Although the autumnal equinox isn't until mid-September, Labor Day is typically considered the end of summer, so it's only appropriate that we bid a fond farewell to long sunny days, pool trips and ice cream runs with a look back at our vacation.
In mid-August, we traveled once again to northern Michigan to visit with our cousins, Nick and Noreen.
By a long shot, Lauren's favorite part of the trip was swimming. Noreen took us to beaches on both Torch Lake and Lake Michigan. Doesn't it look like Lauren has Lake Michigan all to herself? The water was so blue and clear - it was definitely a big step up from the northern Atlantic coast beaches that we've visited in the past!
Lauren hasn't done much natural water swimming in her lifetime, but as you can see, she took to it right away.
I don't know how she did it, but she kept finding these teeny-tiny seashells on the lake bed. We took home a whole collection of them.
As we were sitting there enjoying the day, I was lamenting that I have only one photo of Lauren playing in the sand and building sandcastles when she was little. And then this happened:
Later in the day, we traveled a few towns over to attend the Bellaire Rubber Ducky Festival.
The town had a big rubber duck themed parade followed by the crown jewel of the event - the rubber duck race!
Once the backhoe made it's way to the bridge, the operator kept teasing the crowd by dipping the bucket and then pulling it back, which then incited everyone to start chanting "Dump the ducks!" over and over again.
And there they go! I think the winning duck got the purchaser a few of hundred ducks, I mean, *bucks.*
The next day, we took a ferry ride to visit Mackinac Island.
There are no motor vehicles permitted on the island, so the only modes of transportation are horse drawn carriage or bicycle. There were bikes everywhere!
There's Mackinac Bridge looking very small in the distance.
And here behind the seagull you can see the two lighthouses near the island.
Mackinac Island is famous for it's gorgeous Victorian architecture.
This was the entrance of a private residence called "Boardwalk Cottage." It was right on the beach.
After dinner each evening, we'd go for a walk and explore Nick and Noreen's beautiful property (and for me, take a lot of photos).
Lauren always likes to run way ahead of us old folk.
On the way home, we decided to stay a night in Toledo, Ohio and then head to Cedar Point the next day.
The Toledo Zoo was recently ranked as the #1 zoo in the U.S., and although there was a little bit of ballot stuffing on the behalf of the Toledoans during the vote, it is indeed a great zoo. Earlier this year, they added a brand new aquarium which has dozens of huge tanks full of sea life.
Both their polar bear and hippo exhibits got you right up close to the action.
Okay, maybe a little too close - hippo fight!
Yes elephant, I am stalking you.
And I don't think anything could surpass their gift shop. Ten year old girl problems...
We had originally planned to take in a Toledo Mud Hens game (the Detroit Tigers minor league team and home town team of M*A*S*H's Max Klinger), but we got delayed by some traffic coming into Toledo which then set us behind schedule. So instead, we decided to just drive into the city to check out the field and shop in the official store, The Swamp Shop.
The are several manholes surrounding the field, and each has a different Mud Hens graphic.
We loved The Swamp Shop. Mark and I each got a t-shirt and Lauren got a duck bill whistle!
Unfortunately, I don't have any photos to share from our Cedar Point trip, so instead I will end with some family photos.
Many thanks to Nick and Noreen for ending our summer on such an awesome note! Now we just have to see Michigan in spring and winter (Okay, maybe not winter...lol.).