Our week in Michigan is quickly coming to an end. We leave for New Zealand in two days. Yowzers! I have to admit when we agreed to spend a week in Michigan, I was a little worried. We didn’t know how long the drive out would take and had to arrange for some extra time just in case. Since Will’s parents are going to be taking care of Tully the dog, we also thought it would be good to have a few extra days to help her transition.
In truth, Michigan has been an excellent reprieve before the big trip. We’ve been rushing around, doing project after project for so long, it’s been nice to have some downtime in the peaceful, woodsy sanctuary that is Susan and Jerry’s place in Allegan, MI. Susan and Jerry have been gracious and entertaining hosts considering we’ve taken over their office and Tully is already working on claiming Jerry’s couch. Their tales of animals seen in their yard (a coyote lives in their backyard and a herd of deer that wondered by just after hunting season ended), the different birds that stop by (or flew into the window, don’t worry, the red-bellied woodpecker was fine), and history about the homestead. We have also eaten better than we have in a long time thanks to Susan’s amazing home cooking. We’ve had meals of blue gil (local fish they caught themselves), homemade pizza, sweet potato pasta. My mom sent us a treat and we got to enjoy some Maryland crab cakes before setting out.
The homemade pizza is below complete with Susan’s homemade sauce. Delicious! Apparently, I couldn’t wait to start eating my pear.
The Maryland crab cakes. A delightful treat from Ellen allowing us an East Coast send-off.
We’ve been lucky to have warm(ish) temperatures which allowed for long walks in the woods behind Susan and Jerry’s homestead.
The house was built in the early 1900s and has been in Jerry’s family since the 1930s.
Will walked Tully out to “the Island.” The original house was set in these trees, but burned down. It’s also the place where he built a fort with his younger brother, Nate to escape the parents’ watchful eyes aka cause mischief and mayhem.
Tully after a hard days work of inspecting vole holes.
Will had to explain to Tully why it was not ok to walk out onto the ice pond that cracked beneath her feet. Good luck keeping her out of trouble Susan and Jerry!
I kept thinking about Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken. The quiet of the woods was serene.
We’re still trying to determine what will be our mascot throughout our trip. We may just stick with Alex’s hat. Alex was unfortunate enough to leave his hat in our car when he came with Will to our going away celebration. We didn’t have time to get it to him before we left, so we figured we’ll take it on our journey. Here’s the start: Hat on Head or Skull.
Jerry’s shop looks dressed up in Alex’s hat..
During the week, we had the chance to go to Allegan’s neighboring town, Otsego and see their Christmas Parade. You never know what you might find at a small, town parade…let alone a Christmas parade.
There was lots of tractors, bulldozers, and John Deere. We got to meet Will’s sister Andrea and her son Andrew at the parade. We all laughed at the random floats and lights.
The small town of Otsego also helped me cross an item off my bucket list when it included floating lanterns at the end of the parade. What?!?! Small town Michigan has a floating lantern festival too?!!?! Fantastic! I thought I needed to travel to Thailand to partake in such festivities. But I was incorrect. Otsego helped me cross off the lantern floating from my list. It made me smile watching Will, Andrea, and Andrew light the lantern and watch it float up to join the other lanterns in the air (narrowly missing a parked car nearby), above the pizza shop and traffic lights, until they were a dots in the sky. It made the experience a highlight and made me miss my small hometown in Pennsylvania just a bit.
Watching people try to send their lanterns off was pretty funny. We were not the only ones to almost hit parked cars.
The lighting of the lantern.
The send-off of the lantern on its floating journey. To go where no lantern has gone before…or just above the town of Otsego.
The town square was filled with excitement as other people lit their lanterns.
The lanterns took flight and the small town felt magical.
We had a lot of fun spending time with Andrea and Andrew. Unfortunately, Andrea’s husband Joe, Susan, and Jerry were all sick (luckily we have remained healthy), so they missed out on the parade. Although we made them re-live the experience with our stories and pictures.
One of our favorite moments from the parade came after the even was actually over. Two firemen ran down the main road towards the firehouse as their walkie-talkies crackled with “Be advised, there’s a flaming lantern stuck in a tree.” Apparently last year, there was a foot of snow on the ground when they did this lantern festival. A little more dangerous with no snow. However, from our understanding, the lantern was taken care of and no one was hurt. Only a little entertainment provided.
Once again we’ve been amazed by our family. It’s been great spending time with Susan and Jerry, learning lots of fun facts about Michigan and the area(that are actually true as opposed to my own fun facts that may or may not be true), and laughing with them. We have one more night to spend time with them, Andrea and Andrew, and Tully the dog. It’ll be hard to leave this Michigan sanctuary.