Rebecca Reviewed It: Village of Ashley Country Christmas

Colorful lights, Santa & Mrs. Claus, flame-throwing juggler, Christmas music, and a roaring steam engine, what else do you need on a chilly evening? I went to watch the beautiful Pere Marquette aka the Polar Express thunder into Ashley, Michigan. Carrying passengers to visit a small town completely decked out for Christmas fun.

Where: The train comes from Owosso to arrive in the small Village of Ashley, Michigan. The passengers enjoy about a 1 hour 15-minute ride, stay in Ashley for a couple of hours, then return to Owosso. The public is welcome to enjoy the small town and view the train coming into town.

When: The Polar Express comes into town twice a day every weekend until Christmas.

This is the official pamphlet from the Village of Ashley Country Christmas 2021.

What You View: The town is set up with a variety of little Christmas shops, food, hot cocoa, and activities for the entire family to enjoy. For example Penny Lane has handcrafted gifts to wear. The handmade hats are beautiful and warm.

The lists of little shops and activities within in the town.

Will I Go Again? Most definitely, yes. I would love to see the train arrive after a heavy snowfall. Hopefully Mother Nature and my schedule allow me to do it. Who knows maybe one of these times, I will actually ride the train.

Tips for Thanksgiving Travel

Can you believe next week is Thanksgiving? Busy roads are always a major part of the holiday weekend. If you are driving to your destination, consider the following tips for safe Thanksgiving travel.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com
  1. Lists: Start by making a list or two of all the essentials for your long holiday weekend. Consider making a list for each person and your fur babies. Cross items off your lists as you begin to pack and load your vehicle.
  2. Vehicle Maintenance: Before leaving for your destination, do a quick maintenance check on your vehicle. Check the tire pressure, oil level, antifreeze level, brake fluid, and the condition of the wiper blades.
  3. Get Gas Early: If possible, get gasoline early to avoid long lines at the pump. Also, gas prices increase with demand.
  4. Arrival Time: Know exactly when you need to be at your destination to adjust your driving time. Give yourself extra time to get to your destination.
  5. Pack and Load: If possible, start packing early. Clothing and other non-perishable items are easily the first items to cross off your list. Try to load as much as possible into your vehicle the night before your departure time.
  6. Road Trip Snacks: Depending on the amount of driving time, snacks are an essential especially if you have children in the car. Plus, packing your own road-trip snacks and beverages saves time and money.
  7. Be Flexible: Leave early to avoid the traffic. Wednesday and Sunday are the busiest travel time for Thanksgiving weekend.
  8. Stop When Needed: Do not be afraid to take breaks. Around each one hundred miles, try to stop at a rest area or local café. Breaks are not a luxury but a priority. Remember for your own safety to lock your vehicle at every stop.
  9. Weather Watch: The weather changes quickly. Use a local weather app or your GPS to watch for any sudden changes. Pack an emergency kit for your vehicle including a first aid kit, phone charger, and extra blankets.
  10. Be Mindful: Watch out for other drivers. When people are in a hurry, mistakes happen in an instant. Be alert. Follow the rules of the road. Don’t speed. And avoid alcohol consumption.
  11. Child Safety: Secure children in the age-appropriate car seats. Bring favorite toys, games, videos, music, and other items for entertainment on the road.

Most of all, make your road trip an adventure. Have fun. Stop and take photos. Enjoy every minute of the trip.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Rebecca Reviewed It: Oh Mi Organics

A couple weeks ago, I went out to eat with my sister and our dad. After the fantastic home-style cooked meal at Dershy’s Cafe, we stopped next door at Oh Mi Organics. Dubbed the Chocolate Studio, Oh Mi Organics provides “chocolate your body understands.”

Now, I do not claim to be a gourmet foodie. But I do know what I like. And, Oh Mi Organics chocolate is in my “like” category.

The General Information

Oh Mi Organics is located at 109 W. Higham Street., St Johns, MI 48879. They serve over 180 different flavors of chocolate. Serving a healthier alternative, many of the premium chocolates are gluten-free, dairy-free, or without peanuts. Along with chocolates, there were a few beverages, cold coffee, and hummus available.

Customer Service

In a word, the customer service was outstanding! The cashier was polite, quick to answer questions, and always had a smile on her face. When she found out, we were first-time visitors, she immediately offered samples.

At first, the customer service representative gave each of us a sample of the base chocolate. Next, the cashier had us test the Neapolitan chocolate. Listening to the instructions of the cashier, we held the chocolate on our tongues. When the chocolate dissolves, we really could taste each flavor. Yes, the flavors were yummy.

Sampling the chocolates!

Will I Return?

Yes! Oh Mi Organics offers a great incentive to return, a punch card. After purchasing 12 dozen chocolates, you receive a dozen of chocolates free. And, every Tuesday is double punch day.

The punch card from Oh Mi Organics.

The outstanding customer service went beyond being inside the store. The packaging of the chocolate was superior. Each chocolate was placed in trays then set inside of a box, for easy travel. The best part, the cashier wrote on the side of the tray to identify the type of chocolates.

Easy identification of each chocolate!

Next time you are in St. Johns, Michigan, do not forget to stop by Oh Mi Organics for great-tasting chocolate.

Family Fun Month: Go for a Bike Ride

Are you still looking for summer activities to celebrate Family Fun Month? How about going for a bike ride? Going for a long bike ride with your family is a great way to get outdoors while maintaining social distancing.

Before you go, do a safety check. Carefully inspect all aspects of your family’s bikes, helmets, baskets, bike seats for young children, and all other features. A well-maintained bicycle is vital for your family’s safety.

Benefits of Bike Riding With Your Family

Riding bikes is an excellent form of physical exercise for you and your family. When you ride a bike, you burn calories, gain strength and balance. Along with improving your overall fitness, bike riding has other benefits for you and your family.

  • Quality Time: Bicycling is an excellent family activity for quality time. When you do activities as a family, you create a long-lasting bond.
  • Learning Experience: Bike riding as a family is a learning experience. As parents or guardians, you have the opportunity to teach your children the proper rules of cycling. Children learn proper hand signals, biking etiquette, proper helmet use, and other safety rules.
  • Unplug: Going for a bike ride gets everyone away from technological devices. Unplugging for an afternoon or day reduces stress and anxiety. Social media is a great tool. But often, all the information can be overwhelming. Being outdoors is essential to your health.
  • Socialization: Bike riding is a social activity. Encouraging conversation builds vocabulary and social skills. Children have the opportunity to bond with other young bike riders.
  • Eco-Friendly: Bike riding is good for the environment. As responsible caregivers, you have the opportunity to teach your children eco-friendly activities.
  • Creates Memories:  Engaging in family activities create lasting memories. Depending on the age of your children, stopping often may be needed. Resting in between cycling is a great way to view the world around you.

When was the last time you and your family went for a bike ride? The time is right to dust off the bikes and hit the road.

 

 

Best Lakes to Visit in Michigan

When you think about the “greatest lakes” in America, you probably think of none other than the Great Lakes – of which there are five. The best part about the state of Michigan is that four out of these five lakes (all except for Lake Ontario) touch along the state’s border, so no matter where you are in Michigan, you’re never too far from a gorgeous waterfront view. While the Great Lakes are the go-to choices for the best aquatic places to visit in Michigan, there are also a lot of smaller lakes in the state that are underrated but just as beautiful. Here are some of the best lake spots in Michigan.

Torch Lake

Torch Lake is not only Michigan’s longest lake, but its deepest lake as well, but those are not the only titles this lake holds. National Geographic, also named Torch lake the third-best lake in the country due to its gorgeous blue waters – frequently compared to the Carribean Sea. Torch Lake is known for its incredible parties, particularly on the Fourth of July, where the elite of Michigan gather to relax and enjoy the gorgeous scenery. On your next visit, you may even spot some Michigan celebrities such as Kid Rock and Eminem!

Lake Charlevoix 

Lake Charlevoix is a great destination for those that want to enjoy the splendors of nature alongside a great town filled with delicious food and boutique stores to explore. The downtown Charlevoix area that surrounds the lake has so much to offer. While you may think of taking a lake trip on a warm summer weekend, Charlevoix really shines in Autumn. Visit during the 2nd week of October to experience the infamous Apple Festival for an unforgettable experience.

Elk Lake

How do the lakes of Michigan have such stunningly blue water? The second deepest lake in Michigan, this natural wonder has the same gorgeous coloring as Torch Lake, but with a more relaxing demeanor. If you’re looking for a more relaxing vacation, away from the excitement and business, Elk Lake is the perfect destination for you.

Lake Michigan

Okay, we implied we weren’t going to name any of the great lakes, but your trip to Michigan wouldn’t be complete without visiting the lake of the same name. It’s probably the best lake in the whole state, perhaps in the whole country. With something to do for everyone, Lake Michigan is the perfect place for your next family trip, girls’ weekend, or romantic getaway. There are many wineries, fishing opportunities, and boating expeditions you can take advantage of here. Even if you’re just taking a long drive along the riverfront, the breathtaking view will be well worth the visit. Many fall in love with Lake Michigan so quickly that they find themselves looking at Grand Rapids real estate after their visit so they can experience this wonder all year ‘round.

Image Credit: Pexels

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