Okay, I totally wanted to climb up inside the lighthouse, too.
I think the kids were a little bit surprised that this lighthouse looked more like a schoolhouse with a tower on top than it did the traditional style of lighthouse they've seen in books.
Still, it made for a pretty remarkable view over the water.
Outside the lighthouse was a cabin once inhabited by the Mary and Joseph Hessler family. The kids ignored my suggestion that if Mary and Joseph lived there Jesus must have, too. I upped the ante and tried to convince them that Jesus' last name was Hessler but nobody was interested in my awesome dad humor.
Charlotte was especially interested in the cabin as she's recently shown an interest in the Laura Ingalls Wilder Little House on the Prairie books. More on that in a bit.
We "hiked" through the woods on the way back to the car -- maybe 100 yards total. Clearly that was 100 yards too many for Mason.
. . .
We decided to give downtown Traverse City another run and started with lunch at the Mackinaw Brewing Company. As always, my food looked pretty awesome...
...and Amy's once again looked like plant poop.
I suppose that joke won't be as funny when she outlives me by forty years.
. . .
A quick walk down the block brought us to Kilwins -- a place full of "chocolates, fudge, and ice cream."
Suddenly the kids weren't so full from lunch.
Anna threw us a curve ball and chose a caramel apple over ice cream.
. . .
I guess one of the big souvenirs to take away from this area is a Petoskey stone -- a certain kind of rock found just north of here in Petoskey (and the state stone of Michigan). I'd never heard of these things before this trip but apparently they're a big deal.
The kids have been talking all week about wanting to find a Petoskey stone -- especially Charlotte. When we found ourselves in a downtown Traverse toy store, she was pretty thrilled to find a bowl full of polished Petoskeys for sale. There was no doubt this was the souvenir she'd been looking for and I guess we assumed that the other two kids would follow her lead.
Not so much.
Charlotte got her Petoskey stone. Anna came out with a small princess Playmobil set. Mason opted for the pen with a rubber hand on top. Nothing says "Michigan vacation" like Playmobil and a hand pen.
I had a feeling they'd eventually regret this decision.
. . .
Leaving downtown, I was surprised that even on vacation, country music legends continue to follow me around. A few weeks ago, Amy and I followed Tom T. Hall through Champaign.
Leaving the parking lot today, we had clearly been followed by Johnny Cash.
Or maybe not. I suppose that could be "Jenny Cash."
. . .
Heading back to the house, we remembered a roadside stand selling Petoskey stones so we thought we'd check it out.
This was my kind of vacation shopping! Nothing fancy. Just a single table along the highway with no one around. In case anyone thought of just walking off with their inventory, the handpainted plywood signs hit you in your conscience as soon as you step out of your car:
"BE HONEST"I would bet you three Petoskey stones and a high five that there wasn't a camera anywhere within a mile of where we stood -- but that's not the point. The signs simply established the true charm of this stand.
"CAMERA IN AREA"
As expected, Anna and Mason came around and decided that they did indeed want a Petoskey stone to take home with them. Amy found one for herself, as well. We dropped our money in the box on the table and headed out with souvenirs a little more appropriate for our trip than a Playmobil toy.
. . .
Back at the house, the kids spent some time playing in the front yard where Amy found them hiding under a cluster of evergreen trees. Amy asked what they were doing and I couldn't have been happier to learn that they were "playing Little House on the Prairie."
. . .
Throughout this entire trip, there has been one thing Anna has mentioned multiple times that she wants to do while we're on vacation.
She wants to watch the sun set.
This was clearly not the kind of request any parent could deny their kid -- especially considering the number of other priorities she could have had. So tonight we drove down the peninsula a bit to the "scenic turnabout" we'd passed by several times this week. We got there just in time to let the kids climb on top of the van and take in the final ten minutes of a beautiful Michigan sunset.
. . .
We're having a great time on vacation but we're all definitely getting a little tired (and maybe a little grumpy) from being on the road.
Heading home soon...