Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Frederik Meijer Gardens ~~ Bucket List #4

We'd come to the realization that the "Bucket List" didn't have to be checked off in order--and eventually there'd be an expiration date.  Thus, on a sunny weekday, my husband and I played hooky to spend our wedding anniversary exploring the Meijer Garden in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Frederik and Lena Meijer
Officially known as the Frederik Meijer Garden and Sculpture Park, it's easily accessible off the Beltline Road exit from I-94.  Meijer Gardens opened on April 20, 1995 through the generosity of the family behind the Meijer grocery chain, who donated financial support, land and their world class sculpture collection for the use and benefit of the public. It's grown since that time, recently adding an expansive Japanese Garden.

The second most-popular cultural destination in Michigan, the Garden welcomes 600,000 visitors annually.  Entry fees are modest, and it's funded mainly by donations.

Mad Mom by Otterness 2001.
Open year round, Meijer Gardens has Michigan’s largest
indoor tropical conservatory; three indoor theme gardens; the  eight acre Japanese Garden, a busy Children's Garden, Farm area, a natural native plant bluff garden, spectacular sculpture gardens a library, event facilities and a lovely cafĂ©.   The entire property is fully handicap accessible and there's an adult guided tour by open-air train as well as a children's train. 

Eve by Auguste Rodin 1881
Don't miss the gargantuan bronze American Horse (based on a DaVinci drawing) in the heart of the Garden, or the Rodin in the north Sculpture garden.

Our list includes
Natural bluff area
Tomfoolery at The American Horse by Akamu 19
official public gardens as well as lesser known destinations off the beaten path like Plant Delights Nursery in Raleigh, North Carolina.  Dropping by off-season, -we had the place to ourselves.  A bit rugged, but the greenhouses were full of interesting plant introductions.   A few ended up in the suitcase. 

Next?  Piet Oudoulf's Hi Line garden in Manhattan, or Dow Gardens in Midland, Michigan.

Not on the Bucket List but fun:

Lafayette Greens -- Detroit Grows Upward!

Rehab Addict Detroit ~ Brush Park Edition

Sunday, August 6, 2017

The Palm Beach Wagon ~~Jeep Grand Wagoneer

She invariably makes folks break into a smile.  A young man with his son in tow tapped on the window.  "My grandparents had this same car."

There's mostly happy memories associated with this early 4 x 4 sport utility vehicle.  Filled with family, headed for the lake.

Steve, who worked for AMC back in the day, calls her the "Palm Beach Wagon."

 To us she's the "Woody." 

Kids from Detroit are natural born gearheads.  Our moms, dads and granddads put together some of the greatest vehicles ever built.  With the Wags, there's nothing like the feel of that skinny steering wheel and the push of real pedal power.  Don't get me started on that front vent window.

I've loved this car forever.  But there's few left on the road.  Corrosion issues sent most of these gentle giants to the scrap yard.  Restored versions are the price of a college education. 

So when my  husband saw the Woody for sale roadside in the upper peninsula, he insisted his colleague turn the car around.  Few lucky wives get keys to a rusty wagon for Christmas.

Same kind colleague towed her south along the Mackinac Bridge that spring.

Three years, and a bare-metal restoration later, the old girl's nearly as good as new.  But she still smells like 1986--and so does the garage.

The Grand Wagoneer was built by Willys/Kaiser Jeep, American Motors Corporation, and then Jeep from 1963 to 1991.  Standard luxury appointments like leather power seats, power side and rear windows,  air conditioning, custom wheels, independent front suspension and automatic transmission set it apart from other wagons at the time.  As did the price.

On June 21, 1990 the last Grand Wagoneer rolled off the line at the Toledo Assembly Plant with a "Final Edition" Badge on the dash. 

The story doesn't end there.  Chrysler LLC promises to unveil the new Grand Wagoneer and smaller Wagoneer in 2019 or 2020.


Alleged prototype sightings bear little resemblance to the iconic Woody. But it looks hot.  Like a Grand Cherokee and a Range Rover had a child together.

With a rumored price tag of over $100,000, she'll legitimately remain the Palm Beach Wagon. 

Hope wood side panels remain an option.