Blog Archives for category Nature

A chilly family day

Tom’s new office had a Family Day today at a park on base by Lake Michigan and of course it was the coldest day we’ve had since being here—we were all in long pants and jackets and I was still freezing. It would have been an amazing day if it would have been in the 80s. Needless to say that made the event less than stellar for us but the kids had fun playing some lawn games, watching people get pies in the face, and getting dunked in the dunk tank. I only took one picture the entire time and it was as we were starting our walk to the beach: 

The waterfall at Occoquan

I took Katie to Occoquan to do some Pokemoning and since it was so nice, we went for a walk across the bridge to the waterfall she loves. 

  
   
 

It’s sunny and halfway warm…so it was off to the ocean.

The sun is deceiving. We didn’t stay too long because it was actually windy and getting chilly…

Another day, another trip the ocean!

Today was a beach day in the morning as it was in the 60s by 9am! Owen LOVES playing in the waves and he won’t come to shore until you call him in! Katie would rather dig in the sand than be tossed around by waves. The water is fairly cold—to the adults! (Tom came down for a bit and jumped in with Owen but then came right back out!!) Gramma made Katie into a mermaid and then made a lobster for herself! 

Our view for the next week. 

Thanks to Gramma Jean and Grandpa David…a wonderful week in Fort Walton Beach!

 

A leaf as big as her head!

  

Heading home after an amazing weekend! 

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Getting ready to board!

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Everyone was absolutely wonderful and I look forward to keeping in touch with the new people I met! And where do I start with Marcia? She is so lovely and warm and gracious and generous that I feel so extremely privileged to have met her and been able to spend the weekend with her. I will never forget this weekend!

On my way…

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Six stops for blackberries!

The weather this morning was great for walking (72° with low humidity) so I made the kids go on a walk. Amazingly once I got them out of the house there was no complaining!

There are lots of blackberries on the trail so whenever we found a ripe bunch we’d stop and I’d pick them. And when I say bunch, I mean 3-4 edible ones. This was our fourth stop!

Our sixth stop!

 

Now the kids are somewhat excited to go back on the trail to see if there are any more blackberries!

My full vacation stash. 

It would have been three times as many had we actually made it to the beach.

  

Look what we found in Gramma’s woods!

While Katie was telling me that the door on the tree wasn’t real and no one lives there, I spotted something.

 

We’re on top of the world!

None of us had ever been up Brockway Mountain, so we did that after mini golf.

Brockway Mountain Drive is an 8.883-mile scenic roadway just west of Copper Harbor in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in the United States.

Click for full size photo.

Owen took a selfie!

 

Dinner at Harbor Haus is now a tradition.

Tonight was our second time eating at the Harbor Haus (a 4-star Yelp-reviewed German restaurant!) so now it’s officially a tradition when we visit up here!

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  • Appetizer: Crab Stuffed Risotto Balls, Wild Mushroom Risotto, Smoked Cheese, Panko Crust (amazing—could have been our dinner in entirety)
  • Soup: Steak something-or-other (tomato-based and surprisingly delicious)
  • Entree: Mixed Grill (three seasoned and grilled shrimp with a bearnaise-type sauce, bacon-wrapped jagerwurst with a dark sauce, flank steak with a mushroom sauce, and wild mushroom risotto—DELICIOUS)
  • Dessert: Belgian Chocolate, Toasted Hazelnut & Frangelico Soufflé with Crème Anglaise

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My view for most of the day today.

Just gorgeous. And relaxing. Gotta love a swinging bench.

Wild Blueberries

The kids got to pick wild blueberries earlier in the week to have blueberry pancakes…and I managed to find these today!

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We’re at what I lovingly refer to as The North Pole…

Otherwise known as my dad and stepmom’s house. It’s a loooooong way up here…but it is gorgeous.

The view from their back yard—click for larger image.

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Another view from their back yard—click for larger image.

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Leaving the island…

The weather was great in the morning, and we could tell it was going to be a perfectly gorgeous day. Of course. GRRR. :p

And better pics from Sunset Rock.

But, since it was so nice, we decided to walk back to town instead of paying $15 for the shuttle.

Stopping to pick wild raspberries.

Stopping to rescue snails from the trail! They were all over!

Waiting for the boat off the island. :(

Our 15th anniversary night on Mackinac Island

We decided to celebrate our 15th anniversary just a bit early (since we had available babysitters!) and spend the night on Mackinac Island. (It’s actually a bit longer story. I had wanted to go to the Headlands International Night Sky Park in Mackinac City so Tom was in charge of picking the hotel. He thought he was making a reservation for Mackinac City, but when we had to change nights, he realized he had made a reservation on the island—he had a few tabs open on his computer and called a different one than he was looking at! So our plans changed to go to the island instead!)

Unfortunately, we knew bad weather was on the way, so we chose not to do anything time-intensive like biking around the island…so when this happened…

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…we stopped our shopping for a quick lunch at Seabiscuit Cafe. We had yummy whitefish chowder and a mediocre whitefish reuben.

The weather app we were checking seemed to predict that it would only last an hour or so, but the rain just kept coming. We decided to take the shuttle back to the hotel and wait out the rain in our room.

Our room was GORGEOUS with an AMAZING view…or a potentially amazing view if it hadn’t been raining and foggy.

The Cudahy room at the Inn at Stonecliffe --- click for a larger version.

The Cudahy room at the Inn at Stonecliffe, Mackinac Island — click for a larger version.

This was our view before the fog rolled in and obscured the bridge:

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It was quite chilly in our room and the heat was slow to come on, so we pulled the extra blanket out of the closet, rearranged the chairs, and crossed our fingers that the front passed soon.

We rechecked the forecast in a different app and that showed rain pretty much all day. :( So Tom took a nap and I sat and tried to catch up on writing blog posts…while listening to a wedding taking place below us on the covered back porch :) and watching it rain and rain and rain.

We had almost the same view at dinner:

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And then we got to watch the wedding guests wander around during the reception:

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Our meal was very, very good. We knew we’d blow NS principles out of the water, but we didn’t care because it was our anniversary and everything sounded amazing. And everything WAS. We were very happy with our dinner. :)

  • Appetizer: Cheddar-Crab Fondue | Thyme-Lemon Gremolata | Toasted Brioche
  • Soup: Lobster Bisque | Lemon Tarragon Oil (which surprisingly Tom loved—he’s not a big lobster fan)
  • Entrée (me): Sea Scallop | Cheddar Polenta | Bacon-Fava Succotash | Ver Jus | Citrus Micro
  • Entrée (Tom): Battered Whitefish BLT | Smokey Caper Aïoli | Peppered Bacon | Tomato | Frisée | Toasted Brioche
  • Dessert (Tom): Chai Crème Brûlée

It had stopped raining during dinner so we went for a walk around the grounds and out to Sunset Rock.

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And the panoramic view (click for larger version):

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And do you see what we saw in the water? :)

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It really was a pretty place.

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After our walk we headed back to the room where we listened to the reception rave on while we watched Breaking Bad on Netflix. :) Then it started raining again but thankfully didn’t storm since it was bedtime (though I wouldn’t have minded watching a storm from our room).

While overall it stunk that the weather was so crappy, we still enjoyed being together—alone!—all day! That’s always worth something. :)

A walk in the woods.

Stopping for pull ups.

Can we take this birch tree home please?

How about this one?

The view from the top of the trail!

FYI the 2 mile trail…?

Really almost 3 miles…but a great walk. :)

 

Vacation bucket list item (stones): complete

I found all these in landscaping rock piles at Uncle Rob’s apartment complex. I found them all dry and didn’t get them wet until this morning.

 

I love this trail for these views.