Sunday, September 24, 2023

What We Did This Summer

Well, another summer has come and gone as quickly as the blinking of an eye.  Why does summer always go by so fast and winter lasts forever?  September 23 marks the first day of fall, and this weekend my husband and I will begin the first of our fall hiking adventures, so before I begin writing about that, I wanted to share with you what we did this summer.  

We only took one vacation, and it was a lot closer to home, but it was always a place on our bucket list that we never got around to before.  Why is it that when a place is too close to home you never go there because you don't really think it is a real vacation?  But we thought, it's now or never, so off we went!

Chapel Loop Trail

Spring Vacation to the Upper Peninsula 

St. Ignace, Michigan

Michigan's Upper Peninsula is only about 6-8 hours from our home.  It's such a beautiful area with so much to do there.  I don't wan't to share too much here as I plan on writing a travel series of this area this winter, but here are some highlights:

Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island

We spent one day on this historic, car-free, "frozen-in-time" island.  This island is so beautiful and unique it needs to be on everyone's bucket list.

Tahquamenon Falls State Park

We did a lot of hiking to see as many of Michigan's amazing waterfalls as possible.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

No trip to the Upper Peninsula would be complete without a boat ride to see the famous "Pictured Rocks".

Munising, Michigan

We enjoyed a lot of great meals with scenic lake views.  

Chapel Loop Trail

And, we took the longest hike ever of our lives...the ten mile round trip "Chapel Loop" trail.  You see it all on this trail:  waterfalls, forests, stunning vistas, beaches, and lake views.

Celebrated the Opening of Crumbl Cookies

In the spring, the entire city of Eau Claire was so excited for the opening of Crumbl Cookies.  The lines to get a cookie extended way into the parking lot!  I was so thrilled to finally be able to try one of the famous $5.00 cookies!  My best friend and I made a date and went together.  Our review?  The cookies are delicious, they are served warm and beautifully packaged.  BUT, I couldn't believe it was just a pick up joint.  There is no place inside to sit and eat your cookie while it is still warm.  We ate our cookies as we walked back to our cars in the parking lot.  I can't help but think how much better this place would be if they had a swank dine-in option with cute bistro chairs.  Anyway, I went once and haven't been back since.  Eating a delicacy like this should be an experience, and not something you eat in the parking lot.  If you wait till you get home to eat it, your cookie will be cold, and you can't reheat it with all that frosting.  So, thumbs down for me.

Finally Finished that Darn Backyard Patio and Porch

In last year's "What We Did This Summer...Almost Nothing". I wrote that we didn't do much because we had to stay home and work on our back patio.  Well, we finally finished it this spring and I will have a post about it next Sunday.

Week Long Staycation with the Kids

4th of July

Trout Fishing

My daughter, son-in-law, and the grand babies came up to celebrate the 4th of July with us.  We didn't have fireworks this year because it rained at night, so that was a bit of a bummer, but it was dry during the day so we went to a nearby town and enjoyed the festivities there.  

Enjoying Malts

The park had a lot of fun activities for the kids like trout fishing, face painting, inflatables, and a parade. The parade participants threw so much candy and toys to the on-lookers the grandkids made quite the haul! 

4th of July Parade

Mini Overnight Getaway to Minoqua

We took one overnight trip to Minoqua, Wisconsin where we enjoyed a night in the hotel pool and the zoo the next day.

Pit Stop in Wausau, Wisconsin:  JoJo's Jungle

We decided to break up the three hour drive with a pit stop in Wausau.  I read about this amazing all-inclusive park that was inspired by the parents of a disabled child and thought it looked like something the grandkids would love, so I incorporated it into our trip.   

It is truly an incredible place where children of all ages and abilities can safely play.  You can read more about JoJo's Jungle and how it came about HERE.

Wildwood Wildlife Park & Nature Center

Back in 2016 my husband surprised me with a trip to the Wildwood Wildlife Park .  We had so much fun that day and all I could think about since was going back "someday" with the grandchildren because I knew how much they would love it.  Well "someday" finally came, so off we went!  And boy, was I right, because they really loved it.  This is the perfect zoo for small children because they can get so close to the animals and have so much interaction with them too.

Alethea Lost Her First Tooth

While eating a picnic lunch at the zoo, Alethea lost her very first tooth!

The zoo had a large sandy play area for the kids where they could dig for dinosaur fossils and climb on dinosaurs!  They really loved this spot and they spent a lot of time playing here while us adults rested. 😁

Blueberry Picking

Every year we go blueberry picking and we buy enough blueberries to last all year.  This year we tried a new place and boy was that a mistake!  It was a tourist rip off place:  not a place for someone who picks their own blueberries for economic reasons.  The grounds were absolutely gorgeous with beautiful flower and vegetable gardens, but the price of blueberries was $7.00 per pound!  We were in sticker shock when we got to the register and saw the was over $100.  I will never go back to this place again, that's for sure.  

Weekend Getaway for Our Anniversary

Olbrich Botanical Garden

For our anniversary we drove three hours south to spend the weekend in Madison, Wisconsin.  I read about this beautiful botanical garden that I never even heard of before, so I wanted to check it out.  It was quite nice and I hope to do a travel post about it eventually.

In addition to Olbrich Botanical Garden there is also another beautiful garden called the "Allen Centennial Garden".  This garden and house served as the home for  the University of Madison first four deans.

International Crane Foundation

The next morning I was searching for something else to do in the area and I saw that there was an International Crane Foundation in Baraboo, Wisconsin.  I couldn't believe it!  I love cranes!  Here was yet another place that I had no idea was in Wisconsin.  I will definitely be sharing more about this place in a future post.

Attended Two Outdoor Concerts

Outdoor Service

We didn't go to "Onefest" (a local Christian music festival) because hubby thought it would be too crowded since Skillet was headlining it.  I was really bummed about that, because it seemed everyone I knew went and said it was awesome.  But hubby was right.  It was their highest attended festival on record, so much so that they are moving to a larger venue next year.

But, to make up for it, I got to attend an outdoor church service where my son played drums on the worship team (pictured above) and I got to see Jason Gray for FREE.  Our local Christian radio station was celebrating 50 years so they had a free concert to celebrate.  So, I got in a little of bit of summer music festivals this season.

Jason Gray Concert

Jason Gray

Rosy's Texas Outpost

Our friends own and operate a food truck, so we were happy to support them at the Jason Gray concert.  We couldn't believe we had to wait in such a long line though.  Look at the photo above, the line runs all along the pavilion and farther past.  We had to stand in line for an hour for food. People sure love Rosy's!

Back to School

Alethea started 1st Grade in August.  They go back to school early in Indiana!

Labor Day Weekend

For Labor Day we drove to Indiana to celebrate our youngest grandchild's 2nd birthday.  He loves trains so I made him the cutest train card.  Don't worry, I'll do a separate post on that card!

While there, we drove an hour to Lafayette to the Columbian Park Zoo.  I know, I know, we're a little zoo crazy in this family, but what can I say, we love zoos!

This is a very small zoo, but once again it is perfect for young families.  We had so much fun!  They have a petting zoo area, small animals, a butterfly house, and even penguins.  I'll just share a few highlights here and I hope to have a full blog post on this zoo later this winter.  

I think the grandchildren's favorite part of the day was the train ride!  Little Elisha could not believe he got to sit in a train.  He was so excited to just sit in it, that when it started moving, he didn't know what to think.

Our favorite area of the zoo was "Australia" where we saw the wallabies.  I couldn't believe how close we could get to them!  Crazy!

We also took a paddleboat ride on this pretty lake.

We had a picnic lunch, and then we let the grandkids play in the playground.  The park has very nice picnic and playground areas.  It was such a fun day and very economical too!  For 4 adults, and 2 kids, we only spent $41 on admission, train tickets, goat food, and paddle boat tickets.  It's a fabulous place for young families on a budget for sure!

And that is it.  That was our summer.  A little more exciting than last year, but not by much.  It's always hard to travel far or long for us in the summer because of our garden, that is why we usually vacation in the spring and fall.  It's also cheaper and less crowded to travel then too.

Have A Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!


  1. oh my goodness, Amy - what a wonderful summer filled with adventures, loved ones, delicious goodies, and happy surprises. God is so good!

  2. What a fun summer you had spending it with family! I can't wait for your Upper Peninula travel series as I've been wanting to visit that area for some time but somehow we always ended up going somewhere else. It does look so beautiful there!
    Really want to back to Madison Wisconsin again, we loved it there. And we've been to Baraboo before (quite some time ago too) but didn't know about the Crane Foundation. That would be so much fun too!
    The grandkids are getting so big!! School starts in the beginning of August here too, way too soon if you ask me!

    1. I'm excited to write about the UP too. I should have done it this summer, but I was just so busy with the garden I had very little time to blog. I had no idea that the crane foundation was in Baraboo and I've lived here my whole life! I would have gone there a long time ago had I known.

  3. Even though it went quickly, it looks like you had lots of fun!

  4. What an amazing summer! Your photos make me want to go back to Mackinac. I've never been to the UP, and I should do that. (My husband is from Ann Arbor, so we go back once a year or so to visit.) The kids looked like they had an amazing time! Thanks for sharing this post on the Will Blog for Comments #7 weekly linkup.

    1. Yes, you should definitely visit the UP, it is quite the experience.

  5. That looked like such a fun summer! Mackinac Island is on my bucket list. You went to a lot of great zoos and the kids seemed to love it all. So many fun times and memories for you all!

    1. Mackinac Island is amazing! I hope you get there someday.

  6. Also please send me your email address to ( as you are a "no-reply blogger" and I can't respond to your sweet comments directly without your email address. Thank you!!

    1. Hi Heather, my email address is in my contact info on the right hand column of this post, but I can send it to you too.

  7. We were the same way with Acadia-- just 5 or so hours from our house and we always wanted to go there and never had until this spring. It sounds the UP was fabulous! I felt the same way about Crumbl; the cookies are good but it's just a "meh" for me with no seating and such a factory/ efficiency feel to it. We are a zoo crazy family too so I like seeing all these zoo photos!

    1. Well I really want to go to Acadia but it's just too far away for me. Maybe in retirement. I'm glad you agree with me about Crumbl.

  8. You had an incredible summer, awesome photos!

  9. Amy, it looks like you had an amazing summer! We really love zoos, too. I really enjoyed all of your beautiful hiking photos and your wonderful family photos. You have a beautiful family, my friend. The abundant love is evident through your photographs! Thanks so much for sharing with us!


  10. Looks like you all had a great summer full of fun and lots of smiles. Thanks so much for linking up at the #UnlimitedLinkParty 131. Pinned.

  11. It looks like such a fun summer! Love how your patio and deck turned out!

  12. Your vacation pictures look fun and are beautiful! It's interesting how we don't think places that are close to our home as vacation spots! I live in Alberta, and only a 5 hour drive from a place people around the world come to see! I'll consider it a quick get-a-way instead of a vacation when I visit. :) They opened up a Crumbl Cookies (the first in Canada) in my area, too. And, honestly, I didn't like them. Too sweet and cake-like, instead of a cookie.

    1. Yes, it is interesting. It doesn't feel like you're taking a "real vacation". I'm happy to hear yet another person wasn't a fan of Crumbl Cookies. ha ha!

  13. Amy, what a wonderful summer! The photos from your vacation were just beautiful! Your grandchildren are precious. I smiled upon seeing Alethea and her tooth. Our granddaughter lost her two bottom teeth over the course of the summer. It is such a huge and exciting milestone for them, and us!

    1. It sure was. Thank you. Yes, losing teeth is a big deal for the kiddos. So fun.

  14. Amy, your summer looks wonderful. It looks like you all had a very fun adventure. Visiting from Jennifer's will blog for comments. Feel free and join us over at Crazy Little Love Birds link party :)

    1. It was! Thanks for popping by. I'd love to link up with you!

  15. What an amazing summer you had. Very nice.

  16. Congratulations, Amy! This post was the most-visited at my Will Blog for Comments #8 linkup and will be featured this week at linkup #9. There's a "featured" image over there that you can grab and share with your readers if you like. Hope to see you again this week.

    1. Wow! That's a surprise! I'm thrilled to hear that. Thank you!

  17. Looks like you had a lovely summer - and that firepit is ready for winter! #FreindshipFriday

    1. We sure did. And yup! We like a fire pit more for cooler weather than summer time. It's dark so early, so we have more time to enjoy it.


Thank you for leaving a comment. I love feedback from my readers. If you have a blog, I always return the love by visiting within a week whoever leaves a comment.