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Emily Van Vels

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Kladder Update: Family Camping, Amos Lee @ Meijer Gardens & The Watermark Member Member

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This summer us Kladders have one speed: GO! We are cashing in big time on this incredible Michigan weather and tackling one fun thing after another. Two weekends ago we spent two nights in North Muskegon with our house church family (small group) camping at Pioneer County Park. Last year for this trip we rented cabins fully equipped with mini fridges and AC units, but this year we really went for it and pitched tents. Natalie and Thomas were champs at sleeping in the tent together as a family and our only complaint is that the air mattress popped leaving Jeff and myself with a solid dose of hard dirt ground for two nights. Looking back, a quick trip to Meijer would have been a good idea. The good news is that last Monday was Amazon Prime Days and I snagged a new one for $30!

During the weekend we did all the usual things like build campfires for roasting hotdogs, making fry pies and smore’s. We brought the kids scooters and they had a blast cruising our strip in front of our campsite. And the campground was right on Lake Michigan with a nice board walk that lead to overlooks and a set of steps that led down to the water. Both nights we took the kids to play on the dunes. The view was superb!

On that Saturday morning we visited the Muskegon Farmers Market for a fresh cup of coffee and a bite to eat for breakfast and we gotta say, it was fantastic! We often visit Fulton Street Farmers Market here in Grand Rapids and the one in Muskegon was far superior. It was more than twice the size and included food trucks, a nice picnic table area in front of a small stage with live music and they had way more than just produce. Natalie found a vendor that sold fairy garden trinkets (a new hobby after our neighbor Kari gifted her one) for cheap where we let her pick out a few items.

Later that afternoon we headed 15 minutes north to Duck Lake for some swimming and beach time with the kids. It was certainly the hot spot both literally and figuratively - 90 degree weather and it was fairly crowded, but it allowed for us to get out of the campsite for a few hours. It was a random spot just off the main road where Duck Lake lets into Lake Michigan. You can move from one lake to the other as well as swim under the bridge where the road crosses the water. It was pretty shallow which was great for the kids.

We are heading much farther north in two weeks for our annual U.P. cabin trip and this year we’re stopping to camp with friends for two nights in Tahquamenon Falls. After working out the kinks in Muskegon we’re prepped and ready for the real deal - no turning back because we’re more than 4 hours from home! #UPtravel!

Last week we got our monthly prescription of live music first at Fredrick Meijer Gardens to hear Amos Lee. He was right up our alley with a feel of folk, rock and soul but honestly, he could have played whatever he wanted because we go to those concerts for the company and the atmosphere.

Later in the week I went with the ladies from Rosewood to my first ever Picnic Pops concert out at Cannonsburg Ski Area. The cover band played a tribute to the Beatles supported by the fabulous Grand Rapids Symphony. I love the idea of repurposing a seasonal recreation space for something in the summer months and while I was there for a girls night, there were a lot of families and it seems to be a great way to introduce kids to the symphony. And a lot like the concerts a Meijer Gardens you can bring food and chairs, but also booze - something you cannot do at FMGs.

This month I also took an afternoon off work and golfed in the July Watermark Women’s Outing, Aloha! Cumulatively, our team of 4 likely lost an honest 10 pounds in body sweat because of the heat but it was well worth the effort because we won first in our flight! As always, there was a theme and we dressed up like idiots in grass skirts and coconut shell bras and it likely goes without saying that we had a great time.

Jeff also had a stellar month of golf and two weeks ago shot par during his Presidents Cup Match! Then he and his partner Zach followed that up with making the playoffs during the annual Member Member Tournament. The tournament is a two day event that ends with a shoot off called a ‘horse race’ - it’s the rowdiest event of the year and it was super fun to watch Jeff and Zach play until they got knocked out taking 4th over all. During the day on Saturday I joined a watch party with the other wives where we handed out jello shots to all the golfers. It’s an event that’s likely to make a comeback in 2020. We were told that after one golfer took his shot that he shot par the rest of his round. After that, they were in very high demand.

The tournament did get delayed for about an hour while a huge storm passed which caused an impromptu party at the clubhouse. But the course maintained power and after the rain stopped the group got to finish their rounds.

The Member Member weekend is always capped off with a dinner and this year the Men’s Association planned a Casino Night were everyone gambled for chips to bid on prizes. The kids were overnight at Grandma and Grandpa Kladders so we stayed out far too late knowing we could sleep in the next morning.

ON DECK - Mark your calendars:

  • Movies on Monroe is this Friday playing Hotel Transylvania. The event is free and we look forward to some tasty food truck tacos and treats. Don’t forget your chairs and blankets!

  • Creative Mornings is also this Friday morning at Start Garden at 8:30am. I’ve got my ticket to listen to the Entrepreneur Panel that includes a few familiar names. Looking forward to connecting.

POSTSCRIPT - A couple more things:

  • Tamales Mary - My newest team member at work really knows his Mexican food and oh my soul… for authentic and incredibly tasty tamales check this place out. $1.99 per tamale with tons of choices. Pick em up and take em home!

  • Jersey Junction is always a part of our summer bucket list. It’s usually a packed house but they’ve got plenty of bench seating outside or on their patio.

And just for fun, here are a couple shots from family golf the other day. Doing our best to get them interested young! Have a great rest of your July everyone!

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