Thursday, August 11, 2022

Hiking Trails in Niles

Fernwood Botanical Garden is a 105 acre natural garden in Niles, Michigan.  It is only about 15 miles from the Day house.  Dick and I went a few years ago to see a specific exhibit, but Michelle had never been.  This was the perfect time.

The Welcome Center contains a two-level 
arboretum, gift shop, and large exhibit and teaching center.  There is also an educational center and library on site.

We even found a cool, secluded "hideout" suitable for adults.

Michelle is demonstrating the size of this enormous hibiscus bloom, and she has what she calls "basketball" hands.

There are numerous hiking trails full of beautiful vegetation and the occasional snake and squirrel.

Unlike the previous botanical garden we visited, Fernwood is much more natural and less manicured.

Included in the acreage is a 55 acre Nature Preserve consisting of hiking trails, numerous streams and a 125 foot drop in elevation down to the Saint Joseph River.

These tree-covered hiking trails on the ridge provided much cooler temperatures.

The Saint Joseph River, a tributary of Lake Michigan is one of the most beautiful rivers.  It flows in mostly a western direction across south Michigan and then southward into Indiana.  It flows right through the middle of Mishawaka where John's hospital is located.

The water wheel is one of the most favorite features of the garden.

As seen from above.

There are several buildings on the grounds and one is used for conferences, weddings and other gatherings.  Others are for over-night guests.  This one, however is probably not habitable.

Quaint but no thanks.  But, the chairs are cute and add a nice touch.

One of the "rooms" in the garden is this section that grows only herbs.  There was a large variety of interesting fragrances.

After trekking a good portion of the trails, we were more than ready for food and Dick and Michelle were in need of their caffeine fix.  This neat little Italian bistro in Niles had the most delicious food and self-brewed coffee.  It was worth the wait!

This was not the last of our outings and fun, but enough to help me recall in days ahead the great time we had with our Indiana family in the summer of 2022.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Mid-West Botanicals

There is no shortage of interesting things to do and see in the Michiana area.  There is unbelievable beauty along the many waterways and lakes; sandy beaches and fascinating lighthouses; quaint towns, organic farms and orchards; white, clean Amish homes and farms; and a varied mixture of cultures.

This short overall list doesn't include the beautiful Notre Dame and St. Mary campuses , the Studebaker Museum and hundreds of galleries, restaurants, numerous theaters, my favorite Japanese Garden (that I didn't visit this trip), not to mention interesting architecture and almost perfect summer weather.

In today's blog we will visit the first of two totally different botanical gardens.

This Japanese-themed garden consists of three islands and is located in the center of Elkhart, IN, a neighboring town southeast of Granger.  Come with me into the serene and lovely manicured grounds of Wellfield Botanical Gardens.

It is a Japanese-themed garden consisting of three small islands.

Being overseen by the elk of Elkhart

The sound of the rushing water was captivating and refreshing in the unusual Northern Indiana heatwave.

Thankfully there was a comfortable place to sit, relax and enjoy the sights and sounds.

Isn't this tool shed the cutest?

Large bronze statues were placed throughout the gardens.

Let's just say Dick has never met a pretty woman he didn't like.

We agreed this would be the perfect place to bring Baby Jax for play dates and to introduce him to God's wonderful world.

The roof of this building is as pretty as the grounds.

The next two close-ups are shots I particularly like.

Cross pollination was alive and well in this garden.

Standing outside the gates was this artist.  I checked going in and coming out and "Monet" had not made any progress.

Elkhart County is celebrating the 17th year anniversary of the first display of Seward Johnson Sculptures in the county.  Johnson is well known for his life-like bronze sculptures.

Another sculpture caught our attention downtown next to a jewelry store.
From what I've read, there is really no explanation for this sculpture, named "Contact," so I am assuming we are free to make up our own.

Tomorrow, I will take you to another botanical garden that will be totally different which will wrap up our Indiana visit.  In the meantime you might enjoy reading about and seeing other sculptures by John Seward Johnson.

Monday, August 8, 2022

Seeking All Things Organic and Caffeinated

On Saturday after arriving in Granger, IN on Tuesday, John chauffeured us in his luxury chariot up into Michigan.  This really isn't quite the big deal one might think as they live less than a mile from the Michigan line, but the small towns along Lake Michigan always hold an appeal.  This day our point of destination was one of our favorites - Saugatuck.

Knowing his wife's interest in all things organic, our first stop was specifically for Michelle, and this amazing farm is less than 20 miles from their home.

All of the produce was freshly picked and cleaned and made one want to take some of all of it.  We did see a few that were new to us and would require instructions.

Kohlrobi was a new veggie for us, but sounds interesting if not a bit more labor intensive than I prefer.

I had never heard of Rainbow Carrots either, but they evidently grow rows and rows of this variety.

These Ground Cherries were another first for me.  They are said to be sweet, tropical-tasting gold berries wrapped in paper husks and are the quintessential summer snack, not to mention an instant conversation piece.

Obviously their three different types of Kale are a big hit for shoppers because they take up long rows out in the garden.

While looking around, I noticed this sweet lady just shopping up a storm so I engaged her in conversation.  She and her family live in Chicago but also have a home on Lake Michigan near by.  She said they spend their weekends in the country and this shopping trip is an every Saturday morning thing for her.  She and Michelle not only love the same foods but share a favorite cookbook, so I had to take a picture of the new best friends.

Our next destination was Three Oaks.  It is a very small little village only five miles east of Lake Michigan.  It has cute shops and interesting stores in a one-block span.  One thing we weren't prepared for though in this sleepy little town was an Amtrak train that literally blew right through the middle.  I use the term "blew" very loosely here.  May this southern gal just simply say "My goodness gracious!"

Froehillch's is one of those stores you only find in small towns because it has been there forever, and contains every thing you can imagine.  The original Froehlichs  came from Bavaria, and settled in the mid-west in the 1920's.  This particular store isn't quite that old as it got it's beginning in 1992, but has an interesting history. (For more info click HERE.)

It is so typical of small town stores where they are a one-stop-shop.  They have their own Froehlich's farm so all their food is farm-to-table.  From a bar, restaurant, to clothing, homegoods, over-night retreat accommodations, and even a room that contains only "adult" themed items, let it be known, we missed nothing.  Michelle didn't however, sample the coffee for some reason.  Big mistake!

From here we continued to Saugatuck.  It is not directly on Lake Michigan but is nestled into a cove of the lake.  This is one of our favorite towns because of the atmosphere, neat shops, art galleries, and places to eat.  There was a big event planned for that night, so there were tons of people in town.  Apparently, those who didn't drive arrived in their luxurious yacht.

One of the main objectives where ever we go, is to find a good coffee spot.  By this time of the day, it was overdue.

  After skillfully maneuvering through the horde of fellow Saturday tourists, we found the cutest little place with outdoor seating that caters to coffee connoisseurs.  By the way, Michelle fits into this category. Who doesn't love to people watch while sipping a cold brew on a hot day.

After walking and looking, touching, and enjoying, it was time for nourishment other than coffee.

If you happen to be in Saugatuck and are hungry, let me recommend Wick's Park Bar & Grille.

On the way home, we decided to take the scenic coastal Blue Star Memorial Hwy that takes you to other little towns on the Lake.  One of those is another place Dick and I go frequently, South Haven.  We love to walk the streets and down to the lighthouse and pier.  This day, however was not ideal and we didn't even stop. The usually lovely quiet little town was a teaming mass of humanity.  There was not one vacant spot on the normally empty, beautiful beach.  Let's just say that that many uncovered bodies is not a pretty sight.

We did find a spot overlooking the glistening waters of Lake Michigan so I could take these pictures.

While in the Mid-West, and perhaps especially Eastern Michigan, you don't want to pass up a nice organic farm growing beautiful things to eat.

Dick and John were beyond excited about another such stop, but what can I say, they are good men!

To end this delightful day, what better way than with a stop in New Buffalo for some locally made Oink's ice cream.

This place is all about pigs - not real ones, but a collection in every size, shape and description, in every available spot that isn't already occupied by ice cream, servers and customers.

Oh my, that was the best ice cream I've ever eaten.  Let me recommend a huge serving of the Mackinac Fudge.  Again, "My goodness gracious!"

This wraps up our Saturday road trip but not our fun by any means.  More to come.