Thursday, September 22, 2011

Quilts, Raspberries & a Sunset Walk

We’ve had a string of warm, sunny days this week, so we decided it would be a good day to pick raspberries.  Tom & I got home fairly early from work, so before we started dinner, we took a drive to the local raspberry farm.


The berries were plentiful and beautiful – and the 4 of us picked 6 quarts in under an hour – and ate quite a few, too!  Delicious!

Home from the berry farm, we grilled up some boneless chicken thighs and boiled some corn for dinner.  Tom and I decided to go for a quick walk before the “Big Bang Theory” season premiere, and I managed to catch a beautiful sunset in the backyard.


So, what else have we been doing lately?  Well, not camping . . . we caught up on some long-overdue cleaning around the house, and I got some sewing done.  My niece, Katy, had her baby a couple of weeks ago,


Jaxon Ryker – isn’t he adorable!!??!!

so I quickly finished up the quilt I had made for him,


and found a cute little outfit to go with it,


and shipped it off to them.  They live in south Carolina, so we haven’t seen the little guy in person yet, but hopefully they’ll make it up here at Christmas.

My other finished project was one that’s been hanging around since spring, waiting to be finished,


and now it’s finally on my bed!  Looks good!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Campground Review–Hartwick Pines State Park


Location:  Grayling, MI

When we stayed here:  Friday, Sept. 2 – Monday, Sept. 5, 2011

We got an early start on Friday, and since it was Labor Day Weekend, we were hoping that it was enough to put us ahead of much of the crowd.  We took US-23 north to I-96 west, to US-127 north until it merged into I-75 at Grayling.  We could take US-23 to I-75 at Flint, and take I-75 all the way up north, but we much prefer the less-travelled US-127.  Traffic was pretty light, even through East Lansing, where we were also early enough to miss most of the crowd going to Spartan Stadium for MI State’s home opener football game.  We made it to the campground in exactly 3-1/2 hours, with one rest area stop.

Our site:  #82


We had a pull-thru full hookup site, although only 30 amp electric, and paid $33 per night.  There was no cable or wi-fi in the park, and Verizon cell service varied from non-existent to OK.

The full hookup sites are in the interior of one half of the campground,


and the sites were paved, well-spaced and reasonably level. 


We had plenty of room at our site for campfires and cornhole!

The interior roads were pretty good, although the layout of the one-way roads were a little goofy.  Our row of sites, for instance, had an inbound road on one side of the sites, and an outbound road on the other side.  This is fine until you have your RV parked, but then, since the end of the loop is a site, afterwards you need to drive either in or out the wrong way on the road.

This was just a minor annoyance, though . . . getting the RV in and out was no problem.

Our friends were in the other half of the campground, on an electric-only site.  (#51)


This area of the campground is more wooded, giving the sites more privacy, but less room.  We made our reservations about a month ahead, and I was surprised at the number of sites available for the holiday weekend.  By the time the weekend arrived, though, they were fully booked.

Amenities:  One of the reasons that this state park is easier to get into is probably that it is not on water.  Usually, we prefer to have a beach or pool, but we were only about 15 minutes from Higgins Lake, which is one of the nicest lakes in Michigan.  If the weather had been better, we could have spent a day at the beach there . . . as it was, we were able to rent a pontoon boat on Higgins for a day (see my post here), and that was about all the lake time we needed this weekend!

Conveniently located in the middle of the two halves of the campground is a new bath house with modern showers.


In addition to the campground, there is a small fishing lake with a pier, a large picnic area with baseball field (where the local vintage baseball team plays), a Visitor Center and Logging Museum, and several hiking trails and mountain biking trails.  See my other post about our ride on the mountain bike trail and visit to the Logging Museum.  No shortage of outdoor recreation!


For the little kids, there’s a nice play area in the campground

Starting at the entrance to the park, there’s a paved bike path that goes all the way into Grayling – I think it’s 9 miles long.  For the most part, it was pretty level, and looked like it would be a fun ride.  We might have to try this next time we’re here!


We saw a wide array of campers in the park this Labor Day Weekend – from tents to popups, to a Jayco Recon toyhauler that gave us a little competition for “Biggest Camper in the Park”!



This little camper reminded me of my Mom & Dad’s old Holiday Rambler!

Overall Impression:  We really liked this state park, and it’s definitely one that we can get our RV into.  The location is great, as it is conveniently located close to almost everything up north, including the Boyne area, Traverse City, and even the Mackinac Bridge -- only about an hour away.  Grayling has a catholic church (St. Mary’s), a bakery with awesome cinnamon bread, and a quilt shop (The Ice House) that I have to get back to visit!

We’ll definitely stay here again sometime – it’s a really nice state park that we can actually get into – I’m glad we gave it a try!


The big wheels at the entrance are a tribute to the logging industry that was the lifeblood of this area of Michigan at one time.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

At the Carnival


The happy bride and groom – Kelly & Brian

This weekend we attended the wedding of one of my cousin’s daughters, and it was quite the festive affair.  They went with a carnival theme – red, turquoise and yellow – and non-traditional in many ways.


the parents of the bride – my cousin, Steve, and his wife, Barb

In addition to the “candy bar” (which seems to be a staple of weddings these days) sporting red, yellow and turquoise candies, there was a cotton candy stand, a popcorn stand, a snowcone stand, and carnival appetizers including soft pretzels, mozzarella sticks and nachos.


grandma of the bride, with her two youngest grand-daughters

Dinner was also carnival-themed, with pulled pork sandwiches, italian sausage, gyros, deep fried green beans and mac & cheese, and funnel cakes.  Definitely not your standard wedding fare!


more crazy cousins – Dave, Jane and their oldest grand-daughter

I wish I had a picture of the cake to show you – it was the coolest wedding cake I’ve ever seen!  Three lopsided layers frosted in red, yellow and turquoise rolled fondant, with a ring of gumballs at the bottom of each layer.  It tasted pretty good, too!


another set of cousins – Mark & Sandy

Not to be undone by the food, the bar was a hoppin’ place, too.  You could get alcohol for your snowcone, or try a cotton candy martini – OK, can’t recommend those . . . Tom tried one, but they tasted like cough syrup!


one last set of cousins – Sue & Jeff

How are we related to all these crazy people?  Well, our moms are twin sisters!


Marilyn (my mom), their brother, Jimmy, and my aunt Margie

So, I’ll admit it . . . my cousins aren’t the only crazy ones . . . my sisters and I had a good time in the photo booth, too.


Tom and Marci


Tina and Larry


Deby and Charlie


Diane and Danny


Five gorgeous sisters!

OK, so by now you’ve figured out that they had an old-time photo booth set up.  It was a lot of fun, and each group would get a series of three photos taken (in a vertical strip, like the old photo booth), and 2 copies of the strip would get printed out – one to take home, and one to put into a scrapbook for the bride and groom with a personal message.  Definitely more interesting than just having the disposable cameras on the tables – thanks to innovations in digital photography!

In addition to the photo booth, there was a caricature artist.  He had a LONG line all night long, but we managed to get Mom, Margie and Jimmy in front of him at the end of the night.


Nick and Bryce didn’t want to go with us to the wedding, so they stayed home . . . but once their aunt Diane started texting pictures of the cotton candy and candy bar to them, they were thinking that they made a bad decision!  We brought them each a goodie bag, but no cotton candy – too messy!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Day on the Lake


OK, well we didn’t quite get one of THOSE boats . . . but we did rent a lovely pontoon that had just enough horsepower (fishpower??!!) to pull the kids around on a tube!

After a quick stop at Goodale’s Bakery in Grayling – for our power breakfast --


(too bad . . . just across the street was the Icehouse Quiltshop  . . . but they weren’t open yet!)


we arrived at B&B Marina on Higgins Lake and got loaded up on our rental pontoon for the day.


The sky was pretty much overcast, but heck – we had a 60% chance of NO RAIN!  Everybody got situated, and we headed south.  Higgins Lake is quite a big lake, and the marina was at the far north end of it, and our friends we were meeting up with were on the far south end of it . . . so we had some travelling to do!


Aerial photo of Higgins Lake . . . 9900 acres of water surface

Despite the cold morning temperatures (did I mention that we had to pick up the boat at 8:30am?), the kids (well . . . a couple of them) decided to go swimming.


About the time Bryce and Jensen were turning blue, the rain started!  We huddled under towels and hooded sweatshirts, and made our way south as quickly as possible in the driving rain!


OK, this was before the rain started . . . still happy!

We spotted Nancy & Andy’s cottage just as a HUGE bolt of lightening struck something not too far away – we got the boat tied up to the dock, and made a beeline for shelter! 

We spent the next hour or so catching up [Nancy was daycare provider to Nicolas & Bryce, AND Hannah & Jensen] and visiting.  Another former daycare family [co-worker of Tom, myself & Paul] arrived with their 3 boys and boat, and Nancy’s son & girlfriend got back from a run to the grocery store soon after we arrived.

As soon as the rain stopped and the sky started to clear, the kids were ready to get back in the boats.


Bryce and Jensen went first, and had a great time bouncing over the waves.  They started getting a little bit daring, and eventually ended up in the water!


They didn’t mind, though, and came right back for more!


Bryce thinks he’s a stuntman, standing up on the tube!

Andy has a nice speedboat, and he took some of the older guys tubing and beat them up a bit!  Tom even tried skiing . . . and regretted it! (didn’t have my camera handy for that one – I was in the water!)


After a potluck lunch back at Andy & Nancy’s cottage, it was time for some more tubing – this time just behind the 2 speedboats.


Bryce and Hannah went behind Carl’s boat (and from what I heard, he whipped them around pretty good – sent them both flying off the tube!)


and Nick and Reed went behind Andy’s Baja – he took it a little easier on them!


Once that morning rain got out of the way, the day turned out to be pretty nice – we even got a few peeks of sun!  We had to get the pontoon back to the other end of the lake by 5:30, so it was time for us to wrap things up and start making our way north.

The kids decided that they wanted to ride the tube back to the marina, so Bryce and Jensen hopped on first.


By the time Hannah traded places with Jensen, the water had gotten pretty rough so she and Bryce got quite a ride!


Captain Paul got us back to the marina in plenty of time


and with all passengers accounted for!

We all enjoyed our day on the lake, spending time with old friends . . .




. . . and even though it could have been a little bit warmer, we all managed to get a bit of sun!  Maybe next year we’ll try to do this earlier in the summer!