your favorite cliché here, (too much?)

We are headed to Florida in a couple weeks to make a few selections for our pool and to check out the local furniture stores. I did a little preparatory work, both in person and online, checking availability, turn around and selection at various furniture stores in anticipation of diving into item #16, decorating our Florida vacation home. Can’t wait to share the results and perhaps even solicit opinions on a few things along the way. I am hopeful the hurricane will not do major damage wherever it strikes. This will be a whole new area of expertise to master, putting on hurricane shutters, lowering pool levels, and apparently many of our soon to be neighbors in Florida are filling sand bags. I am not sure what for or where they will put them. So many questions I need answered! As of this writing it has veered away from our location. In any event, prayers for the safety of those living wherever Dorian makes landfall.

Next week in addition to the high rope course I hope to share with you a little of the adventure I will be having with my Mom. We are heading to Williamsburg this week, a city neither one of us has been to. We are both history buffs so we plan on checking out Williamsburg, Jamestown and Yorktown. I am looking forward to spending some long overdue quality girl time with my mom. Here’s hoping the hurricane stays the heck away from Virginia! That might be more adventure than even we can handle. Make it a great week everyone and wherever you are, stay safe!