We have to take the truck back anyway, why not leave a week early and spend more time up north? So September 17th, we left the boat secured for hurricane season once again in San Carlos and headed north.
Our goal? Visit the VA in San Diego, see friends, drive to Wisconsin and Michigan and Georgia to see family, then leave the truck and fly back to Mexico from Atlanta on October 29th. I already had return tickets from our earlier trip in July. No planned sightseeing this time. Our focus this trip: people.
We spent just over a week in sunny San Diego where everyone complained about the "unbearably hot" 90-degree/zero humidity weather! Oh, those ungrateful Californians. It was wonderful to reconnect with a few friends we hadn’t seen in over a year. We had fun sailing on OPB (Other People’s Boats - it’s the best way to sail!), BBQing, swimming at the beach and paddle boarding. OK, I SUP’ed while Brian worked on our friend’s boat. I sense a pattern here…when we go back, there’s always another boat project for him to inspect. Conspiracy? No matter… not my boat…that means I don’t have to be the “assistant”!
We then drove 2200 miles northeast to chilly Wisconsin to visit Brian's sister. We sampled the requisite Wisconsin foodie trifecta: beer, brats and cheese. We played board games and puzzles with our super-cool nieces and nephew. We even visited the local Kohler Art Museum and the Kohler Design Center, where bathroom fixtures are beautiful works of art.
And then we found out the kids had never seen Raiders of the Lost Ark…What??? We were forced to remedy the situation. Apparently we need to visit more often to ensure they remain on the proper ‘Brian-approved-movie’ track. Anyway, what did they think? “Eh, it was OK”. Sigh…kids these days. But later we caught Jack humming the theme song. “Aha!” we say. “You just can’t help singing it!” Dah, da, da, daaaa…dah, da, daaaaaaaa.”
Onward we traveled to Michigan, skirting across the Upper Peninsula. Our drive meandered along the sandy shores of Lake Michigan, past towering pines, red and golden maple leaves and quiet towns. Maybe we could live here...land is cheap...it is gorgeous and remote and peaceful...except for the mountains of snow 6 months of the year. Hmmm...maybe not.
Aside from snow, the UP is famous for two yummy "Yooper" treats: Mackinaw fudge and pasties. A pasty is a deliciously-savory-flaky-crusty-folded pie (think overgrown hot pocket). Filled with beef, onions, potatoes and rutabaga, drenched in brown gravy, this delicacy was originally a lunch staple for the Cornish and Finnish miners of the region. I MUST have one. It's tradition. At the restaurant I notice a new invention: the tofu/vegetarian version. Seriously? Can we just STOP with the tofu? Some things should just be left decidedly un-tofu. I have not been able to find pasties anywhere else except the UP; but we were recently told there is a Yooper-themed restaurant in Mazatlan of all places…we must find it!
Here’s another Michigander tradition...apple cider mills. Our families always made the trek each fall to Uncle John's Cider Mill where you can pick your own apples, enjoy a hayride, watch apple cider pressed through an old fashioned mill, and nosh on the best cider donuts in the world. Donuts so good...this year we went twice.
We visited with our families in Fowlerville for two weeks. Moms and dads and grandpa and brothers and wives and nieces and nephews and uncles and aunts and even a cousin from Florida! We sat around the kitchen table and talked and ate and watched Kelly Rippa and Tiny House Nation on TV and played with the cats and saw a couple movies and played cards and board games and talked some more. It was nice to just…be.
Never enough time
Still...There are too many cousins and aunts and uncles and friends we didn't get to see this trip. Never enough time. For the last 20 years we've lived far away. Returning one week a year wasn’t enough to really reconnect. Now we are in a different country altogether. And though Facebook and texting and phone calls are relatively easy, it's still superficial. The personal connection is somewhat lacking.
Even my own mother chided my dad for sorting through mail while I was chatting with him at the kitchen table. "Stop that, you have company!" So now I'm "company", is that it? Sigh. Apparently we're not here enough... My mom considers our visits a novelty. Wow. That's an uncomfortable realization.
We'd already been feeling this way ourselves though, without her confirmation. We are perfectly capable of visiting more often, there's no Marine Corps stopping us now. Just our cruising dreams. How do you reconcile that dichotomy? When you want to see so much of the world, yet keep your peeps close...how does that work?
For the same reasons we wanted to go cruising...to live life and see the world and have adventures because life is too short to be stuck behind a desk (or a helicopter) forever…it's the same reason we find the need to retain close connections to friends and family...because life is too short to ignore that side of things too. So how do we accomplish this when our boat/only home is so far away?
We'd been contemplating this dilemma all summer. Planning and scheming and Googling. By the end of our time in Michigan we had our solution.
To Be Continued…