Actually I’ve been back from vacation for a few days, buried under loads of laundry, reviving my plants, cleaning the house, sorting and ordering photos, socializing with neighbors, writing essays (another one accepted!), working, and getting back to life as I know it. I guess I’ve been hyper-productive to counteract the energy I conserved sitting in the car for hours at a time.
Overall, I enjoyed our trip – enjoyed. a. family. vacation. See, I’m smiling. In a good, non-psychotic way, unlike when we took our last long, hellish road trip 3 years ago.
This time, the gods of fortune were with me. No one had meltdowns. Everyone was good in the car. I got to talk to my relatives without being interrupted by crying or sleep-deprived children. No pull-ups to change. Even my father seemed more mellow when I was following him in my car. He probably roared through 50% fewer yellow lights than last time. Now that’s progress.
Our first stop was near Detroit with my mom’s side of the family, including my 92-year-old grandmother. T-Rex and Drama Girl were great in the nursing home. They were very matter-of-fact about the residents, wheelchairs and other devices they saw – that’s one of the things I love the most about children: no pretense, no big deal. The kids got a little antsy during this part of the trip because there weren’t any other children to play with and, granted, there’s only so much time they can spend indoors in the nursing home, so we went to the Detroit Zoo one day. The weather was beautiful – low to mid 70’s. It’s a big zoo with lots to see, so we spent the afternoon there and got a good workout.
After the first leg of the journey, we drove north and stopped at Bronner’s, the world’s largest Christmas store in Frankenmuth. It didn’t have quite the same effect on me as when I was a child because I had to pay for everything, but the kids were amazed. Ironically, outside of a few Christmas ornaments, the only other thing I bought was a fun Halloween decoration. Go figure.
The last part of the trip was spent near Traverse City, which is in the pinky of the mitten (I can’t show you my hand, so see the map). You know, I’ve been going there for my whole life to visit my dad’s family, and I never quite realized just how scenic the area is. To me, it’s always been the place to visit family, not to do stuff “real” vacationers do. But on our trip we did a few touristy things: my mom and I browsed through the shops in a quaint lakeside town. My cousins kidnapped me for an afternoon of wine tasting at the local wineries. We were chauffeured in a one-of-a-kind 1957 (or was it ’54?) Rolls Royce by my cousin’s husband, who operates a classic limo business. I bought more than my fair share of wine, including this,
which will go well with my Halloween decor. I had to have it because I liked the label so much (I’m a marketer who’s a sucker for marketing), and it seemed fitting for a gal like me.
We also went to Sleeping Bear National Park. Now, for some strange reason people think it is fun to run up a big pile of sand. I was not one of those people. I mean, it was “fun” in a sort of tormented sense, but the kids had a blast. T-Rex ran up most of the way with the other kids except Drama Girl, who opted to go up halfway and then plant herself in the sand. Smart girl.
By the way, I’m the one standing with my hands on my hips, cursing the fact I’m completely out of shape. It seemed much easier when I was 10. After the rest of the gang went to the top for a photo op and ran back down again, we left the park and hit nearby Lake MI. We adults dipped our toes into the freezing water; the kids went in until they were numb.
Sadly, the last night of the trip involved attending services for my 30/31 year-old cousin’s wife, who passed away a few days earlier from a 3-year fight with cancer. Yeah, cancer. Again. She was 30. It was sobering, to say the least, and a teaching moment I preferred not to have with Drama Girl and T-Rex. But I did. And I’m glad we could lend support to my cousin who will never be the same after his loss. Two funerals in 2 weeks for people far, far too young. I hope I never have to attend one like these again. Ever.
Okay, so that’s the run down. Most importantly, the Prius got approx. 52 mpg on the highway. Now isn’t that what you really wanted to know?!