Ok, so this is just a *little* late since we've been back from vacation for almost 2 weeks, but better late than never.
We headed north on Saturday, July 7, and after a long day of driving, we arrived at our hotel in Bowling Green, KY, where we were out of network for our phones (so our smart phones were practically useless) and the internet at the hotel sucked.
Sunday we continued heading north and arrived at my brother's house in Michigan. He wasn't home as he was in Chicago to try out for Who Wants to be a Millionaire (he didn't make it) but we know how to do "self check-in".
Monday we headed over to Frankenmuth, MI, and went to Bronner's, the world's largest Christmas store. We spent a good 2-3 hours browsing through the store and having a snack/lunch at the snack bar in there. If you've never been to Bronner's and you're ever in the Frankenmuth area, you really need to check it out!! Before heading back to my brother's, we drove over an old wooden covered bridge. We had a late-ish dinner that evening as we waited for Rick to get home from Chicago.
Tuesday we got the trailer (we brought Ryan's motorcycle with us) hooked up and we headed north again, but only for a few hours. We went to Fort Michilimackinac (mich-il-uh-mack-i-naw) and spent several hours walking around looking at the historic buildings and artifacts, talking to the reenactors, etc. Robert even got to help one of the women take some "cakes" (modern day we call them cookies) to the big outdoor clay oven. We tasted some bread that had been baked in the oven, and we even got to try one of the cakes when they were done baking! It was a lot of fun. After we were done there we crossed the Mackinac Bridge into the Upper Peninsula of MI (home sweet home!!) and got checked into our hotel in St. Ignace. We went and got dinner at Big Boy and then back to the hotel for some time in the pool and to await Robert's surprise. Rick joined us late that evening (he had to work all day and had other errands after work) and boy was Robert surprised when I let Rick into our room!
Wednesday we got packed up, breakfast eaten, checked out, and the trailer hooked up again and we headed to the Shepler's Ferry docks to take the ferry over to Mackinac Island. Our ferry was one of three during the day that took a little longer route to the Island – we went under the Mackinac Bridge!! That sure was neat. Once at the Island, we walked up and down the main street and checked out some of the souvenir shops before going to OrrKids Bikes to rent bikes. We got 2 mountain bikes for Ryan and Rick, a tagalong to attach to Rick's bike for Robert, and a bike with a trailer for me and Thomas. We rode the 8 miles around the Island, stopping quite a few times for pictures and resting. It was a nice ride, but boy were we all tired after, especially Ryan with his bad back and knees. Once we had returned our bikes, we revisited a couple of the shops to buy some souvenirs and, of course, we had to get some fudge from Ryba's Fudge Shop. Rick and I each got 3 different kinds to share with Mom & Dad and everyone later. We also had some ice cream before heading to the ferry dock to head back to the mainland. We got settled into our vehicles and headed to Mom & Dad's, a 3 hour drive away. Mom had dinner about ready for us when we got home, and that was nice.
The next week was spent at Mom & Dad's doing a variety of things. Relaxing was in there, but we also helped Dad fix his dock and reroof part of the garage. Friday evening some of Dad's side of the family came over for a campfire/finger foods/visiting. That was nice seeing them as it's been a while since we've gotten together with that side of the family (other than at funerals).
The Saturday we were there I ran a 10K in a nearby community and I'm calling it an unofficial PR (personal record) – the course was only 6 miles instead of the 6.2 that a 10K should be. I finished in 57:47, but even adding another .2 miles would have put me under an hour and making it a PR. The race benefited Big Brothers & Big Sisters and also had a 2 mile fun run/walk with it. All the rest of the family except Ryan did the 2 miles. Dad's little brother (Dad is a Big in the BB/BS program) finished 2nd in his age group and Robert finished FIRST in the 6-7 year old boys' age group!! Rick ran/walked with Thomas in the jogging stroller, and Robert was with them as well. After the race was a really long parade with TONS of candy. By the end of the parade we had almost a full plastic shopping bag of candy, probably about half Tootsie Rolls.
Sunday of that week I sang a solo in church during the offering. The original plan to for all the women of the family (my mom, me, my aunts & cousins) to sing, but we weren't able to all get together to practice. One of the days we were there we drove out to Lakenenland – a really neat drive-thru "museum" (of sorts) with all kinds of metal sculptures that the property owner had made. Our last night at Mom & Dad's, Robert got to sleep in their new camper with Grampa. He thought that was a lot of fun, although it was a little scary at first with all the different noises from being outside, and the train tracks off in the distance, etc.
Thursday we got everything loaded up and said our "see ya laters" and headed south to Milwaukee. We arrived early enough that we were able to get a good dinner and have quite a bit of time in the pool before bed. Friday we went to the Harley Davidson Museum and spent quite a few hours there looking at all the displays of the bikes and other related stuff through the years. They even had a scavenger hunt for the kids where there were clues and the kid had to find which bike it was. Robert enjoyed that, and he got a prize at the end because he found all the bikes. He got a package of reusable wall stickers with various HD bikes and stuff. We got a few souvenirs in the gift shop after and then headed back for a relaxing evening in the hotel.
Saturday we began our long journey home, stopping at the same hotel in Bowling Green, KY, Saturday night. After a long day of driving, we were looking forward to the pool and the hot tub, but that was not to happen as some kid had pooped in the pool earlier in the day. Sunday we finished our trip home and boy was it nice to sleep in our own beds again!!