Trader Family Road Trip–Day 4 (cont.)–Doo it!

I already told you about much of what happened on our 4th day. The rest I’ll talk about now!

The major part of the day was going to the sand dunes. It had been planned for a while and we really didn’t know what to expect. Would it be really bumpy and loud? Would Isabella be safe on it?

We got to Mac Wood’s Dune Rides and saw a line up of “Big Mac” trucks waiting to take people out. Apparently this is a big thing to do!


When it was our turn everyone eagerly piled in to one of the trucks. We had a big group and took up the whole truck on our own. CJ, Munchkin and I took the front seat, next to the driver, because we figured it would be the least bumpy and scary for Isabella. We all strapped in and were off!

Our driver was super great. Really nice, funny and most importantly a good driver! He took us out over hills and dunes and around sandy curves. The scenery was just beautiful.


(that’s Lake Michigan in the background)

He went just fast enough so that the curves felt a little shaky and the hills gave you that stomach-drop feeling when you went over them, but not so fast that it was out of control. I felt safe the whole time. Our driver would stop at various points to tell us some history and show us scenic spots. The sun was beating down too so it was hot.

Isabella was ok at first. She was a bit shaken by the loud truck and some of the hills but seemed relatively at ease so long as she had her woobie and was safe in the arms of mom or dad.


When we got up to Lake Michigan they let us get out and take pics.

Here’s our whole group, in the truck:


(That’s us in the front seat and CJ’s 86 year old dad is there in the 2nd to last row, in front of the bars. He surprises me by all that he does!)

Me and my hubby.


And with Isabella.


And the whole Trader side of the family.


(That’s our niece Kristin (the grad that we were all celebrating), Isabella, CJ’s sis Shellee, Dad Fred, CJ, Me and Shellee’s husband Chuck)

They also had a big chair there set up as a picture spot. It was totally touristy. So of course I was all over it!


The whole ride took about 45 minutes. Toward the end Isabella got more scared and the only way she felt safe was to snuggle up under daddy’s chin and hold his hand.


She looks so small and fragile! She was such a trooper though and I was very proud of her!

If you’re ever in this part of Michigan, I’d definitely recommend a sand dune tour. It was fun, adventurous, and scenic all at once! Maybe we’ll go back when Isabella is older and have her try again…

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Trader Family Road Trip – Day 3

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Trader Family Road Trip–Day 4: It’s Craaaaazy!

Sunday was jam packed with all kinds of fun activities. There is so much that I’m going to break it in to 2 posts.


First we all met up for breakfast and then headed to Silver Lake Michigan where the first stop was Craig’s Cruisers.

The first thing we did was head to the race track and go drag racing! Isabella and I sat out to watch and take pics so that CJ and the others could ride.


(Side note: CJ has 2 basic poses for pictures (his “blue steel” if you will). One of them is to have the hand up waving and the other is to look drunk. He doesn’t try to look drunk it just happens as a result of him talking or laughing or blinking or actually trying to do blue steel. So, I had to laugh when I saw this pic with the hand wave even while driving!)


CJ’s 86 year old dad even got out there and raced! I was impressed!

After finishing that race, some of the group decided to try the Crazy Cars ( I think that’s what they’re called anyway ). Basically the cars drive around on a metal surface so they slip and slide all over.


We ate lunch and then some of the group went on the bumper boats! Again, I stayed ashore due to my intense fear of water/drowning.


Then it was off to the Sand Dunes (which I’ll post about later – it needs a whole post of its own!). After that we came back to Craig’s Cruisers and CJ and I played mini golf while Isabella went with her Aunt Shellee and Uncle Chuck to have ice cream.


As we all know, I have a competitive streak. Once when playing mini-golf at the Olympic facility in Sydney, Australia I got so mad at a hole that I whacked my club against a tree and bent it. Oops. This is probably why I don’t play real golf. It would be too expensive for me. So with this game, I kept telling myself that this would just be a friendly game of putt-putt. No big deal. Just have fun. But let’s face it – that’s not my nature. I kept meticulous scores and it was a very close game. The difference between winner and loser was 1 point (yes I had CJ verify the math). I won’t say who won but I will say my club was solidly in tact when we left.


Isabella really enjoyed the time with her aunt and uncle. Chuck showed her the “Crazy Clock” in the arcade which she still talks about!  Later she insisted on taking me and CJ back to show us the Crazy Clock!



It’s CRA-AAAZY!! When I asked her what her favorite part of the day was she said “CRAZY CLOCK!!!” and then her second favorite thing was ice cream with Uncle Chuck!

We were all pooped by the end of the day. Isabella slammed in to bed and we weren’t far behind!

Stay tuned for more to come!!

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Trader Family Road Trip – Day 3

Trader Family Road Trip – Day 2

Trader Family Road Trip – Day 1

Trader Road Trip–Day 3: Party!

Saturday was the big day. It was the reason for our whole trip! Our niece was celebrating her graduation from high school!

The party started at 1 p.m. and there were other activities during the morning for those who were interested. We thought it would be best to chill at our hotel room, let Isabella get adjusted to the time change and have a good nap, before we ventured out. CJ and I ended up taking naps too! Once we were up and rested it was time to par-tay!

Unfortunately we misunderstood the location of the party and went to the wrong place. We then spent the next hour driving around trying to find the right one! Oops! But we got there eventually and had a great time.

The party was at a rented beach pavilion so there was lots of food and things to do. There was a playground, the beach itself (on Lake Michigan), a light house to walk to and family games to play.


Isabella LOVED the playground! She went around trying pretty much everything!

From the swings…


…to the merry-go-round


…to the dome.


We literally had to tear her away from there when it was time to go!

We also walked over to a lighthouse nearby.


Isabella wasn’t so interested in the lighthouse as she was in being tossed around by her daddy! He thought it was pretty fun too!



Can you tell it was a windy day? My hair didn’t stand a chance! We do look like quite the red/white/blue family though!

We made sure to take a family group picture too before the day was done! This is CJ’s side of the family.


Everyone departed and went back to their various hotel rooms/homes to clean up and get ready for dinner. Then we all gathered at CJ’s sister’s house for a cookout. It felt good to clean up a bit and change clothes.


We were back at the hotel by 8:30 or so and settled in for bed. We knew Sunday would be a busy day and we would need our rest!!

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Trader Road Trip – Day 2

Trader Road Trip – Day 1


Trader Family Road Trip–Day 2: Driving and more Driving

Friday is when it felt like the vacation really began for me. CJ was feeling better and Isabella was happier so I could relax a bit.

CJ drove the first leg…


…so I could chill and watch the scenery go by.


One of the interesting things we saw was a truck hauling a windmill arm used in one of the various windmill farms that dot I-80. I tried to get a cool shot of it from various angles. Not sure I succeeded but it was still quite impressive to drive by!



We covered a lot of miles on Friday, driving from Iowa City, IA to Manistee, MI in about 10 hours. We stopped at various places along the way, mostly gas stations and the like. I had plotted out a list of cool and unusual tourist attractions but none of them came at a convenient time to stop. We either got near them when Isabella was sleeping or after having just made a stop, so we really didn’t venture in to too many exciting places. That was ok. Isabella was entertained by the DVDs we brought, her colors, some sing along songs and various other things.

We started her out facing rear, as she has been since she was born. The new guidelines say to keep them that way until they’re 2 years old so we hesitated to turn her just for this trip. But by lunchtime we were ready for anything to make it more enjoyable for her and we switched it around. She loved it!


Here she’s taking a power nap. I love how she has one oobie balance on the harness, helping to hold her head up. That’s “Bullnozer” the Bulldozer in her lap. She was the one who came up with that name too!

After stopping for dinner we changed her into PJs so that she would be ready to sleep around bedtime. She was too stimulated for that so it was Elmo’s World to the rescue!


For some reason she thought she had to hold the case up in the air. When that arm got tired, she switched to the other one.


Silly girl.

One bonus to doing so much driving was CJ and I letting go and enjoying each other again. With the hustle and bustle of “real life” – work, Isabella, volleyball and other activities, Samson – we had stopped appreciating each other. I didn’t laugh as much to his jokes. He wasn’t as enamored with some of my cute tricks. But once we got in the car and got away from Omaha and our normal life, a lot of that melted away. I laughed more on this trip than I have in a long time. I forgot just how funny my hubbie is!

We got in to Manistee around 9:30 and I had to make an emergency drug store run. See, I had gotten my hair chopped Wednesday night and bought some new product to try. I mistakenly packed only the new stuff and not my old stuff as a back up. Well the new stuff wasn’t working well on its own and I desperately needed some mousse. We were lucky enough to find one place still open. Phew! Crisis averted.

After unloading the car (which is no small job when it’s filled to the brim) we all pretty much crashed in bed. It was a long day but a fun one. Now it was time to rest up so we could really enjoy our family time on Saturday!

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Trader Family Road Trip – Day 1



Trader Road Trip – Day 1: Bags are packed, we’re ready to go!

Yesterday we got home from a road trip. We were gone 8 days, drove about 1900 miles, stayed in 5 different hotels, visited 7 cities/towns, listened to “Hey Jude” countless times (Isabella’s fav song – and she knows all the words) and only lost 3 woobies.

I’d definitely consider it a success and we had a great time.

It’s no secret that I love to travel. I also love road trips. Getting out on the open road to see this great country of ours. There’s nothing like it. Sure, it gets old living out of a suitcase and sitting in the car hour after hour. But there’s just something so freeing about the driving. It’s also great for some family bonding time. I think we came away from this experience even closer than we already were – and it reminded us some of the things we had forgotten we loved about one another.

I’m still assembling the hundreds of pics I took and will post them in the days to come. For now, I’ll just tell you how the trip began – with one sick husband.

And I don’t mean in a perverted way.

Early Thursday morning I awoke to what I thought was someone sneezing really loud. Turns out it was CJ puking his guts out in the bathroom. We’re still not sure if it was food poisoning or a 24-hour bug but either way he was in no shape to watch Isabella much less pack for a trip. I ended up taking Thursday off work (the original plan was for me to work through the day and then we’d leave when I got home) and spending it with Munchkin while CJ slept and tried not to vomit on our clean carpets.

Around 3 he started feeling a bit more human and began packing. We were on the road by 5:45 p.m. A bit later than my agenda had laid out but I rolled with it.


Isabella is strapped in and ready to go! She really had no idea what was going on but was just happy to be going on a car ride with her lady bug Pillow Pet.


The car was seriously loaded down. We have an SUV and it was filled to the gills!  When you’re going to be gone for 8 days with a toddler, you bring pretty much the whole house. You know, just in case. We actually ended up using most all of it – and even realized we’d forgotten a few things. Go figure!


Poor Munchkin was tucked in and surrounded by all kinds of bags, boxes, suitcases and toys. She looks so small amongst all the stuff!

We hit the road and it was a looong night. Not because we were cranking through the miles but because we weren’t. We stopped 2 times before reaching Des Moines – which is only 2 hours away! I had wanted to get across Iowa Thursday night (typically a 5 hour drive) but between Mr. Sickie and Miss Toddler Pants, who was in a whiny mood, it wasn’t happening. We stopped around 11 pm in Iowa City. I seriously thought about turning around and ending it right there. I told CJ that if he wasn’t better in the morning we were doing just that because there was no way I could handle a week of doing all the driving/parenting/navigating/entertaining and taking care of him. He agreed and promised to make a decision the next day.

Obviously he awoke feeling much better and we carried on.

I won’t get in to the rest of the trip yet. More entries to come, as I sort through and get everything organized.

Despite having a great time with family and my 2 favorite people in the world, I am glad to be home. There’s nothing like sleeping in your own bed and snuggling with your big fuzzy dog (who spent the week at my parent’s house and I practically had to pry my mom’s hands off his collar to get him back. They fell head over heels for the big guy and did not want him to go. My mom actually suggested they just keep him forever! Ha! Fat chance!).

More vacation stories to come!

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Road Trip!

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