July 19, 2011

Grand Rapids Weekend

We spent this past weekend in the gorgeous city of Grand Rapids, MI, the second largest city in the state after Detroit.

Matt's unit had a post-deployment Yellow Ribbon Program event, which is a "Department of Defense-wide effort to support National Guard and Reserve Service Members and families with information on benefits and referrals before, during, and after deployments." 

I do think it's wonderful that they have these for the soldiers and their families. We had one last year for Matt's unit prior to their deployment and we received a slew of information and support. Last year's event took place in Lansing, where Matt and I used to live, but we were thrilled that this one took place in Grand Rapids, especially because the event was held at the exquisite Amway Grand Plaza Hotel. It was so amazing to be able to stay there for two nights--for free!!

The original hotel--The Pantlind--opened in 1913. Within the next ten years, the hotel was ranked as "One of the Ten Finest Hotels in America."

Since then, the hotel has seen several additions, but the magnificent lobby of the original hotel remains:

The glow and the ambiance was so incredibly lovely!

Our room was in the new section of the hotel, on the eighteenth floor.

We had a wonderful view of the city and the Grand River.

Right across the river, we had a perfect view of the Grand Rapids Public Museum {right side of photo}, where Matt took me when we were dating to see a special Ancient Egypt exhibit. {ancient Egypt is my favorite time period in history} He also bought me a beautiful blue Egyptian ring there... 


On Friday night, we were able to meet up with our close friends, newlyweds Nick and Jaela.

After the program stuff finished for the day on Saturday, all of us husbands and wives in Matt's section went out to eat. It was great to enjoy one another's company on the other side of the deployment!

Our group then took a leisurely stroll through the city streets. It was a splendid summer's evening and it was such a joy to take in the scenes of beautiful downtown Grand Rapids.

Located right next to our hotel was a Ruth's Chris Steak House. This is the restaurant where Matt proposed to me in 2007, only in the Indianapolis restaurant location. It's a very sweet story, and I'll have to share it sometime.

The Amway Grand Hotel also plays a part in our engagement story. In short, Matt was here at the Amway over New Year's 2006, working President Ford's funeral with his National Guard unit. Being called up to work this event, an honor no less, did foil his original proposal plans and the poor guy had to come up with a completely different proposal plan for a later date....huge kudos to him for that!

Hoping you all enjoyed beautiful summery weekends, too!


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