So I was excited about this day for a couple of reasons. #1, GARDENS. #2, MANDI (Jason's little sis), and #3, there was a good chance that Sarah, our sister-in-law, was going to able to come over and bring our niece and nephew. Jason's brother, Chris, and Sarah live in Cadillac, about an hour and a half (I think) from Grand Rapids.
Why only a chance? Well....because Sarah is 9.999 months pregnant with Pickens baby #3 and had her last o.b. appointed this morning. BUT good for us - nothing was going on with P3 so she was able to make the drive over. Unfortunately, Chris had to work.
Jason and I got a lazy start, took the dogs to the SPA, picked up Mandi, and got to the gardens right at lunchtime. Sarah drove up about 10 minutes after we got there, and then we had lunch in the cafe.
Those kids are too darn cute. Alex was cracking us up because he has learned to fake burp and then say "excuse me". Emelyn is feeling all of her 2-years-old and was letting us know exactly what she DID and DID NOT want. It was funny.
Lunch was fun and the kids were good, and then it was off to see the flowers!
The Gardens are actually pretty new, built in the early 2000's. I think the place has great potential. The established areas are really beautiful, and there's lots of room for expansion.
The children's area is huge and amazing. Sarah said she'd definitely come back with the kids. They could spend all day there with all the different water features, sand play, and other activities. Emelyn was interested in the statues of the animals, especially the dragons. Alex was interested in the animal tracks they have on the ground that are part of a game for the older children, and he spent the rest of the day looking for tracks.
By the late afternoon, we saw pretty much all there was to see. The kids were great, but it was hot and time for a break. They missed their afternoon naps, and I think Sarah keeps them in a pretty regular routine. We all decided that ice cream was in order. By the time we drove to the ice cream place down the street, the kiddos were zonked out and we couldn't bring ourselves to wake them, so Sarah went on home. She said Alex woke up as soon as they drove in the drive-way at home wanting ice cream!
So Mandi, Jason and I got ice cream anyway (hey it's vacation and we did a lot of walking and sweating), then went and picked up the dogs. They did great and the people were so nice. On our way out of the SPA, one of the staff noticed our Louisiana tags. Turns out she was down after Katrina to volunteer at the coliseum @ LSU that was set up as a pet evacuation shelter - same place Jason and I volunteered! We probably saw her there several times. SMALL WORLD, huh?
The main things I learned today were: Michigan can occasionally get hot, and Jason and I need to make more of an effort to spend time with Mandi, Chris, Sarah and the kids. It was so great to visit with them and just watch the kids run and play and explore.
Now we are back at the hotel about to get dinner. Tomorrow it's on to Gaylord!
P.S. Lots of vacay pics linked on the right ---------->