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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Michigan Casino Bus Trip

This has really been a year of first for us with respect to travelling. New to us was staying at a bed & breakfast and renting a condo instead of a motel during our travels to Florida earlier this year. Both were very enjoyable and we are planning to do the same the next time we visit Florida. Both were cost saving as far as breakfasts and snacks. Breakfast was included with the bed & breakfast as was happy hour. We could have cooked all of our meals as the condo (major cost savings) but we didn't. Still we saved on food by making breakfast and lunch at the condo then eating out for dinner.

On Saturday (18th) we were offered the opportunity to go on a bus trip (3 days, 2 nights) that would stop at four casinos in Michigan. Dinner was included for Tuesday and Wednesday while breakfast was included for Wednesday and Thursday. The only meals we had to buy was lunch on Tuesday and dinner on Thursday. Other perks including motel rooms for Tuesday and Wednesday nights made this an excellent deal! We were off on another adventure :)


We left the house early Tuesday morning to drive to the pre-determined bus pick-up location. Neither of us are huge breakfast people especially that early so we had our travel mugs filled at Timmy's aka Tim Hortons®. My husband got an extra large black while I got an extra large double double. There were 48 of us on board plus our tour guide and bus driver. The first stop was in West Branch, Michigan (I-75) where there were a few restaurants to choose from. The majority went to Elias Brothers Restaurant but we went to the Wendy's® next door. It was nice and slow which meant no line-ups for the washrooms! We only had 45 minutes which meant not wandering too far off either.

Wendy's® is one of the few fast food restaurants I don't mind on the rare occasion. Two things I really dislike about fast food restaurants are the quality of food and the vast amounts of garbage they produce. My husband ordered a double original cheese burger combo while I ordered a large chili and baked potato with sour cream and chives. We split the cola that came with his combo but between the two of us drank less than half. My choices were healthier than his yet checking Calorie Count from I still was not happy with the amount of sodium or fat in the chili. Honestly if you eat fairly healthy for the majority of your meals your body can handle the occasional fast food meal if absolutely necessary.

Dinner Buffet (Kewadin)

Our first casino stop was at Kewadin Shores in St. Ignace, Michigan but were were not there long enough to eat. The evening meal was a nice buffet at Kewadin Casino in Sault Ste. Marie. In comparison to Las Vegas casino buffets this was small but it was more than adequate. The food was quite good!

We start many of our evening meals with soup or salad. The salad bar would rival many Las Vegas casino buffets. There was a large selection of very fresh produce, dressings, toppings and salad extras. My salad consisted of a bed of iceberg lettuce, red onions, tomatoes, stuffed olives, carrots and hot peppers topped with low fat Thousand Island dressing, shredded cheese and sunflower seeds. My dinner was roasted turkey with cranberries, cod, green beans broccoli stir fry and potatoes (upper right). It looks like a lot but I never eat the breading on fish and the potatoes were left on the plate with the breading as they were too heavily spiced. I also only make one trip to the buffet and don't get dessert. My husband's dinner was very similar given the selection although he had cream of mushroom soup instead of a salad.

One neat thing about buffets is the cooking equipment. I simply had to take a picture of this beautiful wok filled with stir fry. The smell was wonderful so I lingered a while taking pictures and talking with the chefs. That is how you get some of their secretes! My husband finished off with cherry pie and ice cream for dessert. Michigan is famous for its sour cherry pie and it is a must have for those who like desserts!

Breakfast Buffet (Kewadin, Sault Ste. Marie)

The following morning we ate at the breakfast buffet at Kewadin (Sault Ste. Marie) before heading back to Kewadin Shores (St Ignace). The breakfast buffet included coffee and orange juice along with hot and cold breakfast offerings. It was smaller than the dinner buffet but again the food was quite good.

We ate as close to the bus departure time as possible more in keeping with our schedule. Departure time was 10 AM for Kewadin (Sault Ste. Marie) for a short period of time. We left there for Turtle Creek Casino in Traverse City, Michigan for the afternoon finally arriving a Leelanau Sands Casino in Peshawbestown, Michigan where we would be eating our evening meal and staying the night.

Leelanau Sands Casino had a very, very small soup and salad bar or you could order off of a very limited menu. We didn't mind this ourselves as soup and salad makes a rather nice meal. [There were a lot of complaints from others though.] They had a chili that was a bit different than what I make. It had black turtle beans and white beans instead of kidney beans as well a chunks of beef and tomato. There was a nice bite to this chili as well. With both texture and flavouring considerably different from my normal chili, this will be one dish I try duplicating at home. The following morning we had an included continental breakfast then it was back to Turtle Creek. We shared a nice BLT with chips from the deli mid afternoon but I forgot to take a picture.

Ponderosa Steakhouse

When my husband and I were dating Ponderosa Steakhouse was the place to go so when they said we would stop in West Bank on the way back at Ponderosa I though it would be a bit of a trip down memory lane. Others went elsewhere including the nearby Walmart but we decided to forego shopping and eat knowing it would be quite late when we got home.

I have to tell you I'm disappointed in the new decor. Gone are the wooden tables and wooden beamed ceilings but the food is still good. I order the all-you-can-eat steak special instead of the buffet which was pretty close to the same price. It came with soup or salad, choice of potato and bread. My husband ordered the seafood platter (pictured). It came with shrimp, coconut shrimp and fish on a bed of rice with choice of potato, soup or salad and bread. The presentation for the seafood platter was nice. What I forgot about Ponderosa is their potatoes are automatically topped with butter (?) and sour cream if you ask for it and they are wrapped in foil. I really don't like either.

We learned a lot by travelling this way. First you are on a schedule so you do need to follow that. There are no side trips or impromptu stops. You are very limited as to what food will be offered. In this case it was the restaurants that the bus could easily stop at en route. Time limitations meant you really could only go to whatever restaurant was very close by. Once stopped for the night you had the option of eating the meal that came with the package or paying for a cab and finding a restaurant that may or may not have been better (not really worth it). So if you go on this type of trip do consider both the time limitations and food choices. This is really the time to go with the flow as well especially when it comes to food.

2 food lovers commented:

CharmaineZoe said...

Love your blog:-) Your comments about the Las Vegas buffets made me smile. About 10 years ago I went on a trip across America with my 70yr old mother. Mum had never eaten fast food so it was quite different for her. I will always remember our first experience of a Vegas buffet, it was at the Excalibur and it made our eyes go out on stalks when we saw it!

Garden Gnome said...

Thank-you Charmainezoe! I'm glad you are enjoying my blog.

It sounds like your mom enjoyed a couple of firsts :) Nothing really compares to the Las Vegas buffets!