Sunday, March 8, 2015

Snowshoeing the Peninsulas: Saugatuck State Park

It's been a very busy winter, and I haven't had a lot of time to go exploring. Thankfully, I was able to head out into the snow at least once this winter for a quick adventure. 

Last weekend a friend and I joined up to go snowshoeing. We ending up going to Saugatuck State Park, which has a lot of great trails. We started in the evening, so we were able to catch a bit of the sunset. Then we got to go through the woods by moonlight. It was pretty cool. I didn't bring my good camera, but I took a few pictures with my phone.

I'm definitely ready for spring, but I am really glad I was able to make it out into the snow before it all melts.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Portrait Sneak Preview: The Van Dyke Family

I'm taking this blizzard like day on the Peninsulas to look back through old photos. In doing so, I stumbled upon a family photo session that we did this last fall that I have yet to share on the blog.
So after many months, here is a preview of the Van Dyke's family photos.

The sky was really dramatic on this day; so I tried to incorporate it into many of the photos.

I hope you've enjoyed your photos.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

2nd Annual Christmas Tree Hunt

Jamie and I decided last year to make it a tradition to go out the weekend after Thanksgiving and pick a real Christmas tree. Every year we'll head out with the kids to a local eatery for a hardy breakfast and then hunt down the perfect tree at a local Christmas tree farm.

This year, Jamie's brother Josh and his wife Danielle came along. We met up with them at a local favorite, The Trestle Stop in Hamilton for breakfast. We filled our bellies with eggs, bacon, oatmeal and many other delicious items. Then it was a short drive to the Leber Tree Farm in Allegan.

Once there, we bundled up the kids and headed out into the field of trees to find our Christmas tree.

Jonah had to stop and pick up whatever stick he would see.

Having fun with Uncle Josh and Aunt Dani

After searching and debating for quite a while, we decided on a Canaan Fur.

We loaded our tree up on to the wagon and caught a ride back to the barn.

After we got our tree back home, I had to make a quick run to Menards. Jamie's Grandparents gave us a Train Set that we could set up around the bottom of our tree. But before we could set it up, I had to make a base that we could place the tracks on. It took a bit of time, but eventually I was able to make something that would work.

The rest of the afternoon was spent setting up and decorating the tree. Jonah was very helpful putting on ornaments.

Now that it is all set up, Jonah likes to sit and watch the train. He has already named it Thomas. It's so much fun to watch how excited he gets about the train.

It was a great day on the Peninsulas!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Family Photo Sneak Preview: The Barkels

We also took pictures for a friend's family a couple weeks ago. It was our last chance to get fall pictures in. These kids did a great job and they're a beautiful family!

Senior Picture Sneak Preview: Marisa

A couple weeks ago we had the privilege of taking senior pictures for Marisa. She was such a trooper in the chilly temperatures! We had a great time and enjoyed getting to know her. 
Thanks for letting us take your pictures!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Off the Peninsulas: Shenandoah National Park

A few weekends a go, we were able to take a much needed vacation with some of my family. My parents rented a "cabin" in the mountains near Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. We met up with my sister and brother-in-law who live in Pennsylvania and my brother and sister-in-law who live in D.C.

So early on a Thursday morning, we piled into my parents suburban and made the 10-12 hour trek out to Virginia. Since I didn't have to drive, I took advantage and took a nice long nap. Jamie did too.

Grandma did a good job of keeping Jonah entertained. Overall the kids did really well for being strapped into their car seats as long as they were.

As we made are way through the Laurel Highlands in Pennsylvania, the fall colors really started to pop.

After a long day of being in the car, we finally made it to our destination: the Bear Crossings Cabin in Shenandoah Virginia. We were pretty tired when we arrived, so we didn't explore the house until the next morning. The place was amazing. It had everything you could want: 6 bedrooms, Jacuzzi tubs, tile shower, flat screen tv's in every room, pool table, air hockey table, hot tub. I can't imagine finding a better place to stay. I would link you to website where we rented it through, but I believe the listing has since been taken down since I can't find it any more.

After breakfast and catching up with everybody who arrived late the night before, we tried to decide what we would do for the day. After much debating, we decided to go to Liberty Mills Farm to do a huge corn maze. I believe the owners said that it is the largest corn maze on the east coast. There were four separate sections that you could do. On the section we chose to do, you had to find 21 different markers to punch tickets. If you found all 21, you got a prize at the end. After a few hours and a couple temper tantrums, we were able to find all 21. The prize wasn't really worth it. But the maze was a ton of fun.

After the maze, we went back to the cabin to roast hot dogs over a fire and then later soak in the hot tub. It was a great first day of the vacation.

The next day we made the short drive to Shenandoah National Park. The main attraction of the park is the Skyline Drive, which is a 105 mile stretch of road running North and South along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It is extremely scenic, with frequent places to pull off and enjoy the view.
As well, there are hundreds of miles of trails through the park to explore and lots of cascades and waterfalls to enjoy. Honestly, Jamie and I fell in love with the park. Michigan is my home, but I would really love to have a place like Shenandoah within driving distance.

After driving a little ways down the skyline drive, we pulled off for a short hike. The hike the we did was up Little Stoney Man Mountain. It was only about 3 miles round trip, but there were some great views on those miles.

One of my dreams is to some day hike the entire Appalachian Trail. So I was pretty excited when the first stretch of the hike up Little Stoney Man was on the AT. Someday, I'll be back on my way from Georgia to Maine.

Just a little way up the trail, there were some cliffs with a great view.

There were actually people rock climbing up the cliffs that day.

 View from the Summit

On the way back down the mountain, we took Jonah out of the back pack and tried to let him walk. After a bit, he wanted to be carried. Shortly later, he passed out in my arms. I carried him about a mile before my arms went numb and I had to pass him off to someone else.

Everybody was pretty tired after the hike, so we made our way back to the cabin to relax. The GPS took us through some curvy country roads and we ran across this cool barn.

 Unfortunately, that was the last night that my sister and brother-in-law would be there. He is a pastor and had to get back to his church for Sunday.

Jamie, my brother Jon, his wife Marta, and I decided to go on a more strenuous hike on Sunday. We left Jonah with the grandparents, but packed Sadie in the backpack. The trail we hiked followed a river down into a canyon. The river had many cascades and a few huge waterfalls. The hike out was nice since it was all down hill. Unfortunately, that meant that the way back was all up hill.

 Unfortunately, after that, the vacation was pretty much over. My brother and his wife had to work on Monday, and we had to check out by eleven. So the morning was spent packing and cleaning up the place. Luckily, we didn't have to drive far. We just went to my sister and brother-in-law's house in Pennsylvania that day. We spent the afternoon at their house. Jonah had fun cruising around in Uncle Aaron's golf cart.

We got up early on Tuesday morning to make the trek back to Michigan. The drive was uneventful, which I was thankful for. The last vacation Jamie and I tried to take before this one had too much drama when it came to the drive. I'll have to do a post about that sometime. Anyways, it was nice to get home and sleep in my bed. The unfortunate part was that I didn't get to stay home for long. I had to fly out to Minnesota on a business trip the next day.