tcgcclogoAs I said in a previous post, we rented a house right on the golf course. Since we are new to Traverse City, at least as residents, we thought joining the country club might be a good way to meet people and get connected to the local community. Neither of us had every belonged to a country club before. Claire has never played golf, and even though I love to play I have never been interested in joining a club. For one reason, there are so many great golf courses why limit yourself to one? Also, country clubs always seemed a bit “snooty” to me.

But, if there was ever a time to try joining a club, it was now. Our neighbor next door is a retired state trooper and member of the club. He offered to “sponsor” us, and we joined during our first week in TC.

The next day I played my first round of golf. Claire decided to just walk along with me. The course is short but pretty challenging. I haven’t played a lot of golf since my son went of to college a decade ago, so my game is pretty “rusty.” But we enjoyed being out, and met a few ladies on the course who are long time members. They told us our house used to be the “party house,” and encouraged Claire to begin playing.

A few days later, I played a round with John, or neighbor and some of his buddies. My game was still pretty “raggedy,” but they put up with me with good humor. After the round one of the guys in the pro shop told me my wife had signed us up for the couples scramble on Friday night. I though this very odd, since Claire continued to say she had no interest in actually playing. When I got home, I asked Claire why she had signed us up. She didn’t know what I was talking about … Apparently one of the ladies we met on the course during our first round signed us up!

Claire was willing to give it a go, but said she would simply ride along in the cart while I played. We were partnered up with another couple. They were so gracious and encouraging to Claire that on the first tee she agreed to try and hit a few shots. She did amazingly well considering she has never played! I week later we bought her a set of starter clubs, and we have now played at least a half dozen rounds together. She has gotten good enough to be frustrated when she doesn’t hit the ball well. She is also hitting some of her drives long enough to actually lose a ball or two.

My son has come up from Chicago twice and we have played a couple of rounds during each visit.

We have thoroughly enjoyed the club thus far. The restaurant is excellent, and now that the weather is turning cold we are using the workout facilities regularly. We’ll see if we still use the club once we move out to our new house next summer…


Sunrise on the golf course … This is the view from the living room of our little house on the course.


Most every time we play we see deer and/or turkeys on the course …


Turkey for a caddy.


Claire with her brand new golf clubs!


Still smiling after her first round of golf …


Claire has a very good swing and lots of cute golf outfits!


The Bancino’s are known as the “dew busters” at the club since we are usually the first ones out in the morning …


Jake playing from a fairway bunker during his first round at the club.


During Jake’s second visit we played our annual “Father vs. Son Fall Classic” in the pretty questionable weather. We finished the first round just a thunder and lightening started …


Round one of the Father vs. Son Fall Classic.


We played round #2 in monsoon rain and wind …


One morning I sat out on the patio of our little house while catching up on email and watching the local high school invitational.


Our first dinner at the Club!

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Birthday Decadence

Daughter, Jessie, was visiting last weekend, taking a break from her low-budget sailing adventure and lapping up a few days of luxury on Mom’s dime for her birthday. Never one to disappoint, I planned a day of spa relaxation and dining decadence.

First stop? Elizabeth Arden’s Red Door Salon in Bellevue. Mmm, I must confess I expected a bit more luxurious, relaxing and spa-like ambiance upon entry, but the services did not disappoint. My “Signature” pedicure, though pricey at $75, was excellent – relaxing leg and foot buffing and massage, hot wax and lovely polish. 90 minutes worth. My feet loved it. Jessie’s swedish massage was also excellent as was her haircut. She felt spoiled and pampered, and isn’t that what it was all about!

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Next stop – right across the landing at Bravern to Mariposa, the gourmet restaurant in Nieman Marcus. Mostly, I went for the popovers. If you’ve never had a popover at Nieman Marcus, go just for that experience alone. Freshly baked, warm and egg-buttery on the inside, crunchy outside and served with strawberry butter. The pear and brie panini-grilled sandwich was also excellent, but served mainly as an excuse to get popovers (which come courtesy with every meal).

Next stop: Trophy Cupcakes, just outside of Nieman’s. OMG. Salted Caramel cupcakes. Rich, moist, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate covered with a sweet and salty caramel icing. Yummy.

Fourth Stop on the deca-lux tour: Victoria Secret. What spa-pampered women can say no to sexy new lingerie from Vicky Pink?! Well, neither could we. Alas, no pictures from this part of our day!

And finally, to top off an excellent day, Randy took us out to dinner at Daniel’s Broiler, which has been on our list for some time now. We chose the Bellevue, not Seattle, location – mostly to avoid rush hour traffic. Surprisingly, it is in the Hyatt building on the 21st floor – a little bit tricky to find, but well worth finding. The view overlooking Lake Washington, the Olympic mountain range and setting sun is lovely. The decor is rich and elegant, yet inviting. On the way to our table, the hostess stopped to show off their display of meats and lobster, huge and impressive.

Daniel’s is known for excellent and large cuts of fine beef, and we were excited to discover  veal on the menu, a favorite of ours. Jessie ordered a glazed salmon and finished every bite, declaring it excellent.  Randy and I both ordered the veal chops – 17 oz. chops, tender, tasty and cooked to perfection. A definite treat, since neither of us has had veal since moving to Washington. Randy also had the “upscaled” mashed potatoes with lobster, the only portion of our meal that did not meet expectations and were just “ok.”

Dessert took our dining experience over the top. Since it was Jessie’s birthday, the waitress surprised her (and us) with a complimentary birthday treat – a  trio of desserts, including a hot molten chocolate cake (irresistable), vanilla ice cream and glazed strawberries. Aah, thank you for that treat… but we also had to try the chocolate chip cookie. Another OMG. Imagine salty sweet chocolate cookie dough almost, but not quite, fully cooked and served in a mini iron skillet. Hot. Gooey. Vaniila ice cream on top, just melting. Scrumptious.  Thank you, Daniel’s. Service was prompt, professional, friendly, knowledgeable and attentive. The entire experience from start to finish was thoroughly enjoyable. We will return.

Daniels Broiler dessert

Happy Birthday from Daniel's Broiler!

Happy Birthday from Daniel’s Broiler!

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Oh the places we have seen ….


We have already confessed to our neglect of our fledgling blog.  We were too darn busy to blog about our experiences dining around the Seattle area.  However, I must also confess that we were not too busy to dine! 

During the past six weeks we have eaten at a number of places including Canalis (a group dinner for our jobs,) Six-Seven were we actually ate twice (once for lunch and once for dinner,) El Gaucho in Seattle (another business dinner,) Le Grand (in Kirkland,) The Original Pancake House (Kirkland,) Summit House Restaurant (at the top of Crystal Mountain Ski Resort,) Master Burger (Kirkland/Bellevue,) the Barking Frog in Woodenville, and my personal favorite so far … Cactus in Kirkland.

Many of these places we will visit again and write more about the experience.  I am especially keen to return to Cactus where we had the most amazing lunch last week.  The staff was welcoming and helpful, and the food was absolutely fantastic!  More to come …

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"Do not be afraid to do something you are unqualified to do" Okay. I'll sail to E N G L A N D then.