Friday, August 31, 2012

Finishing Up

We packed up our camp and headed out for a second day exploring Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.  The water from these views of Lake Superior was simply gorgeous.

We stopped for a fun litltle nature walk. Joseph cawed at the crows  and loved hearing the bullfrogs.

Before heading out of the "U.P.", we had to try some famous pasties (meat and veggie pies) made by locals (called Yoopers). 

On the road again....

We started on the trip home...  After four nights of camping, we were excited for showers and air conditioning.  When we got to the hotel, Joseph was so excited and said, "look, the bathroom even has its own little soap" (ha! I guess he had gotten used to those pit toilets!!) We stayed the night in Milwaukee and then the next morning explored the city, which we really liked. Milwuakee has a great waterfront area along Lake Michigan and a beautiful historic homes district (gorgeous mansions for the price of a tiny rambler in Arlington).  We then drove through Chicago en route to St. Louis, where we arrived at my parents' house just in time for a Sunday night feast. The invited dinner guests didn't even complain that we invaded the party (we had arrived two days earlier than expected!)

July 7, 2012

Pictured Rocks

One of our favorite parts of camping at Kingston Lake was fishing in the lake!  Joseph caught two fish--including this huge bass!

After fishing in the morning, we explored the little town of Grand Marais right along Lake Superior

In addition to old boats and lighthouses, we found a playground!
 Then we headed to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore for waterfalls, beaches, sand, and pines.

The whole family in front of some pretty waterfalls we hiked to.

Logging equipment--back in the day they hauled logs with these types of contraptions and then slid the logs down the dunes into waiting boats on Lake Superior

Abigail eating rocks and Joseph throwing rocks at a Lake Superior beach

Swimming in Lake Superior
The most interesting fact about Lake Superior?  If you drained Lake Superior, the water would fill a 5 foot swimming pool the size of the contigous 48 states! 

July 6, 2012

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Camping Life

We really enjoyed camping at Kingston Lake. Here are a few shots of "camp life" for the couple days were were in this pretty spot.

Sometimes letting Abigail play in the car was the only way to keep her contained for a few minutes!

Joseph and Abigail helping to carry water back to our camp site.

July 5-6, 2012

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Upper Peninsula

We decided to try to escape the heat by going north. We cancelled our plans to visit Mackinac Island, and headed on to the Upper Peninsula. 
Crossing the Mackinac Bridge to the Upper Peninsula.
 Marc was thrilled when we entered the "U.P." because finally he found the wilderness he had been craving. The guidebook suggested you never let your gas tank go below half, and Marc loved the local culture he found when we did stop for gas--animal pelts for sale alongside bearded, gun-bearing locals. 
 We stopped to give everyone a break from the car at a Lake Michigan beach at Hog Island Point State Forest for what turned out to be one of our favorite little spots. The kids started fully clothed, and slowly lost as much clothing as they could--and soaked everything else. We explored the sand, the rocky water, and had a nice cool break.

That night our final destination was the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore along Lake Superior.  We didn't find any campsites open, but were relieved to hear the black flies that had driven everyone away earlier in the week appeared to be gone--along with the heat. We looked forward to a cooler night of camping--in nearby Kingston Lake state forest campground.

July 5, 2012

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

4th of July

We woke up on the 4th of July and decided to press forward with our Michigan plans.  We broke camp and headed over to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, which had recently been rated as the most beautiful place in America by "Good Morning America."  We took the scenic park loop which included stops at the amazing dunes overlooking Lake Michigan and the impossible-to-describe site of people going down and then climbing back up the steepest incline I've seen in my life--add sand and you've got yourself quite a workout (there were signs that warned against it and said you'd have to pay for your own rescue efforts, which is not an uncommon situation). We stumbled upon a wonderful 4th of July parade, which we watched from the car (except for a brief interlude when Joseph and I hopped out to catch some candy), and spent the majority of the afternoon swimming in Lake Michigan. It was cold water, but so hot that the freezing lake was a welcome relief. 

Unfortunately, our camera broke (we found a Best Buy the next day to buy a new one) so we don't have many pictures to document our fabulous 4th.

Marc and Abigail at our campsite in Interlochen State Park the morning of the 4th of July

Fourth of July Parade

July 4, 2012

The Ford Museum

The Ford Museum was quite a place. We scheduled half a day, and made ourselves stick to our plan, even though you could have spent days in the place!

They had quite a few play areas aimed at kids. Since Marc was interested in exploring the museum, and I was perfectly content sitting and watching the kids, we let them play instead of running them through all the exhibits like we typically do. I think they really enjoyed themselves--and I snapped a few photos with my phone.

A real train car in the background

Abigail loved the model train!!

Near the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile, they had this bench:  the bench is the bun, Joseph is the hotdog, and the pillows are ketchup, mustard, etc.

After leaving the museum, we headed back on the road. We detoured through Ann Arbor, Michigan (home of University of Michigan) to check out the town--we're always in search of a great place to live.

That night we arrived in at Interlochen State Park--just outside of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Seashore.  We have had some fantastic experiences with state parks in many states, most recently Pennsylvania and New York. However, Michigan failed to impress. When we pulled in to our site, Joseph said, "It looks kind of junky." Indeed, it looked as if someone had rototilled the earth so we had dirt several inches deep.  The campground was pretty full (not surprisingly since it was the week of 4th of July), but the crowd here was a concert-going, loud-music playing, beer-drinking and then throwing your trash on the ground kind of crowd.  We were surrounded by tie-dye and dred locks.  Marc tried to take the kids to the waterfront of the lake while I cooked foil dinners, but it was a sheer drop.  Abigail kept trying to climb into the fire pit. And we realized that we were so far north that it doesn't get dark until about 10 pm.  Bedtime in our hot, sticky, humid, completely light, and nosiy tent was really hilarious!  There was a concert nearby that our neighbors all attended and then came home afterward to resume the parties.  Marc suggested we cut the trip short and head to Missouri the next day (we checked the GPS and figured if we broke camp early we could be there in time for the fireworks). 

But those foil dinners were exceptionally good!

July 3, 2012

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Henry Ford

We went to The Henry Ford, which encompasses all kind of Ford attractions. We selected the living history village and the museum. We thought we would do both in one day, but spent a whole day at the  Greenfield Village and could have spent another whole day at the museum.  Unfortunately, the factory was not in full production during the 4th of July week so we didn't do the factory tour (doesn't that sound so interesting?)

The first thing we saw when we entered in the village was this steam engine train. It began Abigail's current love affair with trains. Of course, we had to take a ride. Chugga chugga, choo choo!

 The village was dreamed up and assembled under Henry Ford's direction. He brought homes and buildings from around the world to this one place. They were mostly some type of tribute to an innovator. For example, in addition to his childhood home, there was the childhood home of the Wright Brothers, as well as their first bicycle shop where they worked on their future airplane plans.

 We learned about agricultural inventions including demonstrations on a working farm with crops and animals, saw Thomas Edison's laboratory, and viewed architectural examples from throughout America's history (as early at the 1650 Plympton House). 
 There were lots of people in period costume working in the main street stores or participating in past times of the time period. Joseph enjoyed joining these boys in a game of checkers.

He really rode this thing all over the Village!

A very cute musical performance

Joseph got to be the helper in the Print Shop

A hightlight of the day was our ride (well we actually did it twice) in the real Model T car!!

We tried out all the forms of transportation--including the horse drawn carriage.

We are in a Model T bus in this photo. I love this picture of Joseph--intently listening to the information the driver was telling us.

Joseph loved all the games--croquet, hoop tossing, old-fashioned baseball (he can tell you how the rules differ from 2012)

After staying until the closing of the Village, we headed back to the hotel, with a quick stop at a grocery store for some sherbert for a pre-dinner dessert (It's vacation, right?) I took Joseph for a swim; Abigail and I watched him swim because she only wanted to run around the pool and not get in even though it was so hot!! Marc pulled out the camp stove in the lot adjoining the hotel and cooked a delicious dinner--salmon, new potatoes, and squash. 

I just had to snap a shot of this--cooking in the hotel parking lot, naked baby, etc. Very classy :)
After dinner, I went to bed with the kids and Marc headed back to downtown Detroit for some more exploring.  I was relieved when he made it back safe and sound.

July 2, 2012