We live in West Michigan between Grand Rapids and Holland. I've lived here my whole life, and I am one of the few residents who (somewhat) enjoy the four very different seasons that Michigan has to offer.
[A quote from me that my husband loves to hear: "But if we didn't have to survive winter first, spring wouldn't seem so sweet."]
Summer in Michigan - when the rain stays away and we don't have a freakish cold front or a crazy hot streak and when the mosquito population gets thwarted by an unseasonably hot spring - is pure bliss.
My parents own a little bit of Michigan paradise by way of a condo in Holland perched atop the sand dunes. We try to get out there as often as we can, usually for day trips, but this weekend we were able to get out there for a little bit longer.
We packed our Thirty-One totes, grabbed some friends and hit the road for our 35 minute road trip to the "coast". Our day and a half mini-vacation didn't quite do the location justice, but we did pack in as much life as we could.
We started with a very late breakfast/lunch at a great local Dutch eatery (nothing like a new-to-us restaurant to make you feel like you're on vacation) followed by an afternoon at the pool...
...which was followed by a quick "adventure" hike into the woods by the boys.
(Somehow they thought the dads said, "Sure, climb the hill, wander around the woods, throw caution to the wind, go as far as you'd like," rather then, "Please go to the top of the hill and then come back." Easy mistake to make. They might have also gotten a brief survival skills lesson by Mr. Steve.)
After a delicious dinner of kabobs and fresh berries (+ some kitchen time with my seester), we hopped on bikes (eight bikes plus a trailer!) for an evening dual-family bike ride.
After that wild ride, the moms headed up with the littlest riders to get a head start on bedtime while the big boys and the dads ventured out a little further. (Proud moment for all of us: watching our 7 year old boys peddle up a series of very steep hills at the end of the ride.)
The fun was far from over as the ladies headed down for an evening swim in just-about-perfect Lake Michigan water while the sun set around us.
Mr. Matt pulled out one more surprise before our biker boys called it a night: a very cool, very huge MSU Chinese lantern.
The next morning we enjoyed a big breakfast (and debated the cost/benefit of mixing our breakfast foods) and packed up for the beach.
We swam, dug, and played around and then we hiked over to the pier.
Ella dazzled us once again with her fearless take on five-year-old life. (I wondered out loud if she would have anything left someday to put on her Year 32 list...it seems she's already experienced so much!)
As I click through the snapshots, I'm thankful for a weekend well spent: family, friends, beauty, and adventures all enjoyed in our own "backyard".
Pure Michigan. Pure bliss.