Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Mom Trip Wrap Up - Part 3

Tuesday, October 7 

This morning mom and I got around early and headed to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park. I have to say, it was beautiful. I highly recommend seeing this beautiful piece of our country. There are lots of hiking trails and a lighthouse and Lake Michigan and just wow....

After we left the Dunes, mom and I headed south to Holland, MI where we stopped in a place called DeKlomp Wooden Shoe and Delft Factory where they make, well...wooden shoes and Delft ceramics. I bought a couple of unfinished shoes with the intention of sanding them and then painting them or doing something creative with them. 

As this was our last few moments in Michigan, we needed to hit up a fruit stand in order to purchase some locally grown apples. While she was picking out fruit, I was fascinated by the squashes and gourdes that they had. 

We wrapped the evening up with dinner in a little town called South Haven, MI. The food was fair and there were loud annoying people all around us, but it was all worth when we stumbled upon a place to watch a beautiful sunset. 

After we watched the sun slip below the horizon, we headed off to Benton Harbor where we were spending the night and getting closer to home. This day was chalked up as a really good day in nature. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Mom Trip Wrap Up - Part Two

Monday, October 6 - Today we got up and took the ferry over to Mackinac Island, but before we headed to the ferry station and while I packed our luggage into the car, mom ran back over to the restaurant where we had dinner and left a little bit of dad there (did I mention that we had some of his ashes with us with the intention of leaving some at various places?). Well, there was a small hand-made, wooden boat in front of the restaurant that on a different trip dad ended up getting into a long discussion with the guy that built the boat, so mom and I thought it would be appropriate to leave dad there.

The ferry ride was a pretty decent trip although a little chilly. For these Texas gals, those morning temps of upper 30s and low 40s were quite bracing. The first thing that we did after arriving at the island was to stop in this little store and I promptly purchased a stocking cap and the cutest matching fingerless gloves (had to be fingerless so that I could still use my phone camera). We then started touring the island. For those of you unfamiliar with Mackinac Island (pronounced like Mackinaw), this is a quaint, exclusive island with beautiful homes and a fort and The Grand Hotel (and it is so fancy that if you aren't staying there you can only go so far onto the grounds without them shooing you gawkers here and if you ARE staying there, in the evening women have to wear dresses and men have to wear suit jackets). There are also no motorized vehicles on the island. All transportation is via bicycle, horse-drawn carriage, or your own two feet...we opted for the last. It really is a beautiful place and I think it would be lovely to go and stay at one of the (not The Grand) hotels or B&Bs that are located all over the place and really take some time to explore the island, but that wasn't our option for today so we just did our sight seeing and then caught a late afternoon ferry back to the mainland then drove down to Traverse City, where our next overnight stop was. 

Here is a shot of the Main Street on the island. 

This is The Grand Hotel from a distance.

This is as close as we could get to the hotel before we were yelled at. The porch there where the yellow awnings are contains the longest porch with a ton of rockers that people who are guests have the privilege of sitting on all day and staring off across the water of Lake Michigan. 

A view from down at the water level. 

Another of the hotels that might be a little more affordable and closer to the actual water. 

A shot across the port as we waited for the ferry to take us back. 

I did get to see a HUGE flock of Canadian geese sitting up near the fort preparing for their migration south as well as a family of otters frolicking in the lake as we ate lunch.

It was a really nice, peaceful day spent doing nothing more than walking around and breathing really fresh air and just taking in a local that provides a peak into a bygone era.

The drive down to Traverse City was pretty uneventful. We got to the hotel and were really too tired, and too lazy, to want to go and find a place to sit down for dinner, so we opted to just order some pizza and have it delivered to the room....and then it was off to sleep as we had lots planned for the next day and many miles to cover....

Monday, October 20, 2014

Mom Trip Wrap Up Part 1

First, my calendar math was way off.... So here are the real final days of the trip. 

Saturday, October 4 - mom and I head out early in the morning and head to Niagara Falls. We catch a tour bus that is only supposed to take 4 hours but ended up to be more like 5 and a half hours. But, we ride the Maid of the Mist and get up close and personal to the falls. We then do the Cavern of the Winds tour and get even more up close and personal. We bought some fudge because we really aren't  very good together. And there was a strange "4-D" movie experience that was part of the ticket that we purchased. It was a 3-D movie, or at least we got 3-D glasses but then while in the theatre there was a breeze and they would spritz us with water "from the falls" at particular moments. I have to say it was an exactly pleasant experience since the whole day was pretty cool and rainy and the 3-Dness of the movie did a real number on my eyes. After the tour, mom and I hopped in the trusty car and headed to London, Ontario. This was about a 2 hour drive, not counting the hour it took to drive through customs at the Canadian border. This day was, I believe the only time that I actually snapped. These last 2 or so hours of driving were in the dark and in a portion of the world that my US atlas didn't really cover. At one highway interchange about 45 minutes across the border we decided to not listen to the Onstar directions and briefly ended up going the wrong way. I was having residual blurriness from the movie and being tired and needing to get my eyes checked, so I snapped at mom and told her that I needed her to help read the signs more. We pulled off shortly to switch drivers because mom wasn't having blurry eye issues at the time and I wasn't really fit to be behind the wheel of the car. I grabbed a protein bar and after eating that I felt much better and realized that I had actually been shaking. So, what we learned from this little episode is to 1) not question Onstar when we are on a Canadian highway in the middle of nowhere and 2) not to let me get hangry (that would be hungry and angry combined). Neither of us should have gone all day having eaten a McDonald breakfast, a bag of chips, and some fudge....not smart and we made certain that we did much better the rest of the trip. (Sadly, I have no pictures to post of this portion of the trip because I have been too lazy to download them from my camera and I didn't take any with my phone.)

Sunday, October 5 - Our original plan was to go to Sault Ste. Marie, MI and see the locks that are there and see the ships move between the lakes. This had been a spot that mom and dad had visited and dad really enjoyed it, but as we were driving this morning, mom took a look at the map and proposed that we see if we could cancel our room there and get one in Mackinaw City instead, which would keep us from having to back track and would allow more time on Mackinac Island, which was our primary destination for Monday. As luck would have it, we were able to change our plans and got into the hotel early evening (we didn't get away from London as early as we had planned as we needed to rest from the tense night before...another reason to change our plans and cut out a extra couple of hours of driving). After we settled into our room, we walked to a little place next door called Darrows, which as it turns out had been a spot where mom and dad ate once on their travels. It was here that mom and I had the best cherry pie. We the walked down to the bridge and got caught in the rain, which wasn't too terrible as we just returned to our room, changed into warm stretchy pants and tucked into bed for the rest of the evening. 

Here is a shot from the bridge coming back into the United States. 

Here is a picture of me and mom at a ready stop in Michigan. We had an ongoing activity of taking a picture and texting it to my sister and quiz her on if she could tell where we were. And yeah, I have zero makeup on... I decided to give up on that on this trip, not that I wear very much anyway...

Some more of the beautiful fall color that we saw at hand rest stop on the way to Mackinaw City. 

It is really hard to tell, but this is a picture from our hotel balcony of the Mackinac Bridge. If we had gone on to Sault Ste. Marie, we would have crossed this bridge twice.