Over the last few years, the Fab Five and I have become big fans of Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament. We went for the first time in 2017, and really enjoyed the show. When we heard they had an all-new show for 2018, this time featuring the castle’s queen, we returned. And when we were back in Chicago in May, I decided we should go back, because we were at a point in our history curriculum that fell right in the middle of the medieval period.
Things were pretty much the same upon arrival, but that didn’t stop us from enjoying a walk around, especially when we got to stop and talk with the falconer and learn how they train their birds.
The meal was also mostly the same (although, instead of the pound cake we were looking forward to eating for dessert, we ended up with ice cream):
But the big difference in our experience was that I splurged on VIP tickets. Now, it was only the “Royalty Upgrade” which is the cheapest option, but we very much enjoyed the benefits, starting with the special lanyards and cheering banners we received (and we even got to support the Yellow Knight for the third year running!):
We also got to jump part of the line at entry, which was nice, but the biggest bonus was that we also got priority seating that landed us in the second row! We got a great view of all the of the action, and it was a whole new level of exciting!
Based on normal family rules, once we do a thing three times, it’s a tradition. Unfortunately, I had to tell the Fab Five that we can’t go back next May when we’re in Chicago, because it’s just too expensive for a large family to make it an annual event. You never know where I might find a loophole in the future, though!
One more look at our trip to Michigan in June…this time, Detroit’s historic Fort Wayne. Sadly, much of the installation is in disrepair, but a few buildings are well-kept. Of particular interest is the Tuskegee Airmen Museum.
It’s unclear to me what is going to happen to this historic site…there appears to have been at least some interest in it becoming part of the National Park Service. I hope that someone takes it on and restores it, because let’s face it, any location built to defend the U.S. against Canada of all places has an interesting and unique history that should be preserved and shared!
Yesterday, I took a look at Frankemuth’s Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland; today I’m looking at a special location on their property…the Silent Night Chapel:
The Silent Night Chapel is a replica of the original in Oberndorf, Austria, which sits on the location of the former St. Nicolas church, the site of the first performance of “Silent Night” in 1818. It is a tiny building, but that doesn’t stop it from having a lot of lovely details, including some beautiful stained glass windows.
It’s a neat little place, especially for someone like me who has some Austrian blood…for now, it’s as close to visiting my grandfather’s homeland as I’ve gotten!
I have waited over two months, but I’m finally sharing the pictures from our visit to Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland in June!
As the Christmas Queen, this store was a dream come true for me. Imagine it…the world’s largest Christmas store. It’s the size of almost two football fields. Ornaments are arranged by color, or the country they represent, or interest, or…well, whatever! There are over 300 decorated Christmas trees and over 500 nativity scenes. And collectibles! Hummels, Precious Moments, Department 56 items representing all kinds of interests including A Christmas Carol and Harry Potter. Plus German collectibles (of course, in Michigan’s “Little Bavaria”), such as steins and smokers!
Naturally, we picked up a few souvenirs while we were there, including our standard trip magnet, a personalized ornament, and a vintage-style ceramic trees (details to come closer to Christmas!). I have wanted to go to Bronner’s for as long as I’ve known it’s existed, and this was an amazing experience for me…I hope I might to go back someday!
I’m still trying to get caught up on our fun travels from this summer, so today I’m focusing on St. Lorenz Lutheran Church in Frankenmuth, MI. There are several Lutheran churches in that town, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that this one is the most notable:
Normally, I’d think the pink walls behind the altar were weird, but somehow, it really works at St. Lorenz:
And the stained glass was outstanding:
The sanctuary is quite large:
There are many beautiful details everywhere you look:
And the pipe organ is quite impressive!
Of course, I also enjoyed learning the historical significance of the place:
We saw the log church, and the church bells across the road:
It’s a beautiful building from every angle!
Stay tuned for a few more Frankenmuth locations before I finally wrap up our summer adventures!
I could talk all day about the amazing views from the 103rd floor of the Sears (Willis?) Tower. Being able to look out over Chicago and Lake Michigan and the suburbs beyond is an unbelievable experience.
But today I especially want to focus on the experience of stepping out on The Ledge, something I hadn’t done before our trip north in May. If you look way, way up, at the very top of the photo, you can see the tiny glass boxes “hanging off” the building:
My brain knows that this experience is safe. But there is something unbelievably disconcerting about stepping out onto a glass floor when you’re 1,353 feet in the air. Looking down and seeing the tops of other tall buildings beneath you is incredible, and a little scary, if you’re afraid of heights, and yet it’s also exhilarating!
This was the number one experience I wanted to share with the Fab Five during our time in Chicago this spring, and I’m so glad we had such a beautiful, clear day to look out over the city!
I already mentioned that we visited Brookfield Zoo in May. And while we really enjoy any trip to a zoo, this trip was scheduled for one specific reason: to see the Lego Brick Safari exhibit that they’re hosting through the end of September!
The exhibit includes over 40 life-size animals of all kinds. There were signs with information such as how many bricks it took to make the animal and how long it took to build, and some of the animals even included a bonus challenge!
We really enjoyed seeing the animals that were accompanied by their young!
I loved how the young tigers were depicted:
The pandas were adorably role-poly!
Don’t these guys look they’re straight out of The Lion King?
Other signs included scientific information about the animals, which was very helpful:
There were plenty of sea creatures:
And immense animals:
And animals of every other size, too!
This was a really cool exhibit (it very much reminded me of the Nature Connects display we saw at the Missouri Botanical Garden a few years ago), and I’m glad we happened to be in Chicago while it was on display!
I’m still trying to catch up on all the fun we’ve had this summer! Today, let’s take a look at Brookfield Zoo, a place we visited for the first time in January, and had such a good time, we knew we wanted to go back in May!
Some things were pretty much unchanged from our winter visit (the camels and lions were basically doing the same thing as when we saw them in January), and some were different (we saw a peacock spread his glorious feathers, and the giraffes were in their outdoor habitat):
The grizzly bears were very busy, and entertaining to watch!
We really enjoyed having the chance to see Snowflake, a rare albino alligator, who was temporally visiting the zoo:
Instead of a beautiful snow-covered landscape, we enjoyed seeing flowers and fountains:
We actually bought a year-long membership to the Brookfield Zoo to make this visit happen, so we’re looking forward to going back at some point before it expires!