It was hot that day. Like 95 degrees hot. I wanted to take my son to see the trains at Fernwood Botanical Gardens in Niles, MI. Who am I kidding? I really wanted to dress him up like a train engineer complete with overalls and a red scarf around his neck in this heat in attempt to get some pictures of this boy as he turns 3. My husband already took him to see the trains a few weeks ago, and he loved it. I missed out as I was doing the ever-important back to school shopping at the outlets with my girlfriends. So, I decided to load my son and my baby girl up and head on up to Fernwood for the morning.
I love Fernwood. It is a beautiful place for a hike any season of the year. They have so much to offer in this little hideaway up in Michigan. On this particular day in this particularly awful heat, we were there for two reasons: see the trains and get some pictures! After driving the winding road back to the main building, we parked our car and headed to the front desk. The admission is quite reasonable; I paid $7 for myself, and Sam and the baby were free. Kids 5 and under are no charge! The staff was friendly (enough) asking if we have been here before and if we had any questions. Of course, I reply with a, “I think we are all set!” And, we head off for the gardens. How hard can it be to find the trains?
Any responsible adult would, upon discovering that Fernwood does not have a big flashing sign that says “Andy, the trains are this way!”, return to the main building to get directions. Oh no, not me. We walked in the heat along the paths looking for the trains for quite a while. We did manage to see some frogs and do some hiking along the way, a nice bonus for us both! We did have to return to the main building for directions. But once we did, it was a short little walk to the trains! A very sweet volunteer greeted us as we entered the train exhibit. It felt like we were entering a secret little village from long ago. Unfortunately, two of the four trains weren’t working that day, but my son could have sat there for hours watching those two trains. I was thankful for the park benches and for the water I brought from home.
There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. The exhibit provided some shade, which allowed me to take a few pictures. Taking pictures in the full sun intimidates me. Taking pictures in any setting intimidates me. I need to get over it.
It was so hot, eventually my son asked to leave. On an overcast day, I think he could have sat there for hours. It’s a perfect place for any train enthusiast no matter their age. And even if you don’t like trains, it’s a perfect place to take a family hike or spend some time alone outside. I believe the trains are there through October; I would call first, it was terribly hot that day, and I might just be making that up! It is about a 25 minute drive from Granger; definitely a shorter drive from downtown South Bend. Fernwood Botanical Gardens and Nature Preserve. 13988 Range Line Road, Niles, MI 49120 Phone 269.695.6491 http://www.fernwoodbotanical.org. Enjoy the slideshow!