“G” is for “Gorgeous Gardens”-Gaylord, Michigan


Flowers and gardens are often part of our ABC Adventures.  As I researched things to do in the Gaylord area, I was more than just a little curious about the description of the Demonstration Gardens, since it had been described as having been created from a waste area.    I wondered if it would be worth a visit.  We had already explored the little town of Gaylord for our “G” but we had a little time available and the gardens are free, so we decided to add a little detour.  We asked several locals, but no one seemed to have heard of them.  Thank goodness for google maps.

We found the park at the edge of a very industrial area.  Concrete and asphalt seemed to be more abundant that flowers.   The small sign located at the edge of this area offered little inspiration for the beauty which lay beyond.  We followed a path which passed under an arch of orange berries, inviting us into the gardens.  This turned out to be a best kept secret type of adventure and I hope the locals will one day realize what a gem they have.


The three acre garden was developed to heal the land and “educate the public on the importance of native plants for preserving water quality and supporting ecosystems”.  Since replanting with natives was something I have been trying to do in my own gardens, we decided it was worth a few minutes exploration.

The city began removing refuse from an old dump site in 1997.  Over the years, the area was replaced with plants native to Michigan.  Native plants tend to need less care.  Their roots can grow up to several feet as they reach deep for water and nutrients.  Some people call them weeds but seeing a native garden in a structured format we are reminded how very beautiful these plants can be.  Native plants will always attract butterflies and wildlife as they work to create a full circle of life.

Visiting in the fall and toward the end of the day, we had the place to ourselves as we meandered through each of the 11 gardens.  With hoses strewn across the paths instead of in-ground sprinklers, in many ways it was like visiting a neighbors garden.  Unlike touring a Botanical Garden, the structure is loose but great care has actually been taken.  From songbirds, to hummingbirds, to butterflies many of the gardens have been planted specifically to support a particular type of wildlife.


Other gardens such as the herb garden and the Seed to Harvest garden have been planted to support a youth education program and grow foods for the less fortunate.  This area also features a home compost demonstration site geared toward educating people on how they can compost kitchen scraps and yard trimmings in their own backyard.  We had arrived at the end of the harvest season, so didn’t see a lot of the food which had been grown but the tender loving care given to each garden is apparent.

Some areas such as the Children’s Garden are planted to invite you to play in a riot of colors, smells and textures meant to stimulate the senses.  We embraced our youth as we hid from each other in the arborvitae maze.


We notice a stage set along a forest edge, we can only imagine the family memories waiting to made in this special place.  What a great setting for a picnic.

With the sun beginning to set, our adventure comes to a close.  As we head towards the car, we reflect on the beauty we had seen in the Demonstration Gardens.  This had been a terrific way to end the day.  The colors, patterns and variety had indeed made us pause and  play.

As I hold my husbands hand I  also reflect on taking time to do this activity, it would have been easy to skip it.  I am filled with “gratitude” for this man.  We have been married 38 years, marriage can grow very routine over time.  I marvel that Alan is so willing to play the alphabet game, to continue to explore and discover together.  I hope  there are still many memories to make.  We have both come to realize that every day can be an adventure, if we choose to make it that way.

Today we had gained a greater appreciation for what others call weeds.  I guess it is all in the way you look at the world. Marriage and relationships are like gardens, they must be nurtured and tended.  Some will see weeds, others will find beauty, it is all perspective.

Holding hands, we pass under the berry arch on our way back to the car.  We are once again thrown into the reality of urbanization but like these gardens, I realize it is up to us to always strive to remove the toxins from our lives and replace them with beauty.  We need only to plant the seeds.



The gardens may be found at:

Corner of Cross St. and Livingston Blvd.                                                                                                                                                                                                  Gaylord, MI 49735                                                                                                                                                                             (989) 732-4021

ABC Celebrations-A is for “Anniversary With Cash Only”

We woke on the morning of our 35th anniversary with no plans for the day.   As our family began to wish us well, we were chastised for not putting in more effort into the celebration.

I knew we had to come up with an idea, so I quickly challenged Alan to create one of our special dates.  We knew we would find a way to work in an ABC adventure.  This would become our “Anniversary by Cash” date!

As with all great anniversary celebrations, there was the checklist of goals to fulfill:

A-The day needed to fill our appetites by including dinner and chocolate.  Since this was a special celebration, we would toast it with alcohol.  We agreed there needed to be ambience, complete with music, flowers, candlelight and romance.

B-We really wanted to challenge our creativity, so there was a strict budget of $35, one dollar for each year we had been married.

C-Finally, we needed to demonstrate how much we cherished each other.  This needed to be in writing, but could not be in a card.  Everything needed to be paid for in cash.


The budget and goals for our anniversary.


Alan worked for a bit in the morning, returning home around 2 to pick me up.  I told him to dress warm, we were going to be outside. I was deliberately vague with our destination, figuring we would see where the day took us. The sun was shining and the temperature was a balmy 28 degrees!  After the stagnant winter we had been experiencing, we needed some fresh air.  We left home bundled against the elements and ready to explore.

We headed toward one of our favorite little towns called Empire.  I wanted to get the chocolate part of the date out of the way while we still had money.  (Not really, I just wanted chocolate!)




Our chocolate goal!

Our chocolate goal!



Just outside of Empire, a bright green building shines like a beacon against the snowy backdrop.  Who would ever expect to find a chocolatier in this part of the world?  Grocer’s Daughter imports their chocolate from Equador and ships their handmade confections around across the country.






Handmade chocolates and fresh hot chocolate.

Handmade chocolates and fresh hot chocolate.


I momentarily considered using the free sample, to fulfill our chocolate goal, but decided that would just be cheap.  Instead I purchased a sweet little bumble bee (my namesake), to share with Alan.  Our budget was now down a dollar.

Knowing this store had likely not had much business on this cold winter day, I wasn’t going to be THAT cheap, so I also purchased hot chocolate mix.  I did not count this in my budget because it would be consumed on a different day.




Yes, it really was that cold!

Yes, it really was that cold!


After our chocolate, we headed towards Empire beach.  In the summer, we often frequent this location to watch couples get married, or just observe a sunset.  The scenery looks far different in the winter.  The frozen landscape was equally as beautiful.  The beach was full of ice balls.  These are a phenomenon which occur mostly in Lake Michigan.  They develop when chunks of ice break off from larger sheets of ice.  As the smaller pieces tumble in the waves, they mix with slush.  The rhythmic action of the waves, rolls them into perfect balls, eventually throwing them onto the shore.   They made walking along the beach a little difficult, but determined, we persisted.




Frozen landscape!

Frozen landscape!



We are fortunate to live in a place with such stunning scenery. It had been weeks since we had, had a clear day. The day was particularly bright, as if the sun had come out just for us.   We had brought along our snowshoes, which we hoped to try for the first time.  I don’t know what we were thinking, but we definitely would not be snow shoeing today.





Our love grows daily.

Our love grows daily.


It was very windy on the beach, so after our walk, we posed long enough for a kiss and then we moved on.








We were enjoying our winter date so much, that we wanted to continue driving around the Sleeping Bear area.  Soon we found ourselves in Glen Haven.   There is a secluded beach near the Day Canning Company, a historic building which is part of the fabric of this community.

Much less wind in Glen Haven.

Much less wind in Glen Haven.

With all of our walking, we were now ready to enjoy a little break.  The blue blanket was spread upon the windswept snow for the mini picnic which I had packed. Alan had been creative too.  He had brought along his new bluetooth speaker, which I had given him for Christmas.  He hooked it up to his phone to play a recorded version of “our” song, “For Your Eyes Only”.  This was from a James Bond movie by the same name, which was also the first date that we had gone on.  The music seemed in stark contrast to the frozen seclusion we were enjoying.  As we slow danced in the frigid air, anyone observing us, might have thought we were crazy.



A winter picnic!

A winter picnic!

Reflecting on our many years of memories Alan enjoyed a cup of hot tea, while I drank my hot chocolate, which was from a packet of Nestle instant, not the lovely chocolate which I had purchased from Grocer’s Daughter. The icy air soon cooled our drinks off, so we downed them quickly.



I think the cold was affecting us.  We grew silly and made snow angels and wrote notes to each other in the snow.


All around us seemed to be glowing with a golden light, it seemed perfect to reflect the celebration of our love.    We had now completed three goals…to express our love in writing, to have a date with music and to eat chocolate.

Alan bought me roses!

Alan bought me roses!

With thirty four dollars remaining, we headed to Traverse City to complete our date.  Looking for wine, we stopped at a local grocery store, where we found a single serving of boxed vino, on sale, for just under three dollars.  Since we don’t really drink alcohol, we decided this would be plenty.   As we were leaving the store, a gumball machine, containing tattoos, caught my eye.  Here were my flowers!  It took 2 attempts to get a flower, but a rose was delivered on the second insertion of 50 cents.  We were down to thirty dollars.  Two more missions were now complete.  We then decided to head to the dollar store, where we found some wine glasses which seemed appropriate for the day.  We debated losing two dollars from our budget, but decided they were too cute not to purchase.  We also picked up a candle to add a little ambience to our dinner.  With a few more items off of our list, we had twenty seven dollars remaining.  We still needed to feed ourselves.

Wine, cheaper than therapy!

Wine, cheaper than therapy!







All that remained on our checklist was dinner.  Alan decided it was time to get Lucky(s).  Get your mind out of the gutter!  It’s a local fresh food market which has an amazing food bar.  We chose  homemade tomato and fennel soup, with fresh sandwiches and apple turnovers.   We now had all our food and drinks.  We had even come in with 53 cents left in our budget!  Finally we could head home with our goodies. 

It was time to get Lucky(s)

It was time to get Lucky(s)

On budget!

On budget, with 53 cents to spare!







Our abode is our favorite place to be.  As we evaluated how our Anniversary had been, we marveled at our adventure.  Reflecting on our day, we realized what an amazing anniversary we indeed enjoyed.  Every goal had been met.  With one exception, it had been the perfect celebration.   We would highly encourage you not to purchase cheap wine in a box, no matter how much you want to fulfill a goal! Happy 35th Anniversary to “Us”.  I wonder what we will do to top it next year.

Celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary with dinner, flowers, candlelight and wine.


A is for “Anytime. anyplace, or anything” a great way to begin our ABC adventures.



One of our first adventures was to explore the town of Alden, MI.  You can read about it here.

Each state has its own list of cities and towns.  Every location offers its own unique flare.   Find out what to do there, then set your course for a new adventure.  If you live in Michigan, like we do,  you could also visit Acme, Adrian, Albion, Algonac, Allendale, Allen Park, Alma, Alpena,  Ann Arbor, Arcadia or Auburn Hills to begin  your alphabet journey.