How To Enjoy a Long Holiday Weekend in St Joseph (Day 1)

Day One

As luck would have it, the first day of our long Fourth of July weekend was a rainy day. Not a problem. There's plenty to do indoors and outdoors in the area.

We started our day with breakfast by the lake. Yes, it was raining. Lightening too. But we didn't mind. We stopped at a local McDonald's and got a carryout breakfast (I love their oatmeal) then we drove to Lion's Park Beach. This is now a pay-to-park area which is patrolled and you will be ticketed if you don't pay the $5.00 fee on the spot or buy a season pass at the St Joseph City Hall. We have a season pass so we were free to park in the lot and watch Mother Nature's lightening storm over the lake. It was awesome! If you've never watched a storm over the big lake, be prepared for one terrific light show!

As soon as we finished eating, we got out our cameras. D and I love to make a game of trying to photograph lightening bolts over the lake with the lighthouses in the background. Hey, it's harder than you think! Give it a try and see what you can do. Here are a couple of my lucky shots.

After our photography fun, we ran some errands and stopped at the new Meijer store in Stevensville. It's just a ways south on Red Arrow Highway from St Joseph. This store is new and just opened in May of this year. It's clean, neat, and a pleasure to shop at.

Once we finished our errands and shopping it was time for lunch. D and I decided to check out a new restaurant. It's not new to the area, just to us. We pass by it all the time and decided it was time to stop in. The restaurant is Baguette de France on Hilltop Rd. just west of Washington in the strip mall with Papa Vino's restaurant. This restaurant was recommended to us by family members who are vegans (no meat, no dairy). We have a few vegans and vegetarians in the family now and it's always a challenge to feed them. So we're always on the lookout for restaurant options.

I'm happy to say that we were pleasantly surprised at how good the food was here. The menu is limited to subs and salads but the subs are made with baguettes and you'd be surprised what a difference that makes.
I had the Hawiian Chicken (left) and D had the roast beef (right). We both enjoyed our sandwiches. Mine was sliced chicken (lunch meat, not a whole breast), a slice of pineapple, lettuce, Swiss cheese, and a touch of their garlic sauce (which is like a Ranch salad dressing with garlic in it) on a warm whole grain baguette. They have a meat-free version of this as well. Yummy!

Since it was still raining when we finished lunch (in spite of weather forecasts to the contrary ;-) we decided to take in a movie. Off to Celebration Cinema in Benton Harbor we went. I'm an unabashed fan of rom-coms (romantic comedies) and it just so happens a new one opened this day. We saw Larry Crowne, starring Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks. Don't bother reading the reviews on this movie. The movie critics ALWAYS pan rom-coms. I think it's a law or something. Anyway, if you like an engaging, lighthearted movie with a happy ending, go see this movie. You won't be sorry. I promise.

By the time the movie was over, it was time to think about dinner. Clementine's Too is a favorite restaurant of ours in St Joe. We go there often but we hadn't been there since they remodeled it in early June. That seemed like a good reason to go there for dinner. The thing about Clementine's is, if you don't want to stand in line for a table you have to get there before 6pm on the weekend. After 6pm, there's always a line.

D and I got to Clementine's about 5pm so no line to be seated. :-) The wait staff there are always polite, friendly, and prompt when it comes to serving. So we placed our orders right away and then I had a few minutes to take in the decor before we were served. OK, I was not impressed. The new decor looks just like the interior of a Panera Bread cafe... earth tones and contemporary styling. Dingy mustard yellow and rusty red walls were lighted by simple round ceiling lights. Nice for a restaurant that features bread, out of place for a restaurant on the river next to a marina. The old decor was nautical and very fitting. The new decor is simply boring.

The old uncomfortable church-pew booth seating was replaced. It's all nice and new church-pew seating now. Just as uncomfortable as the old seating though. That's a real disappointment. The lack of any art on the walls is disappointing too.

I'm happy to report that the food is just as good though! I had my usual favorite, the Red Rooster (strawberry-walnut chicken breast with rice and broccoli and garlic toast. D had the Friday special, prime rib. We shared an apple dumpling with ice cream for dessert. Mmmm, good!

After dinner we took another drive by the lake and low and behold, the sun came out (sort of, in a hazy kind of way)!
It was a lovely note to end a dreary day on. And any day here in St Joseph is better than a day spent anywhere else. :-)