Street art graffiti invites you to travel into the rabbit hole and the service, food, laughter and giant Jenga on every table keeps you there.
Six TV screens internally circle the encompassing bar to keep the sports enthusiast satisfied from every angle, while music spirals from one genre to the next with a flow that just keeps the good times rolling. As you walk in, you are greeted by the invitation to play rabbit pong; calling you to drop the days issues at the door and embrace your “you-time”.
Now, the man with the plan to set you on your travels for your your time here is Camron. He has been at this location for 10 years, and basically is contracted with the building because of his dedication to a good time, good food and good service. He is a bartender, manager and community icon. One has to be to work and/or manage this location thru 4 owners. The Current Owner is Chris Ryan, a Chicago Icon of his own. Several long-standing successful bars including The Original Mother’s can be contributed to his involvement. His new investment: The Rabbit Hole, has the ambiance of a local watering pub where friends and neighbors gather to enjoy a moment in life together. I just fell in love with this family style community environment. The bouncer doubles as a game show host to the masses fora game of Hangman as well as greeting everyone and inviting each guest to enjoy a great time. Upon witnessing his talents, local Katie Umph guessed this puzzle in an impressive time with only 2 letters…how much fun can you have at a neighborhood hangout?
The music that plays in the background is produced by a DJ named Milkman Matt, who milks the artful tastes from the visiting clientele and feeds the souls of the room with a celebration of style that satisfies everyone. If you are in Chicago and want to embrace the excitement of recaptured youth Chicago style, this is a great place to visit!
I had the privilege to meet and amazing local man who has found a way to turn wasteful spillage from a blast furnace into significant art sculptures. His name Is Justin Sule and he is a 3rd generation steel mill worker who has a family history of about 100 years in the industry. He has been working on the blast furnace for 8 years and has a unique eye for opportunity. The above original can be seen anchored to the wall at Zorn Brewery here in Michigan City, IN. Hopefully, he will be also participating in the First Friday Art Walk displaying his artwork for sale. I will keep you all posted !
In short, sometimes the blast furnace acts like a woman with a mind of her own, and when she has an emotional outburst, she splashes molten iron out of the trough and makes a mess of things. When this happens impurities can become imbedded into the cooling splatter and renders it useless. But, with special approval, Justin has been able to take these solid iron quagmires and capture his creative talent turning it into amazing sculptures. It is a long process for each piece to remove the slag, coal, and other impurities with hand grinding and polishing the finished piece by buffing the anomaly into imaginary perfection.
He is married and has full support of his wife but pointed out that his pieces are fairly large and she doesn’t feel it contributes to the modern farm decor she has worked to establish in their home, and this is more an industrial abstract art. That’s ok, she thinks they are an ideal asset to any gallery, business, or man cave setting.
Tragically, his garage caught fire and he lost most of his collection recently, and all his dedicated hard work. No worries he is currently working an a new piece despite the setback, and will be rebuilding his collection to share with the world. I will be excited to see the end product from this rough spoilage. I will update this post with the after picture when it is complete: Here is the rough stuff he is starting out with, or you can find him on instagram: @theironcain.
During my interview with him I found out this is not the only talent he possesses. He is also deemed a Wild Mushroom Identification Expert and goes by the name: @Im_a_fungi_mushrooms on instagram and has a great business offering multiple types of mushrooms including shiitake and oyster – to name a few- for local restaurants and personal purchase: He also offers logs that are infused with spores that you can obtain to start growing your own supply. This is a guy worth taking the time to know and I felt privileged to find this diamond in the rough in our community. I am looking forward to following his progress to success and sharing it with my readers!!
About 6 years ago, a life-altering opportunity was presented to a young server, Stelios Mitris, who was born here in the states, raised in Greece, where he worked as a server when his patron offered financial support of his dreams. Now, having been a server before, this happens more frequently than people realize without avail: Goals and Direction – revert back to Just a Dream. This person saw something in Stelios and had no doubt his investment would be successful. There are no words to describe the intoxication that showers you when you meet him: Warm fuzzies, smiling hearts, dancing feet, and and a singing soul, is the best I have. Selios Mitris has a passion for serving people that was acknowledged, rewarded, and exudes from his aura today. With a patrons’ support, he purchased Sophia’s a little over 3 years ago, and has a flare for ownership with a suave management style. The restaurant was named Sophia’s in honor of the original owners daughter, and translates from Greek to mean Wisdom. Stelios made the wise choice of keeping the name we all know and love.
The addition of an outside patio is a great touch, and I cannot wait to come back in the summer and enjoy sitting in a little area or serenity in the midst of this hustling business area.
His employees speak very highly of him, they have the utmost respect for him: He has created a family essence among the staff. His beautiful soon-to-be wife, Teresa – greeting, hosting, and helping wherever she can, displays a Vogue-like appearance: Enhancing the ambiance of an experience there to the top-notch level it deserves. The decor is one of sophistication and tidiness upheld and reflected by the staffs immaculate efforts as well.
I was greeted immediately upon entering the establishment with a friendly smile and offered a table while I waited for a friend to join me. My designated server, Alyssa, was quick to greet me with coffee in hand, and a pleasant patience for the short delay in ordering. The menu offers every kind of breakfast you can think of and a variety of lunches. My Favorite: Stuffed French toast.
This is a masterpiece of 3 texas toast blocks that are satiated with a mascarpone cheese – an italian cream cheese with lemon juice originating from southwest of Milan around the 17th century. Though mascarpia translates to ricotta, it is made from cream and ricotta is made from milk, giving it that custard like dreamy goodness!!! Add bananas foster for a nominal charge and you have a dish that is orgasmic to the taste buds, but dangerous for diabetics. Top that off with a glass of their daily fresh-squeezed orange juice and the spirit is flying high with vitamin C.
They have also included gluten free choices as well, creating limitless accommodations for all tastes, and health options. They have daily specials that are presented on a seperate menu and fluctuates seasonally for quick reference and 2 varieties of freshly made soups daily that are displayed as you walk in. The portion sizes are certainly above expectation for the price and deceptively lower in cost than the stature the establishment presents.
My server was just great!!! Knowing when to walk by the table, when to offer more coffee, when to interact with customers: her follow-up skills were impeccable. After my guest arrived, and her timing was again, perfect. Our meals came expediently and hot. She served us without interrupting and came back to see how everything was at the appropriate time. Stelios nails the customer service aspect and summed it up when he said,” I hire for attitude and train for skill.” Well done!!!
I have been a server before and this was one of the places I worked. As a server, many patrons will offer to support you and your directions in life, but his story captivates the epitome of hard work to success. His success has earned him the Winning 2019 Readers Choice Award. I left feeling very blessed to have met the new owner and re-visiting one of my favorite old stomping grounds.
Inspired by a post from Ben Wilder on Out of the Wilderness, I started writing a comment, and as bloggers all know once we start writing sometimes we can’t stop. so I thought I would share my thoughts on trees with y’all. This is a tree I found in the back corner of a parking lot at Manatee Beach on Anna Maria Island.
For the Hippie in me, Trees have a magical energy. They are my spirit plant if you will. Each one has a unique character that exemplifies the power from 4 main elements: earth , water, wind/air, and sky. First, it is rooted in the ground with a vast intertwining network of extensions ,solidifying it place and strength of being united with the global universe. It absorbs the water dropped from the sky seeping it’s way through the grass and dirt with it’s only purpose of quenching the trees thirst and encouraging its growth. As it grows, the branches reach out as if to share itself in appreciation of the air around it; pulling toxins out (carbon monoxide) and capitalizing on it own ability to purify the air while refurbishing the poison into a supplemental food source to the absorption of sun collected by the extended leaves. The air turns into a breeze or wind moving the branches as if its appreciation of purification is natures music allowing trees to sway and sometimes dance.. Too much wind can be as intoxicating, just as too much alcohol can be to the human soul, and if too drunk the dance becomes a tumble or a fall: sometimes even breaking. The sky collects the moisture that form clouds and rain, and the tree grows, reaching out to the heavens with a fortitude of majestic stature. Each tree has its own energy or level of vibration and you can walk by many of the same types of trees, but it is the one that matches your souls vibration level you notice.
I love the beach where you can dig your feet into the sand feeling rooted to the earth. Surrounding yourself with the elements of earth, wind and water, place your soul in the mix as the 🔥.
Empower yourself. Find your passions. Figure out your boundaries. You may not know what it is you want, but we all know what we DON’T want from our life experiences: thru that we discover our boundaries and can determine their strength; Which ones bend and which ones are unbreakable. Define yourself and your destiny will be visible with clarity. The power of becoming one with the elements of the earth (grounding) allows us to obtain power from nature and not from people. A dependable power that never falls short , never fails, and always there. Your destiny is in your hands and this tool in your toolbox is a great tool to use when rebuilding one’s self.
Another tool in my tool box is Tai Chi. I have found a trainer online thru you tube that encompases the powers of nature into his routines. I have tried Yoga but found my clumsy sense of balance does not assist in my success. Whereas, Tai Chi is a fluid movement focused on breathing, and grounding . Check out Jake Mace Tai Chi on You Tube for many videos that are easy to follow along if you want a 15 minute work-out / mind vacation.
As the sunsets in the horizon, the warmth of it’s colors embrace the moments of the day and brings joy to the soul.
From the lighthouse in Michigan City, IN – feelings of release and clarity fill the soul and spark an inner flame of endless possibilities.
Seeing a peaceful moment thru the obstacles placed before me, I find contentment.
Even though things get twisted and seem to grow in different directions, the strength comes from the deep grounded roots and commands attention to its beauty.
When life gets heated, the cooling colors of a winter sunset can surrender the beast of hostility.
When you reach a destination along your journey and the sand beckons for the touch of your bare feet, the waves call out to mist your face, and the serenity is heard in every sound….. ya just can’t unpack fast enough !!!!!
The world presents limitless prospects of triumphant magnitude from a desolate sand dune.
When considering activities to get involved in, volleyball is a great social, healthy activity. In a time where parents are desperately seeking something other than the electronic babysitters: This club offers a great alternative for both boys and girls from ages 8 to 18. The most common concern come with the costs and time involved. With the Club offering 4 different levels of time commitment and cost options, it is a reasonable opportunity to provide team building, social, and competitive skills that encourage continuation into the college community. They have had over 400+ college scholarships offered to participants, and scouts visit regularly. They offer clinics, camps, one-on-one coaching, and team play. From league play to strength and agility training, levels start at a local level with practice once a week and only partake at in-house tournaments, satellite teams practicing at local schools,Sei Travel teams that practice 2 times weekly and travel within a regional area, to National Level teams that practice 3 times a week and travel all over the country. The costs are minimal compared to other sports clubs, and can be covered by parents, community fundraisers, volunteering and scholarships. Just a little effort reduces the cost concern parents may have, making it even more appealing and payment plans are available too !!
Owned and operated for over 30 years by Rick Ashmore, this family owned operated with the help of his daughter Jamie Ashmore and son-in-law Adam, is an amazing facility expanding 50,000 square feet in LaPorte, IN. He started by offering his services at local school gyms and collaborated his services under one roof when he started the Dunes Volleyball Club in Rolling Prairie, IN., which operated for about 12 years until the re-location to 110 Clear Lake Blvd behind the Pine Lake Shopping Center in 2017. The only down fall was the difficulty in parking. The main parking lot along side the building is now blacktopped and wraps around to the front of the building. A second parking lot as been leveled and gravelled and wraps around the outdoor sand courts, offering plenty of parking, and a third lot across the street help cover overflow.
The little things that he has done show his passion for the sport and his compassion for his players. Covered in SnapSports® Sport Court Flooring Tiles: A modular flooring that encompasses shock absorbing technology designed to provide improved performance as well as joint support for athletes. This Facility has 10 practice courts and 8 courts for tournaments, as well as 2 lighted outdoor sand courts and 2 indoor basketball courts. The facility has also expanded the restrooms to alleviate lines and a quick return to the courts. The Pro Shop has you covered if a player forgets anything from shoes, kneepads, ankle braces, t shirts, warm-up suits, spandex shorts, to water bottles.
THE FUTURE OPPORTUNITIES
With the need of support and a location for boys volleyball, The Dunes will be adding boys teams…. It’s not just for Girls!!! Consider how many pro-athletes procure their conditioning by participating in beach volleyball during their off seasons. Volleyball builds an athletes vertical, footwork,endurance and court communication. These are skills that can be carried over to the basketball courts. Thus, the reason The Dunes includes 2 basketball courts that are open to schools and local organizations for practices and games. https://doctoryessis.com/2013/09/02/training-for-basketball-and-volleyball/ is a great article of the cross training success of these two sports.
The other need in our community is a healthy alternative for adult social activity. The Dunes is planning to expand in this area to incorporate recreational opportunities with community support. From corporate team building to social meets: what a great way to get some physical activity in and meet others in the area.
Anyone interested in participation on any and all levels should not hesitate to contact The Dunes or just make the leap and sign up !!!!
Washington Park in Michigan City, IN is not only my home base, it is one of the most perfect beaches I have been to. The sand is so soft, smooth and sings as it hugs the soles of your feet with every step. That is why it is known as “singing sands”. The park is also considered a major contributor to the historic value of this community. During the depression, the stonework found around the park and zoo was completed as a stimulus community service for food and assisting Americans back to work by promoting community growth.
The park district and visitors do a great job of keeping it as close to undisturbed natural beauty as I have seen. With plenty of parking space provided within the 3 parking lots, one finds the walk to the lakefront full of satisfied anticipation. upon entering, a challenge is presented. Do you go to the right and visit a park filled with picnic tables, jungle gym, swings, and children’s laughter coming from the splash park, or left to join in the BBQ’s at the pavilions, venture a little walk around the gazebo and admire the stone art.The summer’ beckons sand volleyball players from everywhere to fill up to 24 courts on the main beach and up to 10 courts “over the hill” on the other side of the sand dune that separates the 2 beaches almost every weekend supplying the spectators with an exciting level of athleticism. The players range from Jr’s to PRO’s levels engaging in fierce competition with a fun appreciation of the game. One can find their favorite players and follow the tournament progression online as the scores are posted with a live feed, so the crowd can participate in the intensity of close games. The sound system pumps the music and adds to the ambiance of the summer sport and the positive energy of the sun.
The Hill (sand dune) challenges the heart of our youth to run to the top, while the dune grass tickles your legs and your spirit and adds to the warrior cry of accomplishment.
The boardwalk encourages adventure to visit the lighthouse: Lined with historic replicas of gas-styled street lamps indicates the romance of the landscape. The concrete platform lined with picnic tables offer the perfect barrier from the main parking lot beach and for those who prefer not to indulge in the luscious sand. The only key it is first come, first serve, unless proper reservations or permits are obtained from parks and rec before congregating with friends and family.
The pier delivers a dreamy serenity of walking thru parted waters: To the left, the channel is busy with the traffic of sailboats, charters, speedboats, yachts and many kinds of personal watercraft, the right side displays massive boulders that shatter the waves of the open lake into a mist that kisses the soul. Reaching the lighthouse increases the blood flow and a feeling of open clarity.
There is a sense of earthly unity as you stand on the edge of a cement cliff; facing out to the north side of the lighthouse and overlook the vast blue waters that blend the horizon into sunset. Breathe in deeply, close your eyes…..now that is tranquility.
My first trip to Anna Marie Island as a travel blogger was as inspiring as the views. The mentality of relaxation and peace of mind are everywhere you visit. The sunsets and sunrises are as captivating to the eye as to the soul. A map of the opportunities this Island has to offer provide unending possibilities of places to go. Three days was definitely not enough to capture even one fourth of the moments awaiting your memories. I can’t wait to visit again. Just take a look at the pictures on my Anna Marie Island Page, and you will be aching to getaway yourself.
These are just a few of the reviews of places I got to visit on my most recent trip to Bradenton Beach FL. Bringing the joy to spectators, athletes, and local businesses is the best life ever.
The Canyons Zip Line and Adventure Park, Ocala FL
Just off the expressway and pass the little rural area there is a red Barn off in the distance the promises fun, excitement, and adventure beyond anything you could imagine. We were welcomed by the friendliest staff. They were eager and participated in our excitement of adventure. Since my back injury 20+ years ago, I’m not able to continue skydiving and zip lining is a close adrenaline rush. This place was fabulous!! From the informative and entertainingly fun training for the newbies that were traveling with me, to the informative commentary of the landscape as we traveled the canopy tour, it was a true adventure. the weather was perfect and the scenery breathtaking. From forests to cliffs, and hieghts to make your heart pound, the gradual increase of thrill with the next zip line fed the anticipation. They offer a go pro accompanied SD card filled with the pictures of the group’s escapades and videos that include the comic banter among participants and guides as well. There is also a cute gift shop filled with everything from magnets to sweatshirts to build you keepsake hope chest filled with proof of your quests. I can’t wait to go back and only wish I lived close enough to visit regularly!!!!
When traveling fast foods gets very mundane and when seeking out something a little different, this was a great find!! The parking lot to the bathroom is spotless and would meet with mom’s approval of clean.the friendly staff directed us thru the menu board and we chose the baked combo. A sample of lasagna, fettuccini alfredo ,and spaghetti with meatballs smothered in baked cheesy goodness. Our choice of salad or a slice of pizza with a drink was part of this meal ensemble. The salad was crisp cold and very fresh served in a bowl that made you feel like you had just prepared it yourself at home. As soon as we were about finished with our salad, the most friendly smile greeted us with our piping hot encore with fresh bread sticks: so soft they melt in your mouth. It was as if I visited an Olive garden without the expense or crowded wait. A wonderful little find. Even though it is a franchised chain, the warm feeling of family and care could be tasted with every bite.
Silver Surf Resort, Brandenton FL
This little hidden gem brings back the nostalgia of the 80’s getaway. When it was purchased in 1986 it was renovated and added two more buildings to accommodate guests with breathtaking views and the privacy to enjoy all the amenities it has to offer. Walking up to the third floor was worth the sunset views. Keys given with identifying seahorse building medallions were an enjoyable touch. The little things that are overlooked by corporate owners were definitely not missed by this family-owned and run home away from home. Being greeted by the most helpful staff at the front counter, Megan provided transportation options like the free trolley service until 10 pm and the Monkey Bus that operates solely on tips and will pick you up anywhere and take you anywhere on the island. She also gave suggestions of local establishments that enhanced our experience of Anna Marie Island. They also provide a very reasonable and great personal massaging service that will come to your room or provide their services in a tiki hut on their private beach. This is truly a one of a kind great find!!
Manatee Beach Bradenton FL
Even the parking lot has captivating scenery that invites the soul to relaxation and pure enjoyment. With a cafe and gift shop to feed the body and the memories, this place is a true treasure. Saturday brought the EVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tournament, bringing entertainment and excitement for all ages to watch. Even a few older locals 50 joined in the fun of participation in exhibition matches against the Women’s Pro Players. At then end of the day, a peace that touches the spirit inside is priceless and experienced in every color the sunset sky provides.
Wicked Cantina Bradenton FL
The outside seating is warmed with heaters removing any concern of night air chills. The margaritas and food portions were pleasing as well as the wonderful live music and entertainment of Noel. As he accepted requests and put his personal touches to the tunes, his talent never ran short. He loves what he does and loves to bring the crowd into his worldly style of sounds. Great place and a must visit!!
Gulf Drive CafeBrandentonFL
A place recommended by our host at Silver Surf, was no disappointment. Their signature margarita packed a powerful punch and the views from outside were intoxicating as well. The staff’s friendly and attentive eagerness to please guests just gives your mind the break from reality as the live music entertains dreams and memories of joy.