Saturday, June 25, 2016

An EPIC Day at Sleeping Bear Dunes!

Scott was lucky enough to land a great job as a pilot for United, BUT that means a slightly unpredictable schedule.  We went ahead and planned this trip knowing he might only make it for part of it or not at all.  Well, he was able to make the drive with Brandi and the kids, stay for one whole day, and then head back to IL the next afternoon.  We take what we can get!  Even though none of us really wanted to get back in the car after driving from IL to MI the day before, we really wanted to visit Sleeping Bear Dunes while Scott was with us (for his extra hands and because it's fun)!  So, we loaded up and made the hour and a half drive to the dunes.  It took a big of work to decide where to get started, but we decided to start with a family-friendly hike: Empire Bluff Trail.  This was just right for our crew!  About a mile and a half round-trip with a beautiful overlook and good snack stop halfway :)

Snack Break!

Family photo op 
After we got back to the cars, we headed toward a beach area to have a picnic lunch and let the kids play on the beach and in the water.  This was a nice break :)

THEN, we headed to THE Dunes!  I wasn't really thinking I was going to run all the way up, but the excitement got the better of me and we all headed for the top!  Well, except for Ellie and Molly who made wise decisions to nap in the car.  Brandi and Scott took turns staying with them and climbing.  I really saw the difference between grown-up minds and kid minds during this activity: I knew that this wasn't really that fun, BUT I'd be really glad I did it and got to see the views and how far I climbed.  The kids just were tired!  LOL  There was no looking ahead for them.  They did pretty awesome, in spite of themselves!  
This picture is taken from the second landing area, or level, looking towards where we started.
Strong Kids!
This little spot of shade was a break spot to look forward to on the way up and down!
These four... Love them!
And, this is the last bit that Josh summitted on his own!  LOL
Such a fun family adventure on the eve of our 12th wedding anniversary!!!
Once we were back at the bottom everyone was ready for some sitting, water and snacks!  There was this really cute photo op all set up for visitors, but Graham was obviously NOT impressed!  After bathroom breaks and waterbottle refills, we selected a very friendly activity of the scenic drive!  LOL  Graham napped most of the way through this, which was just fine.
Stop #1
Stop #2
I don't know what number this was, but just Mommy and Jackson got out

SUCH beautiful views!
We had a great plan to eat in Traverse City before driving back to the house, but the wait was REALLY long!  We were impressed with how long the kids had hung in there so far, so we didn't want to try waiting for a seat at a restaurant...  Brandi and Scott researched and found this gem: The Filling Station  Pizzas and flights of beer were ordered!  We chose the outdoor seating at oversized picnic tables, and they were right along a no longer used railroad.  There was lots to look at AND there were several sandboxes for the kids to play in!
Pretty view at dinner

These two were really cute walking at sunset on the rails :)

The kids did SO amazing!  We are really glad we snuck in this fun-filled day...and really glad we don't have much planned for the next day--LOL

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