The Schitts Creeking of Americas Highways

Posted on November 21, 2022

The Schitts Creeking of America’s Highways. I am sure there are small charming places all over the world that are getting facelifts and resurgences thanks to the charming show Schitts Creek(watch it if you have not seen it yet) but as the great American road trip and wandering grow, so does the motel resurgence.

In my last post, I spoke about the nightmare Airbnb has turned into. I am here to describe one of the more charming things we discovered last summer. That is the cool thing happening in the motel world. The comeback of sorts of the roadside motel is in part due to Schitts Creek and probably also Covid19.

Factors in the motel’s resurgence

Travel did not stop during Covid, but it did change, and some of those changes are directly in line with what was happening at the time. Americans were not flying. We were driving. Many of us stayed close to home for the most part. The big corporate hotel chains had to scale back on staff, and some even closed their doors for extended periods. I traveled to New Orleans and stayed in a 17-story hotel that, in pre-covid times, I would have never entered, but in New Orleans, at that time, it was one of the only games in town. I spent one long 24-hour period not seeing another human being. That’s a very weird feeling when you are in a place where normally thousands would be staying.

At the same time, big hotels turned into ghost towns. Small independent motels found the PPP money useful in renovating enough to keep folks interested in their small motels. With the help of Schitts Creek, making them cool and trendy, we started staying in them again, and others started opening them again.

When a Karen Visits

We found in our travels last year that the owners of the motels went out of their way to explain what a small roadside motel was. Smaller rooms, rustic wood paneling, small bathrooms, and sometimes tin shower stalls. No kitchens or refrigerators. Unless you get a kitchenette. These are general but not set rules for motels, but they are the things a Karen complains about… a lot, as we learned from talking with some of the awesome folks that run or own the motels we stayed at.

Both my mom and I found it odd that the folks we spoke to on the phone went so far out of their way to explain what a motel was and how it differed from a hotel. Once we dived into online reviews, it became evident that some folks don’t get the charm of a road trip or a roadside motel. That’s too bad because they are missing out on some awesome places to stay and a cool way to meet new people and learn about the fun places to eat and drink locally that frequently you don’t get from the big hotels or in big cities.

What constitutes a Motel

This is my definition, I’m sure someone has a respectable official definition, but this is mine. A drive-up establishment where You park your car in front of your room. There is an office with an attendant or a bell you ring for service. In a pre-covid world, you would have been able to stop on the spur of the moment. Many motels you now reserve as they don’t have full-time desk help or the front desk leaves early evening. There are often Vacancy or No Vacancy signs located by the road. They are usually single stories tall, with a few being two stories if there is a view. There may be a vending machine and or ice machine outside. Feel free to add what constitutes a motel for you in the comments. But I think have provided a visual; if not, I will remind you to look at Schitts Creek.

The Great Lakes

I got my love of road-tripping from my parents, and we have stayed in many a motel while we traveled the highways of these here united states. There is something very yin and yang about the Great Lakes and Motels. They go together like Dolly Parton and Kenny Rodgers.

When I was a kid, an escape to the Northshore of Lake Superior and a night in a motel were so fun and exciting. It is where my love of both the road trip and the roadside motel stems from

In my opinion, it is the best way to travel the great lake states, and the motels were some of our favorite stops on our road trip around Lake Huron

The Favorite

I will tell you, I wish it was anywhere but where it was. But it won the favor because the woman running it was an outstanding hospitable human being and made everything better. The sunrise was breathtaking, and it had a haunted put put course next to it that we were told about! Sadly I did not see a single ghost.

The winning motel is Bayview Motel in St. Ignace, MI. It is small, it has tin showers. It has a microwave and a TV, they have heat that works, and they have a view of the lake, which is amazing! BBQ grills if you don’t want to eat tourist food. A firepit where they have nightly fires burning. A beach area that you can swim from if you want to. And again, a stunning sunrise. The downfall is it is in this particular tourist town. But it is everything you want a motel to be and then some.

That Sunrise!

I will catch heat for what I am about to say, but Mackinaw Island is overrated. As much as I enjoyed this motel, I do not understand the fascination with the overpriced ferry ride to an island with overpriced fudge and taffy. As always, I will explore this topic of popular tourist destinations I hate in a future post. Until then, let me know what you love about Mackinaw Island. Maybe you will convince me to return to the Bayview Motel again.

Schitts Creeking of our Highways and what I think it means.

Despite my favorite motel experience last summer being in a town I don’t like, I have to say the schitts creeking of our highways is an exciting development. In all my travels over the last year, I have stayed at several reasonably priced motels with varying degrees of success.

I am excited to see more affordable options. I love that a new group of managers and people who have hospitality in their bones are deciding to do renovations and upgrades to a uniquely American way of travel. The road trip is alive and well, and with many of us suffering from wanderlust, let’s hope that we see even more of this something old is new again mentality.

Is Airbnb a Nightmare?

Posted on November 14, 2022

Is Airbnb a nightmare? My short answer is yes! As I mentioned in my last post Bay City, Michigan: AnUnexpected Treat, we stayed in an Airbnb, and I would have some comments on our use of Airbnb’s on the trip we took around Lake Huron and on some other trips I have taken.

I think it is essential to address Airbnbs before people start planning spring break and summer vacations. So here goes. These are my experiences with Airbnb over the years. You can insert VRBOs on the camping side Hipcamp. I have, at one time or another, used all three. Though I will tell you Hipcamp will be a post of its own.

Airbnb the beginning

First off, the original idea of Airbnb was some dudes in San Fransisco renting out air mattresses to conference attendees to make their rent and get the conference folks a place to stay when the hotels were booked. “air, bed, and breakfast” It was literally born out of the fact rent is too high and unaffordable across the nation. Ironic now.

It is mind-blowing to me that some 16 years or so later, Aibnbs have become nearly unaffordable for the average person. They are no longer the cheap alternative to a hotel room. They still sometimes suit a purpose, especially when traveling to tourist destinations like the Outerbanks with large groups. Though I would argue you are better off renting a large house for multiple families from a smaller property ownership or management agency that has worked or knows about hospitality management in the area and not a homeowner based in Manhattan or somewhere.

I do not doubt anyone who has used Airbnb or the like frequently in the past 16 years has some great stories and wonderful deals, myself included. What has happened more and more frequently, though, as I search for places to travel and stay that do not end me sleeping in Hope the Bronco. I have found there is a common thread. It is becoming more restrictive on time. 4 pm or later check-ins and out by 9-11am. It is becoming less and less hospitable. As more people that have no idea what hospitality is, enter the Airbnb arena, they are decorating their places beautifully and adding steam showers and decks and hot tubs and pools, but they are also adding to that 3-ring binder they all leave you with citing a long list of restrictions and rules.

Cleaning Fees

Let’s talk cleaning fees. A hotel does not charge you a cleaning fee. If You stay more than one day, they will change your sheets and bring you towels. Many hotels offer for you to opt out of this if you choose to save water and staff time, but there is no fee on either side of it. If you eat in the room, they take the food boxes away. think pizza or KFC buckets; there is no charge for garbage removal.

If you order room service, you can choose to set the dishes in the hall or leave them in your room. There is no charge either way. In the last two years, I have stayed where I have had to bring my own sheets and towels. I have had to pack up my trash and find a dumpster to place it in off-site. I have had to do the dishes and run the dishwasher. all while paying at least 125$ cleaning fee and, at the most $300 cleaning fee. Even if the space only costs $99, with those fees, everything is over $200 a night. That is no longer a deal that is the cost of a hotel room.


This is where hospitality knowledge comes into play. Many of us travel to places we have never been before. If you go to school for hospitality management, you are told on the first day that LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION will play a factor in everything you do for the rest of your career. The professor in the first class I ever took in college was not wrong about this.

The issue with Airbnbs is that they are homes and/or condos, in many cases, being bought up from areas that are not tourist friendly. Nor close to the things you need, like the airport or the cruise ship terminal. They are cheap to purchase. Sometimes run-down homes were people’s actual homes until investors bought them up. Investors spend thousands fixing them up, mostly cosmetically, and then not wanting to rent them for under $500 a night.

Is Airbnb A Nightmare

When you spend $500 a night in a hotel, you are staying and paying for hospitality. You expect a central location and clean sheets. Possibly room service or concierge service. You can stay at the Ritz Carlton in New Orleans in the French Quarter bordering the business district for $500 a night. For that price, you can get amazing amenities. You can also go down the street into the heart of the French Quarter and stay at the Bourbon Orleans(a personal favorite) for $200-400 a night. At either of these hotels, be able to walk, trolly or taxi anywhere very easily. Have room service or a local restaurant within steps or delivered.

The view from a balcony
A View from a Bourbon Orleans Balcony

That level of service does not take place in most airbnbs or vrbos for the same price. For example, I found a place on Airbnb in New Orleans that said walkable to the best New Orleans has to offer for $100 a night. To walk to the French Quarter from this location would be 5.1 miles each way. We can argue that the French Quarter is not the best of New Orleans, but it is where everyone who visits wants to go. It holds nightlife, art, and culture. The French Market is there, and so is the tourist part of the Mississippi River and all the river offers.

Price Difference

After fees and such, the Airbnb ended up being about $220 a night. This is not hospitality. It is also not the great deal one would think it is. This is setting yourself up for a potentially bad trip to New Orleans. This same scenario can be set up repeatedly in the Airbnb/Vrbo world. No matter where you visit.

Management Companies

Lastly, let’s talk a second about who owns these Airbnbs now. The Airbnbs and Vrbos are increasingly owned by wealthy investors who hire apartment management companies to run their properties. They put minimal upkeep into the property and get a maximum $$ out. They often buy up local single-family housing and turn them into single-night or weekly rental units. Diminishing space for people to rent and live in the area. This has far reaching affects the most notable is labor shortages in tourist destinations.

An Example From Our Trip

We encountered this on our trip around Lake Huron; We chose a place for all the reasons you do. Great location and the photos were beautiful. The listing said bars and restaurants were close by, and the views were amazing. It was an old stone house, and it had a history associated with it. We arrived, and it was an old stone house. Built up against the side of a hill. The original wood floors were amazing. Though the water coming off the hill from recent rain was actually coming through the side of the house and across the kitchen floor. The front porch was rotten, the bushes were so overgrown that you could not see out the window, let alone find a view. This is one example of what makes Airbnb a nightmare.

We were over 9 miles from a town or a restaurant. If you live there, I am sure that was close by. As a tourist, that is not close by, especially if you would like a cocktail or wine with dinner. It was an unacceptable place to stay for these reasons and a few others.

Credit to the management company they refunded our money and in the same breath said they had over 60 other airbnbs available in and around this area we were in. I passed, and I was able to find a wonderful hotel in the area that led to one of the best meals of our trip and one of the most wonderful towns to spend a little time in. I will write about this town, hotel, and sights in one of the next articles on the blog. Have you found Airbnb a nightmare, and if so, what have you done about it?

Changing my ways

In writing this bit on Airbnbs, I have decided to go back to looking for hotels/motels and actual hospitality businesses. If I cannot find what I need, I may possibly use Airbnb or Vrbo. I have to say there is something to be said about professional people doing professional jobs.

Professionalism is still important.

That last line in the above paragraph is the most important I spent most of my career being told that I did not hold real jobs. That waiting tables and managing restaurants were not real work. That somehow, time spent in an office was more valid. I used to fight the stigma, and then I just came to not think about it.

But at the core of what bothers me so much about Airbnb/vrbos is that people with money assume now anyone can do it. It’s easy work. It takes no skill. At this stage, I think as Airbnb suffers some serious growing pains and issues, we can see that not everyone can be a hospitality manager. That it does take hard work, and people want to escape their lives for a night, a weekend, or a week. Having us do our own dishes or bring our own sheets and paying for that privilege is way too much like staying at home. Especially when the hospitality leaders have such great programs now to reward you for using their products. We will talk about that in a sooner rather than later post.

Bay City, Michigan: An Unexpected Treat

Posted on November 10, 2022

The first trip I took this past summer was around Lake Huron. There were so many fantastic, fun, and exciting things on our road trip it is not fair to do only one post. The first unexpectedly intriguing stop was in Bay City, Michigan.

Driving around Lake Huron, you tend to get lost in the lake. The way the lake is situated, you see a beautiful sunset or sunrise at nearly every stop! If there were nothing else but these breathtaking starts and ends to the day, the trip alone would be worth it. But there is so much more to see and do. Admittedly we underestimated the spots off the lake by a few blocks to miles. Bay City was one of those underestimations.

Had we known what a charming place this was, we probably would have stayed longer than one night and enjoyed the restaurants and art of the city. There appears to be a rich history in and around Bay City that I hope one day to go back and explore a little more.

We stayed in the most charming Airbnb, and I say that knowing that Airbnb is a waning enterprise until those that own them get some basic hospitality understanding. This will more than likely be a whole post unto itself. Because I have lots to say about Airbnb.

This Airbnb was lovely, and it was in a historic old home. Was it worth it? Probably not for the cost we paid for one night, but it did take dogs, and if we had not been on the road all day, it was within walking distance of many restaurants. I feel there is a lot to explore in Bay City.

Bay City, Michigan. A charming little town split down the middle by the Saginaw River, as you can see by the map, it is at the tip of the Saginaw Bay on Lake Huron.

We arrived later than planned because the stretch of road to Bay City was filled with beautiful lake views. Remarkable shipwrecks and overall Lake Huron Beauty. As mentioned above, it is why we did not have a great deal of time to explore. We learned our lesson on this trip, and the Great Lake adventure we are planning for this spring will have more exploration built in.

We read about an exciting place for coffee. Harless & Hugh was the perfect start to a day of driving and exploring on our way to Presque Isle. The coffee was outstanding; they made their own syrups the caramel was delicious. As you can see in the photo, the morning toasts were delectable. Lox for mom and Avacado for myself. Plus, we shared a muffin and a cheese pastry.

Morning Toast

Overall Bay City has me wanting to go back and see what other things this cute town offers. It is a 4-hour drive from Columbus, Ohio, and Cleveland. Five hours from Chicago and five and a half from Indianapolis. It would be a great destination for a long weekend. Let me know if you decide to check it out.

Road Trippin with a Dog: Safety

Posted on July 8, 2022

Road Trippin with a Dog: Safety

So far the #1 question asked is about Leia and what it is like to go Road Trippin with a dog. I will tell you that my Leia is a good dog but not trained super well. If I am honest it is me, I am the one not trained very well.

Leia is smart, but I am not dedicated enough to have her be an off-leash, listen to all my words, find Timmy in the well, and notify kind of dog. I will leave that to Lassie and her trainer.

Knowing I’m a terrible dog mom, I will encourage you to travel with your pets even if they are not Westminster dog show dogs. This post is about safety and making sure your dog is safe when you travel.

Getting to Know Leia

What my readers should know about Leia: She is shy of 9 pounds. She has a huge personality. Leia is crate trained but she has never been put in the crate as punishment. I have put her in the crate to sometimes give me a break because she is a ball of energy. She does not eat people’s food regularly, so it is a treat if she gets it.
When I adopted Leia she had been in a home where she was abused and neglected. I adopted her from a wonderful rescue organization called Stop the Suffering.

I have nothing nice to say about breeders of dogs in southern Ohio or anywhere in Ohio, as I have now owned two dogs that have had significant issues. Both of which came from sketchy breeders and or puppy mills.
Leia has some significant issues with going to the bathroom. From the information gained after her rescue, it appears she was abused around bathroom time and/or has a physical issue from being the runt at the bottom of the pile.

I share all of that with you to say she is a great traveler despite her issues. What I am going to share below are some very specific actions we take when traveling.

Some of these safety measures are easier with a small dog.

So far Leia has covered a lot of ground and after our last trip, she has even been out of the country. After several trips with her, I think I have it down pretty well.

Road Trippin with a Dog: Safety

From the car ride to the hotel stay to the hiking and camping. The first thing I think of is Leia’s safety much like with kids there are some things we all should do. The following is a list with links to products I use and love for Leia’s safety.

  • Leashes. I always have two along. Neither are retractable or longer than 6 feet. I have a handheld leash for walking and bathroom breaks and I have a hands-free leash for hiking and climbing. The 6ft leash rule is just a good measure but it is often a requirement at parks and trails.
  • When traveling in a car it is a really good idea to have your dog secure. Because of Leia’s size, I use a dog booster seat with a safety belt on her harness. For bigger dogs, you can get seatbelt attachments.
  • I believe your dog should always have a place to call their own even when Road Trippin. Crates for me and my dogs have always been that place. I do not use the crate as a punishment but rather as a den tricked out with familiar scents and favorite blankets to rest in after a day of adventure. It is also ideal to keep them in when staying in a hotel. They do not make a sound and they rest while you are out for dinner or some non-dog time. The problem, crates are big and bulky. Solution Leia has her own portable crate. The crate was an amazing gift after Leia arrived from her rescue. I would not give this up for anything. A foldable, portable crate is the absolute best for travel.
  • The last thing is a doggie passport. This is good even if they are not leaving the country. It is a place you can keep all your info on your dog in case your dog goes missing. In Leia’s passport, I have her Vaccination record, her info on her miro chip, her dog license, and two photos. I have an extra tag with my information on it in case we lose the one on her collar. I keep all of this in a passport carrier in the glove compartment so it is easily accessible.

The last thing I want to mention is how I visit stores and some restaurants while still traveling with Leia. I carry her in a backpack! Yes, I have a special backpack called a K9Sack. She loves riding in it. Leia can be up and see what is going on. She tends to be very calm while on my back and most shopkeepers have no issue with you bringing her into their shop. Some even have treats! They make these carriers for dogs all the way to I believe 50 pounds. I love the sports sack and so does Leia.

These are the basics of safety and traveling with a dog. If you do something different I would love to hear about it leave a comment. Safe and Happy Travels!

The Great Lakes: Lake Huron Road Trip

Posted on June 20, 2022

The Lake Huron Road Trip has convinced me that Lake Huron may be my favorite great lake right now. In my entire life, I have always lived in a state that borders a Great Lake and yet I have forgotten how amazing these bodies of water are and how lucky we are to have them in our back yards.

On very short notice with only a little less than a 3-week planning window. I decided that a trip around Lake Huron with my mom and my dog would be a great way to start my very first summer of being a lunch lady and having the summer free.

It was one of the best spontaneous somewhat crazy ideas I have decided to make. If you have a parent you love and are close to who is getting older I cannot tell you what a great way it is to connect and be closer as adults than to do a road trip together. This Lake Huron Road Trip was our chance to connect.

The logistics were more than I let myself see so there are some great lessons I learned.

  1. Driving makes you tired and you get even more tired if you stop and get in and out of the car. Which you should absolutely do on a road trip. If you don’t just fly.
  2. Realistically 150 miles a day is max. You miss way too much if you do more than that. I have a lot more to say about this so follow along.
  3. The idea of just stopping when you are tired is nice but because of factors like having a dog, the seasonal businesses, and businesses closed after covid(this will be a whole post). This is nearly impossible.
  4. Google is not the end-all, be-all for info. I have suggestions to use and incorporate resources you would think were gone but are not. This too will be its own post.
  5. We rely too much on the internet and when you want to escape that means no internet. So enjoy the experience and write about it when you get home. Snap a million photos. your camera phone still works.
  6. Invest in some things that make life easy or help the trip. The below links show my top 5 best purchases for the trip and why I found them useful. I also will admit there were one or two we bought on the road. I hope this saves you that trouble.

An awesome cooler. There are good coolers and there are great coolers. Buy a great one. Why? Because it is amazing not to have to find ice every 12 hours when you are out where you go a day or several hours not seeing another human being. There are several brands you all know Yeti, this is the RTIC there is also Coho and I am sure others. This was worth every penny.

If you are young this will mean nothing but if you have reached the age of needing reading glasses they are a must. Especially when you see number three on the list. I don’t want you to spend a bunch of money on reading glasses though because on a road trip you will invariably break a pair lose a pair or drop a pair in the lake. So a five-pack that comes in its own box is perfect!

Maps. They don’t make them like they used to. It was hard to find a comprehensive off-the-beaten-path map of the areas we went to. We came across these maps from National Geographic and they ended up being very helpful. They make them for many parts of the united states and this is the Canadia Pack we got. I would also suggest a good atlas and taking time to stop at information centers.

You will probably say Whaaaaattttt?? but hear me out. I have started carrying in my car a portable cutlery set. It became invaluable when stopping at roadside food trucks, and getting to-go food from stands, markets, and gas stations. I cannot stand the little plastic utensils for reasons ranging from the environment to they are little and cheap. This makes dining on the road a joy.

This last one turned out to save us many a night. I suggest carrying one for each person or bed in the group. This is a sleeping bag that can open to cover a bed. If you are tent camping you are already prepared but we stayed in cabins and it got very cold a few nights when the quilt provided was not enough. Pull out the stuff sack zip this open and lay across the top of the bed and bingo you are warm in a few minutes. It also makes a great sleeping bag if you are tent camping though this is not designed for backpacking.

We had a truly wonderful adventure on our Lake Huron Road Trip and I cannot wait to get into the details of the trip with you. I intend to share it from beginning to end and highlight some really special spots. Michigan, Lake Huron, and Canada were incredibly beautiful and fun road trip! I hope this encourages you to plan your own adventure.

#lakehuron #roadtrip #puremichigan #canada #trippingvittlesadventure

How to Make Blackberry Simple Syrup

Posted on July 28, 2019

This is a how-to post! How to Make Blackberry Simple Syrup. I thought it a great time to re-share this recipe as Blackberrys arrived at the Westerville Farmers Market last Saturday. A very easy recipe to enhance all your summer drinks. Add it to Iced Teas for a different berry flavor.

How do you use Blackberry Simple Syrup?

Blackberry Simple Syrup Pairs well with Vodka, Bourbon, Gin, and Tequila. My favorite flavor combo with the blackberry syrup is lemonade, ginger beer, pineapple juice, sprite, and orange juice any of these flavors pair well with the syrup.

Try making a margarita and instead of adding Orange juice add the berry syrup to the tequila and lime juice. 1 part tequila, 2 parts lime juice, 1 part blackberry syrup. Shake in a cocktail shaker and serve in a chilled martini glass I highlighted these two items because if you do not have a bartending set at home you should get yourself one.

At-home cocktail making is fun and it will save you a ton of money in the long run. We used to call it pre-gaming I’m sure the youngsters have a cooler term for it than we did. But for me, a good pre-game is the best part of entertaining.

More than one kind of Simple Syrup

Follow this link for an easy-to-make Plain Simple Syrup. Simple Syrups are a way for bartenders to sweeten cocktails. Syrups are an easy concentrated way to add a bit of sweetness without the granules of a spoonful of sugar.

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Blackberry Simple Syrup

  • Author: trippingvittles


Simple syrup to use in Tea, Cocktails or Lemonade


  • 1 -pint Blackberries rinsed
  • 1 cup  granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water


Toss Berries in sugar put in a glass bowl and let sit for a day up to 3.

Put in Saucepan with the water, bring to a rolling boil.

Strain through cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer

store in an airtight container, I like mason jars.

Keywords: Blackberry Simple Syrup

The following are what I used in the kitchen to make the Blackberry Simple Syrup. You can follow the links to purchase these helpful tools. All-Clad Sauce Pan, Measuring Cups, Fine Mesh Strainer, Mason Jar

Tag me in the drinks you create with this syrup at #trippingvittles