Friday, August 21, 2009

Michigan/Chicago 2009

This entry is lengthy, but for good reason. We recently spent a little over a week in the midwest, visiting Amanda's family and getting some R & R on Little Glen Lake, in upstate Michigan, which is just a mile of sand dunes east of Lake Michigan.

Amanda actually flew to Chicago with Addison on the 16th of July. The Ericksons drove up to the lake on the 18th. I flew to Traverse City (a beautiful airport, by the way) and joined them on the 20th.

We had a blast and took a ton of pictures. Enjoy!

This is Lake Michigan, from the beach in a small town called Empire.

Amanda took this one.

At the cabin. Addy loves swings, and on this trip she had more swings than she could shake a stick at.

I always wanted to use that phrase.

At the beach in Empire, Addison checks out the water from a safe distance.

Watching everyone play in the water.

Notice a recurring theme here?

Hint: Addy doesn't like sand.

Playing "in the sand" with Caleb and Josh.

It seems that Addy would not leave the blanket.

She will, however, sit on a beach ball.

Jon's muscles show through even feet of sand.

So, I make it to town, and the first thing they want to do in the morning is climb this huge sand dune. Where's the fun in that?

We made it to the top of the first one. That was enough.

Let's take a picture and go back down to our lake. (behind us)

We rented a boat and some skiis.

I have to say, I was impressed with Amanda.

Getting a little tired here.

I spent most of the time doing this.

Larry's turn. Piece of cake.

Rylan takes a spin at tubing. Jon couldn't shake him.

Addy decided she just wanted to nap on the boat.

With Addy asleep, Amanda and I tried to tube.

"Huh? Wha? Mommy and Daddy are tubing? I'm sooo tired."

It really wasn't big enough for two, so I kicked her off.

Addy was still sleepy.

"Thanks Aunt Martha for watching me!"

Ok, maybe you think is was bad of Amanda and me to leave Addy on the boat while we played. But at least we didn't do what Leah and Jon did...

...and leave Jane on the dock!

Would somebody call Child Services?

(Kidding! It's an empty car seat.)

Amanda and Martha have fun on the tube.

I guess you can fit two people.

I guess I was too fat. (sniff)

Larry got up on the skiis one more time.

I took a turn driving.

I tried one more time. I actually got up just enough to fall flat on my face.

If you look closely, you can see my foot in the middle of that splash.

Back at the shore, Addy just didn't want to get in.

She did have fun hanging out with Aunt Martha.

The next day, we took a scenic drive to the top of the dunes overlooking Lake Michigan.

Amanda had climbed down a good bit. This picture is zoomed in.

This is what the view looked like from the path.

I believe it said it was 450 ft down to the lake.

Amanda and me overlooking the lake.

As you an see to the left, it's a long way down.

Time to pause for a family picture.

Later, we rented a pontoon, and gave ourselves a tour of Big and Little Glen Lakes.

Addison developed a new love for Craisins.

Over on Big Glen Lake, Grandpa Larry let Addy drive, much to Josh's dismay.

That evening, since I hadn't been to the beach at Empire, Amanda and I returned to see the sun set over Lake Michigan.

No, that's not a lake monster. That would be me.

I felt like I had to say I had swum in Lake Michigan.

That's right, I said 'swum'.

Amanda and me at sunset.

Don't we look super-imposed?

The lake was great, but it was time to head south to Portage, MI to see Amanda's hometown.

On the way, I had to stop at Michigan's Adventure.
Martha and Rylan came with me. Amanda and Addy went shopping.

This is me and my wife at the park.

Smile Amanda! Thanks for coming with!

Here Amanda and Addy stand in front of the house that Amanda grew up in.

It was a little emotional for Amanda as the new owners let it get a bit run down.

Here Addison sits on the green deck out back.

Little does she know that our own deck was being built at the same time back home.

Outside Portage Central High

Go Mustangs!

Amanda and Leah pose at Mancino's grinder shop.

It was really good.

Addy and her cousins playing in the restaurant.
Jon bought them a round of lollipops.

We headed over to the celery flats, and took a surrey ride not far from Amanda's old house.

There is a park at the end of the trail.

While Amanda and I were spent from pedaling, our little monkey had all of the energy in the world. She did this all by herself. Addy's quite the climber.

Coming down the slide. Big Girl!

Now, it's Sunday, and we're in Joliet, IL.

This would be three generations of Schieks.

Speaking of generations and genes, there must be an Erickson 'electronics' gene.

Larry fiddles with his I-Phone, while Addy fiddles with the flashlight.

Four generations of Ericksons, with Amanda's grandparents Len and Lucy.

It was off to Chicago on Monday. The only reason I post this picture of Soldier Field is because this will be the site of at least one Eagles victory this coming season.

This is the Cloud Gate sculpture at Millennuim Park in Chicago. It's reflective, all around and is pretty cool to look at. It's huge, as you can see, with Amanda and Addison to the right.

The natives call it the 'bean'.

This is a picture I took of Amanda and me standing inside it.

A family picture next to another Millennium Park sculpture.

Addy had fun walking around inside of that one.

We walked around downtown for a while. Amanda poses here on one of the drawbridges.

I love how the Chicago River runs right through the heart of the city. The water and many drawbridges that cross it are beautiful.

While walking around, you can't help but see a lot of Obama paraphernalia. If I had eaten lunch, I would have surely lost it when I saw this one.

Caleb, Addison, and Josh at Buckingham Fountain.

A scenic shot of the fountains with the skyline in back.

That would be the Willis (no longer Sears) Tower to the left. Amanda, Joy, Addy, and I walked to it from here. We ate lunch inside, and waited in line for over an hour to go up to the Sky Deck.

For me it was well worth the walk and the wait.

From the top.

As the last picture looked up at the tower, this one looks down at the fountain (to the right of the top of the red building) almost at the same angle.

Looking north toward the Hancock Tower

New to the Sky Deck are three (or four) glass floor booths that hang off the west side of the building. I had to do it.

Looking straight down from the corner. I have to admit, the first step is a little nerve-racking.

Addy stepped out like it was nothing. It was funny because she then paused when she looked down, almost as if she realized something wasn't right.

One more, looking south.

Instead of walking back, we opted for the $2 water taxi, which gives you a great view of the river and buildings. It's the only way to go.

Had to take one here. This was just across the river on Michigan Ave.

Chicago is really a beautiful city, and it's easy to navigate. We ran out of time for Navy Pier, and some other things.

There's always next time.

This is little Jane, by the way. You know, the one that was left on the dock.

Before we left, Amanda had to go to Tickbee's (TCBY), since we don't have any in PA.

Aunt Jan came along, and posed for a picture with Addy and the boys.

Addy enjoyed The Country's Best Yogurt.


Before we headed to airport, we stopped to say goodbye to Bill and Donna, Addy's other set of Chicago great-grandparents.
Here Addy rides on Great-Grandpa Bill's tractor, just like Mommy used to do.

There's a joke in here somewhere.
How many men does it take to put up an awning?

Grabbing lunch at Chef Clause's with Bill and Donna before we leave.

We love going to Chicago, and really should try to get there more often.
It's just a short flight or a 10 hour drive away.
Thanks to Larry and Joy for such a good time!