Touristing to Cranbrook

Remember when I was posting regularly and I had a series called “Touristing“? If you don’t, I’ll refresh your memory: Basically I found sights around my own town that I had never seen or visited. It was a nice way to see my city (that I didn’t love) with fresh eyes. I was thinking I should pick up this series again now that we live in Michigan and everything is new. 

The weather today was heavenly. Like…magical. Sunny. Bright. Warm. Blue skies. Refreshing. It was definitely an outdoor day. Earlier this week we decided that we would venture outside this weekend. After being indoors for the past few months, it was time to attack the outdoors! 

We decided to check off Cranbrook from our list of things to see since the name has come up on more than one occasion from friends. Currently, the grounds is home to a boarding school, an art museum, Academy of Art, a science center and the founder’s house and gardens. Here are a couple of facts that might help you win the next game of Trivial Pursuit: the Eames brothers are graduates of the Cranbrook Art Institute (oh, how I would love to have a house filled with Eames furniture!) and Leonard Bernstein wrote portions of The West Side Story while staying on the grounds. Given that it’s early spring, the scenery really wasn’t anything too exciting. Trees were still bare, grass was still brown, fountains remained off and even one of the waterfalls was still frozen. But it was glorious to be out and about. I thought ahead and brought my camera but regretfully left my memory card at home. Mind you, this was not the first time I’ve done this. When will I learn? Oh well, that’s why God invented the iPhone. 

Here are a few photos from our day: 

This is a man after my own heart. Not for the car decor, but for the travel. I’m sure whoever owns this car is full of stories. The rare self-portrait. It’s acceptable when a cutie in the photograph draws attention away from me. 

I saw these rocks all lined up and had this video in my head. It didn’t turn out like I hoped it would; I’m thinking a tripod would have come in handy. I’ll have to remember that next time.

I can’t imagine how pretty this is in the summer or at the height of spring:Now that it’s officially spring, what have you been doing? And where are some other places in the Metro Detroit Area that we should put on our Touristing list? 


Dream Cruise

People tried to warn us.
Tried to scare us away.
ied to describe it.
Tried to help us picture it.

But we couldn’t be steered away. Every year, Oakland county is host to the country’s largest car show, the Woodward Dream Cruise. It brings over a million people to the area. It’s crazy. Nuts. Busy. Crowded. It’s all those things and more. It’s amazing. Stunning. Fun. The amount of classic cars is indescribable. Perhaps I should just show you. 

There were amazing grills (and not the Detroit gansta kind):

There were hood ornaments:

There were trucks:

And a few favorites of mine: 

I can’t wait to do this again next year. And my dream is to drive a classic car of my own in the Dream Cruise one day.

John’s Pass

The other night, Ken and I went to John’s Pass Boardwalk for some pizza and people watching. Didn’t see too many crazy people but did see some crazy sights. I’ve written about this place before. You can check that post out here

If you decide to drop by, make sure you have pizza here. You won’t be disappointed.

Sylvan Abbey

Our Sunday Outing this week took us to Sylvan Abbey Memorial Park in Clearwater. My dad worked there as a director of a sales team while I was younger. This is such a beautiful place. I know you might think it’s creepy that we chose this location as our Sunday Outing but wait till you see the pictures. 

Established in 1853, it is the oldest cemetery in Pinellas county.

There are huge trees like this all over the park.

Jackson wasn’t feeling well but he was quite a trooper. He said his throat was sore and nothing else. More on that later.

Our first stop was a mausoleum. On either side is a huge stained glass wall. 

On one side is a window depicting Revelation and the other one depicts Creation. Here are some close ups of the Creation window. They paint the glass while it’s still in a molten state and that’s how you can get all the details. These were the last commissioned works by Conrad Pickle before he passed away. And if I understand correctly, his son finished the work after he died


This is a statue of Mark in The Garden of the Apostles. 

This headstone reminded me of Schindler’s List. Makes me wonder about the story behind how these rocks got there and what kind of amazing people are buried here.

Here is the oldest marked grave in Pinellas county.

We saw some flowers that needed some attention, so we found a watering can and seized the opportunity.

See? I told you it’s a beautiful place. If you have some time to spare, I think you should visit. There are many more things to see but we were hungry. The plan was to continue our Sunday Outing to Safety Harbor for dinner and ice cream but Jackson had other plans. Remember when I told you that he only had a sore throat? Well, he got sick right as we were walking into the restaurant. We thought it best to cut it short and head home. No one wants to see THAT while having dinner. He was feeling much better by the time we got home. I’m sure it’s nothing that a good night’s sleep can’t fix. We’ll just have to go back to Safety Harbor for ice cream another time!

What did you do this weekend?

Kapok memories: old and new

This week’s Sunday Outing took us to the Kapok Tree (aka Sam Ash). Sixteen years ago Ken & I had our wedding reception there. It was the fairytale ending to my fairytale wedding. The Kapok Tree is a special event venue in Clearwater, complete with beautiful gardens off the banquet rooms. It was Ken’s idea to take the boys and show them where we par-tayed after we got married.

It’s no longer exclusively an event venue. The location also serves as Sam Ash, a music store. A huge music store. It appears that they do still rent out the rooms for special events though. To our disappointment, they haven’t kept up the gardens as I would have guessed. I can understandd why; it can’t be cheap to keep up all the flowers and fountains. It’s still a nice place to visit but just not as grand as it used to be. I’m including this post in my “Touristing” category and encourage you to visit it for yourself. You won’t be disappointed.

These are the first gardens you enter:

For our reception, our guests entered here and were escorted into a smaller ballroom for drinks and appetizers while we had our pictures taken. It was so pretty lit up that night. 

This is a close up of the wall above. The fountains were not running when we were there with the boys but when Ken visited a few days ago, they were running.

This wall runs along the perimeter of the gardens. Beautiful, isn’t it?

There was a photographer taking pictures of a model in the gardens next to the Grand Ballroom so I didn’t get a wide shot of those gardens. And the Grand Ballroom wasn’t open but I put my camera right up to the glass & got these shots of the inside. Our bridal party walked right down that staircase to the head table.

This huge chandelier is right in the middle of the room.

During dinner, our guests were seated on the lower level as well as in the balcony. It was a dream reception. I sure wish I could have gotten inside the ballroom to take my pictures.

The wall opposite the staircase is one big, giant window so you have a view into the gardens from the inside. These columns are all along that window: 

While there, the family decided to have fun with my new camera remote.


After a zillion pictures (with everyone getting a chance to try the remote), I went back to the camera to adjust the settings so that my mom & dad could join in the fun. We got a few shots with all of us. A nice one, one with “jazz hands” and this sophisticated one. Jackson thought this was hilarious (he’s on the left, cracking up):

We had a great time sharing a special part of our lives with the boys. I highly suggest you visit. Even though it’s not as pretty as it was in 1995 and now it’s also a music store, it’s worth a visit. And while you’re there, you can pickup a set of guitar strings!

You can check out the Kapok’s website here. The pictures are beautiful and you can get an idea of what it looks like to have an event here. Thanks, mom & dad for THE best wedding (and reception) ever!

Since this is the longest blog post known to mankind, I’ll continue. We left Kapok Tree and drove across the street to Kapok park. I had no idea this existed. I could tell you the story of how it used to be a mobile home park and now is a beautiful park but I’ll let you visit & read the story for yourself. This is another place I suggest you visit. It offers paved pathways, picnic areas and a boardwalk over wetland areas complete with ducks, mice alligators and many, many birds. And trees. Lots of trees. I’ll let my pictures do the talking since I’m nearing 1,000 words already.


And since I hate to leave my boys out…




Abercrombie Park

Hello there. Wow, I sure didn’t mean to take any time off but it looks like I’ve been away for a few days. I’ll catch you up on what’s been going on in my life…

On Thursday I went scouting for a Sunday Outing location. I found Abercrombie Park. I had been here before but learned more about the park this week. Right on a busy street (that would be Park Street, for you locals) is a parking lot for a little park that leads right to the water. The paved pathway to the water is about a quarter-mile but there are also pathways in the grass and a small boardwalk. It’s not a large beach access so I don’t recommend going to swim but the view is nice. You can see the Bay Pines area and the War Veterans Memorial Park. But our dog, Rex, would enjoy swimming in the water – it’s a dog friendly area! Apparently, near this location, the 400 man expedition landed on April 15, 1528 to begin the first exploration of North America. 

Now, I’ve lived here since I was five and never knew this about the area. I never knew the first exploration of North America started here. I’ve always heard St. Augustine and/or Ft. Desoto was the first areas to be explored. Who knew?

Once in the park, you’d never know that cars were buzzing by on the busy street. Reminds me of Central Park in that aspect. The park is named for one of the first practicing physicians in the area. He was a very giving man and when he died, his family, in keeping with his giving ways, wanted to give the land to the city. The city turned them down, not wanting to assume his debts so the land went to relatives in England. Later on, a local developer contacted the family and convinced them to donate the land that is now Abercrombie Park to the city with the stipulation that the land always be used as a park, be kept in a natural state and not allow automobiles to enter. 

And this is why it’s so quiet in the park. If you’re a local, I recommend you visit. It won’t take up your entire day but it’s a nice way to spend a lunch or snack time.


I guess there are still things to “discover” in my own backyard. What will I find next? I’ll be back tomorrow with pictures and stories from the weekend. Hope you had a great one!

Yep, that’s nature

Today I took my mom, 2 boys and grandmother to the Florida Botanical Gardens. We got an “early” start because it’s been quite hot these days. I say “early” because we didn’t leave until 9:00 but that’s early for a no-school day. The mornings and evenings have been really beautiful but it’s hot in the day if you’re not in the shade. {I’ll dodge the nasty comments your northerners are giving me because you’re waiting for your last snowfall to melt. Just know this: as much as you hate the winters lasting so long, I hate the summers starting so early & ending so late. Trust me on this.}

For the last two years we’ve gone to the Botanical Gardens at Christmastime to see their lights. They have a spectacular light display during the Christmas holiday but I had never been in the daytime. If you plan on going, I’d advise you to bring lots of water and walking shoes. It’s much bigger than I thought it was.

These greeted us as we entered the gardens:


Nice touches like this were throughout the gardens:

I don’t know what this flower is but it caught my eye. At first I thought it looked like lace along the edges but upon further inspection, I say it looks like bacon. Is this a sign that I need to start to diet?

Jukavo, over at Ocean Soul was talking about finding inspiration in nature. Specifically stripes. Lookie what I found:

Here are some other things we found along the way. There aren’t any great stories to go with the pictures, so I’ll let them speak for themselves:

A rare photograph of my grandma. Too bad the chair was facing directly into the sun:

This little guy has a cute story to him. After we walked all over the paved pathways in the garden, we found an off-the-beaten-path pathway. This one was actual ground. You know the kind: dirt, leaves, weeds. (My German friend, Seffie, asked me one day if there were any places around where you could walk on the ground and not a sidewalk/road/pavement/etc. I had to tell her that there weren’t any that I knew of. That’s when you know you live in the city!) As we were walking on this path, we came across this little guy. He was just sunning right there in the grass. We all gave our ooohs and aaaahs and my grandmother reached down and touched him. Just as she did, he quickly whipped his head around to her hand. Nothing was bitten but we all jumped back. Just then, Jackson says, “Man! This is just like nature!”

I need to get this guy into some nature and soon.