Friday, July 15, 2011

The Last Leg of Our Journey!

After our horrible night in the ant infested hotel room in Kentucky we are headed to Cumberland Falls State Park.  UGH...MORE MOUNTAINS!  This one though was well worth it.  We didn't spend a whole lot of time up the mountain, the main purpose was to go see the waterfall up the mountain.  It was beautiful.  There seemed to be so much to do at the resort park that I definetly believe that it warrants another trip up there...a longer one though so that we can see the Moonbow, not to mention the horseback riding, hiking, and white water rafting.

So once we finished up at the waterfall it was off to Georgia and Grandma June's house for a couple of days.  It is a nice way to wrap up our trip because it was very relaxing...but VERY HOT!!!

We left Grandma's house on Thursday morning for the long drive home.  The girls were so excited when we crossed the state line that they started cheering when they saw the Welcome to Florida sign.

Three weeks, 10 states, and 4,000 miles later we are finally home.  It was an amazing trip.  This country we live in is absolutely spectacular.  There is so very much to see and we didn't even put a dent in it.  I feel so blessed to have had the time to spend with my daughters on our road trip this year.  Thank you for taking time to read about our experiences.  I hope you enjoyed reading them as much as I enjoyed taking them. 

Until next time...take a few days and experience this wonderful country we live really is beautiful!

Oh What a Weekend!

So Friday night before we went to the play at Hope College we stopped at a store called Menards...a nicer version of Home Depot/Lowes.  We stopped here because Amber's husband Jimmy was going to be showcasing his race car along with several other racers and their cars.  While we were there, Rebekka (the lucky little snot that she is) won tickets to go see the Detroit White Caps baseball team play on Saturday night in Grand Rapids.  She didn't just win tickets, they were SUITE tickets over the first baseline.  The girls were so very excited and now I had to figure out how we were going to do everything as planned on Saturday plus work in the baseball game.

The first stop of the day was at Fredrick Meijer Sculpture Gardens in Grand Rapids Michigan and let me just say these sculptures and gardens are absolutely SPECTACULAR!   I was mesmerized by the beauty of these gardens and the sculptures were beautiful.  The girls and I had a favorite sculpture called "Mad Mom".  It wasn't necessarily of a kind of reminded me of an old cartoon the girls watched called "Rolli Polli Ollie" where the people looked like shapes.  It was really cute! 

After the sculpture gardens we drove South  past Holland to watch Jimmy's drag racing.  If you have ever watched drag racing on TV (Pinks, Pinks All Out, etc...) it is NOTHING like that.  It is soooooo much better in person!  The nose, the smells, the adreneline are GREAT!  I must say that this has been my favorite part of our trip right now.  Jimmy ran two races while we were there and he won both races.  I will say it again...IT WAS GREAT!

We left the race at 7:00 so that we could head back up to Grand Rapids for the baseball game that Rebekka won tickets for.  The girls were really excited about going to the game.  When we got to the stadium there were signs all over the place stating that the game was sold out.  Then we found out that it was Star Wars Theme Night!  We got a great parking of the last ones left before they started parking cars across the street at a bank, and went to go find our seats.  Like I said earlier they we were in a suite above the first base line.  The suite offered both indoor and outdoor seating so as soon as we were able to we went to sit outside.  During the game different Star Wars characters were walking throughout the stands and into the suites so we were able to get some great pictures with the girls and the characters. We were sitting right at the railing able to look down on the field...ideal seats...and then it happened!  My poor Emily, if something is going to happen it is going to happen to here!  I honestly don't remember which team was at bat, but all of a sudden a foul ball was hit...DIRECTLY at EMILY!  Poor child didn't even see it coming!  Out of the corner of my eye I noticed the man sitting next to Emily reaching his hand up in the air and then I heard it!  THUMP!!!!! Then the shrill SCREAM of my child!  I couldn't move fast enough...I was on the end of the row and Samantha and Rebekka were sitting between Emily and myself.  Poor Emily was hit smack in her left eye by the foul ball.  I must take a minute here and rave about the wonderful staff at the Fifth Third Stadium in Grand Rapids.  First off the people in our suite were wonderful scrambling to get us ice as I tried to calm ALL of my children(and myself I might add), but mainly Emily and then within minutes the stadium paramedics were there and everything started to calm down.  The stadium staff was terrific they made sure we had everything we needed INCLUDING a game ball.  The ball the actually hit Emily was finally caught by a little boy down below us and he refused to give it up so they brought Emily another game ball.  We did decide to stay until the end of the game and watched the fireworks after the game.  Poor Emily ended the evening with a nice shiner and a headache, but I keep reminding myself it could have been so much worse...she could have had her glasses on...Oh and the White Caps won, 10 to 3 although I still don't know who they were playing!

Sunday morning came sooner than we really wanted because it was time to leave to start our trek back home.  Emily's eye was looking pretty good all things considered, she was sporting a nice welt and some bruising on her eyelid.  So it was time to check out and head on down the road.  The plan for the day was to head to Conner Prairie in Indiana.  It is an interactive "period theme"  hands on park focusing on the days of the settlers.  What a great place...very hands on.  You are encourage to touch and feel and experience everything there was at this park.  We only did the settlers portion of the park because time didn't permit for us to also experience the civil war portion of the park...that just means we need to go back.  Once we left Conner Prairie we continued driving South into Kentucky which is where we stopped for the night at a wonderful, beautiful, terrific, spectacular hotel (can you hear the sarcasm in my voice??? If not trust me it was there)  The old addage you get what you pay for was definetly true in this instance.  I will remember that for next time :)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wednesday thru Friday

So I know it has been a while since I have blogged about our trip, but that is because I have been exhausted by the time I am back in the room at night.  So I will do the next couple of blogs in parts so that I can catch you up with all our fun activities.  This one will be about all of our activities from Wednesday July 6th thru Friday July 8th. 
So Wednesday we decided to take a trip down to Shipshewana Indiana to visit an Amish flea market.   It was so strange to see the signs on the side of the highway tell you that you had to share the road with a horse drawn cart…and yes just like in the movies they have the big orange triangle on the back of the buggies.  The flea market was great… I really would have been in trouble if I had had more money with me and a bigger vehicle.  The flea market had some similarities to our Ft. Lauderdale Swap Shop, but it was also very different.   It had your typical flea market crap, but then it had these great craft areas, wood furniture, and Amish bakery items, jellies, and other food items.  They also have fresh produce, plants, and flowers.  There was also a huge auction house with many different auctions going on at the same time.  What an experience.  My favorite part though was…ready for this…the ribbon fries and the homemade fried pies at the food booths.  With our purchases safely packed away in the truck we headed off to Aunt Sylvia’s house for one of Rebekka’s favorite Dutch dinners…7 Layer Dinner, Salad, Rolls, and Strawberries with Sour Cream and Brown Sugar.  The 7 layer dinner is peas, carrots, onions, potatoes, ground beef, tomatoes, and tomato soup all layered and baked together…Yummy!
Now it is Thursday and we don’t have a whole lot planned until later in the day.  So today we are going to go around and visit some relatives.  We start off by going to Pereddies Italian Restaurant (owned and run by my cousins) to visit with cousins Chris and Moi Han.  Then it was off to Piero’s Dental Office to see both Piero and Pia.  We got to the dental office and wouldn’t you know it we missed Pia and she wasn’t due back until Monday, or so we thought.  Oh well at least we got to see some of our cousins.    After lunch at Wendy's we met up with Amber and off we went to go to the Holland Aquatic Center for some pool fun.  What a great pool this is.  Not only does it have all your typical pool activities, it also has a big water slide, a kiddie area, a hot tub for the adults, and a different inflatable activity each day.  A fun time was had by all.  After pool time we went and picked up Aunt Sylvia and went to Amber's house enjoy some lasagna.  It was a fairly quiet day in Holland.  The worst park of the day was the excitement happening in Grand Rapids during the day.  It was an event that made national news during the evening hours.  A man "lost his mind" and killed seven people took hostages and then killed himself.  It truly was a tragedy in Grand Rapids that night. 
So now we are at Friday and we are going to go meet Pia for lunch today at Pereddies.  Pia is Chris Brown's wife and Chris runs Pereddies with there son Moi Han.  We had a very delicious and huge lunch.  After lunch  we went next door to the restaurant to Pia's Art Gallery were the girls and I all got to make our own piece of pottery.  I made a bowl, Rebekka made a music plaque, Samantha made a butterfly and Emily made a cat.  We really enjoyed the afternoon in the Art Gallery.  That night Pia had ticket for us to go to Hope College to see a play called "Return to the Forbidden Planet".  What a was rock music combined with Shakespeare in a wacky play.  We had a great time with Pia and Moi at the play. 
So now we are caught up to Friday night.  The next segment will be from Saturday and Sunday!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Windmills, Gardens, Wooden Shoes and such!

Unlike home, Holland seems to stop functioning on Sundays.  In some ways it is kind of nice because families can spend the day together, but if you are visiting a town where everything shuts down on Sundays it gets tricky to figure out what to do.  Happily Windmill Island was openon Sunday.  This really isn't exactly an Island as the name says, but it does have a fully functioning windmill on it and the gardens that surround it are absolutely gorgeous!  I must say the one thing I love more than anything up here are all of the beautiful flowers, trees and natural wildlife everywhere!  So we visited the windmill and the gardens and then ventured to downtown Holland where low and behold everything was closed!  Well, almost everything...we did get some ice cream at Kilwin's.  So we proceeded down to Rivertown Mall to try to was some time there.  While we were at the mall Emily decided to get her right ear cartilidge pierced, which we had agreed that she could do while we were on vacation.  So we did that and the girls did a little bit of shopping with their spending money.  Our last stop of the day was TGI Fridays for dinner and then back to the hotel where the girls got to go swimming before we called it a night.

Happy Independence Day!  Like Sunday most things were closed in Holland, everything that is except for Dutch Village, a traditional Dutch theme park.  Not like Disney or anything like that, this one shows what living in Holland, Netherlands was like along with a few authentic rides like the wooden carousel and swings.  They also have lots of farm animals and the cutest bunnys you could ever hope to see.  Not to mention the gardens that are beautiful with all the different flowers in full bloom.  They also have an amazing pipe organ straight from the Netherlands that is absolutely beautiful and every couple of hours the dutch dancers come out in full cosutme and their wooden shoes and dance.  When there are done with their dances they invite the audience to come up and learn to dance so of course the girls got to try out their dancing skills while mom stayed back and took pictures :)  After Dutch Village we all (Aunt Sylvia included) went to Crystal and Rich's house for a cook out!  What a great time that was.  Crystal, Rich, Justin, Arianna, Amber, Jimmy, Oliver, Eric, Katie, Addison, Aunt Sylvia, Angel and the girls and I were all there and boy was it fun.  The kids went for a ride on Rich's quad and proceeded to get stuck in the mud and then the guys took Bekka, Emily and Sam out for target practice and Rebekka got to try her hand a shooting a hunting rifle.  After the cook out we went back to the hotel where we were able to watch the fireworks from our room.

Today was a very busy, but fun day.  We started out going to Saugatuck to go a dune buggy ride through the Michigan Sand Dunes.  We had so much fun on this wild and crazy make it even better we had a great, enthusiastic and funny driver.  The landscape that we saw was breath taking.  After our dune buggy rige we ventured into historic Saugatuck were we had a great lunch at The Butler.  We left Saugatuck and drove down to the Holland State Park to see Big Red...the most photographed lighthouse in was not a glamorous as it sounds, actually it was quite small and not at all what I expected.  Oh well, at least the girls got to see the beach and even walk around in Lake Michigan and it's 72 degree water...brrrr!  The big event for the day was for Rebekka...she decided that she wanted to get her belly button pierced; so with Amber's help we found a reputable tatoo parlor and she bravely got her piercing...OUCH!!!  Now we are quietly back in our room with our pizza, salad and chicken wings for dinner.

Tomorrows adventures will lead us down into Indiana the Shipshewana Flea Market in the heart of Amish ville.  Should be interesting.  I will let you know what great things we discover there!  Good night for now and thanks for following along!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Having a great time!

So it is Saturday night and we are all settled for the next week in Holland Michigan...Yippee!!!!

I think that Thursday is where I left off so I will start there!  The plan for the day was to visit "The Henry Ford" and also Greenfield Village.  If you are EVER in the Detroit area this is a must see!  I was so impressed with both the museum and the village that I want to go back.  Definetly a full days worth of adventures.  The Henry Ford is a museum and inside this museum is such wonderful history...we saw 5 Presidential Vehicles, let me see if I can remember all of them :) Reagan's 1972 Lincoln, Kennedy's 1961 Lincoln, Eisenhower's 1950 Bubbletop Lincoln, Roosevelt's 1939 Sunshine Special Lincoln, and Roosevelt's Circa 1902 Brougham.  On top of these vehicles we saw the evolution of the Railroad cars, airplanes, and the chair that Lincoln was killed in (and yes the stains on the car were his blood), the bus that Rosa Parks was riding, and my personal favorite...THE OSCAR MAYER WEINER MOBILE!  This doesn't even touch on everything in this wonderful, fun museum. 

After going through the museum we ventured out to Greenfield Village.  This village has such wonderful history in it.  Thomas Edison's House, The Webster House (author of the Webster dictionary), George Washington Carver's House, Henry Ford's House and many other historical homes were moved to this property and created Greenfield Village.  There were also schoolhouses, shops, farms, vehicles and games all from the time period.  It really made you feel like you were a part of history.  Not to mention the beautiful grounds!

After our visit at the museum and village we had a very nice relaxing and enjoyable visit back at Aunt Nina's house were we enjoyed pizza, salad, and funny family stories.  It was a great way to end such an enjoyable day.

Friday was errand day.  Aunt Nina had errands that she needed to run and I needed to get to a local share branch credit union (remember the lost debit/credit card) and then we did the fun stuff.  We went to a really neat tea shop called KrisTea's.  My cousin Karenbea works there and what a great little shop it is.  They don't just sell tea there, but also all sorts of really cool STUFF...of course all your normal tea cups and tea accessories, but really fun hats, dishes old time phones, beautiful table linens etc...a person could spend a day in there just looking around.  From there we went to the CranBrook Natural History Museum.  This is a small museum and planetarium.  The nice thing was that you can cover the whole museum in about 2 to 2 and 1/2 hours and really feel like you learned something and saw lots.  Although it was like a typical museum with artifacts, dino bones, gems etc... we really enjoyed it.  The rest of the afternoon was spent at the community pool and then to dinner with Aunt Nina, Karenbea, her husband Luke, and their son Tytus.  I must say that even though we have been having lots of fun this dinner and the time spent after dinner has truly been my favorite part thus far.  I absolutely loved catching up with family and meeting new family.  Aunt Nina and Karenbea are so much of my past (before I was born that is) with my mother and it gave me such warmth at the way my children and I were accepted into their homes for this vacation.  After dinner we went back to Karenbea and Luke's house were the kids all got to play down in the basement rec room!   They had a blast!  Tytus came back to Aunt Nina's with us and spent the night so the fun and games continued on into the late hours and then again this morning prior to our departure.

Now we are up to current times.  We spent most of the afternoon today in the car driving over to the Western side of Michigan, better know to me as Holland Michigan. We will be here for the next 8 days visiting with multitudes of Aunts and Cousins. 

So that is were we are tonight and you are all caught up on our adventures thus far.  I haven't quite figured out how to download the photos on here, so hopefully just my writing isn't boring you to tears.  Thanks for reading and being a part of my adventures North!

Thursday, June 30, 2011


It is now Thursday evening and I have 3 days worth of adventures to fill you in on.  Let's see...

Tuesday morning we awoke in North Caroline to beautiful skies and cooler temperatures since we were up on Sugar Mountain.  What a refreshing change from the 90 degree heat we left behind.  Our plan for the day was to explore Grandfather Mountain and then venture over to The Biltmore Estates and finally driving up into what I was hoping would be Ohio.  Well...Grandfather Mountain was absolutely beautiful, we drove up to the animal preserve and museum and the views from the mountain were breathtaking.  It was however quite an interesting drive UP the mountain itself hence the only making it part of the way up ;)  The animal preserve was beautiful and I loved the way that they kept everything so natural looking.  We saw three bears, a pair of otters and some deer...we couldn't find the cougars and the eagles were not on display unfortunately.  Oh well, maybe there will be a next time.  From Grandfather Mountain we ventured toward Ashville and the Biltmore Estate.  When I tell you that we barely made a dent in the grounds at Biltmore Estate it is because I don't think anyone can cover 8000 acres (yes 8 thousand) in a single afternoon.  What a spectacular property.  The estate home itself was amazing and then you have these lush, green, beautiful gardens, the inn, a village and a restaurant all to see.  Definetely someplace that I want to return to and spend more time at.  So we finished at the Biltmore and hit the road to Ohio!

Oh ye of great trust that I am I followed what my GPS said to do!!!  BIG MISTAKE!!!  So remember last blog when I filled you in on my driving in the rain and bridges...ADD CURVEY DARK MOUNTAINS TO THE LIST!!!  So let me set the scene for you.  We left the Biltmore Estate and the GPS said it is about 6 hours to Ohio...okay not bad should put us there at about 8 or 9 o'clock righht???  WRONG!!!!  I finally stopped STILL IN WEST VIRGINIA at 11:30 p.m. Tuesday night!  Here is how things went...Stopped and got McDonalds for the girls as we left the Biltmore, gased up in North Carolina and hit the highway North and it started to rain :( okay no big deal.  Entered Tennessee, still raining on and off, no big deal.  Entered Virginia...WHAT ...yes Virginia, hmm a little odd but okay I'm following what Gertrude (my GPS) is telling me to do... need to stop for gas and find it for $3.23 (woohoo)  pull in and reach for my debit card...OH NO it's not there.  Yes ladies and gentleman my debit/visa card is GONE!!!  Should have stopped for the night right then and there because it only got worse from that point on...Now as I start driving again, worried about my lost card, I start to notice a trend...the mountainous highways that I thought I left behind in North Carolina seem to be getting worse, it is STILL raining and what the heck is this...we are entering WEST VIRGINIA!  So know I am getting a little bit panicky...lost debit/visa card, rain, lots of winding, curving, STEEP roads, it's getting dark, no street lights and LOTS of SEMI's...can it get any worse???  Yup we had to drive THRU 2 mountains...that's right, not around or over, thru them!!!!  The level of panic rising in my system was close to meltdown status.  Thank goodness for my girls because they helped keep me grounded on what I thought was going to be a never ending night!!!  Looking back now I realize that I should have stopped for the evening a lot sooner than I did, but I was bound and determinded to get to Ohio that night, unfortunately that did not happen!  I finally gave in when it became apparent that exhaustion was setting in so we found the nearest hotel in West Virginia and called it a night! 

So Wednesday morning rolled around and I was hoping that my lost card might appear somewhere in the car...No such luck!  Oh well, cancelled the card and spoke to the bank about there shared branch locations and then hit the road.  Amazing what day light and a little bit of sleep will do for a person!  With a renewed sense on confidence we hit the road to Ohio and guess what??? We FINALLY made it into Ohio!  The drive through Ohio was quite uneventful...we stopped for lunch at a wonderful place called Lucky's Cafe in Cleveland (it was featured on Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives) and had a delicous lunch and then continued on!  Hip Hip Horray we are in Michigan, but that darn Gertrude got us screwed up again!  We exited where she told us to and thank the good Lord I was paying attention because she was trying to make us get on the Ambassador Bridge!  For those that don't know it...that is the bridge that connects Detroit to CANADA!!!  I DON"T WANT TO GO TO CANADA!!!!!!  After multiple u-turns and another half hour of driving we made it to Aunt Nina's house!  Once we got settled we took the girls swimming so that they could burn off some of there pent up energy, came back to Aunt Nina's house, ate dinner, and then ALL crashed for the night!

Now it is Thursday and I will continue my blog on all of todays woderful adventures tomorrow as it is late and I am exhausted!

By the way...  Gertrude...YOU ARE FIRED!!!  I will be mapquesting my way back home thank you very much :)

Monday, June 27, 2011

A Busy Few Days

So the last time I was on here was the day before we left and my intentions were to blog a little more often and I promise that that is what I will do from here on out.  So let me start out with Friday and continue on from there.

Friday didn't go off quite as we had planned but sometimes the greatest of plans just don't work out the way you want them to!  We started the morning at the crack of dawn (5:30a.m. to be exact) getting Emily ready for her final day of Marine Magnet Beach Camp and the BIG snorkel trip.  She was delivered to school by 6:30 and my day went on from there.  First picking up the car rental, packing the car, making sure the girls were all ready and finally a few minutes to relax before heading to my parents house and picking up Emily and hitting the road.  My first snag of the day was with Emily.  She was supposed to be back at school by 1:30...well in actuality it was 2:30 so we got off to a much later start than we anticipated.  Oh well again with the best laid plans :)  So for those of you who are reading this and don't know me as well as some let me tell you a little bit about me and driving.  I HATE driving over bridges...however more than my hatred for driving over bridges is my ABSOLUTE HATRED for driving in the rain and guess what???  Just South of Daytona I hit the nastiest thunderstorm :(  The rain was coming down in sheets and the visibility was awful, thankfully there wasn't a terrible amount of traffic on the highway; all the same though, I was white knuckled and my hands were killing me by the time we were through the downpour.  Once we hit Jacksonville we took a nice driving break and enjoyed dinner with our dear friends Chris and Lara.  It was a relief to be off the road for a little while.  Finally at about 11:30 we pulled in to Jesup Georgia and arrived at Grandma June's house!

So Jesup, Georgia is a town that is about the size of my house.  So what did we do for the next 2 days you ask???  Well we shopped a lot (running errands mostly), watched movies, and ate...boy did we eat; Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, and good old American.  We also drove around the town and saw some beautiful homes and churches on every corner of every block!  Incredible, I think that there is probably one church for every family that lives in the town!  So those were our adventures in Jesup...we will be going back through toward the end of the trip so there will be more to come later!

So now it is Monday and we are enjoying our evening in a beautiful Best Western up near Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina.  The plan is to tour the mountain tomorrow and then head on up to Ohio tomorrow evening.

On a side note...for those of you living in Florida and enjoying all of those wonderful $3.65 gallons of gas (at least that is what I paid when I left) we are enjoyng gas prices around $3.35...amazing how the same stuff is different prices all over the place!  Oh well that is all I have to report for tonight.  There will be more to come now that we are on the road and sight seeing.  I hope this hasn't been to boring but it is giving me a chance to reflect and share our adventures!