My Summer Vacation

We just got back from 15 days of leave (Army speak for vacation time) and we headed up to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to spend some time with my family! Grab your favorite beverage, sit back, and enjoy my recap of my summer vacation!! Note: if I don't mention specifics about a day, it was just time to relax and hang out with my family (or I don't remember what we did because it's been a while already).

July 11-13 – Travel days. We left Thursday morning and were actually on the road a half hour than planned!! Yay for an early start. We had an uneventful day of driving to our hotel in Cave City, KY. Friday we traveled to my brother's house in the East Lansing, MI, area, but not without troubles. At one point we ran over what looked like a rubber tie-down strap from a truck. We didn't really think anything of it until the van started handling funny a half hour or so later. I was able to see in the side mirror that the tire was going down. So we pulled over to change the tire. That went really well (and a state trooper even stopped behind us for safety) except that we only have a donut spare. That meant we found the nearest Walmart (about 10 miles away) and went for a new tire. It turned out that they were able to repair the tire (and it's a TON better than the way they used to do it) for only $10 instead of $150 for a new one. Since it was near lunchtime, we ate at the Subway that was in the Walmart. We got back on the road after about an hour and a half and a while later one of those orange construction barrels jumped out at us near Indianapolis and broke our driver's side mirror. Crap. I found Dodge dealerships on my phone and started calling to find one that had a mirror in stock. Local ones didn't have any, so I called the one in Lansing. They didn't have one, but a dealership about 40 minutes away had one. I called them to reserve it and then called my brother who graciously drove and got it for us. I had to help Ryan "see" for anything that would normally require the left side mirror. Finally we got to my brother's and met him at Culver's for dinner before heading to his house. Saturday we had an uneventful drive up to my parents' house in the U.P. So good to be home!!

July 13-14 – Weekend #1. After dinner of homemade pizza on Saturday after we arrived, we all headed up to Teal Lake in Negaunee for the Pioneer Days fireworks. Once we got our viewing area set up, we walked down and got ice cream and then just hung out until the fireworks. I walked around with Thomas for a while – I had him in the Ergo. I love being able to wear him, especially in large crowds so I don't have to worry about losing him. The fireworks were super wonderful, just like they always are. We got home really late (it doesn't get dark until after 10) and finally got to bed. Sunday morning was church and I played my trombone during the offering. It's always nice being back at our home church and seeing everyone again. There was a potluck after the service, so we had lots of really good food! Sunday afternoon was just relaxing and then in the evening we had the whole family over for birthday cake, ice cream, and a campfire to celebrate birthdays from July through September. It was really nice seeing all my cousins and their kids, and my aunts and uncles. Some of the kids played in the lake and the cousins were taking turns going out in the paddle boat.

Monday, July 15. Mom had a doctor appointment in the morning and I went with her. After her appointment, we did grocery shopping and ran a few other errands. Monday evening I went to Negaunee with Dad and went to rehearsal with the Negaunee City Band. It was a lot of fun and they were all really welcoming! I plan on joining them full time when I retire in 6 years. Dad was at the Vista Theater to watch the rehearsal for their current production, West Side Story, and after rehearsal was done, I headed to the theater until they were done.

Tuesday, July 16. It was nice getting to sleep in, although that meant I ran in the middle of the afternoon. I managed 4.1 miles in the 86 degrees/felt like 91 heat of the day. Not what I had set out to do, but some is better than none!

Wednesday, July 17. I managed to get up early and ran 5.2 miles before Mom and Rick (my brother) and I headed out to pick strawberries at a strawberry farm about 45 minutes away. We picked 16 quarts and then we stopped at the Trenary Bakery/Cafe on our way home to pick up some Trenary Toast to take home to Ryan. After we got home, Rick got his stuff packed up and said his good-byes as he had to head back to his house. Mom and I worked on cleaning the berries and I also helped Dad and Ryan get a few loads of wood for Dad's sauna. By day's end, Mom and I had made 4 batches of strawberry freezer jam (22 jars, 5 of which would go back to Alabama with us!!) and Dad, Ryan, and I got 2 truck loads of wood, and stacked 1. In the evening, we headed to Negaunee for the Negaunee City Band concert. The concert was a lot of fun, and, of course, during the concert, the director had to introduce me and talk about me to the crowd. I don't care much to be in the spotlight, but whatever.

Thursday, July 18. We headed north to Hancock and went and toured the Quincy Mine. It was really interesting and we all learned a lot, not only about the mine itself, but also the local area! We got to go down into the mine, watched a short video about the area and the mine, and saw the steam hoist that they used. It was a great experience! After buying some souvenirs in the gift shop, we stopped for lunch at Culver's before heading back home. In the evening, we went to the UP North Lodge for Ryan's birthday dinner. He loves their ribs and every time we go home, we try and get to UP North so he can enjoy a full rack.

Friday, July 19. I slept in again and didn't get a run in, but sleep is a good thing, too! Ryan and I helped Dad stack the 2nd load of wood from the other day and then Dad and I went and got one more load. I also got our laundry washed so we'd have enough clothes to finish out our trip. After dinner, I took the boys down to the lake so they could play in the water. They both had a great time, and Robert was in the lake for well over an hour, maybe close to an hour and a half or so, but I brought Thomas in after about 45 minutes because he was getting a little chilly. It was a lot of fun. I miss living on a lake.

Saturday, July 20. I got up early and got a nice 6.2 mile run in! I had planned on going 10-12, but decided to be done after 6. I ran a couple of loops so I could leave my water bottle at Mom & Dad's mailbox, and the last few miles was out-and-back on a dirt road that I haven't been down for many years. It's so peaceful in the middle of the woods! After getting cleaned up and having breakfast, Mom and I headed to her cross stitching group for some time of visiting, eating, and cross stitching. It was a lot of fun chatting with the other ladies, and they're always so welcoming to me. After stitching was done, we went to Shopko to buy school supplies (Mom was getting some for a church project and since we were there, I pulled up Robert's list and got his supplies) and then to the grocery store for a few things. Once home, Ryan and I started getting the van all loaded up for our trip home.

Sunday, July 21. We finished getting everything in the van and then we headed to church. It was a community church service, so it wasn't at our church. It was a really nice joint service and I played my trombone during the offering again. I also got to see a friend from high school – I don't think I've seen her since we graduated 19 years ago. After the service and yummy snacks, we said our good-byes to Mom and Dad and headed south, back to Rick's house to begin our journey home. We stopped at a rest area along Lake Michigan and the boys got to play in the lake for a little while. Once we arrived at my brother's house, I made spaghetti for dinner.

Monday, July 22. Happy Birthday to Ryan!! Rick had to go to work, and we went to the Potter Park Zoo. It's a really nice zoo – not too big and not too small. Robert got to have a pony ride and a camel ride; Thomas didn't want anything to do with the ponies, but he did ride on the camel!! I got to ride as well. We spent a good several hours there and then stopped at a 2-story McDonald's for lunch. That was kind of neat. After Thomas got a short nap, we headed to Subway to pick up dinner and headed to Central Park for a Twitter/Runner meet up! My friends Betsy and Mike came from the Detroit area and Bari came from Grand Rapids. We had a great time chatting about running while my boys played on the playground. Before everyone departed for home, we did a #plankaday for a picture. There was no getting out of it since Mike is one of the co-founders of the #plankaday movement!!

July 23-24 – Final Travel Days. We left my brother's Tuesday morning and headed back to our usual hotel in Cave City, KY. It was an uneventful drive. After dinner at Cracker Barrel, we hit the pool and played in the water for a little while before bed. Wednesday morning we got in the car for the last time of the trip and headed home to Alabama. I ended up driving most of the way because Ryan's back and knees were really bothering him and his pain meds make him sleepy. I don't mind driving, but I also like being the passenger so I can crochet or cross stitch. Once back at Fort Rucker, we headed to The Diner for dinner and then HOME!! It was really great to sleep in our own beds and be done with traveling for a while.

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