I guess it’s time to wrap up the summer post now that it’s almost Christmas. I spent the first part of the summer in class. It was a summer class so it was on a shortened semester which meant I went four days a week. On top of that I was picking up an extra shift every week to help cover some of the added expenses due to moving, paying a higher tuition and so that I could take more time off in August. My summer vacation basically boiled down to that one month, and Annelise and I tried to make the most of it.
Starting in the Spring she started collecting brochures of different activities that she wanted to do. We saved them and I promised her that once I was done with my class we would attempt to do as many as possible along with some of the other tradition summer events.
The Asparagus Festival is in June. And it’s sort of the kick off of Summer. It’s usually the first week that school has been out and summer is just getting under way. We usually attend the parade and the craft fair on Saturday and then on Sunday go out to the airport for the Fly-in Breakfast. This year Annelise was particularly interested in the watching the airplanes take off and land.
Fourth of July
Over the Fourth of July weekend we usually attend the open house at Country Dairy. Annelise likes to go through the cow barns and watch how they milk the cows. She’s not a fan of ice cream, but every year she tries a little bit and then I get to eat the rest.
And then of course there is the fireworks. This year we rode our bikes to John Gurney Park and watched them from across the lake.
The first thing we got checked off our summer bucket list was canoeing. She wanted to go canoeing. We were able to do this one while we were in Virginia in July. Our friends had a canoe and morning John and I took the kids out for an Urban canoe trip. Beth said she had some shopping to do but I think she was really dodging the heat. It was a very hot triple digit day. We launched on Tinker Creek and then went onto the Roanoke River. We’d packed a lunch which we ate under one of the overpasses. We weren’t out too long because it was very hot. I had hoped that we’d get more opportunities to go canoeing later in the summer but our schedule got too busy so this was the only canoe trip of the summer.
White Pine Village
The week we returned from Virginia (literally the next day) we went to White Pine Village. I had visited White Pine Village several times as a kid and was excited that it was still around and that Annelise was interested in going. Unfortunately, it was one of those things that looked interesting on the brochure, but really wasn’t for her. She wasn’t into looking at old things, and she doesn’t like interacting with strangers so the period actors bothered her. The one room school house briefly held her attention because she had heard stories from my mom about attending one, but that was about it. When we toured the farm house I explained that it didn’t have a bathroom and that people had to use an outhouse. When I asked if she wanted to go see the outhouse, she looked at me and said, “Why?” We only went in a couple of buildings before I called it quits. Thankfully, there was a Blue Grass Festival happening so we got hot dogs, chips and soda and sat and listened to some bands. It made the trip not feel like a complete waste. While we were sitting listening to the music, I caught bits and pieces of the conversation behind me. It didn’t feel weird to hear “Floyd” and “Pulaski” and “Floyd Country Store” until I remembered that I was in Ludington Michigan. I apologized for eavesdropping, and commented that I had just come back from Floyd Fest. Turns out one of the couples was from Pulaski and was up visiting. The women commented that she had been watching Annelise drink from a Carilion water bottle and how it had seemed normal but off because she was in Michigan. We chatted a little bit and it was nice to talk to Virginia people again. When we got home my dad asked Annelise if she liked White Pine Village. She said, “Yeah, we looked at old things, but it wasn’t very much fun.” Oh well, maybe when she’s older we can try again. It was such a dissappointment that I hadn’t taken any pictures. So this one from their website will have to do.
S. S. Badger and Milwaukee Zoo
Next was our other trip of the summer. We took the S.S. Badger car ferry across Lake Michigan from Ludington, Michigan to Manitawoc, Wisconsin and then drove down to Milwaukee to visit the Milwaukee Zoo. This was basically recreating a trip I took with my parents 41 years earlier. Although when I went as a child the ferry went directly from Ludington to Milwaukee.
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We were both very excited for this trip and had been planning it for a couple of months. We took the morning ferry across from Ludington. I decided to take my van over because it wasn’t that expensive and would make getting around in Wisconsin easier. After parking our car who went on board and checked out the ship. There were two levels, with food and places to sit on each level. On the lower level there was a small movie theater, a gift shop and a children’s play area. After watching them load our van, we found a spot on the deck to wave good-bye to my parents who were on the pier. We spent most of our trip over exploring the ship, playing in the kids area or having snacks and coloring in the enclosed deck. Occasionally would walk around the outside deck to see if we saw any land. It was a four hour trip across and we arrived in Wisconsin around lunch time. We did lose an hour due to the time difference but since Annelise can’t tell time that hour really didn’t make that much difference. We drove to Sheboygan, which was about half way to Milwaukee, had lunch and then checked into our hotel. We spent the afternoon swimming in the pool. I had originally planned to attend a museum that day, but she was having fun just swimming so that’s what we did. We ordered pizza for supper and then swam some more before relaxing in our room, watching the Olympics and playing board games.
The next morning we had breakfast at the hotel before driving into Milwaukee and to the zoo. I hadn’t originally planned to use a stroller, after all she was four years old and very capable of walking, but since they were only $7 for the entire day I decided to rent one. Turned out to be an excellent decision. The day would have been miserable if she had been walking. I’m sure I saved myself from the whining. I quickly learned I had to let go of any agenda I had and just go with whatever she wanted. And so we spent the entire day meandering the zoo without any sort of direction or plan. She had a map and when she decided she wanted to see something, we’d go find it, never mind that it was on the other side of the zoo. We zig-zagged our way around, and I think we hit everything. We stopped for lunch and a trip to the gift shop to add to her menagerie. The only time I got to dictate what we did was when I insisted that we have our afternoon snack of popcorn and lemonade next to the elephants. I love elephants. I have mixed emotions about zoos, and about elephants being kept in captivity, but I knew this might be the only opportunity she’ll have to see a live elephant so we were there sipping our lemonade, munching on popcorn and marveling at those great creatures. Her favorite animals were the giraffes, the polar bear, and the snow leopard.
After leaving the zoo we drove back to Manitawoc. She slept most of the way which was a good thing because it was going to be a late night. I had booked us on the night crossing so that we could get a state room and she could sleep on the ship, but it didn’t leave until 1 am so we had some time to kill. After getting supper I took her to see a movie. This would be her first movie in a theater. We saw the Secret Life of Pets. I was a little nervous, because I heard that it had some cartoon violence that might be too much for her. But she was easily distracted, and didn’t seem to notice some of the comments that might be a little much for someone so young. She was really enjoyed the experience. She wore her ear muffs because it was so loud. Thankfully there were only a couple of other people in the theater because she didn’t quite understand theater etiquette and with the muffs on she couldn’t tell how loud she was talking and laughing.
We got onto the ship around midnight. After getting our stuff settled in our room we found a nice spot on the front deck where we could lay and watch the stars. I got a cocktail and she got popcorn and we laid out there watching the stars. There were several people who planned to sleep on the deck, and if I hadn’t had Annelise with me I would have loved to stay out there all night but she was eager to get to our cabin. The rooms seemed much smaller than I remembered. She fell asleep quickly. I laid awake for quite awhile keeping on eye on her, but I did manage to get some sleep before we docked.
This was the trip that she and I needed. We’ve always been close, but for the year we were at my parents we drifted apart some. I was busy with school and work and my mom was doing a lot of the daily stuff for Annelise. There were times when I felt like we were just living in the same house and my mom was doing all the parenting. I really felt the disconnect while we were in Virginia. I also felt it at the start of this trip, but after a day of wandering around the zoo together we were back on track.
Right after we got back from Wisconsin it was time for Pentwater Homecoming. We kind of made it a Pentwater Weekend. There was the parade, the Fireworks and then we come back to have a beach day, since building a sand castle was on our list of things to do this summer.
The Oceana County Fair is always a highlight of Annelise’s summer and I like the nostalgia of it. We went with cousins again this year. Annelise and Lincoln rode the rides together, we visited the livestock barns, and ate all the varies fair foods. This year when it was time to ride the Ferris Wheel cousin Abigail wasn’t around so Mama had to do it. I thought I could be brave and overcome my fear of heights for the sake of my kid, but wow was it hard.
Over Labor Day weekend we went camping in Silver Lake. My sister’s family was also camping and our trips overlapped by several days so Annelise had cousin Lincoln to play with. When we put camping on our list of things to do this summer I was hoping for something a little more rustic than an RV park, but this turned out to be perfect. We were in our tent in an RV spot so that was a little awkward, but other than that it was a great time. We camped for three nights. The first two the camp ground was full and Annelise had fun playing with her cousin and swimming. Most of the camp ground emptied out on Labor Day, but we stayed an extra day. That night we practically had the place to ourselves and in the morning we got one more swim in before packing up.
Mac Woods Dune Ride
While on our camping trip we went into Silver Lake and went up on the Dunes. In all my years of living in Oceana County I had never been on a Mac Woods Dune ride, so I was long over due. It was a little windy but otherwise a beautiful day for a ride on the dunes and a stop at Lake Michigan.
Lewis Farm Market
Once again we got season passes to Lewis’. I don’t think we went as often as we did last summer, but we still went often enough to make the passes worth it. I love having the passes because we don’t feel like we need to cram everything into one trip, and if we only have an hour or two to go, that’s fine. It was fun to watch the baby deer and goats grow over the summer. We ended the summer with the fall activities and pig races which were a hit although Annelise was slightly disappointed because she thought she would get to ride a pig in the pig race.
Sandcastles Children’s Museum
I also got us a pass to the children’s museum in Ludington. We would typically go on Fridays and make a day of it, first going to the museum then to lunch at the House of Flavors followed by a stop at the lakeside park.
The other big summer thing was Dirt Dawgs. She rode on the Dirt Dawgs bike team again. It was always a great time. They mastered the Strider Loops and the last couple of weeks ventured off onto the “real” trails. In addition to riding with Dirt Dawgs we did a lot of riding together this summer. She started using her pedal bike more so we took a couple of trips into Mears and Shelby via the rail trail. She also started riding a little on the trails with it. This was her last summer on the Strider. Next summer it will be pedals all the time. I’m looking forward to it because it means more riding for me.
The only thing on our list that we didn’t get to was horseback riding. Annelise had wanted to go horseback riding and while I had planned to do it and looked into several places, we didn’t make it happen. One place would require her to be on her own horse and the other place would have required she rode with me. I wasn’t sure which situation I was more comfortable with and she couldn’t decide whether she wanted to ride alone or not. I didn’t intentionally put it off, but it happened and then school started and we got busy and she stopped asking so maybe next summer when she’s a little older will be better. She did get to ride on Sandy though, does that count?
We’re putting together a winter bucket list. It includes things like skiing and skating and sledding along with a couple overnight trips. We’ll get started on those right after the first of the year.