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Go on a shopping getaway

Published in The Battle Creek Enquirer

What to do with the winter blahs, no money for a trip to Florida and two 17-year-old girls? Shopping, of course. We enticed my husband to join us by promising him meals at two of his favorite restaurants and set off across southeastern Michigan. Our destination was the Holy Grail for shoppers in Michigan: the Somerset Collection in Troy, about two hours from Battle Creek.

After a little more than an hour on our road trip, a required stop was called at Zingerman’s Roadhouse, off I-94 in Ann Arbor. The Roadhouse opened nine years ago, building off the loyal clientele of their deli, which is located a few miles away. They bill themselves as serving “really good American food,” and it’s true.

To avoid a line at the very popular eating-place, wait until you are 20 minutes away and call 734-663-3663 to be put on the seating list. While eating was important, we did have a schedule to keep.

Zingerman’s sources food from all over the United States. My daughter had waffles with grits, bacon bits and cheddar cheese — each ingredient had its own tale. The grits were from South Carolina, the cheese from Vermont, for example. The buttermilk fried chicken and mashed potatoes with gravy provided a couple of us with sufficient strength for the marathon ahead. The hardest decision was whether to have breakfast or lunch. We had both.

Many lovely shopping malls dot our state, springing up with concrete and glass, and offering terrific opportunities for burning up available cash and many leisure hours. None are quite so large or filled with such stores as Somerset.

For high-end shoppers, it has everything, including Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Ralph Lauren, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co. and Burberry. The website also lists Lego, Apple, Lush and Teavana. Shoppers can enjoy the endless marble, burbling fountains, stages for the performing arts and the Finnish-made Sorvikivi Floating Stone fountain.

Parking is always a nightmare at the Collection, because everyone else has the same idea for Saturday. We spent $5 plus tip and let the nice man at the Nordstrom’s valet park our car. On a gray winter’s afternoon, you can while away the hours either window-shopping as we did, or power-shopping like the girls. We set a 4 p.m. rendezvous at P.F. Chang’s, a favorite chain restaurant. The trick is to go to the P.F. Chang’s iPhone app, and book your spot before you leave home. Otherwise, the wait can be more than an hour. It also makes for a good meeting place, right next to the Godiva Chocolate store. Godiva’s milkshake is a chocolate lover’s dream.

Even with all the walking and dreaming at places like Williams Sonoma and Crate and Barrel, we were still full from our earlier meal. Luckily, Chang’s offers tasty appetizers. A family-size bowl of hot and sour soup was perfect for four of us, with leftovers to boot. A few steamed dumplings, some chicken lettuce wraps and we were ready for the next round.

As many shoppers know, this is the final round when you get pummeled with return visits to a series of stores for “just the perfect pair of combat boots” or a “can’t be passed up Fossil watch.” Really? How did I miss the combat boot with dresses look? How many watches does one man need?

My advice? You have to stick to the budget despite the pleas, or risk spending the equivalent of four tickets to Florida, defeating the entire purpose of a one-day road trip. Budget intact, everyone but the driver snoozes on the way home — a perfect winter outing.

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