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“What did you do over the summer?”  It is a frequently asked question as kids get ready to head back to school.  

For some of you, this may be a bit early to ask this question, but my kids started school a couple of weeks ago, so I am in a sort of retrospective mood, looking back at our summer fun.

Much of our summer vacation was spent in Michigan.

Now, if you had told me a year ago that I would be headed to Michigan, the next summer, I’d ask you “Why?”

However, that was before my daughter, and her family moved from Arizona to Michigan, which I wrote about in an earlier post.

So, my husband and I found ourselves on an airplane along with our three youngest kids headed to Petoskey, Michigan, which is located “on the tip of the mitt” as Michiganders like to say.

This was to be our kids first trip to Michigan, and they were understandably excited.

Enjoying a tea party.

Our trip was split into two parts: the first in my daughter’s rental house and the second part, in their new home.

‘Welcome Summer’ festival with the local high school’s steel drum band.


Victorian homes line the streets in my daughter’s neighborhood.


While waiting for escrow to close on their new home, we spent time playing games, walking down to the historic downtown area, enjoying local festivals and of course, eating ice-cream at the local parlor.


This is the type of small town, where life moves at a slower pace, and we enjoyed escaping the demands of our busy lives at home.


I kept busy with my daughter’s lone basil plant, moving it into the sun and out of the shade throughout the days, as their rental house was shaded by a lot of trees.  The basil was to be planted in the new home’s garden.


Petoskey is located on Little Traverse Bay, which opens out into Lake Michigan.  It is a popular tourist destination throughout the summer months, and we had fun exploring our daughter’s new town.  

Because they lived on the shore, a few of our days were spent on the beach wading in the water and searching for ‘Petoskey’ stones.


‘Petoskey stones,’ are found along the beaches in this area.  You’ll find them in gift shops throughout all of Michigan.  The stones contain the fossilized remains of ancient coral, who lived over 350 million years ago.


So, we went on our own search for Petoskey stones.  

My son-in-law is the geology professor at the local college in the area and gave me some pointers on how to identify these unique stones from the others.


You see, the fossilized coral isn’t obvious in unpolished rocks until they get wet.  So, we would look for some likely stones and then dip them into the lake to see what we had.


I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised at how much fun it was to search for rocks and I even found a few small Petoskey stones of my own.


Along the shore of the lake were large lilac shrubs and their intoxicating fragrance perfumed the air.  


My daughter had some in her rental house, so we picked some and used them to decorate the dinner table.


Finally, moving day arrived, and not a moment too soon as a new baby was set to arrive five weeks later.

While my daughter and I spent time checking out the inside of their new home, we were equally as excited to look at the outside.  

Bearded iris, peonies, and daisies were the primary plants in the landscape.

More daisies, bearded iris along with hydrangea and purple coneflower.
Part of the front yard.

A weed-filled raised bed – home of the future vegetable garden.

A fire pit, perfect for roasting s’mores.
The view, off to the side of the backyard, looks out onto a farm and its planted fields.
Enormous maple trees mark the end of their property.  How big were they? That tiny spot of pink is my 4-year-old granddaughter.

Stepping into the woods, surrounding their backyard, you can see their white shed.

Lovely forget-me-nots are growing underneath the trees, all part of their property.
It was so fun exploring their new surroundings.


Before moving day, we spent some time in the garden, pulling out unwanted plants and adding new ones, such as this lavender.

The kids all helped.


The one plant that my son-in-law wanted was an apple tree.  So, in went a ‘Red Delicious’ apple tree.  The kids all had a great time helping while learning about how to plant a tree.


The soil around their house was extremely rocky.  A good-sized Petoskey stone was found on their property.  You can see the how different they look when wet.


After a few days of hard work, moving my daughter and her family into their new house, we all decided to take a well-deserved day off and visit Mackinac Island, which is only a short distance away.


I had visited this lovely place two years ago, but it was the first time for everyone else.



I had told the kids that there are no motorized vehicles allowed on the island (except for a couple of emergency vehicles), but I don’t think it sunk in until we were greeted by views like these.


Exploring the history and beauty of the island took much of the day.

Smelling the lilacs.


We just happened to arrive during the Lilac Festival and the lilacs lining the streets were in full bloom.


A fairy garden in an old wagon.

A pair of unique planters for succulents.


The gardens in Mackinac Island are truly stunning.


Posing for a picture on the island with the Mackinac Bridge, connecting the upper and lower peninsulas of Michigan.

My son-in-law, the geologist, looking at rocks along the shore of the island.


I love visiting this island, and it was so nice sharing it with my family.

As our trip to Michigan was drawing to a close, we visited Mission Point Lighthouse, just outside of Traverse City.


It was a brisk, stormy day, which simply made it more fun.


The kids climbed were able to climb to the top of the lighthouse, before heading to the beach.

As the last day of our vacation arrived, we asked the kids to choose what they wanted to do.


It was unanimous – go to the beach and swim!

We had a fun-filled vacation, exploring a new area while spending time doing activities together as a family.  

**What did you do for summer fun this year?  

Do you like to travel?  


Where do you like to go?


For those of you who have read my blog for a while, you are familiar with my annual road trip that I take with my mother.


Each year, we visit a different region of the United States.  We fly to one city, rent a car and end up several states away 8 days later.


Flowering window boxes of Charleston, SC

Whether its strolling through historic Charleston, South Carolina…


Or visiting horse country in Lexington, Kentucky


Visiting Lincoln’s Tomb in Illinois


Sampling the fudge in Mackinac Island


Driving through the Vermont countryside…


Touring old plantations in Georgia…

or


Watching an old Amish farmer fertilize his field with manure…

I never cease to be amazed at the wonderful things that I get to experience.

This year, we are busy deciding where our next trip will take us.

Last year, we visited the Upper Midwest and I was able to tour some beautiful gardens, including the Olbrich Botanical Gardens in Wisconsin.  


I enjoy taking photographs wherever we visit and this garden was filled with lots of beautiful areas, which you can view here.

Next time I will show you the possible routes that we have to choose from.
***********************

Baby Watch Update:

No baby yet.  The good news is that the amniotic fluid level isn’t low as they had previously thought and the baby is gaining weight.

However, they are still monitoring her closely and she has an apppointment this morning, so we will see what they say.

I have my suitcase packed and I’m ready to go at a moment’s notice.  I still have appointments scheduled and am busy designing landscape areas next to a golf course, but I can take most of my work with me, so that is good.


Today, I have two different unique containers to show you and both are on two wheels.


This old bicycle was located in a place where bikes and horses are commonplace and cars are not.

I saw this unique container while visiting Mackinac Island earlier this summer.  The front basket was lined with moss and filled with geraniums and trailing ivy.  The side baskets were also planted too.

The bicycle was sitting in the front garden of a quaint house and I noticed that there was a hummingbird feeder on the handle.


This bicycle planter was located in front of a shop in the historic downtown area of Noblesville, Indiana, which is located just outside of Indianapolis.

When we were young, my sister had a pink bike much like this one while I had a purple one.

As you can see, I see many neat gardening ideas on my road trips.  You can read about my trip to Mackinac Island, here and my trip to Indiana, here.

Tomorrow, I will show you a portable container that has only one wheel and not two.

When friends heard that I was going to Michigan, every single one of them told me that I must go to Mackinac Island.


To be honest, I was somewhat skeptical of whether or not I would like Mackinac Island.  I tend to not enjoy what some people would call ‘tourist traps’.


I was hopeful that Mackinac Island would be someplace that I would enjoy.  So far, our trip has been filled with fun adventures including a wine tasting and climbing a lighthouse yesterday.


So, we got up this morning, drove to the ferry and took it out to the island – about 20 minutes.



Along the way, our ferry passed underneath the Mackinac Bridge, which is the 3rd largest suspension bridge in the world and spans 5 miles.   It is designed to move up to 35 feet in windy conditions – kind of scary sounding to me.  

Later in the day, we would cross this bridge by bar, as it connects lower Michigan with the Upper Peninsula and our next destination.


On our way to the Mackinac Island, we passed a smaller island where the Round Island Lighthouse stood sentinel.
I am rapidly becoming a fan of lighthouses!


We started nearing the island and could see the buildings, including a picturesque church and its steeple.
*Pardon the photo quality – I had to take them through the window of the boat.

Our boat landed and we disembarked, anxious to explore the island.


The main street is flanked by Victorian-style buildings filled with shops, restaurants AND stores offering all types of fudge.


Fudge is a really big deal in Mackinac Island.  In fact, the people who live on this island refer to the tourists as “fudgies”.


There are over 17 different stores that sell fudge on the island.

*We stopped at one and I picked up 1 1/2 pounds of fudge.  I know that is an obscene amount of fudge, but it is easy to get carried away when you read all of the different varieties while the fragrance of fudge is wafting through the air.  To justify my large purchase, I bought a 1/2 pound of peanut butter fudge for my husband and a 1/2 pound of regular chocolate for my kids.  I’m reserving the toffee fudge for myself.


For those of you not familiar with Mackinac Island, there are no motorized vehicles allowed on the island.  So, everything is brought in by horse or bicycle, whether it is wine or…


Plants!

Just 3 weeks, there was still snow in parts of the island, so the planting season is just getting underway.


It was so interesting seeing plants being hauled in by horse and by…


Bicycle!


Other items we saw being brought in by horses included boxed groceries from the mainland, furniture, merchandise for the stores – basically anything that motorized vehicles deliver to us regular folks.


Even the police rely on getting around on bikes, but they do have a police car they can use in case of emergency.


Firetrucks and ambulances are also allowed to drive the streets of the island.

Having so many horses around, delivering goods and moving people about makes a certain dirty job a necessity…


The next time my son complains about having to scoop up the dog poop in our backyard, I will point that he has it easy compared to this guy.


We enjoyed browsing through the shops along the main street and I found some gifts for my kids.  


I didn’t see any store or restaurant chains except for Starbucks, much to my mother’s delight.



Summer has definitely arrived and I loved seeing all of the colorful plantings, including this one using a bicycle.  Geraniums (Pelargoniums) and ivy were planted in the front and back baskets.


I am a huge fan of hanging baskets lining a porch or street, but I don’t have any at home, because it can be a struggle because our dry climate makes it hard to keep the roots moist without constant watering more then once a day.

  I did love this particular hanging basket,  which was made up of pink ‘Wave’ petunias, white bacopa and purple verbena.


Have you ever seen a prettier post office?

I sat down on a little bench in front and wrote post cards to my kids and sent them off.


Even the courthouse and police station put on a floral show with bright-red tulips.


There are many old buildings on Mackinac Island and plaques in front of each describe their historical importance.


I love this old fence – it has so much character, don’t you think?


Fort Mackinac was founded in 1780 and still stands today.  It is up on the hill that overlooks the main street of the island.


Here is the back view of the fort.


This beautiful building is the Michigan’s governor’s summer residence.


 Like the fort, it too sits up on the hillside.  The governor spends a few weeks during the summer there – not a bad deal, I must say.


Probably the most famous place on the island is The Grand Hotel, a 5-star hotel, built in 1887.

It is very fancy, beautiful and expensive.  


We didn’t tour the hotel, because of time constraints.  But if you want to learn more about this iconic hotel, click here.

To get a real feel for the island, its people and its history – we decided to take a carriage tour.  The tour begins downtown, but soon goes up into the more uninhabited areas of the island.


Horses pull carriages full of tourists.  The horses resemble Clydesdale horses and are raised by the Amish.

Approximately 80% of Mackinac Island is a state park.



The carriage took us through the beautiful woods of the island and our tour guide was full of interesting information.



Dead trees aren’t removed, despite the fire danger they pose because the island does not have a lot of topsoil.  So the fallen trees are allowed to decay, adding organic matter to the soil.


Arch Rock was an interesting limestone formation that we saw along the tour.

I highly recommend going on a carriage tour after spending time on the main street or else you miss a large part of the island’s identity and beauty.


My mother and I had a fabulous time on the island and spent longer there then we had planned.

After returning on the ferry back to the mainland, we picked up our car, headed over the Mackinac Bridge toward the Upper Peninsula, which is not known for the large amount of people who live here.  In fact, in the 2 hours we drove from the bridge, we saw few buildings, homes and people.


This is where we are – in a small town in the middle of the Upper Peninsula.

Tomorrow, we will drive through the remainder of the Upper Peninsula to Green Bay, Wisconsin and more adventures!