Chicago, IL.

With almost 3 million residents, Chicago is the third most populous city in the US. It is a thriving, bustling city with many fun things to do. We are here to take care of our grandson, Luca while our daughter and son-in-law are in Europe for 10 days. So, our main focus is him. IMG_6338

He is such a good boy, making our time together very special.  56001402427__D284EDEA-95E3-4DEA-9EAB-89F4FEC654D3

While he’s in school, we get a chance to sightsee. IMG_6391

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’re having a great time here, enjoying every second with Luca.IMG_6539

Indiana Dunes State Park

Traveling towards Chicago, we stopped at this beautiful state park. Surrounded by Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore on all four sides, we hiked and camped in the park.IMG_6271  The campground has wooded sites with hiking trails that lead right to the shore.IMG_6231 (3)

Chicago is just 47 miles away.IMG_6263

The stairs lead to Mt. TomIMG_6245

Butterflies were everywhere near the dunes.

We’re glad that this area is well preserved and will be enjoyed for years to come.

 

 

IMG_6219

Michigan State Parks

On our way to Chicago, we traveled down the shoreline of western Michigan, wanting to stay at state parks along the way.IMG_6097

Interlochen State Park is a small 187 acre park nestled between Green Lake and Duck Lake.

Next to the park is Interlochen Center for the Arts. A beautiful campus for aspiring artists, this school draws students from all over the world.

We drove to Traverse City for the day and had lunch.

IMG_6241

Mears State Park is smaller than Interlochen. Once owned by lumber baron Charles Mears, this 50 acre park was donated to the state in 1923.IMG_6103

We camped within walking distance to Pentwater, MI.

The gardens along the canal were colorful.

IMG_6178

Holland State Park, at 142 acres, is a popular park that boasts 2 million visitors each year. Ottawa Beach has beautiful summer cottages that date back to the late 1800’s.IMG_6239IMG_3210

We hiked the Mt. Pisgah Dune. Standing at 157 ft. above Lake Michigan, getting to the top of this dune was easy. Just walk up a couple of hundred stairs and follow the boardwalk to awesome views.IMG_6187

IMG_3247

 

Sunset @ Ottawa Beach, Holland MI.

 

Thank you, Michael and Susan for a wonderful dinner and sunset cruise around your lake.

Wilderness State Park, MI.

IMG_6004This large, 10,500 acre park offers 26 miles of shoreline. IMG_5992We stayed here for 5 days, enjoying the beautiful dunes along the shore.IMG_2971 It has over 16 miles of trails, 250 sites for camping, and is designated a dark sky preserve. IMG_6010

 

We drove to Mackinaw City to check out the Mackinaw Bridge.IMG_3041

With a total length of 5 miles, this bridge is the longest of its kind in the Western Hemisphere.

 

There’s a little village just outside of town that we came across. The old turn of the century buildings were easy to photograph because of the beautiful weather.

 

The sunsets are very easy to relax to.IMG_3000

 

Wilderness State Park is our favorite Michigan state park!IMG_3120

IMG_6036

2 weddings and Labor Day

Congratulations Christian and Kara. Your wedding at the Henry Ford in Dearborn, MI. was beautiful.IMG_5819

 

Labor Day weekend was spent in Caseville, MI. with family. We got our much needed grandson time!IMG_5769

Boat rides, kayaking, grillin’ out, and just relaxing.

Thanks Ken & Kathy and Jim & Shelly for hosting a great Labor Day weekend.

Congratulations Jon and Marissa. Your wedding at the Jordan Valley Barn in East Jordan, MI. was beautiful.   IMG_5900 (2)

 

While in East Jordan we took some great drives, with friends Mark and Angie, through the beautiful countryside.IMG_2905

 

IMG_5902

IMG_2810

 

Hartwick Pines, Old Growth Forest.

IMG_5702

We camped in Hartwick Pines State Park so we could experience the lush forests here in Michigan. At the Old Growth Forest, we discovered one of the last remnants of Michigan’s virgin white pine forest. IMG_5700

Most of the trees here are between 300-400 years old.IMG_5685

IMG_5670

Walking the old growth trail takes you through some beautiful forests.

 

And we came upon this beautiful chapel in the pines.IMG_5677

IMG_5679

There’s also a logging museum to enjoy.IMG_5699

 

IMG_5693

Michigan’s forests are truly amazing!

We also took a hike on the Bright and Glory Lakes Trail. IMG_5637

 

A little rain that day didn’t stop us from having fun, discovering and learning .IMG_5644 (2)

 

Keweenaw Peninsula, MI.

After driving across Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin, we have finally arrived in Michigan. IMG_5485 (2)

Located on the shore of Lake Superior’s Keweenaw Bay, Baraga State Park offers camping and is centrally located for great sightseeing trips throughout the area.IMG_5490

 

We drove up the peninsula towards Copper Harbor. Named for the large copper deposits, this area is home to Fort Wilkins Historic State Park.IMG_5526

We spent a few hours walking around this beautifully preserved fort. Built in 1844, it has many structures to step inside and enjoy.IMG_2751

IMG_2775

 

IMG_2762

Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake in the world by surface area. It’s the third largest by volume, and largest in North America. IMG_2733

IMG_5540

IMG_5506

 

On our way to Houghton, we found a nice hiking trail that lead us through some dunes, covered with red oak and pines.

 

After our hike, we found a gem!IMG_5513

 

Houghton is home to the only bridge crossing the river to get to the Keweenaw PeninsulaIMG_5567

IMG_5568

 

Houghton is also the birthplace of professional hockey. We learn something new everyday!

IMG_5579 (2)

IMG_5596

 

The Bitterroot Valley, Montana

Hanging out in Montana is always fun. We enjoyed our time here by celebrating our nephews wedding and seeing family and friends. Congratulations Kyle and Ingrid!IMG_5464

IMG_5391

Thank you Kathy and Randy for taking us up to Horse Creek Hot Springs. A ride on the 4 wheeler never disappoints!IMG_5429 (2)IMG_5418

A little shack in the middle of nowhere, this hot spring flows naturally from the mountain.IMG_5424

IMG_5423

Inside the shack, the crystal clear 90 deg. water was soothing and relaxing.

IMG_5411

Montana’s version of a day spa!

We are really going to miss Montana. We will be back.IMG_5338 Now its time to cross the country and head to Michigan. Two more weddings await us there!

Deer Lodge, MT.

After traveling from Idaho Falls, we stopped in Deer Lodge, MT. There, we discovered a few attractions that were worthy of discovery. The first place we went was called the Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site. Conrad Kohrs owned many butcher shops located in gold mining camps. Johnny Grant supplied cattle to Kohrs shops, and,  in 1866 sold his ranch to Kohrs. The stage was set for Kohrs to begin his empire. He acquired 30,000 acres for the home ranch, and by using about 10-12 million acres to free range  cattle, his cattle were seen grazing from Montana all the way to Canada.IMG_5267 This ranch was influential in the evolution of the cattle industry. Kohrs lead the way in the founding of the Montana Stockgrowers Association in 1884.IMG_2592

 

We returned the next day to watch how hay was stacked, using old fashion tools and real horse power.IMG_2660

The ranchers in the Montana area used a beaverslide to hoist their hay up into a 20 ton stack, when finished.IMG_2597

 

Watching was like stepping back in time.

 

IMG_2600

The second place we spent a couple of hours was The Wallow. Elk Ridge Brewing Company is located right in the heart of Deer Lodge. While enjoying the delicious local brew and meeting nice people, the mounts on the wall can be seen, giving us an idea of how huge these animals really are.IMG_5247 Wallow means; of large animals, to roll about or relax in mud or water to keep cool and avoid biting insects…. of a person, to indulge in an unrestrained way in something that creates a pleasurable sensation. IMG_5243

A great place to wallow! Especially after a few brews!

We had a good time here in Deer Lodge. I’m sure we missed other things to do, so a return stop is planned.

Idaho Falls, ID.

Idaho Falls has a really nice river walk/ bike path that follows the banks of the Snake River. While biking, we enjoyed the beautiful flowers and waterfalls along this nice paved path. IMG_5195

IMG_5193

 

An hour and a half drive to the west of town was Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve. When we hiked around this unusual landscape, it felt like we were on a different planet. Lots of volcanic rock! IMG_2558

The trails were mostly paved and easy to hike. IMG_2550

There is a 7 mile paved road loop that took us to some really nice hiking trails with names like, North Crater Flow, Devils Orchard, Spatter Cones, Inferno Cone and Tree Molds.

 

 

Snowmelt and occasional rains provide enough moisture to support plants and flowers.

 

IMG_2549

Trail leading to Spatter Cone

 

We also tried to visit Sun Valley/ Ketchum, ID. We happened to be there the same weekend as the Billionaire Summer Camp. There were at least 300 private jets at the airport, and the security was tight around Sun Valley….. so we managed to see the ski resort and walk around Ketchum.