Monday, October 26, 2009

3 Passions In A Day

Everybody has things they like to do. No surprise there, right? For me, I got to knock off three of them in one day.

So today was my first of three days off in row, right? While there were certainly many things I could have been doing (or should have been doing), I was, in any case, prepared to just to stay local. I found myself checking my email this morning, and saw a posting that changed my mind immediately. Within 10 minutes, I was out the door. Destination? Lake Michigan.

Late yesterday, a Western Grebe was sighted at Douglas Beach near Saugatuck. As the name might suggest, the bird is from "out west" as in Utah, or Wyoming or the like; not the "Western Great Lakes". While certainly not the first time this bird has been to Michigan, they are so often too far away (often Lake Superior) for me to even consider going to see them. This one was just 3 1/2 hours out and was still there the following day(this morning).

By 12:45, after driving through a few rain squalls, I find myself looking at my 337th bird for Michigan. Oh, but it did not come easy; well, at least not as easy as I was expecting. Upon arriving, I walked a few hundreds up the beach to be closer to the location it was seen this morning. Nothing. Realizing I should have my camera with me (I left it in the car) I started to walk back to the car. I did one final look - POW! - there it was! What the...?! So I enjoyed it a for a minute or two when I opted to head back. It had started to rain and my rain coat was, at the moment, a blanket for the camera. By the time I actually got to the car, it was raining hard. No use in bringing the camera, right? On goes the raincoat and off I go back to the beach to see it again. This time I was joined by the Laylins, a couple from the Lansing area. There it was...right where I left it. Now the rain has stopped, right? I should get my camera right? As I was walking back to the car (for the second time), I bumped in to Sean Bachman and Tex Wells (pictured at the left). I made sure they knew where the bird was as I continued to the car. Dump the scope. Grab the camera. Walk back down the beach (the third time). No grebe. Totally gone. Sean and Tex got it, but it evaporated soon thereafter. Poof. Gone. No photo op for me. We looked for it a few minutes longer, but it was not to be had. The swells were hardly big enough to hide a bird from multiple observers but that is exactly what happened!

I had actually planned to turn around and head straight home but I thought about it a bit more and figured lunch in the area would be fine and rewarding. Sean, by the way, is a Beer God (notice the use of capitals). The man knows his beer. His knowledge of the craft makes me look like a chump. As is often the case when we cross paths, we started talking shop. Ultimately, he suggested the Saugatuck Brewing Company. He had NOT been there (no way!) and was interested in what I might think.

I guess, all in all, it was okay. The new home is a former warehouse so it is very large and very spacious. If you like smaller, darker, more comfy places, uhhhhh, I'm not sure you will like the feel here. It is not bad, just not my vision of a brewery. That said, the bartender was very knowledgeable and even mentioned that the owner and the master brewer were both in the building and he could introduce me to them. Very nice! I did not take him up on it. Instead, I had some hummus as an appetizer and sampled two beers (they had ten to choose from!) - the Vienna Ale (#659) and the Butler Street Brown (#660). Of the two, the brown ale was much better. Wonderful caramel tones throughout. Medium-light body. Very well done. The ale, while good for some I suspect, was just too hoppy for me. I have had hops beers I have liked, but this one was not my style.

So what could be cooler than seeing a tough state bird and then having some good beers? How about a walk through the antique mall that is attached to the brewery! Same building! Sure, I'm atheist, but it was as close to heaven as I will ever get! Antiques and beer under the same roof? Coffee stuff was pretty limited, but I did manage a smaller vintage cardboard sign from Hulman and Company for my ongoing coffee collection.

The day could have been a bit better if I had a travel partner but it was not to be given the spontaneity of it all. Otherwise? For the day, a new state bird, two new beers and more coffee crap. Awesome. Really.

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