Week 1-  August 29 Week: On the Road at Last

Week One was planned to ease into our new lifestyle.  I am sure that it will take a while to adjust to the close quarters and itinerant life.  We decided to make a loop to visit some friends and stay with my parents for a few days in Battle Creek MI after we officially got on the road. 

Departure Sunday was a zoo.  We wanted to go to our church one more time before leaving so we planned to leave that afternoon.  Besides the people, I will also greatly miss playing my trumpet and flugelhorn in our church’s worship band. 

I will not get into too many of the gory details, but finishing getting things set in the RV and getting the house cleaned up while saying goodbye to neighbors, friends and family was a wild ride.  We finally pulled out at 4:45 with waves and tears.  I can’t imagine doing something like this even five years ago without the ease of communications with the internet and cell phones. 

We stopped on the way to Duluth to make sure that the RV was filled with diesel.  (Filling the ninety gallon tank is a scary thing to watch as the dollars click away.)  As we went into the station, Brenda provided some comic relief for the weary family.  After the all-nighter packing and stress and emotion of the day she accidentally walked into the men’s room.  The kids especially appreciated the humor. 

We arrived in Ashland Wisconsin at our friends the Millers, later than planned but happy to be on the way at last. 

Brian and Tina Miller were our next door neighbors until a few years ago when they pulled up stakes and started a faith journey of their own.  They have started the “Inn at Timber Cove” bed and breakfast in Ashland, Wisconsin in an old estate on twenty beautiful acres.  The property is perfect for quiet personal or couple’s retreat. 

I used to work with Brian when he was the Teaching Leader of the Minnetonka Men’s chapter of Bible Study Fellowship.  Brian’s love of God and positive attitude has been an inspiration to me over the years.  He and Tina make perfect bed and breakfast hosts with their gifts of hospitality.  Tina is a wonderful cook. 

The stop was a highlight for our kids being able to see the Miller’s girls Eva and Abby again.  The whole family also enjoyed seeing their Springer Spaniel, Chip again.  Chip has an almost human personality and has always kept us entertained.  He lived up to his reputation this visit as he “protected” us all from a skunk that was trying to find shelter in the barn. 

Monday was a day with good friends, picking wild blackberries to make the Inn’s famous blackberry jam and being together was the perfect thing for our first full day.  The guys went into town and investigated the remains of what they say was once the world’s largest concrete structure, the Soo ore dock.  It was built in the late 1800’s when Ashland was the third largest shipping port surpassed only by Buffalo and Chicago.  During World War II over six million tons of ore were shipped from the the dock. 

We ended it piling into the RV to watch an old Lucy and Desi movie called, “The Long Long Trailer”, a fitting movie for the first full day of our adventure. 

We had originally planned to spend only one night in Ashland, but it was so good to be with our friends, we stayed a second night.  This would limit what we could see in the Upper Peninsula on the way to my parent’s home in the southern Michigan town of Battle Creek.   

We headed out Tuesday morning for a travel day that ended up in St. Ignace, overlooking the Mackinac Bridge, the five mile long connector of lower and upper Michigan.  During the last stretch of this drive we saw three of the Great Lakes (Superior, Michigan and Huron) in a span of just a couple of hours.  Outside of Marquette, Michigan, we stopped at a beach on Superior where the sand kind of squeaks or barks as you walk or move your hands through it. 

The folks of the U.P. are referred to as Yoopers.  The kids got a laugh as we drove by a restaurant called U.P. Chuck’s (pronounced upchucks).  Needless to say we didn’t eat there. 

We ended up pulling into the Lakeshore RV Park late afternoon.  It was one of those parks where the sites are all lined up in close quarters.  I’m sure we’ll stay in our share of parks like this, but this was our first one so it took a little mental adjustment for Brenda and I.  We also realized that the timing of our trip will mean that most of our neighbors in these places will be retired folks.  It was encouraging to see that the people were quite friendly, as we have heard is the case in the RV’er culture.

We woke up to a soft rain and fog for our trip across the Mackinac bridge to head toward Battle Creek to stay with my parents for a few days.  We had planned to stop by Traverse City to meet a family with whom I have corresponded, during our planning, but they were not available.  They did this kind of trip 6 or 8 years ago.  Their goal was to go to every state capitol, where their early-teen daughter was to interview each governor.  The daughter ended up writing a book of the adventure (My American Adventure- Amy Burritt) which was helpful for us to read during our planning. 

We arrived in Battle Creek where my mother had a big sign up welcoming us.  They have been very encouraging of yet another dream of their black sheep.  My mom has had some of her interested friends come tour Harvey this week.  It has been really good to ease into this trip.  We have been able to make packing adjustments while still being with family.  My folks have been really good in encouraging us with our adjustment. 

Our time together this week included an evening of Nate’s favorite-  mini-golf.  We also headed up to a quaint German town called Frankenmuth, north of Flint.  The town is also home to the world’s largest year-round Christmas store called Bronners.  I usually don’t like that kind of thing since it is so commercial, but the owner is a committed Christian who makes sure that the reason for the season is very evident. 

At the end of the week, My sister’s family from nearby Kalamazoo all joined the festivities.  We are incredibly blessed to have such loving family on each side.