It was fun, it was relaxed, and things just sort of fell into place each day with not too much planning or effort. I arrived at the Grand Rapids airport late Thursday afternoon, about an hour after the scheduled arrival time. We had some pretty strong rain storms blow through Houston which totally messed up all airport traffic. But United Airlines recovered fairly quickly and the pilot managed to make up some of that time in the air, so that I landed, got my rental car, and managed to get to my sister's house in plenty of time for her planned dinner with extended family.
My older sister and her husband landed at the airport just about the same time that I did, and they arrived at my younger sister's house just a few minutes after me. Perfect timing for all of us!
|Replica of the Ford Oval Office|
|Ford's gravesite, on the grounds of the museum|
The next morning I drove into downtown Grand Rapids to spend time at the Gerald Ford Presidential museum and to find some lunch while my two sisters went to Meier Gardens. I'd already been to Meier Gardens with my sister last time I was in Grand Rapids, but I hadn't been to the Presidential Museum.
After visiting the museum, I walked across the river bridge to the downtown area to find a little cafe for lunch. The city was preparing for its annual ArtPrize event, and I snapped a couple of photos of some of the installed larger-than-life artwork.
|little marble sailboats, an ArtPrize entry, installed|
in the Ford Museum fountain
|Another ArtPrize entrant...clocks covering every square inch of the word "NOW"|
I had a phone message from my brother-in-law as I was finishing my lunch, concerned that I was alone and had nothing to do. But I was fine! However, I did call him back to say that I needed an ice cream fix, certain he could take care of that. He met me at my hotel in his beautifully restored Triumph TR6 and off we went, top down, taking the long, round-about route in search of ice cream.
We all re-grouped later that afternoon to drive to the rehearsal dinner, held at a very nice Italian restaurant on the outskirts of the city. It was very low-key, very relaxed, and my brother-in-law managed to not embarrass his son - the groom - too much in his toast speech.
Saturday morning, - wedding day - we three sisters headed over to the wedding venue to help my nephew - the groom - decorate the wedding arch. This was his wedding assignment and his mom - my younger sister - was not letting him off the hook on this!
|The groom! helping with the wedding arch|
|my two sisters and the groom working on the wedding arch|
I thought it came out great!
|Finished! My younger sister nurtured these impatiens, kept them|
alive, kept the deer away, and then managed to bring them to the wedding venue
When we were finished, my older sister and her husband followed me in their car as I led them to Robinette's apple orchards for lunch. It was a very pleasant way to spend the afternoon! It's a great home-cooking style little cafe on the grounds of a large apple orchard, and my sister and I both had the bowl of chicken noodle soup, pumpkin muffin, and honey crisp apple, all for $5.00! There's a winery on-site as well so for $6.00 each, we had a flight of 6 different wines and a souvenir wine glass to take home. I was delighted with their Riesling and one of their meads, but could not take any home with me. :-(
|Groom's mom and dad, sister and brother-in-law, and twin nephews|
The late afternoon wedding was lovely! And the wedding party didn't let the heavy rains dampen their spirits as they headed out onto the golf course in golf carts to get some wedding photos after the ceremony. At one point, one of the groomsmen returned to collect a bottle of wine and some glasses to take back out to the wedding party still on the golf course somewhere in the rain...they were definitely making the most of it!!
The reception was very nice, with a tasty and classy buffet. The father of the groom set up a candy bar and a cupcake bar for dessert, both of which were fun and very unique!
My sister had all of the out-of-town family to her house Sunday morning for breakfast. The bride and groom showed up and it was nice to have a chance to chat with them for a little bit in a more intimate, quiet setting.
My flight wasn't until 5 PM and my older sister and her husband were staying one more day before spending a few days driving up to Lake Superior, so when my younger sister's daughter mentioned going to the stable to exercise her dressage horse, we jumped on that opportunity. When I visited here last, my niece had a different horse and was boarding it at a different stable. She is a very accomplished dressage competitor and in the last year or so purchased a yearling gelding so that she can start from scratch with a new horse, bring him up through the different levels and training, and changed stables at the same time. So it was a treat to watch my niece put her horse through his paces in the arena and then spend some time adoring and petting him afterward.
A quick sandwich for lunch afterward at my sister's house and then I said my goodbyes to everyone and drove to the airport to turn my rental car in and wait for my flight. It was definitely well worth squeezing this trip in between two race weekends and I will never regret having gone. I always enjoy my younger sister's family and had a good re-connection to my older sister, with whom I've not been as close.
Home for a few days then back on the road, driving to Kansas for a quick race weekend.