The day before we left, I spent 12 hours driving Claire up to stay with my family in Virginia. Some reading, ice cream and cuddling with Oreo before the long drive from Charlotte, NC to Manitee, MI.
I was so glad to get to spend some wonderful girl time with one of my oldest best friends, Kiley. We've been best friends for 8 years and Stephen's family we were visiting live in the same town as she does. We met up for drinks and then I went home to have some quality time with Stephen. One night the siblings rallied together for some volleyball, sparklers, bonfire with smores and roasted marshmallows. You can also catch a glimpse at their glow in the dark Frisbee.
We took quite a few leisurely naps (or tried to anyway) in the hammock. His parents have the best yard. Hammock, bonfire pit, frog ponds and picnic tables for big family meals when the kids come home to visit. Stephen is one of EIGHT kids. That's right, EIGHT. No shortage of company when they get together. I got to meet 4 last weekend, not to shabby considering they live all over the country and two of them live overseas!
Our Fourth of July was truly wonderful. My first Fourth of July with an actual date for fireworks! We spend the day walking around the carnival and eating watermelon. Then sat on the beach for fireworks and sparklers. Don't mind him looking awfully silly smoking that sparkler haha. He's the best. It was the most amazing experience to have his arms wrapped around me watching fireworks over Lake Michigan then leisurely walking home afterwards. I did so much more walking last week than I have done since I was a teenager. Michiganders walk everywhere in Manistee during summertime. Enjoying the lovely weather and the boardwalk.
Unfortunately it was too cold the first few days we were in town to walk the pier but hopefully next time we visit we'll be able to. We did, however, go out to eat a few times including ice cream at House of Flavors while enjoying the river walk. Talking about how neither one of us would ever want to live there again (Southerners at heart) but it's so lovely to visit.
After the fourth, I went out on the town with the women of the family and explored the local craft fair. Afterwards we went to lunch, then the flea market and petting zoo. I picked up an awesome cowboy hat for $20 and I can't wait to wear it often as it's my first one. We left Manistee on the sixth, but not before Stephen's parents took us all out to the country club for Stephen's birthday lunch. (A family tradition they wanted to uphold, even though his birthday isn't until this weekend. They're the sweetest.) Maddy, Stephen's niece, is just the cutest. I've never seen such a cute brown eyed girl before! Her sassiness is absolutely entertaining in small doses.
On the drive home we got to stop by Howell and see my other best friend, Nicole. Unfortunately, we forgot to take any pictures together and I was absolutely exhausted from the anxiety of a week traveling that I wasn't much fun but hopefully I'll be able to make another trip later in the year just to see her.
The drive home was plenty eventful. So much so that it belongs in another post :)
I hope everybody had as lovely of a Fourth of July as we did!