Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Summer Road Trip, Pt. 4: Cleveland

How fun that I am writing a recap of fun times in Cleveland as I watch the Indians playing in Game 1 of the World Series! Go Tribe!

We arrived in Cleveland in the early evening of Thursday, August 4th. My family reunion was "officially" set to begin on Friday, but my mom and Gary and Aunt Rachel were already there. We had some dinner and got the kids settled in bed for the night, then Eric and I went out with my friend Megan and her husband Andy.

Welcome to my home state!

Megan and Andy, being the resident experts on all things Cleveland and chocolate, took us out for treats at Sweet Moses downtown. The ice cream was tasty and it was so nice to sit and catch up with good friends! After dessert they drove us through downtown to see the World's Largest Outdoor Chandelier in Playhouse Square. It was a beautiful night and a bunch of shows were letting out so the streets were busy, and it was a really nice way to end the evening.

A pair of Meg(h)ans! We've been friends for 27 years now, I think!

The big chandelier!

Enjoying a quick walk downtown

The next morning, we still had some time before more Hesterman people started to arrive, so we decided to head back downtown to the Great Lakes Science Center for another fun outing with Meg and Andy. This time, the kids came along!

Before going into the museum, we took a few pictures of the local landmarks.

The W. family in Cleveland!

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Ellie rocking out by the Rock Hall, with the Science Center behind her

E.J. at the Rock Hall

Inside the museum, we had a great time exploring all the exhibits together. The big hits here were the little room that takes a picture of your shadow, and the kids' play area with ball pits and dress-up.

Ellie always enjoys a space exhibit! Here she's using astronaut gloves.


E.J. just wanted to stay here and throw balls all day.

Eric, Meg and Andy (assisted by Ellie) built a block arch!

Listening to headphones at the music exhibits

Ball pit!

Ellie was so thrilled to dress up like Officer Judy Hopps (from Zootopia)!

E.J. wanted Eric to dress up with him!

As the morning wore on we had to call it quits and return to my grandpa's house for lunch and naptime, so we bid farewell to our friends and headed back. Thanks for a great morning, Megan and Andy!

Also, on Saturday while E.J. napped, Eric and I took Ellie with us to run a couple of errands and took her to see a couple of my old haunts. We drove past my old house, and parked at my old elementary school and let her play on the (all completely new) playground equipment. It was really cool to take my little girl back to those places that meant so much to me when I was young.

In front of my childhood home

On the steps of my elementary school

And that was our Cleveland sightseeing! Next up will be a weekend of Hesterfun at the annual family reunion!

To see our full set of Cleveland (non-reunion) pictures, click here.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Summer Road Trip, Pt. 3: Detroit

Well. Remember when I was in the middle of my road trip recaps, and I was all, "Next week we'll talk about Detroit!" and then I just completely fell off the face of the earth for nearly two months? Whoooops.

I dropped the ball on that one. I wanted to share all the recaps from our trip in a timely manner, I really did. But then I had other projects in the works that took priority, and then fall/new school year craziness really kicked in, and then we went to St. Pete, and then to Disney, and then we evacuated from a hurricane, and then we did a million other things, and here this blog sat, all neglected and abandoned mid-recap. What a sad tale.

Anyway, I'm back, and I really do want to finish this out. So, let's talk Detroit. When I left off at the beginning of September, we were departing Cumberland Falls, Kentucky and en route to Michigan.

Welcome to Michigan!

We arrived in Detroit around dinnertime on Tuesday, August 2 and went directly to our AirBNB. We found a really good price on an apartment that was very convenient to downtown, although upon arrival we realized that it did not have air conditioning (not terrible temperature-wise, but less than desirable for noise/light being conducive to children sleeping past the wee hours of the morning), nor did it have TV or Internet. So, we unpacked our bags in the nineteenth century.

We made dinner at the apartment and then got everyone settled in to bed, and Eric and I relied on the mercifully decent cell signal to plan our next day via iPhone.

The next morning, after starting our day with the exciting news that our new nephew was born (yay!), we decided to do a little Detroit sightseeing. We drove to the nearby Michigan Science Center, parked our car and did a little walking around. We walked over to the Detroit Institute of Arts to see "The Thinker," then wandered around the area a bit more.

The Detroit Institute of Arts


Then, we went back to the Science Center and spent some time there. It was such a cool museum! It was full of interactive exhibits—lots for the kids to see and touch and explore. E.J. particularly loved the trucks he could play with, and both kids loved the little sort of "obstacle course" you could walk through in the engineering section. We really enjoyed this museum!

The Michigan Science Center

The "Mini Mac" bridge

Ellie enjoying the space exhibits

A trio of couch potatoes!

Looking the part to play with construction vehicles

Running through the obstacle course!

After the museum, we asked Ellie what her favorite part was and she said, "all the science."

After the museum we picked up Buddy's Pizza and took it back to the apartment for lunch. We put E.J. down for an attempted nap and let Ellie relax with a movie for a bit.

Time for local pizza!

Lunch is served!

After dinner that evening, we decided to check out the Detroit Riverfront, which was also very nice. The science museum and riverfront in Jacksonville have been a couple of our staple things to do for the past couple of years, and Detroit's versions of each put ours to shame. The weather was lovely for our riverfront walk, and there was a lot to do along our path. We enjoyed looking south (yes, south) to Canada across the river, riding the carousel, and admiring murals and statues. We stopped to see the Joe Lewis statue ("The Fist"), and grabbed drinks and souvenirs in the General Motors building before letting the kids get soaked to the bone in the fountains out front. It was such a nice evening!

Riding the riverfront carouel

Looking across the river to Canada


Handsome boys

"The Gateway to Freedom" sculpture

General Motors 

Hart Plaza

"The Fist"

Enjoying a lovely walk!

Ellie in the fountains

E.J. really going for the full experience

So much fun!

After our walk, it was back to the apartment to rest up for our final Detroit day, including the reason for this city stop: another baseball game! On Wednesday, we packed up and checked out of our AirBNB and made our way to Comerica Park to take in a Detroit Tigers game.

Ready for another ballgame!

They had tigers everywhere. It was really cool!

And, as we were waiting in line for tickets, a gentleman came up to us and offered us four tickets for free in the first row on the first base line! It was so great! He said he was supposed to take clients to the game but they cancelled, so instead of selling the tickets, he wanted to pay them forward and offered them to us. It was such an unexpected treat to not only not have to pay for our tickets, but to end up in the best seats we've ever had at a ballgame! We're so thankful to that nice man for adding such a positive experience to our day at Comerica Park.

When we got in, we hit the gift shop and then explored the stadium a bit. There was a lot to see and do, and highlights were the baseball Ferris wheel and tiger carousel!

Checking out the field (with a new foam tiger paw for Ellie and clip-on tail for E.J.)

The kids and I rode the baseball Ferris wheel!

On the Ferris wheel

Ty Cobb statue in the outfield

Ellie loves these Statues "of Liverty!"

Tiger carousel!

After having some hot dogs for lunch near the carousel, we found our seats and watched a little of the game. What seats! It was a little nerve-wracking for Eric because he felt he had to always be on "foul ball alert," but we enjoyed ourselves. And, Jose Abreu threw a ball to Ellie!

Eric was most definitely on alert.

Ellie got a ball!

Family photo at our seats! What a view!

Unfortunately, despite our great seats and the beautiful (albeit hot) day, we couldn't stay long. We left after only a couple of innings so we could hit the road to Cleveland, for my family reunion that weekend. What a great time we had in Detroit, though!

Coming up next: Sightseeing a bit in Cleveland!

To see all of our pictures from our stay in Detroit, click here.