The trip to Target ended up yielding more than just a DVD player however the family truckster was packed and fully loaded as we prepared for the cross country journey and family bonding experience. The destination was Grandma and Grandpa Hickey's cottage in Glen Lake,Mi a mere 14 hours away. The new DVD player was functioning, the cooler was packed with snacks for the kids and caffeine for Mom and Dad and at 5:00pm Central Standard time the journey began.
There are several things that can change the balance of power and one of the is traffic. So it was no real big surprise when at 6:00 we were just crossing over the Mississippi River barely 15 miles into the trip. Tom was already frustrated and Tracy was surprised by this. We hadn't spent so much time in the car to go so little since our Bangalore days. We even had to take a rest stop in Hudson, that's a mere 50 miles from our house. Not an auspicious start to a long road trip. But, never fear .... the ride after that was uneventful. 2 full length movies, an eat fresh (subway) dinner stop, and one potty break and low and behold, we arrived at Sue's house at the reasonable 10:30pm hour. The kids went nuts. They were racing circles through her house, insisting on a tour, found the cable kids station and basically creating a ruckus. But, after a glass of wine and unplugging our hearing aids, they kids all fell asleep mid sentence.
The next morning was a purposeful strategy of get up late, get the kids outside, wear them down and then deposit them in the car for the next 8-9 hours. It worked. We had a leisurely breakfast with Sue and headed to the zoo. The Green Bay zoo is great! Its like a cross between the Como Zoo and a nature center. They have 1 of just about everything (moose, badger, black bear, etc - this is Green Bay you know...) but the MAIN attraction are the giraffe's, they have a pair (husband & wife) who you can feed. They built this huge tree house thing and you stand on it and feed them Rye Crisp. They have these long slimy black tongues and they let you scratch them behind their ears. Its was pure kid-dom. Very fun.
Our drive through the UP (say ya to da UP, eh!) was relatively uneventful. We watched 5 full length movies & ate A&W for lunch (a Murphy tradition that its not officially vacation until you have a Papa burger and root beer for lunch, but does raise the question, what does A&W stand for...as posed by our inquisitive 7 year, anyone know the answer and I'll treat you to a Papa burger meal....). The drive was gorgeous, right along Lake Michigan, through small towns and over the Mackinaw bridge (wow, holy cow, wow, look at that, oh my gosh - all from our little engineer that could...Billy). We tried to stop outside Traverse City for an ice cream, but apparently their smoking laws are archaic. We found a small roadside diner that looked like the perfect place for a traditional ice cream sundae and float. But...NO.... the diner was crammed with smokers of all ages, all eating and smoking at the same time. There is nothing like that to ruin a perfectly good ice cream craving. We settled on bags of chips and soda from the gas station. We arrived in Glen Lake about 8pm and just in time for Mac & Cheese a late night swim and more hugs all around. Glen Lake is directly across Lake Michigan from Door County. But... the time zone it one hour ahead, so ...if the sun goes down here at 9pm in the summer, its 10pm there. Perfect kid and summer vacation timing... it goes unsaid that there was another glass of wine and kids falling asleep mid sentence:)
The 4th of July!!! Yippee!!! Tammy, Jeff, Georgia, Joey and Herbie made the drive up from Grand Haven and arrived just in time for the BIG Glen Arbor 4th of July parade. My cousin Jamie, her husband Kurt and their 2 kids Kara and Reese (pictured to the left) also made the trip from Detroit.This is THE parade of the year in our family. Its a traditional small town parade, every car, float, boat, bike, person that goes by is throwing candy and the kids go nuts (this year, one float threw out fully cooked hot dogs in buns with ketchup all wrapped in aluminum foil...nice! Not to mention the float that comes around after it with bottles of cherry coke:)) We had bags full of candy, we were all dressed in holiday appropriate t-shirts and by the end were full of dirt, melted candy and water from spray guns. All in a days work:) We rushed the kids home and a full afternoon of swimming followed. Once again, a few glasses of wine/a bonfire/kids falling asleep mid sentence.
Sunday was a tough day. The dads all went golfing, the mom's stayed back and the kids decided to get creative. It was lemonade stand day. In pure marketing genius, we decided to do a gift with purchase ... buy a glass of lemonade (25 cents) and get a free piece of candy (our ill gotten gains from the parade). It was masterful. We got ride of the candy and they kids felt like they were making money. Some of our customers caught on right away though and we had more than one comment of ..."yeah, that's the candy I threw out at the parade yesterday"... But, we netted $14 in all, not a bad days work. Jamie, Kurt & Reese had to head out. Kara got lucky and was able to stay the rest of the week with her grandma so that she could play with us. Yippee!! Again, swimming, wine, kids falling asleep mid sentence. (see all the cousins on the hamock)
Monday was a bit crummy weather wise, but that wasn't going to stop us...Jr Ranger Program, here we come. 7 adults and 7 kids set out bright and early to earn our Jr Ranger badges. This is the most unbelievable National Park program. You head to your local National Park, pick up a packet and spend the day visiting specific parts in/around the park to answer the questions, riddles, games and activities in your packet. All the material is totally age appropriate; its interactive (sort of a high octane scavenger hunt) and everyone learns something new. We loved it! Plus, the best part was the swearing in ceremony. Yep, at the end the kids had to hold up their right hand (note, some are still working on that distinction - no worries, it wasnt a part of the test) , take a pledge and became Jr Rangers. They got a badge, certificate and Ranger pin. Too cool. In hindsight, I wouldn't have tried to do it ALL in one day, but then again, that's was vacations are for ... nothing in moderation... (wasn't that Oscar Wilde's quote - everything in moderation, even moderation - I love that one....) Again, wine (adults) sleeping mid sentence (kids).
Tuesday saw Tammy and troupe off and back to Grand Haven. We said good bye and reconnoitered our schedule for the next 5 days...
More to come on that in What I did on my summer vacation part II :)