Northwest Road Trip

We will go on probably two other trips before our Northwest Road Trip next summer, but I had to get a jump start on it so we had a place to stay in Yellowstone Park. When I started looking into places to stay, I found that some rooms were already booked. I was looking at the geyser view rooms at Old Faithful Inn and saw that they were sold for all of June and July of next summer. I figured I better get at it and find us a room in Yellowstone before all that was left were rooms that we didn’t want or no rooms at all.  I chose the Old Faithful Snow Lodge Frontier Cabin for 2 nights. When I booked the cabin a few weeks ago, there were only 2 consecutive days in July. It made choosing the dates pretty easy. When I just checked, there are not even 2 consecutive days left in July. My thought is that we will use that as a base and venture out during the day. Then when the day crowds are gone, we will explore the Old Faithful area in the evening.

ImageI have just a general route planned out for now, but I’m glad to have the cabin set at Yellowstone. I will have a lot more to plan but luckily I have time to do it.

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Silver Beach Carousel and Whirlpool Compass Fountain, Michigan

Last week when we were staying in Lakeside, Michigan with the Weitls, we were looking for something to do other than our usual visit to the beach. We decided to head north up Red Arrow Highway (Hwy 12) and make a few stops. First we went to Harbert Swedish Bakery for breakfast, then cherry picking at Jollay Orchards, and then to the Silver Beach area in St. Joseph. We parked right behind the Silver Beach Center ($2/hr) and went  in to ride the Silver Beach Carousel. There were some neat different carousel figures for the kids to ride and the music was classic. The kids and adults enjoyed the ride.

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After riding the carousel, we walked out the front door and across the street to the Whirlpool Compass Fountain. It was a hot day and the kids enjoyed cooling off in the water fountains. It took them a few minutes to get started, but once they got going they were all soaking wet. There were fountains that came up from the ground and others that sprayed from above. It alternated between the two which was a fun change.

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Whirlpool Compass Fountain CollageThere were many other things to do in the Silver Beach area. There is a children’s museum and a discovery zone as well as beach access. When we were there, there was an art fair as well. You could easily spend a day there and still have more to do. After the fountain, we walked back to the parking lot and headed back to our vacation house.

Jollay Orchards, Coloma, Michigan

After stopping for breakfast at Harbert Swedish Bakery on Red Arrow Highway, we headed north toward Jollay Orchards. We had found some information online and it seemed like a kid friendly place so we gave it a try. As soon as we pulled into the parking lot, we knew the information we had wasn’t exactly accurate. The ferris wheel was an antique and did not run and the Western town was not really anything the kids could do. We decided quickly to just go for the u-pick cherries and hope that was enough to do.

We got 2 small buckets and climbed on the hay rack ride to head out into the orchard. The kids were excited and ready to start picking right when we climbed off. We were picking sour cherries and planned to make pies with them when we got back to the house.

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Everyone enjoyed picking the cherries and some of us enjoyed eating them too. I think if everyone had been eating them that we could have had a pit spitting contest! Cara may or may not have eaten a few cherry pits along the way.

Jollay OrchardsAfter we filled the two buckets, we gathered the kids to take some pictures. The sun was shining in their faces but they still look pretty cute anyway!

Six Kids Cherry PickingWe rode the hay rack back to the Farm Market and paid the extra $.30/lb to have our cherries pitted with the pitting machine. They were still only $1.29/lb which I thought was a pretty good deal. The kids had fun and we got our main ingredient for the amazing pies that Jamie would bake for us!

New Buffalo Township Memorial Park

Sometimes when on a beach vacation, I need a little break from the beach. I want to have a place for the kids to have fun and not have to deal with the sand being everywhere when we are done. In southwest Michigan just north of New Buffalo along Red Arrow Highway, there is a neat little park that was just perfect for the kids. We went on a super hot day and were glad to have the splash pad to cool off in. If you come prepared with swimsuits (we decided to just go with clothes since we were doing other things before), be aware that on a sunny day that the ground is super hot. I left Cara’s socks on so she wouldn’t burn her feet. I sat on one of the benches  and it was VERY hot. Image

There is also a regular playground directly next to the spray park. It had a lot of climbing things and the kids really liked it. The adults liked the shelter as that was the only shade we could find. It really was a very hot day. If it had been a bit cooler, I think we would have stayed there for a long time. The entire park and shelter area was very clean and well maintained. It would be a great place for a picnic too as there were many picnic tables in the shelter. So next time you are in southwest Michigan, cruising along on Red Arrow Highway, make a stop at New Buffalo Township Memorial Park and cool off at the splash park. The kids loved it!

Rotary Park, LaSalle, Illinois

How many times have you been on a long road trip and wished you had a great place to stop and let the kids run around and burn off some energy? This has happened to me more times than I could count. Usually we are stuck with a fast food play land or a rest stop. But how great would it be to have a wonderful park with an amazing playground, walking trails, and a pond that is easy on and off from the interstate? Well, if you are traveling on Interstate 39 in north central Illinois, you are in luck. Just a minute off the interstate is just that park you have been looking for.

Take Exit 57 on I39 (Route 6) and head west. If you were traveling south on 39, turn right off the interstate. If you were traveling north on 39, turn left off the interstate. Turn right on East 5th road. You will see a sign for Rockwell Cemetery and the park will be just up on the left side of the road. You can see I39 from the park. It is that close.Image

There is an amazing playground there. It is castle themed with lots of slides, climbing obstacles, and bridges. There are different kinds of swings and some spinning and rocking equipment.

There are walking/bike trails and a nice pond. When we visited, the park hadn’t been open very long and there are still a lot of things that are going to be worked on. There were places where shelters will go in. Image

So next time you are traveling on Interstate 39 and need to make a stop, or if you live in the Illinois Valley, make a visit to Rotary Park (aka Castle Park) and your kids will thank you.

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