Happy Birthday, America! From St. Joseph, Michigan

After a fantastic weekend at the Fitbloggin’ conference in Denver, I continued east, ending up in St. Joseph, Michigan, a town on Lake Michigan with gorgeous, sandy beaches. My mom grew up in this area, and it’s the perfect place for our family to meet up for a relaxing week.


Oh, by the way, I’m writing this from  Terminal 3 at O’Hare, where my flight home has been delayed over two hours. It’s a faint smudge on an excellent week, and, in all honesty, if my flight was on time I wouldn’t have gotten this post up for another day… so my flight delay is your gain! You’re welcome!

I posted a lot of photos on Instagram and Twitter (including many of my meals), so I’ll try not to repeat myself here, but all in all, it was a very healthy week. It’s easy for me to eat well in the presence of my family, so that’s what I do.

My big eating day was on July 2nd. More family and friends came in for the day, and we ordered tons of barbeque and spent the day at the beach. The food was delicious – and it came from the fantastically named Charlie’s Piggin’ N’ Grinnin’. Don’t barbeque places have the best names?


This was one of three plates of food that I ate, plus sandwiches for lunch about three hours earlier, plus grazing on chips and cookies in between. I stayed away from the mac and cheese (a small victory) but still ate enough calories for a few people.

You know what? It’s ok. It really is. I ate well for the first few days, feasted one day, and got right back on track the next day, and stayed on track the rest of my time in St. Joe. My Instagram and Twitter feeds will back this up!

It helped that I had an exercise plan, which was easy to follow: I worked out every morning, first thing. See? Easy to follow. I alternated between running and going for a bike ride. My sister Sarah came with me on two bike rides. Each was over 10 miles, and one ended at the beach.


One run (3.6 miles) was to a different park, which also had a great view of Lake Michigan.


Another run was replaced by a family outing: kayaking on the Paw Paw river! This was my first time in a kayak since that time in the Channel Islands, and it was a great workout. I shared a kayak with my nephew Sam, with my brother-in-law Justin and niece Allison in another, and Sarah on the stand-up paddleboard.


It took slightly over an hour, and I calculated later that we kayaked around 1.7 miles. Add up 4 bike rides (the longest of which was 15 miles), 2 runs, and the kayak excursion, and I added around 55 miles to my cardio miles chart in just seven days. That’s how I like to vacation!

RELATED CONTENT: More St. Joseph adventures! I rode a bike for the first time in over 10 years in St. Joe, and just last year, ran a ferry and ate bugs while in St. Joe.

In addition to planned exercise, there was lots of other activity too. Downtown St. Joe is on a bluff above the water, and where there’s a bluff…


…there’s stairs. Of course I climbed them! Another day, I took Allison to the Washington Park Zoo in Michigan City, Indiana, where there’s an observation tower that we climbed.


Some online literature I saw jokingly bragged about the “thousands” of steps the tower has, but it doesn’t. Another source said it has 220, including the ones up the hill that the tower is perched on. I’m kicking myself for not counting myself, but I was too busy talking about Rapunzel with Allison as we climbed. The views at the top were marvelous, and we would’ve stayed up there longer but Allison really had to go to the bathroom.


There were lots of great animals at the zoo, too. Look out, a cougar!


On the Fourth of July, my mom and I headed out in the morning to stake out a prime spot on the bluff to watch the fireworks that night. The farmer’s market was that morning, on the same block, so we perused the stalls and bought a few things, including something I’ve never had before: black raspberries!


They were delicious.

Another day we went to the Sarett Nature Center, which has hundreds of acres of untouched forest. We went on a 2-mile hike to the river and back…

Me and my mom.

Me and my mom.

…and went out on an awesome treetop bridge that extended out from a ridge.


We found something to do every day, like putt-putt golf and go-karts…

That's me in the red car. I just passed Allison and Justin in the yellow car!

That’s me in the red car. I just passed Allison and Justin in the yellow car!

…and Sarah and I even found some time for a nice public bath while window shopping downtown.


What a bummer that vacation is over! Now it’s back to work. Gotta pay the bills. So glad to be returning from out-of-town not feeling like I let go of all my good habits while I was gone. With some thought and planning, a vacation can be healthy and fun… and I’m so glad I have the hang of that!

Keep it up, David!


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6 Responses to Happy Birthday, America! From St. Joseph, Michigan

  1. Sarah says:

    Nice Pictures!

  2. Sasha says:

    David – I really enjoyed meeting you and hearing your speech at FitBloggin’! Thanks for sharing!
    I spent the Fourth of July in St. Joseph, MI a few years ago with friends, and I absolutely loved it! St. Joe is such a cute city with strangely a lot to see and do! Seeing your pictures and reading your post reminded me of that, so I really enjoyed it! 🙂

    • David says:

      Pleasure meeting you too and glad my post brought back some great memories! I’ve been going to Benton Harbor/St. Joe my whole life. Love it there!

  3. Mom says:

    I thought it was a great blog, too!! Maybe I’m prejudiced.

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