Monday, July 29, 2013

Oswald's Bear Ranch

Before heading back home on our last day in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, we made a stop at Oswald's Bear Ranch. On their grounds are three habitats of 23 rescued bears (females, males, and yearlings) and an area to pet one of three cubs.  You can do so for $10 and get a picture in the time it takes the little guy to eat Fruit Loops off a serving spoon.  As you can see below, we took that opportunity.

Baby Bear

Yearling Bear


Mama Bear


Papa Bears


Not Real Bears


From Oswald's we headed home and ended our northern Michigan vacation, another escape that filled me with great appreciation for this beautiful state.  I'm proud to be raising Michiganders and hope Michael and Sophie are starting to collect some Michigan memories that last and last.  

If you're interested, take a look at the other destinations from this trip.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Pictured Rocks

Our other big Upper Peninsula destination on our northern Michigan summer road trip was Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.  From our hotel in Paradise, MI, we drove a couple of hours to and from this stunning destination and went on a guided boat cruise of the sights.




Check out that vertical fault line.

This spot is called Lover's Leap, but it's only a couple feet deep.  Don't jump.



Considering they hadn't had lunch or a nap when we boarded the 2.5 hour cruise and had only snacks and the scenery to amuse them, Michael and Sophie did great.


One more vacation stop to come!

If you're interested, take a look at the other destinations from this trip.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Tahquamenon Falls

UP-20Mike and I have always loved Michigan vacations, and after taking the kids to Traverse City and Petoskey two years ago and renting a place on Lake Michigan last year, sharing another Michigan vacation destination with our little ones felt right this summer.  House hunting made an easy-to-plan vacation the name of the game this time around, so I whipped up a long weekend in Mackinac.

However, I soon found myself calculating the distance to a couple of other areas that have intrigued me for a while, researching hotels, urging Mike to take one more day off work, and reworking our trip to include stops in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.  Aside from a brief trip to the Sioux Locks and lunch in St. Ignace on a trip to that area years ago (both are just on the other side of the Mackinac bridge), the UP was uncharted territory for Mike and me.

After two nights in Mackinaw City, we stayed at a hotel in Paradise, MI because it was on the beach and near our first UP destination: Tahquamenon Falls.  I have to admit that the kids' book "M is for Mitten" that I mentioned a couple of posts ago is what ultimately drew me to the falls.

On most trips we stay faithful to the kids' nap/bedtime and meal routines, but with a long drive on day one, we found ourselves trying to be more flexible as the kids dozed at non-nap times.  We paid for it with rocky bedtimes and a couple of meltdowns, but we survived, and we're back on track at home now.

I imagine there were families hiking, couples kayaking, wildlife frolicking, all disrupted by the cries of, "I just want my graham crackers!" when one of those meltdowns occurred in the tranquility of Tahquamenon Falls State Park.

"See that big butterfly, Sophie?"

"Graham crackers."

"Michael, look at that beautiful water!"

"No!  Crackers."

For the record, Mike and I did offer to stop at a picnic table--that alone is usually super appealing to these munchkins--to eat graham crackers and drink some water before our short walk around the falls.  They turned that offer down.  We should have forced the snack on them at that point, I guess, or at least brought it along rather than returning the sippy cups and snack containers to the car.  Mike did make a run back for them, and we were able to enjoy this wonder a bit more...and restore peace to the land.


You can read her mind, can't you?  Graaaaaaaham crackers.
If you're interested, take a look at the other destinations from this trip.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Beach Time

Michael and Sophie were excited to play on the beaches on our recent vacation to northern Michigan, so we did that as much as we could.

A roadside park in Mackinaw City...








Mackinaw City  (our hotel beach)


This one makes me think of last year's trip...and how much these nuggets have grown in a year.


The many faces of Sophie...






Lake Superior - Paradise, MI
(our hotel beach)





If you're interested, take a look at the other destinations from this trip.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

M is for Mackinac

Before leaving for our vacation, a road trip to the Mackinac area, Tahquamenon Falls, and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, the kids and I hit the library.  At home we already had "M is for Mitten," by Annie Appleford and Kathy-Jo Wargin, but while the kids played around in the library's kiddie area, I looked for more Michigan-, beach-, and vacation-themed books.


Among others, I found:

These books all made it into the bedtime book rotation for a couple of weeks and got the kids pretty excited about what we would see on our vacation.

There was one clear celebrity that the kids talked about the most leading up to, during, and after this trip:

Mike would want me to explain that the Bud Light cooler in the back was a promotional freebie given to us by a friend years ago. It is collapsable and therefore great for trips.  It held pasta salad, not bad beer.  

There are a few ferry services to Mackinac Island, and although our hotel in Mackinaw City shared a parking lot with the Star Line, we took a shuttle to Shepler's Ferry to get on their 9 AM boat that goes under the bridge on its way to the island. 



As you can see in the pictures, the weather was little ominous on the morning of our Mackinac Island day.  The clouds opened up just as we set foot on the island, but we were able to wait out the short but heavy storm under some awnings and in some souvenir shops.  You know what they say about Michigan weather. :)  For the rest of the day, the weather was ideal.


We took a horse-drawn carriage tour of the island, something Mike and I had never done before, and it was a great way to explore the island with our little ones.  Michael and Sophie even made up for a rocky night of hotel sleep with some snuggly napping along the way.


We grabbed some lunch (nothing remarkable--pretty much the story for all of our meals on this trip) and checked out the shops.


I zoomed in for peek at the reflection in Mike's glasses.

Check out my little buddy.  


Of course, no trip to Mackinac is complete without fudge.

I'll share more of our vacation adventures in some upcoming posts!  If you're interested, take a look at the other destinations from this trip.

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