Saturday, July 31, 2010

Lazy day . . . Cherry Republic

After our busy day on the river, we were taking it pretty easy on Friday.  We slept in and had a late breakfast -- Nicolas was in charge of the bacon

while I made waffles -- YUM!

After our brunch, we decided to take a drive into Glen Arbor.  Glen Arbor is a cute little town on the edge of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.  As we drove over the bridge between Big and Little Glen Lakes, we caught a nice glimpse of the Dune Climb.

Tom found a shady side street to park on, just down from this "thing" . . . "What's that?" the kids asked.  "It's a thing!" responded Tom.  "A what??" they said.  "A THING!"

We walked around town, visiting several of the little shops.  I picked up some tea at the Great Lakes Tea & Spice Company -- Summer Splash -- we sampled the iced version, and it was delicious!  We stopped at the IGA for a few groceries, and then continued on to the Cherry Republic, which was the reason the kids wanted to come into Glen Arbor.

Good thing I didn't pick up any bananas at the IGA!

The Cherry Republic is even better than Sam's Club -- they have samples of everything they sell!  The kids were ready to go in, but I made them pose for a picture first!

We started out with beverages

Tom, Todd and I tasted some wine, while the kids tasted several varieties of pop.  Cherry Cola, Cherry Cream Soda, Cherry Ginger Ale, Cherry Root Beer, and plain old cherry -- Boom Chugga Lugga . . . they each got a bottle to take home!  I didn't buy any wine because I still haven't opened the bottle I bought last year!  On to the Great Hall then, and we sampled dried cherries, cherry granola, cherry salsa, chocolate covered cherries . . . and more!  The kids each bought some sour cherry candies, and I picked up a bottle of cherry balsamic vinegar to use in my salad dressing.

With our shopping complete, we headed back to the RV Park.  After a quick lunch, we went to the pool for the afternoon. 

It was another beautiful day in northern Michigan!


Friday, July 30, 2010

Platt River Float

Thursday's forecast was for warm and sunny, so our plan was to meet up with Liz, Kevin and the kids again and take the crew on a float down the Platt River.  After hunting up tubes for everybody, we met up at the Platte River Picnic Area parking lot and got busy blowing up all the tubes.

With that not-so-little job done, we were loaded up and ready to go!

The women, children and tubes were dropped off at the put-in point while Tom, Todd, and Kevin shuffled vehicles.  Once they arrived at the fishing wier, we launched everybody into the river.  For a Thursday, it was pretty busy, and we had plenty of company on the water.

The Platte River is a shallow, fairly slow-moving river, which makes for a nice, leisurely 1-1/2 - 2 hour float.  The kids quickly got up ahead of us, and were having a blast splashing and tipping each other.  The adults followed behind, keeping a close eye on everyone to make sure nobody got separated from the crowd.

It was a beautiful day for a float, with not a cloud in the sky!  We saw a deer at the water's edge at one point, and a heron in the water at another spot.  We all enjoyed the trip, and were just starting to get a little restless when beach came into view.  The Platte River flows into Lake Michigan, and there is a really nice public beach where the two come together. 

We deflated all the tubes, and gathered all of our towels and lunches and headed down to the beach for the rest of the afternoon.

The water here is so clean, and you can go out a mile before it gets really deep!

See how far out the kids are -- and it's barely chest-deep on Bryce!

Of course, no day at the beach is complete until somebody gets buried in the sand!

Around 7pm, we finally packed it all up and called it a day -- everybody was tired after our long day on the water and at the beach.  Back at the campground, we had a quick dinner, and the kids watched a movie.  It was an early night for all of us!


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Mini-Golf, Zipline, Go-Karts and ice cream

After a lazy morning, we made arrangements to meet some friends in Traverse City at

for some mini-golf and go-karts.  The kids -- Bryce, Josh, Kylie, Nick, Ryan, Kaitlyn, Michael and Megan -- were all ready to go!

Not being professional golfers, we chose the less challenging

Captain's Course!  It was plenty challenging for our group!  We lost a few balls to the water hazards,

but all-in-all, everyone had fun!

Mini-golf Collage

After golf, we watched our one brave soul -- Kylie -- get geared up for the zipline.

There she is, ready to step off the platform,

and there she goes!

Next, it was time for the


Go-Kart Collage

There was a lot of competition going on out on that track -- especially with these two!

Woo!  Hoo!  The gang's all in . . . and nobody got kicked off the track!

Next stop . . .

the famous Moomer's Ice Cream!


It was a fun, busy day, and we were glad to spend it with good friends!


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

From Wild Cherry Resort to Indigo Bluffs

In the RV world, they say, "If you don't like your neighbors or your neighborhood, just move someplace else!"  Well, that's just what we did -- but we brought our neighbors with us!

Tom got home from work early yesterday, and the kids and I had the RV all ready to go for our week-long stay at the Wild Cherry Resort, north of Traverse City.  We hit the road at 3:30pm, and opted to take the less-traveled US-127 north, rather than I-75.  It turned out to be a good decision, as we had no traffic and were able to cruise right along.  The trip was approximately 260 miles, so we couldn't quite make it without stopping for diesel (well, we probably could have, but barely, and we weren't taking any chances!)  We stopped at a Shell station on the south side of Traverse City and filled up for $2.89/gallon.

From there, we continued on up to Sutton's Bay in the Leelanau Peninsula, and arrived at the Wild Cherry Resort at 8:30pm.  After a trip around the main loop of the campground to get turned around (because the sites were angled in the wrong direction), we parked easily on our spacious site.

Our friend, Todd, was already there on the site next to us.  Other than the sites being spacious and having nice grass, the park really didn't have much to offer for the $49/night we were going to pay -- no bath houses, no pool, no playground, no store, no firepit on our sites . . . nothing.  We had each just paid for the first night so far, so we didn't set up completely, and spent some time searching the internet for alternative campgrounds (that is, when their WI-FI finally started working around 11pm!)  We found one down in Empire (about 30 miles away) that had openings for the week, so we thought we'd sleep on it and decide in the morning.

The temperatures dropped nicely overnight, and it was great sleeping weather!  In the morning, we took a walk through the cherry orchard,

and made an attempt at bargaining on the per night rate.  No luck there, and the kids really wanted to leave, so we packed up and checked out.

We arrived at the Indigo Buffs Rally Park around 12:30pm, got checked in, and were escorted to our side-by-side sites. 

Indigo Bluffs is really two campgrounds in one -- the "Rally Park" is an older campground, fairly wooded, with dirt/grass sites (more dirt than grass) that has both full-hookup and water/electric sites, and the "Bluffs" is a "Class A only" motorcoach resort.  Those sites are really upscale (stamped concrete, 100 amp service, fairly spacious), and are primarily owned by individuals, although the sites that have not yet been purchased can be rented out -- but only by Class A motorhomes.  We're on water/electric sites for $36/night.

The two campgrounds share a common office/store and pool, which we checked out as soon as we got set up and had some lunch.

The kids are much happier here -- they have places to play, ride their bikes, and of course, the pool to enjoy!  We like it too -- it's not as "clean" as when you have paved sites and lush grass, but it's a nicer atmosphere, and we like it better.  We're also much closer to the action -- just 3 miles outside Empire puts us very close to a beautiful Lake Michigan beach, and Sleeping Bear Dunes!

All-in-all, we think we made a good decision in moving -- and between the 2 of us, we saved $100 in camping fees!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Art Fair

Yesterday afternoon we met Tom's brother, Dave, sister-in-law, Denise, and our niece Kathleen at the Art Fair in Ann Arbor.  The Art Fair is a huge deal in Ann Arbor every July -- there are actually four separate fairs in different areas of downtown.  They cover a wide range of products -- from inexpensive items all the way up to sculptures that cost several thousand dollars.

We parked at the high school, and took the shuttle downtown.

This actually required us to drive AROUND Ann Arbor to get to the shuttle stop, but we do it because it's much easier to park there, and then you can get dropped off at one end of the fair, and picked up at the opposite end -- no walking back to get to your car!

Now that we're downsizing, I wasn't really looking to buy anything, so we were just window-shopping, and people-watching.  We saw lots of interesting characters, like this guy playing music on the corner

and the "one-man band" on another corner!

These unique drinking fountains caught our eye, too.

The water from the fire hydrant goes into the cooler, and then through a filter, and up to the drinking fountain . . . looks pretty cool (literally!)

Then there was the art . . . these windmills were incredible

All of those colorful pieces are made of glass, and as the wind blew, they turned and spun in every direction!

These sculptures draw a crowd every year -- 

doesn't she look real!!??!!  But she's just one of several sculptures in this booth.  I think they are amazing!  He used to have a sculpture of a policeman standing up on the corner -- it looked so real that people would try to talk to him!  I didn't see that one this year, so I guess he sold it.

We stayed until the fair closed at 9pm, but didn't quite get through all of the booths, and actually missed one fair entirely!  I didn't buy anything, but it was fun just to walk around and look at all the interesting art!  A stop at Kilwin's for an ice cream cone finished off the evening for us -- it was a great night!


Thursday, July 22, 2010

A beautiful weekend at Grandma's Lake

Last weekend, we headed down to Indiana to visit my Mom and Dad -- it was our first trip to the lake this summer, and it was a good weekend to go!  The weatherman was calling for HOT and SUNNY, and the campground was having their "Beach Party" weekend -- full of games and music and food!

My nephew, Luke, and his daughter, Kailyn, were also spending the weekend at the lake with the Grandparents (my sister, Diane, and brother-in-law, Danny) and the "Old Grandparents".  Kailyn was excited to spend time with her cousins.

Another sister, Sandi, had her granddaughter, Tarrah, and a friend up for the weekend, and another sister and brother-in-law, Deby and Charlie, were there too.  I know this sounds like a mighty big crowd (and it's nowhere near all of us!), but we weren't all in one trailer!  Diane, Sandi and Deby each have their own trailers, so although we have lots of meals together, everyone has their own place to stay.

OK, now that we've got that all cleared up . . .

We had a really nice weekend -- they had music and games all day on the beach, and it was sunny and hot, as promised!

The guys got in on the tug-of-war, although somehow Danny ended up on the opposite team as Tom, Luke and Nick . . . and his team won!

They had a sand sculpture contest with many really cool entries, including this dragon,

a melting snowman,

and a colorful gorilla!

After much brainstorming the night before (which included ideas such as a snowman, a dragon, and Godzilla!), our team settled on Snoopy and his doghouse.

I think they did a really good job!  They didn't win anything, but that's OK . . .

After the sand-sculpting and games, it was time to cool off in the lake!

Kailyn wasn't happy with the idea of getting thrown in!

Bryce didn't mind, though!

I think my camera lens must have gotten splashed, the next several pictures have this mysterious dot on them, including what would have been a good picture of Diane and Danny!

We had music on the beach all day, and it was very crowded -- more than 4th of July weekend -- I think this is their most popular weekend of the summer.

Dad sat out on the porch in the shade, enjoying the view and the music.

In the evening there were fireworks at the opposite end of the lake.  Danny took all of the boys and Kailyn out to watch from his boat, and the rest of us enjoyed the view from the dock.  After the fireworks, we had a fire and made s'mores with giant marshmallows -- they were yummy, but a little challenging to eat!

Sunday was another beautiful day, and the gang went out on the boat early to get in some tubing before the lake got too crowded.

They all gave it a try -- even Kailyn -- and Tom!  (Tom's still hurting!  Too old for tubing, I guess!)  After an early dinner, we headed home.  It was a really nice weekend, and as you can see from Kailyn's drawing that she made for the boys, everyone had fun!