Posts

Some of you may remember me sharing about my oldest daughter moving to a small town in Michigan back in early September – “Goodbye Arizona, Hello Michigan”



It was so hard to see them go, but at the same time, I was excited for their new future as they left to join my son-in-law who just started a new job as a professor at a college in Petoskey, Michigan.

The very next day, as my husband and I booked a flight for Michigan in November.  I must admit that planning a trip within a few months of their leaving helped me to deal their absence more easily.

As November approached, I began to count down the days until we would see them again.


Our flight left on an early Friday morning and would take us to the city of Grand Rapids.


From there, we rented a car for the 3-hour drive up to Petoskey, which is located at the “tip of the mitt” as the locals like to say.

Along the way, we spotted a Bob’s Big Boy restaurant.  Now this is a place where both my husband and I spent a lot of time (separately) visiting while children growing up in Arizona and California.  Sadly, they have all but disappeared in those states, but they are still quite popular in Michigan.

So, we stopped off for dinner where we both enjoyed our favorite meals from our past.


As we sat eating our dinner, snow began to fall.  It was at this point that the fact that we weren’t local was painfully obvious as we couldn’t stop looking and talking about the snow.

We pulled into Petoskey just before 8:00 pm and Brittney, Lily & Jeff were waiting outside for us, bundled in their jackets.

It was so wonderful to be close enough to hug them all again and I could hardly wait for the next day to begin.


Our first stop was at Meijier’s, which is very large grocery store chain in the Midwest.  Lily was excited to share her coffee drink with me.  She said that it was better than Starbucks because they put sprinkles on their drinks.

We then bought some groceries.  My job was to make her a birthday cake and we also took her birthday shopping.



Next, we drove to Northern Central Michigan College, where my son-in-law now teaches.  Lily loves to visit her dad at work.



It was so nice seeing his office, classroom and how happy he was after working so many years for his PhD.

Whenever we are traveling, I love to eat at restaurants that are different than what are at home.  We ate dinner at a local pizza and sandwich restaurant where I was introduced to ‘grinders’.


Grinders are basically Italian subs that are often served alongside pizza.  All I can say, is that were delicious!

The next morning, we were awakened early by the appearance of our granddaughter Lily, by our bedside who then got into bed with us and snuggled for a half hour before we all woke up.  I must confess, that was one of my favorite moments of our entire trip.


Little Traverse Bay.


The next morning, we decided to set out for the picturesque downtown area of Petoskey, which is consistently rated in the “Top 10 Best Small Towns of America”.  



While the walk was a short one (3 blocks), we found time to pick dandelions and blow the seeds.




The downtown area is quaint and filled with a variety of shops, restaurants and other businesses. We passed the local park with its gazebo, a lovely church with its tall steeple and gas lights and shop windows being decorated with garlands made of fresh evergreens.
You can read more about our visit to the downtown area in my previous post “A Small Town Visit and Holiday Traditions”. 





After doing some Christmas shopping the local bookstore, general store and fudge shop, we made our way back home.



While Lily took her nap, my husband and I took a mini-road trip to visit the other small towns close by before getting ready for our ‘big date’.



We had a date with our very sweet granddaughter, Lily, while her parents went on their own grown-up date.

Our restaurant of choice was ‘Roast & Toast’, which I had eaten at the year before on a prior visit to Petoskey.  Lily thought that the cups and plates stuck to the outside of the window were pretty cool – the purple coffee cup was her favorite 😉



Lily was a delightful dinner partner.





We had a table located in a little alcove.


It turned out that the seat was perfect for lying on while eating your dinner.

*Believe it or not, I had no problem with Lily lying down eating her dinner.  In fact, I thought it was rather cute.  But, I would NEVER allow my own kids to do that, which let me to an epiphany that many grandparents experience – your standards you set for your children vs. your grandchildren are completely different, which makes it much easier to be a grandparent than a parent!


The downtown area came alive in the evening with the gas light lit up with their festive greenery and Christmas lights.



The next day, we spent some time at home.  I found myself enjoying the view from the living room windows, where the you could just see Little Traverse Bay and Lake Michigan out of the window through the trees.



Wildlife was abundant around the house including brightly colored blue jays, cardinals, black & brown squirrels and deer.



Of course, Flynn, their dog was there to chase those wild animals away 😉



Lily and I spent time playin with her new ‘My Little Pony’ toy, that squirted out play-doh.



Her papa showed his love for Lily by playing dolls with her for over an hour at the kitchen table.

It was so nice to completely unplug from our busy lives and just sit back and enjoy the simple pleasures.  I helped my daughter with her first knitting project and even found myself coloring a page in her new ‘adult’ coloring book, which was surprisingly enjoyable and relaxing.

After cooking dinner for the family, I set to work making Lily’s birthday cake with her help.


She wanted an orange cake with hot pink frosting and sprinkles.



And that is exactly what she got.

After we left the next day for our trip home, I reflected on how fortunate we were to have been able to spend time with our daughter and her precious family.  Thankfully, we only have to wait a few more weeks until Christmas until they come to our house for a long visit!

**Thank you for allowing me to share a glimpse with ou into an important part of my life 🙂

Day 5 of our Northwest road trip was filled with a wonderful adventure and for the first day since we left I didn’t spend any money in gift shops, which was a welcome respite for my wallet.


Our day began in Port Angeles.  Since our hotel didn’t provide breakfast, we headed to out to eat.



We ate at the Chestnut Cottage with was an English-themed restaurant that had a fabulous menu.  It took me a while to decide what to eat, but at the end, I knew that I just had to try the giant apricot scone.

It was delicious!

Now at home, I am fairly healthy in my eating habits.  But when on vacation, part of the experience of learning different regions, is to try out the food.

After breakfast, we headed out to the Olympic National Forest, which takes up the majority of the Olympic peninsula in Washington state.


After driving to the Olympic National Park’s Visitor Center, just outside of Port Angeles, we decided to take one of the nearby trails into the beautiful, lush forest.


Everywhere you looked, you could see evidence of lush, green growth as a result of the large amount of rain that falls in many areas within the national park.

Ferns carpeted the ground.

I’ve always loved ferns, especially as their curved ends gradually unfurl their leaves.



Moss also covered many of the exposed surfaces of the trees.


While parts of the forest were very shady – there were also areas where the sun shone through.


Big leaf maple trees added a bright shade of green to the darker foliage of the other trees in the forest.


Did you know that the majority of a tree’s roots grow outward and not downward?

This is the root mass of a large tree that had fallen and you can see how wide the roots grew.


I really enjoy bright green moss and there was plenty of it.


Throughout the forest were fallen trees that were slowly breaking down and returning to the ground.  Here you can see fungi that are growing on a recently cut tree.  Over time, they will help break down the wood, which will return it back to the soil.


Walking down the path, my mother noticed this tree, which at first glance, appeared dead since it was hollow.


Yet, when you looked up, you could see live branches filled with leaves.

How can that be?

The living tissue of trees or in other words their vascular system that brings water and nutrients up and down the tree is located on the outer portion of the tree – not the inside.

**It might be interesting to some of you to find that the ‘Twilight’ book series was set in the Olympic National Forest and small towns nearby.


After our hike into the forest, we got in the car and took to the road to Hurricane Ridge, which is high up in the Olympic National Forest.

As we climbed, we began to see snow-capped peaks.  


18 miles later, we arrived to a breathtaking view of  Mount Olympus alongside other notable mountain peaks.


It was cold and windy at the top, but that didn’t keep hikers away.


Looking at the trees next to the visitor’s center, you can see the evidence of the hurricane force winds and how they affect the growth.


Adjoining the visitor’s center is a large meadow, flanked by trees.  There were several walking paths and we got started on the second hike of the day.


There were a few deer grazing nearby who didn’t seem worried about our presence.


In fact, the closer we got, more came out from the trees to graze.



Wildflowers were beginning to grow with blooms soon to follow.  This lupine will soon be covered in purple blossoms.  In the meantime, you can see where water has collected in the center of the leaves.


Soon, it was time to head back down the mountains in order to catch our ferry to Victoria, Canada.


I am not afraid to admit that I am relatively inexperienced when it comes to taking ferries.  While I have been on them a few times (another trip to Canada and one in Scotland), this time we were taking our car with us.

We got in line waiting for the ferry to arrive about an hour before it was due to depart.


We had to fill out a yellow paper with our names and birthdates, which also listed the items we couldn’t bring into Canada.


The ferry arrived and the vehicles on it drove off while we waited.

I was shocked to see five large trucks coming off the ferry.  Some even had two trailers attached.  I know next to nothing about boats, but I was surprised that they could carry so many cars AND big trucks.


Finally, it was our turn to board.



We were directed into a lane and then told to lock our car and go up to the passenger area.  No one could stay in their vehicle during the voyage.



The trip took over an hour from Port Angeles to Victoria, Canada.


As we approached Victoria, we were told to go downstairs and get in our cars while the ferry docked.

Then we drove off, showed our passports and were on our way to enjoy several days in Canada.

Tomorrow, we will explore the very English city of Victoria, which is also known as the ‘City of Gardens’. 

Many of you have visited Williams, AZ along with us as I share the adventures of our annual vacations spent up there.

Besides being located along the historic Route 66 and being the gateway to the Grand Canyon – we also enjoy the cool weather, spending time with family and fishing.

Each year, we are fortunate to stay in cabins that are owned by my sister-in-law’s family.  They are very generous and we are so thankful to have places to stay each year.

Typically, each family stays in an individual cabin.  In the past, we have stayed in the ‘grandmother’s cabin and also in the ‘main’ cabin.

However, this year, we were excited that we were to stay in what my youngest daughter, Gracie, calls the “Dead Animal Cabin”.
This cabin is owned by my sister-in-law’s cousin.  

And, he is a hunter, who has decorated his cabin with some of his ‘trophies’…
There are a total of three large heads of elk mounted on the walls…
This one was so large, that he had to remove the blades from the ceiling fan to fit the head.
Now, we don’t hunt and so the culture of hunting is somewhat foreign to us.
But, the kids love the seeing all of the animals hanging off the wall.
In addition to the elk, there are also other animals as well…

Now for the ‘mystery’…
When we arrived in the cabin, it was a bit dirty.  My sister-in-law, Marisue, who had arrived earlier did some cleaning and found the first clue of our ‘mystery’:
An empty condom wrapper
I promise it wasn’t used for what you think….this a ‘family appropriate’ blog after all 😉
We found the second clue to the mystery on the dining room table.  It was a list.
Take a closer look at the third item on the list, which is the second clue to the mystery…

Box for testicles
Yes, it does say that.
I couldn’t imagine what these two clues pointed too.  At first, we didn’t even know that they were connected and I wasn’t sure that I wanted to.

So, my sister-in-law, Marisue, called her cousin and got the entire story.
 1. Hunter friends of her cousin had recently killed a Desert Bighorn Sheep while hunting.  
Photo by: Andrew Barnes
 2. So they contacted him so that he could collect the testicles.

3. He then put the testicles into a condom (remember the empty condom wrapper?)
4. Then he packed the testicles on ice in the box for testicles and drove them to the airport where they were shipped to a sheep farmer up in Montana.
Why?  Well, farmers use the semen in the testicles to artificially inseminate their female sheep.

So, that is the story behind the empty condom wrapper and the list including a ‘box for testicles’.

I couldn’t have made this story up, even if I had wanted too.