Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Day 6: Grand Rapids

With another beautiful evening in the low 60's, Ken slept in Wednesday morning while I did emails and instant messages with work.

We took our time getting organized for the day, took the dogs for a walk and met more nice neighbors, mostly full-season campers here at Lakeside Camp Park who would be headed down south for their winter roosting in a month or so.

At about 11:00 am, after a late breakfast, we drove back in to Grand Rapids to check out Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. With the temperatures in the 70's and plenty of sunshine strolling the gardens was a relaxing way to spend the day.

They have several different indoor gardens, from arid... tropical

The highlight of this visit is Da Vinci's horse. Leonardo Da Vinci created the design for this horse for the city of Milan, but because a war broke out, he lost access to the bronze needed for the sculpture. Now several hundred years later, the Meijer family, of the large Meijer grocery/discount chain, commissioned its completion, using the original Da Vinci designs. Ken had watched a National Geographic special on this which was what originally caught our interest in the gardens.

Of course, you can see what Ken is worried about, based on where he chose to stand under this massive beast!

We took a tram ride around the grounds and they showed where nearby there is a sculpture of Mr. and Mrs. Meijer on a park bench looking up at the horse. Mr. Meijer said that since he is sitting there in the park 24 hours a day 7 days a week now he can tell you that the horse does in fact change feet when he thinks no one is watching!!

The tram was an excellent way to visit the 100+ acres of garden and sculpture. Here were a few of our favorite pieces...

...a driftwood horse

This sculptor of this spider is honoring her mother here based on the strong maternal instincts of the female spider. If you look close you can see the cage-looking structure where she carries and nurtures here young. Boys, do not expect that I would feel honored if you tell someone that I remind you of a spider!!

Interesting grouping where you get the impression of the forms being made from their conversations with letters going every which direction

The story is that one day Mr. Meijer asked a youngster where he thought carrots came from..they boy answered, "the Meijers store" Mr Meijer decided to include in the gardens a full replica of the farm where his wife grew up. It's a section that is especially used for educational programs for grade school children.

...and of course the beautiful gardens and waterfalls.

It was mid-afternoon by the time we left the gardens. I like to use online forums to find unique things to see and places to eat when we are on the road. One I use frequently is Trip Advisor. It had a place, Marie Catribs, identified by dozens of contributors as one of the top restaurants in Grand Rapids.

Since it was a deli and was only a few miles from the sculpture gardens we tried it out. The food was awesome. Ken and I each had grilled chicken sandwiches but mine had this really awesome cranberry sauce while Ken's had a cilantro sauce. Both were on these huge soft slices of challah which is a Jewish egg bread.

Again, using the Internet, I had noticed there was a place with old houses called Heritage Hill. Ken is a real fan of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture and they had two housed there. Here's a few shots of those houses.

This is the May house, built for the original owners of the large May Department Store chain.

The smaller home down the block was designed by Wright for Mrs. May's parents.

Ken is really in to the lines on these houses, I love the unique way they use stain and leaded glass and the stenciling done with various types of stone.

On our way back to Cedar Springs, we stopped at a huge Meijer Store to pick up the standard...milk, eggs, etc., along with a sirloin steak to do on the grill for supper. I had never been in a Meijer Store before and this one made our hometown WalMart Superstore look small!

We pulled out the grill when we got back to the RV, had a late dinner and then I hit the sack while Ken, stayed up to watch a bit of the Democratic Convention.

Hugs, C

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