Frederik Meijer Gardens is a large garden. Since we were visiting in May, there were lots of bulbs blooming such as daffodits, hyacinths and tulips, as well as pansies, rhododendrons, and Bergenias. There are also beautiful shade gardens full of ferns, hostas, columbine, Lenten Rose, Astilbe, and Spanish Bluebells. There is excellent sculpture here also. I especially enjoyed the farm which features a 1930's farmhouse and barn. Around it in pastures are sculptures of farm animals such as a draft horse, cow, chicken, lambs, pigs, and even a crow. And the crowning sculpture at the garden in another area is the huge horse that Leonardo da Vinci made a model for but never cast the sculpture. Now it's been cast and lives here.
Gerald Ford was the 38th president of the United States. There is a 20 minute film when you first go in and then you tour the museum on your own. When police arrested the 5 men who were working for the Nixon-re-election campaign inside Democratic headquarters on June 17, 1972, they confiscated cameras, wiretap equipment, break-in tools and $2,300 in cash. This is all on display. Ford pardoned Nixon in 1974 hoping to put the past behind and get on with current problems. It was political suicide.
When growing up, Gerald lived in 5 different places in Grand Rapids and his father was abusive. His mother finally divorced him and married Gerald Ford, Sr. and gave her son his name. He went to a school that was a melting pot of Polish, Italians, and blacks. He turned down a football scholarship to go to Yale Law School and then coached the boxing team for 2 years to finally get in. He was in the Navy during WWII.
Ford was on the Warren Commission to investigate Kennedy's assassination in 1963. From this he wrote PORTRAIT OF THE ASSASSIN.
Another interesting thing in the museum was the set of stairs they put on top of the embassy where 50,000 refugees were air lifted out of Saigon in 1975 when it was captured by the N. Viet Cong.
Other things of interest here are the many gifts Ford received as president such as a diamond studded gold falcon from the Sultan of Oman.
On the outside of the museum you can walk down the area where Ford is buried. I had seen this ceremony on TV last year.
We spent the afternoon at this interesting zoo. There are swan paddle boats out on the lake which are fun for kids. I especially enjoyed the Bald Eagle, penguins, Flamingos, Snow Leopard and Bengal Tiger exhibits. It's a small zoo but very well done. There are also camel rides. Very interesting.
Oh, the fun in the fall.....
Celebration (as the locals refer to it) is held the weekend FOLLOWING Labor Day. It begins before the weekend, actually, but one thing you can count on for sure is the fireworks on Friday. Held at Ah-Nab-Awen Park, the evening includes music performed riverside capped-off by the wonderful fireworks.
The weekend includes many musical performances throughout the downtown area, but the primary focus is Rosa Parks Circle. Additionally, there are many food vendors so bring your appetite.
Sunbelters proclaim loudly that Michigan and "The North" just plain sux during the colder months. Well, OK, sort of.
Winter, just like all things in life, is what you make of it. Some see a blanked out landscape, others see a piece of cardboard just begging for a chance to get you down the hill.
Don't stop at just sledding, try tubing at Pando, X-C skiing at Siedman Park or skating at Rosa Parks Circle in downtown Grand Rapids.
I've not been to see it yet, but the Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park are quickly gaining recognition. daVinci's Horse is a magnificent 24 foot tall bronze sculpture with a great history.
daVinci's original sculpture was destroyed before it was able to be cast. Then in 1977 a Pennsylvanian art collector made an attempt to recreate the sculpture, however this failed due to some design difficulties. Ultimately, the result seen here was created by Nina Akamu, with a duplicate sculpture in Milan, Italy at the planned site of daVinci's original horse.