Up North

Our family has had a place in Northern Michigan since long before I was born… and last year my parents demolished it (for good reason) and started what has turned out to be an insanely long process to get a new place built up there.

They finally have all of the permits and construction is under way… so there will hopefully be some October “Up North” pictures!!!

In the meantime, here’s a picture from Leland that I took last summer!

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Pentwater’s City-Wide Garage Sale

Evidently, every year, Pentwater, MI has a city wide garage sale, and this year, my In-Laws suggested we go, so we did!

I have to say, I’m really glad we did… Downtown Pentwater is ADORABLE… I was trying to keep up with everyone else, so the pictures don’t capture everything I want to share… but you can be sure there will be another Pentwater post this summer!

They have a SERIOUSLY cute toy shop downtown that I need to take more pictures of… it’s worth the stop, and makes me wish my kid could go there more often.

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This was just one room that was for watching videos, playing, and puppet shows. I guess they had a bunch of different artists come in and paint the walls. It was SPECTACULAR.

Frederik Meijer Gardens

Frederik Meijer Gardens has been around for quite a while.
They’re part of the AHS (American Horticultural Society: http://ahs.org/ ) and because they’re also a sculptural garden, have always been on the list of “local fieldtrips” for Grade and HS art classes… so yes, I’ve been there before.

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However, in the last few years, the gardens have really expanded, adding more to the Children’s area, and an AMAZING Japanese garden, and probably some other things I’ve overlooked (like really fun sounding classes you can sign up for, and outdoor concerts!)

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Last weekend, my Mom, my Sister-In-Law, myself and our kids all went to the gardens, and were so impressed by it (and the kids had SO MUCH FUN… mind you, they’re both under 3 years old… there is a lot there that even babies can do! Older kids will love it as well though, there’s a very neat, HUGE sandbox area that we carefully avoided, as we were pretty sure we wouldn’t ever get the babies out of there without sandy diapers and full-blown tantrums) that we all bought season passes.

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It should be noted that the gardens are not purely outdoors, and are a great year-round experience. Every year at Christmas time, they set up Christmas trees that are decorated the way other countries would traditionally decorate them. It’s a fun, educational holiday trip… and there are a LOT of trees.

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Overall, it’s another great local place to visit, and if you haven’t been there in years… it’s one of those hidden gems… as they have expanded so much (and are still expanding, we saw a lot of construction going on) that it’s not the same place it was 15 years ago.

Check it out here!
http://www.meijergardens.org/

MSU Art Fair

Every year East Lansing has an art fair on the MSU campus, and this year was pretty darn awesome…

which doesn’t explain at all why I only have a few pictures, LOL.
I’m going to go with, “I was focused on not sun-burning the baby.”

I’ll do better next year!

This booth sold the cutest garden signs with great color choices… I might have bought some that you’ll see later in the year (Fairy Garden!!!)
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An epic metal heron (I did NOT buy one of these… I can’t afford one of these!)
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Grandma and Babycakes having a staring contest:
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Geocaching 101: Essential Gear

I’m going to kick off a series of Geocaching posts with this beginner’s guide to Essential Geocaching Gear!

When I started geocaching years ago, I didn’t have anyone to give me any helpful hints, and recently I had the pleasure of dragging a friend and her family into the hobby… and it got me thinking about questions like, “What didn’t I know that I wish I had known?”

I’m breaking these down into several posts, so as not to totally skimp on one aspect vs. another. This first post is going to cover what you need to get started. Most of it is really just suggested supplies… the only things I consider essential for geocaching are my phone, a pen and a vehicle. You can geocache with those three things forever.

The rest of it just makes it easier/safer/more fun!🙂

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Getting Started:

The things you shouldn’t leave home without:

  1. Smart Phone with the Geocaching App or GPS loaded with Geocaches
    Out of everything on this list, this is the only item you actually *NEED* to geocache…  you can still go out and hunt geocaches without anything else on this list (although I  wouldn’t advise it!)… but unless you’re part robot with built in GPS, you’re going to need a way to know where those coordinates are located.
    ———————————————————————
    Back when I started geocaching, my phone didn’t work AT ALL, but technology has come a long way in just a few years. I no longer bother using my GPS, my phone is pretty spot on accurate (plus the nifty geocaching app makes it so that I don’t have to constantly upload new geocaches that I might want to find!) On that note, if you’re using your smart phone, you’ll definitely want the geocaching app. It’s free, works pretty darn well, and makes it so much easier to see what’s around you in terms of geocaches to find.
  2. Sharpie Marker: Fine Point
    When you find geocaches, they have log books in them… aka, a book or slip of paper that you date and sign to prove you were there. Often there is a writing utensil provided… but sometimes there isn’t… or sometimes it doesn’t work anymore, or the lead is broken, or the log book is too damp to sign with a pencil or a regular pen… but a Sharpie will always get the job done! Make sure it’s a fine point, for when you have to sign those TINY log books!
  3. A Sturdy Bag/Backpack
    You can geocache with nothing but the first two items on this list without needing to carry anything else… but if you really want to get into this hobby, you’re going to want a bag with supplies! As long as they aren’t Micro or XS caches, you’ll often find little trinkets inside a geocache, and you’ll, from time to time, want to take those trinkets… which is cool! That’s what they’re there for!
    What isn’t cool is not putting in a trinket to replace the one you take! It’s a “Take-One-Leave-One” system, and as long as that’s respected, geocaches stay fun! There’s nothing worse than stumbling on a stanky ol’ geocaching container filled with nothing but a water-logged log book and some mildew covered pipe cleaners… NOT COOL.
    When it comes to bags for geocaching… go with what’s comfortable! Before my supplies started to increase, I used to use an old leather Coach bag I found at Goodwill… now I use a tactical bag I purchased from Geocaching.com
  4. Trinkets!
    Yup, trinkets.
    Bouncy balls, fun shaped erasers, little toys, coins, pens, pencils… pretty much anything tiny and fun that you would like to find in a cache yourself!
    I also like going through my old things and picking out jewelry that I no longer want, and placing that in random caches… it’s always fun to find sparkly treasure.
  5. Good Shoes
    In the summer, I recommend galoshes. In the winter, a good pair of winter hiking boots… there is nothing worse than wearing your good tennis shoes out in the Spring to geocache, and almost losing one in a HUGE MUD PUDDLE. You have been warned!
  6. Bug Spray and Suntan Lotion
    These two really speak for themselves… but I like OFF Deep Woods bug spray, it keeps the Michigan mosquitoes at bay (an almost impossible feat!), and I’m a fair haired lass, so it’s SPF 50 for me, I prefer a “sport” brand, as they’re more resistant to sweat… and if you’re going for the harder caches, you’re definitely going to sweat!
  7. Gloves
    Let’s face it, sometimes you see a spot… a hole in a tree, a spot under a really rotted log… and you JUST DON’T WANT TO TOUCH IT.
    So… don’t! Bring a pair of gloves and reach into those nasty spots with a little less trepidation!🙂 I bought regular ol’ gardening gloves from Target, and they work fantastically!
  8.  Flashlight
    This one isn’t super important, but it’s nice to have… and if your phone is anything like mine, you’ve already got one built in wherever you go.
  9. Power Pack and/or Car Charger
    You can get little recharging power packs in the dollar section at Target (although I think they’re $5… still cheap though!) that will recharge your phone fully at least once… and when you’re out in the middle of nowhere… TOTALLY WORTH IT!
    I have one that’s the size of my phone that will recharge it fully at least 3X, and I love it! It’s saved my butt a couple of times when I’m doing huge park multi-caches and was dumb enough to not fully charge my phone before going!
  10. A Vehicle
    It’s not necessary if you’ve got some caches close to home… but most caches will require traveling in a vehicle of some sort to get to them. Either be ready to drive yourself, have a friend drive, or figure out what caches you can get to from your local bus, train or subway routes.
  11. Water!
    Hiking around after these caches is hard work! You get dehydrated! Make sure you’re packing a water bottle or a hydration pack!
  12. Geocaching Premium Annual Membership
    It’s only $30, and gives you access to

    • Custom search capability
    • Instant cache notifications
    • Watch lists
    • And much more…

    Not to mention all of the Premium only caches! You don’t NEED a membership to find caches, you can still join the site, download the app and play for free… but taking a poll of my geocaching friends, they all thing the benefits of buying the Premium Membership far outweigh the $30 price tag🙂

 

Lake Lansing Park, MI

It’s really easy to forget the beautiful little spots in your own town.

Yesterday, the family went out Geocaching at Lake Lansing Park, and it was like a fairytale wonderland. I’ll talk more about geocaching later, but for now, I’ll just share a few beautiful shots from the day.

Adventure is everywhere… and thankfully, the mosquitoes were not!