Archive for July, 2009

Vacation – part two – St. Louis.

July 24, 2009

I have been a little slow getting this second installment up but here goes. . .

We got into St. Louis around 3:30 in the afternoon, just in time for the Olson twins (no not those Olson twins, our Olson twins) to wake up from their nap.  This meant they would be coming to see us in our room soon.  We were all staying at the Drury Inn, near Forest Park. This hotel is only about two years old and very elegant. Our room was very nice and I can highly recommend the hotel. The kids showed up and it was jump on the bed time.

The rest of the day was spent going to a small park with large turtles in it and getting supper at one of the more popular areas of St. Louis – Blueberry Hill. While at the restaurant, it was fun to observe the two working together.

We had a great time that evening and went back to the hotel.

The next morning, we ate breakfast at the hotel and the twins colored some place mats so they would get free admission to a train ride at the Muesum of Transportation.

We went out to the museum, Lynette and I have been there before but we never rode the new train ride they have, that was fun and the twins loved it.  It was a lot like the ride we used to have here in Duluth at Park Point and another one at the Duluth Zoo.  The biggest difference is the modern “steam engines” all sound like front wheel drive cars and have transmissions instead of “Johnson Bars“.  After we finished the little ride and destroyed part of the gift shop, Matthew and I with the kids decided to wait in the van for the women to finish buying gifts.  I turned the camera on Zach as he was sitting so comfortable like and all in the booster seat and he did the cutest thing. Listen carefully, Zach loves buttons and cameras – listen to his request.

Of course, I had to let him touch the camera, he is such a careful and thoughtful little guy!

That evening we had a good time just hanging out and enjoying the twins.  Next morning, we had some plans and Zach and Rissa are very active in the morning!

She sure has fun with that ball!  That day the big fun was going to be swimming!  Zach was not too happy with the deep water but Rissa loved it!

We did many fun things including a visit to my friend Mike who is responsible for the care and display of the Chrysler Turbine car that is owned by the Transportation Museum in St. Louis.  The car was at his home as he had just finished some minor repairs on it.  That was the first time my wife and son ever heard a turbine car.  My wife has seen most of the remaining cars with me and my son probably does not remember but he saw the one at the Henry Ford museum and the Detroit Historical car when it was on loan to the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.

This photo has Matthew shooting video and I am just about to get into the car to start it.  We did not get a chance to drive or ride in it because the insurance will not allow anyone but Mike in the car when it is moving.

We visited the Arch one evening and we spent two mornings at the St. Louis Zoo.  It was great fun to see the twins excitement at seeing so many animals in one place.  We had to make it over two mornings because the twins still need to keep on a schedule and it made everything easier.  In the following video, Zach and Rissa love the Monkey’s!

It was kind of sad when Saturday came around and we had to head home, we had really enjoyed the time with the other Olson family.  We really miss all of them – before we left Saturday at around noon, we visited a most unusual place – The Magic House.  This started as a family dwelling and has blossomed into a children’s  museum like none other.  We spent two hours there and it had something for every age child from 1 to 100.

The Magic house has so much, if you have children or grandchildren – it is almost worth the visit to St. Louis just to see that place.

On the way home we went the back roads and even stopped at a car show in Charles Iowa.  It was a great time.


Our Vacation this year

July 9, 2009

Lynette and I are back from the primary vacation (we will be taking a weekend special trip which will be covered after we do that.)  We left on the 14th of June just after the church service.  We drove to Marquette MI and stayed there, we also ate at a very fine restaurant that Lynette saw on the way in.  It was late and Larry’s restaraunt was closing in a half hour – we had a great meal and then were going to split a piece of Blueberry pie, they only had a “small” piece left so they did not charge us for it 🙂 – right on Highway 28 & S. Maccellan Ave.

The next day we headed for Traverse City MI.  We went through the Mackinaw bridge and stopped for lunch at another little restaraunt a short ways before the bridge.  Spent a little time in the town of Mackinaw and then took a long (almost got lost) drive to Traverse City that followed the shore of Lake Michigan.  On one streach where there were so many beautiful homes overlooking the lake and I would guess 75% of them were for sale.  That was one common thing we saw was For Sale in front of many houses in the Northern part of Michigan.

Stayed two days in Traverse City, had a very enjoyable ride on the Schooner TALL SHIP MANITOU, it was a fun and educational two hours on a beautiful lake on a beautiful day.  As part of the voyage we even had to help hoist the main sail.

Schooner Manitou

Later that day we drove out Old Mission on a short finger sticking up into Traverse Bay. There is also an old lighthouse at the end of that drive that is quite interesting.

We visited an old General store there to look for Ice Cream but bought some unique sodas instead.  Actually we tried to have Ice Cream every day when we travel, not healthy but it is a vacation remember.  We get to that later in the day.

Then later still that day, we headed West to the actual shores of Lake Michigan – on the way we stopped again for Ice Cream at Moomers Ice Cream store.  Moomers is heralded as the best home made Ice Cream around – We live in Minnesota, and maybe they are the best in Michigan but I have had better here at home – don’t get me wrong, if you visit Traverse City by all means go there.  It is a bit hard to find as it is way out in the sticks on the way to no place special.  Heading Weat from Traverse City it is harder to find than heading East.

Out at the Shore, we found a neat drive that goes right out to the Sand Dunes and has a number of stops along the way to view either Lake Michigan or the huge sand piles. This is the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive through the Sleeping Bear Dunes.

The next day we started of under cloudy skies heading toward Detroit.  We had to stop at Alden first.  Off the main highway and on what is claimed to be the Third Most Beautiful lake in the world (Torch Lake) is Alden Michigan. I have to agree that Torch Lake is a very beautiful lake and since I have not seen the first or second, I have to agree with them.

There was a very nice small train depot that had been converted to a museum at the edge of town.  There were some County employees working there on park benches.  We looked around the outdoor displays and started a conversation with the older fellow.  He told me that the museum was only open on weekends but he had a key if we wanted to look around.  We accepted and spent about fifteen minutes looking around the place – they had a lot of photos and the one end was a model train layout that local hobbyists maintained.

We headed up to the main business district.

We looked around a bit and visited one of the stores.  Alden is close to the 45th Parallel (halfway between the equator and pole) they had adapted a Minnesota weather rock to the Michigan climate.

From Alden we traveled South East to spend the night in Birch Run Michigan.  Beside the huge selection of Outlet Malls (we visited one) the area is also know for the Dixie Motor Speedway, we did not go there but just a point of interest. The real reason we stayed there was it had a nice hotel and was about the distance from Traverse City I wanted to travel that day.

Thursday we left Birch Run for Detroit. We got into town around noon and had a snack before we visited the Ford Fair lane mansion.

That was a very interesting and beautiful place to visit.  Henry Ford made the whole thing self-sufficient with his own water power, farm and other things to be free from the need of outside assistance if the need arose.  The house has some of the most beautiful woodwork I have ever seen and the technology was very advanced for the time when it was built.

We left there later and stopped at a very nice place to eat on our way to our hotel.  We got a hotel near my friend Bill Carry because we were going over there in the morning and visit the Chrysler Archives with him.  We went there at 9:00 am in the morning and found out we would not be able to visit Chrysler as there was some moving of cars that was not foreseen and that would take more time than we had.  We will have to try that again someday.  We did have a nice visit with Bill and his wife so the day was not wasted.  We left there and visited another guy I have been “yakking” with for years on the web.  Gary showed us around his place of employment (Monkey Wrench Racing).  We decided to meet him and his wife later that evening at a local Brew House restaurant for supper.  We had a great time!  Even was fun when the sky decided  to open up and dump tons of ran, lightning and other nasty stuff.  The lights in the restaurant even out for a short time.  Good food and company made for a very enjoyable evening.

Saturday we left the hotel and headed (back roads for a lot of the trip) to Hickory Corner’s Michigan to visit the Gilmore Car Museum. For those of you who have not been there, if you love old cars, barns, buildings and fun, by all means vist there.  The day we were there we could have signed up (in advance) for learning how to drive a Model T Ford.  There are many buildings full of classics and other fine automobiles on some of the most beautiful property in the area.  It was a farm and is now a small community devoted to the automobile.

Saturday evening we had tickets to the Turkeyville Playhouse production of “Church Basement Ladies.” This was a musical and VERY funny.  The turkey dinner we had was also the best that I can remember – even better than most home cooked ones I have had.  Check out Turkeyville if you are in the area or make a trip if you just want a good dinner theater.

From there the next morning (Sunday, father’s day) we headed for our next motel near Joliet Illinois.  On the way we headed South first to Indiana. We visited Amish Acres.  Yes they do have a web site!  The Amish around there believe that it is okay to have things like Web Sites, they just don’t do them – they pay someone to do it for them.  We found out that same outlook on life is carried through to their farms.  If they can’t finish planting or harvesting the old fashioned way, they will pay someone to finish so that their crops do not suffer.  They like to do things without modern technology but are smart enough to realize that sometime it is faster, not better, just faster or more efficient.

We got to Amish Acres about lunch time so we decided to partake in their huge Buffet in a Barn. That was the special for father’s day and it was a super buffet lunch.  We were stuffed.

We took the walking tour of the farm (has been in the same family for something like four generations) and learned a lot about the Amish ways.  Lynette really liked the Bank Barn they had.

We left there, after Ice Cream, and headed for Joliet Illinois.  We arrived there about supper time and spent the time after supper doing our laundry for the first week in preparation for the coming week in St. Louis.

Mondy was spent driving from Joliet to St. Louis.  We arrived at St. Louis in time for Supper with Matthew and his family.  That will be reserved for the next post.