I'm starting to jones for a Three Oaks visit.
Last year, Erika and I took a weekend getaway to southwestern Michigan, which, as some of you may know, is a popular regional vacation spot for Chicagoans. Erika, being the queen of Internet research -- seriously, if she wanted one of those hot-shot news librarian jobs at the Trib, she could get it -- did an exhaustive search of rental properties in the area. We're not made of money, so we wanted something cheaper, and she found a wonderful little rental house in the wonderful little town of Three Oaks, just over the Indiana border and a few miles East from more expensive, tourist-trappy New Buffalo.
We first went in March, when it was chilly and raining, and again in August around our birthdays, which included a great side-trip to Kalamazoo and the Bell's Brewery. But that was 10 months ago, and the itch needs scratching.
You might look at Three Oaks and call it a tourist trap, too. I won't go that far because, despite the pricey antique, furniture and preserves stores, it has a Left-Wing, artistic undercurrent, as well as a micro-sized downtown area, that lends it definite charm. Three Oaks boasts its own community radio station, health food store, art-house cinema, used book store and newly reopened vegan-friendly restaurant. It also has two great bars -- one where the bartender cooks greasy food right there for you a few steps down from the taps.
You also can rent bikes for trips through the green farm fields surrounding the town, and you certainly can ride over to New Buffalo and go up the tourist corridor through Union Pier, Harbert and Sawyer. You'll find more antiques, another bookstore, a great corner store, a Swedish bakery and some awesome Middle Eastern food. There also are some wineries (not as fun as you'd imagine and go with white) and the beach (water is cold year-round, but still good for sunning).
I like to think Erika and I will move to this area someday. Maybe one of us will make a splash with our writing; maybe one of us will be able to work from home; or maybe, after opening our vegan restaurant in Chicago, we'll open a bed and breakfast in Three Oaks. Whatever the route, I want to make it part of our 10-year plan. See you in Three Oaks!