Newspaper Headlines from Here to There, Day 1–Pacific Coast Roadtrip: Flight to California–Journal of Journey

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Newspaper Headlines from Here to There: Journal Entry of the Whitaker’s Journey. Join Their Pacific Coast Road Trip.

A journaled entry of the Whitaker’s first day on their Pacific Coast Road Trip gives us a peek into their day.  Let’s join them as they start out with “7 suitcases, 4 backpacks, 1 roll-away, 1 over-stuffed-mom-travel purse, and 1 dog carrier/ with dog + four kiddos.” as they roll out of bed and roll onto the highway taking them to their plane ride West.   Count the hours they stay awake and try not to let your eyelids droop with fatigue as their family finds and flounders its way west. It is Rebecca’s first time to be traveling with their family dog, but not the first time to travel solo with the kids.  Her husband (a.k.a The Hunni) joins them at the end of the day–although they almost don’t connect in San Francisco.  The rental car dilemma require some phone yelling, and the streets of San Francisco give the Whitaker family a roller coaster ride–not only physically, but emotionally.  Now don’t hit that snooze button on your alarm, it is 3:00 a.m. IN THE MORNING and there is a family to mobilize.

November 15, 2016, Tuesday

3:30 a.m. in the morning Eastern Time:  My alarm went off.

3:40 a.m.  I got up.  I had to.  There was no one else to prod me out of bed, or get the kiddos up, or get the last of the hand luggage in the van, or make coffee, or lock up the house, or remember to turn up the A.C. and turn off the computer.  It was a day, I had been looking forward to, planned for, and now it was here–FAMILY TRIP ON THE PACIFIC COAST!!

3:42 a.m.  I found one of Little Man’s Converse tennis shoes.  One.  Had I packed the other one?  I decided to take it along.

3:45 a.m.  Kiddos are up and moving.

4:03 a.m.  The Hunni calls, but I am under the hood of the 15 passenger van we now own, trying to connect the battery as The Bus tends to go dead and needs a cardio shock to raise it from the dead. We travel with a car defibrillator, but it is easier to just unhook the battery every time we stop.

4:04 a.m.  The Hunni calls again.  I know he is worried that I am not up, but I am still under the hood of The Bus trying to get the battery connected.

4:11 a.m.  Load the kiddos (four of them Clement age 16, Scout age 13, Eloise age 9, and Little Man age 6) and Banjo the dog into The Bus.

4:12 a.m.  I call The Hunni as I am heading out.  He tells me that the home phone is off the hook.  Well . . . .it is going to be off the hook for 18 days as we are PACIFIC COAST BOUND!

4:25 a.m.  My Dad calls.  We are picking him up to have him drop us off at the airport.  I told him we were still 15 minutes away.

4:41 a.m.  I pick up my Dad on the side of the road, where he kindly waited to save us five more minutes.  Thanks Dad

5:00 a.m.  Arrive at the West Palm Beach airport and do curbside check-in.  I am balancing trying to get 7 suitcases, 4 backpacks, 1 roll-away, 1 travel purse, and 1 dog carrier + four kiddos and one dog accounted for.  My Dad had a cash tip for the baggage handler.  I had totally forgotten to tip him.  Thanks again Dad.  This was our first time traveling with Banjo our Shih-tzu, and learned we had to check in again indoors with the dog carrier.

5:03 a.m.  Banjo (who is totally not happy about being in his dog carrier) gets dropped.  His dog carrier falls off the roll-away he is being carried on top of.  HE IS NOT HAPPY.

5:10 a.m. Check in Banjo at the ticket counter.

5:23 a.m.  We arrive at Security.  Now my Hunni is a pilot, so I totally get the whole security thing, but traveling with 4 kiddos + 1 dog, 4 backpacks, 1 travel purse, 1 roll-away, and 1 dog carrier WEARING KNEE-HIGH BOOTS is quite a production.  And Eloise had packed scissors, so her backpack got hand-checked.  The scissors were small enough so they were allowed on the plane.  The good news is Banjo didn’t bolt when he was taken out of his carrier as I walked him through the metal detector.  And with a little shoving we got him back into his carrier without zipping his fur in the zipper.

5:35 a.m.  We have arrived at our gate, but I smell coffee, so I keep the kiddos in line while I grab a coffee.

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5:37 a.m.  Record time!  I am holding my coffee!  We did it.  We got up.  We got in The Bus.  We got to the airport.  We got our luggage checked.  We got through Security.  We got to our gate on time.  I GOT COFFEE!  Thanks LORD!  It is going to be a looooooong day as we won’t arrive in San Francisco until 2:30 p.m. Pacific Time (or 5:30 p.m. Eastern Time).  That means by the time we land, we will have been awake 15 1/2 hours, and by the time we pick up The Hunni (7:00 p.m.), we will have been awake 20 hours.  And by the time we reach our Host Family, we probably will have been awake 22+ hours.  “Oh LORD,”  I prayed, “help me to stay patient with the kiddos and not ruin their vacation because I  “lose it.”

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6:00 a.m.  The plane pulls out on time.  We got seats all together on the next-to-last row.  Banjo is O.K.  He tried to get out once when I unzipped his carrier to pet him, but he settled down.  No water for him yet.  No food either.  I am worried he will mess on the plane.  I probably will give him water in Atlanta, and food in Milwaukee.  I don’t know what to do about dogs going potty in an airport.

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7:00 a.m.  The sun has risen.  I brought muffins and settled in with my coffee.  It was too early for Southwest peanuts.  Little Man is settling down with his stuffed animal “Buddy” and his blanket.  I’m glad I made him take his quilt in his backpack.

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7:02 a.m.  Time to Copy the Cannon.  Last year I started a Facebook page where we try to write out about 4 Bible verses each day

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7:45 a.m.  We arrive in Atlanta.  We don’t get off the plane, but stretch our legs by “moving about the cabin.”

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8:30 a.m.  We are on our way again.  Everyone stayed awake the first flight, but I can feel the “sleepies” coming on.

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9:45 a.m. Central Time (10:45 Florida time):  Land in Milwaukee.  I didn’t get any sleep.  It feels like winter here as all the people are in dark coats and dark boots.  One lady is wearing a bright yellow floral, wool coat.  She looks like a spring daffodil in the middle of gray November concrete sidewalks.

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10:15 a.m. Central Time (11:15 Florida Time):  We decide to release Banjo in The Family bathroom, and see if he will pee on a pad.  He kind-of does and he drinks some water.  The kiddos play with him quietly out of his dog carrier in the corner of the airport behind some chairs.  Thankfully, he doesn’t run away or bark.

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10:30 a.m. Central Time (11:30 Florida time) I thought muffins would be a great breakfast, but the store bought muffins I brought along are just too sweet for such an early morning.  They are a bit crumbly as well, so we ended up throwing them away after a few bites of each.  Homemade would be much better.

I am worried and a bit nervous and uptight about traveling solo with 7 suitcases, 4 backpacks, 1 overstuffed mom bag, one wheeled carry-on, one doggie in a bag and 4 kiddos.  I am going to have to rent a car from Hertz (with complications) and then do a solo tour of San Francisco before picking up The Hunni at 7:00 back at the airport.  The Hertz thing has me worried.  As we are renting on Hertz points, we have a free rental, however, we want to pick up the car in San Fran and return it in Seattle.  Hertz told us that we could ONLY rent a car for a one-way rental.  The problem is that 7 suitcases (plus The Hunni’s), 4 kiddos, 4 backpacks, , 2 adults, 1 overstuffed mom bag, 1 roll-away, and 1 doggie in a bag won’t fit in one car.  So we rented 2 cars.  The 2 car rental was almost a deal breaker for The Hunni.  He did not want to spend Family Time in two cars.  He almost called off our Pacific Coast Road Trip.  I convinced him to keep the Pacific Coast Road Trip, but now I had to convince Hertz to rent us a mini-van.   I prayed for calm. I prayed Hertz would rent us one mini-van on points instead of two cars.  And I worried that before the day was over, I would lose my patience, and the kiddos would suffer because of it.

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Somewhere along the line I remembered to change my clock to Central Time, and we boarded our flight to San Francisco and I fell asleep.

3:10 p.m. Pacific Coast time (6:10 Florida time):  We did it!  We got a one way rental from Hertz.  It wasn’t easy.  I had to talk to the lady at the desk who said she couldn’t do it, so she called someone in Scheduling, whom I spoke with, who transferred me to someone in Hertz Points whom I spoke with, who transferred me to her manager, who granted me a “points one-way rental with a paid upgrade.”  Then I got the “upgrade” price.  OUCH!  I called The Hunni.  He couldn’t hear me very well, but he yelled, “Do it!”  I hope he knows what he just agreed to pay.  Then the nice lady at the counter asked me if I wanted insurance.  Now, I am pretty sure, that if we put the bill on our Visa card, we automatically get insurance.  But “pretty sure” is not 100% sure, so I called The Hunni again.  Now he really couldn’t hear me (this is a phenomenon that seems to happen to us on vacations) and the conversation went like this. . .

Me:  Do we need to purchase insurance, or is it covered by Visa if we put it on the card?

Hunni: mphfl muflle tee. What?

Me:  INSURANCE.  Do we need insurance, Yes or No?

Hunni:  No, mphle tee hump.

Me:  “NO” AS WE DON’T NEED INSURANCE?

Hunni: Yes, muffph ly hurraph.

Me: YES WE DON’T NEED INSURANCE OR NO WE DON’T NEED INSURANCE OR YES WE NEED INSURANCE.

Hunni:  Yes, I mean NO.  Just muphly mphuh tallee.

Me:  INSURANCE, YES OR NO?

Hunni:  NO!

Me:  I THINK YOU SAID “NO”.  I AM NOT GETTING INSURANCE.  NO INSURANCE. NO! NO! NO! NO INSURANCE!

And then I hung up, and I still am hoping that I understood him correctly.  We found our “mini-van” in the car lot and discovered that we had a beautiful red Tahoe SUV!!!!  Clement and I started to load the 7 suitcases, 4 kiddos, 4 backpacks, , 1 adult, 1 overstuffed mom bag, 1 roll-away, and 1 doggie in a bag (plus trying to leave some room for The Hunni’s roll-away and computer bag).  It got tense as we disagreed on the best packing strategy, and I got snippy.  Clement backed off and did it my way.  I could feel the lack of sleep and frayed nerves coming into play, and I had to apologize to Clement once we got the Tahoe loaded.

As we headed out of the Hertz car lot, my seat buzzed and vibrated.  Weird!  I asked the guy at the check-out gate what it was.  He said that every time I got too close to another car or white line, the seat would buzz.

WE WERE OFF! Our Pacific Road Trip had begun!  We had about four hours to explore San Francisco in a red Tahoe filled with 7 suitcases, 4 kiddos, 4 backpacks, 1 adult, 1 overstuffed mom bag, 1 roll-away, and 1 doggie no longer in a bag.  OFF WE WENT!

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First stop. . .Lombard Street–that curvy street.  It is crazy and crazy fun to drive in San Francisco in a new red Tahoe with my seat vibrating and trolleys coming and my GPS talking.

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It is hard to describe just how steep the streets are!

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These photos give you an idea of the steepness of the streets.

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Fisherman’s Wharf was our second stop.  We piled out of the car and the cold hit us, but we were so excited to be on our road trip that we were all smiles.  It was about 4:00ish (7:00 Florida time) and we hadn’t eaten more than peanuts and muffins since early that morning.  So. . .

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We stopped at a little shack on the pier and ordered up Clam Chowder in a bread boules.

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Then inhaled it.  The “restaurant” allowed us to hide our Banjo under the table where we feed him left-over clam chowder.

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With our stomachs filled and our blood sugar levels back up to normal, we explored the pier.

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It was crabbing season, and the boats with their catch were coming in.

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The news channel was there recording a segment (we saw some of this segment being recorded.)  We dodged out of the way and yanked on Banjo’s leash to keep him from eating live crabs in pots and pieces of crabs on the ground.

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I wanted to drive closer to The Golden Gate Bridge, but we were getting cold, the tiredness was beginning to set in, and so we just viewed the lit up bridge from Fisherman’s Wharf.

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As we got back into our red Tahoe, I noticed that we were behind the Boudin Bread Company.

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I talked Scout, Eloise, and Little Man into coming in and taking a look around, but Clement was just exhausted and warmed himself up in the car–with Banjo.

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Things were going well.  Tired, but happy, we climbed back into our warm Tahoe.  It was just after

6:00 p.m. Pacific Time (9:00 Florida time)  We had all been awake about 19 hours when we started the drive back to the San Francisco airport to pick up The Daddi.  I had allowed an hour due to traffic.  We were on schedule as we started the crazy drive back to the San Francisco airport in a new red Tahoe with my seat vibrating and trolleys coming and my GPS talking and Little Man asking questions.  It was crazy and no longer fun. When I get really tired, colors brighten to almost unbearable, regular noises seem super loud, my eyes dry out, my patience level plummets, and my decision making slows down. I could feel all these symptoms coming on as we headed back in rainy, stop-and-go traffic.

We pulled out and started to retrace our route.  My GPS was on, but a little slow, so that meant I had to look down at it to anticipate upcoming turns or I would miss them completely.  Looking down in stop-and-go traffic is never a good idea, but my only option. I missed a turn and suddenly found myself headed toward the San Francisco Bay-Oakland Bridge bridge heading across the bay!  “NO!!”  I knew that if I couldn’t get off the bridge it would take me an hour to get across and then another hour to get back, so I stopped on the freeway when I saw one last exit about 500 feet away.  Stopping on the freeway is never a good idea.  I was in the far left lane and slowly crept over lane by lane, stopping on each lane.  People honked.  People yelled, but I made the last exit before a two hour delay.  My nerves were very raw by now, and I had to find my way around an industrial section with my GPS on delay.

WHEW! We got back on freeway 101 heading south again.  As we approached the San Francisco airport The Hunni texted, “Terminal 2, Gate 4.  See ya.”  Our Host Family also texted (paraphrased), “Our son has pink eye and a double ear infection; we still want to see you and are game to go to Napa Valley, but he is contagious and we don’t want to infect you.  What would you like to do?”  Now I was not going to let pink eye keep me from seeing a friend I hadn’t seen in 18+ years, but I was driving in San Francisco traffic and couldn’t text her.  I was worried that a delay in a text would make Jackie think that we were unsure about being around her son.  I didn’t want her to think we were worried about it.  We’ve done sick kids many-o-times.  Thankfully, The Hunni responded and said as much.  Still the seat buzzing and the phone buzzing and the traffic stopping after driving 65 m.p.h. and the rain falling and 20 hours of being awake and a delayed GPS were fraying that rope that kept me linked to sanity.

I pulled into Terminal 2, Gate 4 with one little tiny thread of rope that was keeping me up. Now I could hand over that load called, “Solo Care of the Family” to The Hunni.  I had made it.  We got here.  We looked for The Daddi, but did not see him.  Then Cop #1 started yelling at me.  I’m used to the routine having picked up my Hunni at the airport many times.  It always takes a moment to see him, and then we are home free.  Still no Hunni, and now Cop #1 started flashing his light into my car and yelling more.  My blood pressure was going up.  “Where IS HE?”, I thought as my scan of the crowd intensified. My phone was buzzing as texts here flying between our Host Family and The Hunni in a group chat.  Now Cop #1 called over Cop #2.  Both Cop #1 (still flashing his light into my eyes) and Cop #2 were yelling.  I scanned again.  Then Cop #2 started writing a ticket.  He yelled, “I’m starting to write the ticket and it is 150 dollars.”  I scanned again.  I saw Cop #2 start to tear off the ticket when I pulled forward.  My seat buzzed.  My phone buzzed.  My head buzzed.

I pulled forward just enough to keep from being handed the ticket and scanned again.  “WHERE IS HE?” I frantically thought!  Cop 3# now approached me and threatened a ticket.  I started to cry.  She was kind enough to tell me to take the turn around and approach the terminal again.

I pulled out, and yelled at Scout, “Text Daddi”.  She grabbed the phone and in her haste, unplugged it from the charger.  My phone was dead, and immediately shut off.  Now I need 6% battery to power up, and since my phone was completely dead we couldn’t power up.  I was now without a GPS and without the ability to contact The Hunni to tell him what was going on.  During those franic momets of trying to reconnect the phone to the charger while driving, I missed the U-turn that would have lead me back to the terminal and sanity.

That last little line that was holding me up snappped.  I was crying.  Lost.  The rain was falling.  I was exhausted and lost and had to figure out what to do while cars were zooming by me.

I took the first exit and did several U-turns and crossed one bridge 3 times.  I saw the lights of the traffic signal cameras go off three times as I made illegal U-turns.  I kept crying and tried to think.  I ended up in a hotel parking lot.  An industrial parking lot.  Drivers honked at me and the rain continued.

Scout got the phone re-connected and charging, but we still didn’t have the 6% battery power we needed.  I worried that The Hunni was worried.  I worried that I would wreck the rental car.  I worried that we might not have insurance.  I worried that I wouldn’t be able to ever get back to the airport without GPS.  And I worried that I would rear-end someone as visibility was poor with a layer of tears on my eyes and a layer of raindrops on the windshield.  Scout took over and started to direct me.  “Mom, we’ve been on this bridge three times now, we need to get off.  Exit left.  You can move over a lane.  And etc. . .”  She had a vague sense of where we needed to go, and slowly we made our way through parking lots and exits and side streets and highways back to the terminal.

Forty-five stressful minutes later we were pulling into the terminal again.  We had enough power to text The Daddi.  “Oh, please, oh please, oh please, oh please be there!” I prayed/cried.  We pulled in right beside Cop #1 and Cop#2 and there was The Hunni (he had been one level above me at Terminal 2, Gate 4.)  I didn’t care if we got a $150 ticket, I was NOT moving again.  I had been awake about 20+ hours now, and crumpled into The Hunni’s arms as he took over the load of “Care of the Family.”  I couldn’t stop crying and my stomach was a mess, but now I could just fall apart and The Family would still be okay.

“Hunni,”  I said, “I can’t possibly be social.  I don’t know how I am going to make it visiting with an old friend.  I think I am just going to fall apart right here.  I don’t want to ruin this moment that has been 18+ years in coming.”  The Hunni just listened, and then the kiddos started telling him about their day.  I just sat in the passenger seat crying and ever so slowly, I realized that we had made it.  Mistakes and all, we had made it.  I hadn’t yelled at the kiddos and ruined their first day of vacation.  I had fallen apart, but we still had made it.  I just closed my eyes for a bit and listened to the sounds of my family.  “Thanks, LORD. Thanks SO much.” I sighed exhausted.  “And one more thing LORD.  I just need a little more energy to finish this day. Just 6% battery to power up again.”

We arrived around 9:00ish, and “somehow” the hour drive to Rob and Jackie’s house had revived me.  When we walked in, I knew that even if I did fall apart on Jackie it would be okay.

We visited until midnight, and then crawled into a VERY COZY bed.  The blankets were warm (I had been cold since landing in San Fran), The Hunni was warm, and the welcome from Rob and Jackie had been warm.

Tomorrow we needed to pull out by 8:00 a.m., which meant a 6:30 alarm, but I didn’t care.  We were here.  Together.  Surrounded by the love of family and Rob and Jackie.

24 hours ago, we had started on this Pacific Coast Road Trip.  24 crazy hours.

ZZZZZzzzzz!

–rebecca

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Working Boy. Work in Progress

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Okay.  I wrote this June 2, 2015 and never posted it.  Well. . ., here we go again in 2017

(This post is about why I started to blog again.)

It has been FOREVER since I last blogged.  FOREVER.

There are two main reasons.

  1. We moved from Michigan to Florida and have been busy fixing up our fixer-upper
  2. Blogging costs money.  I needed to renew my domain name AND I needed to upgrade my photo storage.

So (surprisingly to me) the kiddos kept asking me to blog again.  I was surprised as blogging takes time away from them.

Now our Baseball Boy (who is now a volleyball boy) turned 14, and turning 14 has not been easy on any of us.  AT ALL!

(I will get around to why I started blogging again.)

We had great plans and dreams of taking a Big Ole trip out West this year, but after a “State of the Family Finances” meeting, we decided we just needed to stay home this year.  I was disappointed but somehow at peace about the whole thing.  The next question was, “How should the kiddos spend their summer?”

(This somehow will tie into why I started to blog again.)

At fourteen, Baseball Boy could legally get a job, but I hemmed-and-hawed.  He will have to work the rest of his life, and maybe he needed just one more summer of “being a kid.”   But as we battled 14-year-old issues, and when a friend offered to train our Baseball Boy to paint, we packed him a lunch and dropped him off at the pick up location along with a team of Hispanic workers.  After work, he has a two hour volleyball practice (7:00 – 9:00) each night.  Then he has to complete two lessons in his online Spanish class.  We are only two weeks into this routine, but it is a LONG day for a 14 year old.

(Almost there.  Almost to the reason I started to blog again.)

Well, today he got his FIRST PAY CHECK EVER!!!!  And this momma couldn’t be prouder!!!  So we snapped a photo of him as he walked through the door.

Then I told him, “You get to keep $40 of the paycheck, but the rest in going in the bank for college and a car.”  Then I added, “You will probably spend it all on Lego, and WE DON’T NEED ANY MORE LEGO IN THIS HOUSE.”

(We are finally there. . .to the reason why I started blogging again.)

Well, as I logged onto Facebook, The Hunni said, “While you are on the computer, let’s renew your domain name.”

“Oh, thanks Hunni,” I said.

The Hunni replied, “Don’t thank me.  Thank your son!”

It took a little, but I finally realized that my Baseball Boy was spending his first $40 on me!!!!!!

tearfully,

–rebecca

P. S. About that family trip west we wanted to take in 2015, but couldn’t. . .We took it this fall.  Posts about the trip will follow.

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Newspaper Newspaper Headlines from Here to There, Day 2 Part 1–Pacific Coast Road Trip: Napa Valley–My Musings

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Newspaper Headlines from Here to There: Day 2–November 16, 2016:  Napa Valley

My Musings

The Pacific Coast Road Trip was on the line.  The Hunni  loved the idea (back in the fall when we bought our tickets), but when the whole car rental fell through, he was ready to scrap the whole “Car Trip Up the Coast” idea.  I told him to wait and think about it for a day.  The following evening he felt the same.  He really, Really, REALLY didn’t want to spend one week driving up the Pacific Coast in two separate vehicles.  I asked him to think about it another day.  He called Southwest Airlines to see what the change fee was.  Two evenings later, we were still not in agreement about the best plan for our Family Vacation.  That evening instead of calling Southwest Airlines, The Hunni called old friends of ours in the San Francisco area to see if they would be in town the day we MIGHT fly into the Bay Area.  Not only did they invite us to spend the night, they invited us to Napa Valley.

I floated around the house for three whole days!!!  I couldn’t believe it!!!  Not only was the Pacific Road Trip definitely ON!, but Napa Valley!!!!  Now I thought that someday I would get to visit Napa Valley with The Hunni, but that “Someday” was an ethereal dream that I didn’t expect to actually materialize.  But it was real!!  And we were going with great friends who I knew were also experts in the area.  Every time The Hunni called me that week I kept saying, “I CAN’T BELIEVE IT!”

I probably should have called Jackie that week, as she would have heard the excitement in my voice.  Somehow, I just felt that this was a gift.  A special something.  One of those “Somedays” that all of a sudden actually had a date–November 23, 2016.   After the first week of excitement, I got a little nervous as I really know nothing about wine and wine tasting and even though I am now a Floridian, I am really just a displaced Mid-western farm girl, and I didn’t want to embarrass Rob and Jackie with my “mid-westness”.  So I started investigating.  Google.   First off, I checked out “Wine for Dummies” from our library and watched the video twice.  The guy on the video made it seem quite easy–swirl, sniff, taste, enjoy.  Somehow, I thought it was more complicated than that.

Next.  How should I dress?  Check Pintrest; “what to wear to a wine tasting in the fall”.  Pintrest seems to indicate that a hat, knee-high boots, expensive sunglasses, possibly a blue and white striped shirt (Kate Middleton wore blue and white checked),  amazing hair, a svelte figure, a very name-brand-ish handbag, and a scarf causally flung around the shoulders were just “A Must!”  Well. . .we would work with what we had–amazing hair and a svelte figure.  just kidding.  My current handbag would have to do.  It is a $13 black Coach bag I found at a thrift store up in Michigan over four years ago.  It looked scuffed up and tired, but then one evening I got the idea of washing it.  The results were pretty surprising.  Instead of black dye staining everything, all the ink pen marks and the make-up spills cleaned out of the pink lining and the white stitching on the outside brightened up.  I added some black shoe polish (trying super hard not to get it on the brighten white stitching) and I had me a Napa Valley Purse.

Boots.  I had a great pair of black leather boots that my mom had bought me last winter.  I get to wear them about once a year down here in Flip-Flop Country, so I was excited about using them for 18 days.  Now Scout is into Pintrest as well, and thought we really needed a pair of brown knee-high leather boots as well.  Since we are the same shoe size, we share shoes, and we clicked on the Frye Boots website daily looking for a sale.  One night I almost clicked on the “buy” button.  Scout and I were going to split the cost, but somehow I just couldn’t do it.  The very next day, I kicked myself for not getting the boots.  Then I found a fabulous pair of leather knee high boots in Ross for $60 instead of $300.  Both Scout and I did a little happy dance when I brought them home.

Hat.  At some Cracker Barrel somewhere, I tried on a hat, and The Hunni surprised me and bought it for me when I wasn’t looking.  I love him.

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Scout decided on a purple, slouchy, “beanie”, and we were both happy.

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About the svelte figure and the amazing hair.  Our plan of attack was “cover and disguise.”

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So Scout and I went with long shirts and matching overcoats (which I bought on sale at Walmart last Easter up in Illinois for $15.oo each when I was visiting and freezing.)

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I went with a blue and white long shirt and a mustard cardigan.

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Scout went with flannel, and Eloise rocked the headband that Scout had crocheted.

The hair was hidden, and we both had sunglasses from living in The Sunshine State.  We were ready, and more importantly we had a lot of fun together getting ready.

About The Daddi.

I looked at the photos of what “guys wear in fall to wine tasting,”

If he passed me you'd have to pry my hands off him:

This was never going to happen.  (Thank goodness)

Men's Fashion - This outfit is a perfect combo for a fall engagement sesh!:

Or this.  (photo credit)

Mens Fashion

Or even this.   The article read, “A glass of Cab Sauv pairs well with a nice cut of lamb. It does not pair well with your backwards baseball cap. A wine tasting should be a lot of fun, but it should also serve as an occasion to class it up a bit. You didn’t practice saying sangiovese to ruin the aristocratic effect by dressing like you’re hitting the gym rather than the vineyard, did you?”

Well. . .I am married to a guy who wears his baseball cap backwards (and looks great), and has never worried about his “aristocratic effect”  so, I wouldn’t try to dress him.  But best of all, he loves me–sans amazing hair and svelte figure.

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My family.

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My Hunni.

–Your Fashion Editor

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She Said–Postcards from Up in the Michigan U.P.–Day 9

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Friday, July 26, 2013

Home again, home again, jiggity jig.  Today we head home.  I wasn’t sure I was ready to leave as several large-ish things awaited us when we got home–Backyard VBS and Michigan Family Camp.  Both of these events needed more work in the Creative Energy department, and I find the Creative Energy Department about as draining as running a 5K.  We do Bible skits at both of these events, and creating a skit from a blank Word document exhausts me.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love doing it, but creativity is draining.

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But first let’s eat some breakfast.

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Scrambled eggs, bacon (of course), and grits.  Grits are a southern dish of dried hominy.

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My momma was from the South, so we were raised on beans and rice, grits, collard greens, jambalaya, etc. . .  Now my kids are being raised on beans and rice, grits, jambalaya, but they can’t swallow collard greens.

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Dishes.  There are always dishes.  But after dishes and packing up came. . . .

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DOUGHNUTS!!!from the Wilderness Park General Store.

The Hunni had made a doughnut run earlier in the week, but all the doughnuts had been eaten before I woke up enough to realize what I was missing.

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And since EVERYTHING reminds me of a book, let me here tell you about Homer Price by Robert McCloskey (who also illustrates the book.)

The book is as funny as the illustration on this front cover.  Among other adventures, Homer Price learns how to operate the doughnut machine at the local diner, and like on other adventures, Homer Price doesn’t know when to stop.

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We arrived at the Wilderness Park General Store just as some doughnuts were coming off the line.

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The recipe for all the doughnuts is the same, only the toppings differ.

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I generally choose a Maple Dip, Eloise always chooses the one with sprinkles, and the kiddos along with The Daddi like chocolate.

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This was the sign hung above the Doughnut Machine.  That would be 612,786 doughnuts.

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Now at $10 a dozen, that equals out to $6,127,860????  Did I do the math correctly??  Seems like I need to buy a doughnut machine.

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The doughnuts are not “kind of good”.  They are really, really, really, really good!

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We headed down the back roads of Michigan with a doughnut in our hands and a song in our hearts.

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We had a very happy vacation, and we were thankful.

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We had to take some back roads as we were headed to Traverse City for lunch and some cherry pie.  We entered the “town” of Bliss, Michigan where we found a general store, a cemetery, one house, and. . .

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POLO FIELDS!!!!  Here?  In ruralville?  I looked around to see if I had missed something, but no.  Bliss was a cemetery, a house, a general store, and POLO FIELDS.

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I have never seen a polo game, so we stopped the car and watched for a bit.

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“Hockey on a horse,” was my son’s description.  I was surprised that it was really interesting and thought how fun it would be to be able to ride a horse well enough to play polo.

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Here is a link to the Bliss Polo Fields.  And here is another link.  

Another unexpected surprise on this unexpected vacation.

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We took route C81 until we reached State Route 31 which runs along the edge of Lake Michigan–going through Petoskey, Charlevoix, and finally Traverse City.  We saw several signs for fresh cherries, and finally stopped and bought some.

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Cherry stained we continued along the lake.  There were several summer fairs, sailboat regattas, and other local events that made the drive interesting, but slow.

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I really wanted some sour cherries for a pie, so we stopped again.

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Friske Orchards is part store, and part restaurant,(hot sandwiches and pies), and. . .

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. . .part fruit stand, and. . .

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. . .part gift shop, and. . .

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. . .part petting zoo, and. . .

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. . .part kitchen gadget central.  I loved all the kitchen baking gadgets.

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I wanted to buy this cherry pitter that screws on top of a Mason Jar, but decided that the unfolded paper clip I have always used worked just fine.  I bought some sour cherries then headed back outside to the kiddos.

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They had stretched their legs and so once again we piled back into the car.

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Up North is snowmobile country.  The roads and restaurants all cater to the snowmobile crowd.  Hotels up in the U.P. don’t plow their parking lots as most of their visitors come in on snowmobiles.  Across the roads in the U.P. there are road patches where snowmobiles can cross a cleared road without damaging the surface.  The Great Lakes dump a lot of snow Up North, and if you like winter, it truly is a wonderland.

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Lunch had been a long time in coming, and tempers were all short.  We stopped at a Crepes restaurant only to learn it had closed 3 minutes prior.  Parking with a trailer in Traverse City was difficult and when we finally found this restaurant, we pulled in.

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Unwittingly, we had stopped at a local favorite–The Chef’s In.

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The Chef’s In is a hot sandwich stop, and here you write up your own order.

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The chef then grills up your sandwich while you watch.

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Soup is also on the menu, and also delicious–turkey, wild rice, with veggies.

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I ordered a Ruben, and loved every bite!  Taken separately, I am not crazy about corned beef, or sauerkraut, or Swiss cheese, or Thousand Island dressing or rye bread, but somehow altogether, the combination is wonderful.  There is some debate about the origins of the Reuben sandwich with Omaha claiming it’s origins as well as New York.  Old menus have been compared and debated and the verdict is clear.  Omaha claims origin. New York claims origin.

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In the same shopping complex, there was a Grand Traverse Pie Company restaurant, so we walked over for a slice of pie and a coffee (excellent pie and horrible coffee.)

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Baseball Boy loves chess, so he played a game with his sister.

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(For some reason, I found this painting funny.)

We thought about driving out to see Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, but time and daylight just wouldn’t allow another side trip.  The kiddos were ready to get home, and The Mommi and The Daddi were beginning to feel the same way.

File:Sleeping Bear Dune Aerial View.jpg(photo from here.)

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore remains on our “To Do in Michigan” list.  We dropped down to the city of Cadillac and headed on a diagonal (State Route 115) to Mount Pleasant.  Along the way we saw this. . . .

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The Hunni said, “Looks like the trailer was trying to pass itself.”

We had friends in Mount Pleasant, and we decided that we were going to call them even at the risk of being inopportune.

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We only gave them about 30 minutes notice, but they were very gracious and asked us to stop in for coffee.  Now for some reason, I sometimes get shy about my whole blogging life, and I hesitate to photograph people I love.  Things are easy to photograph, but sometimes photographing a person seems–invasive or something.  So I snapped a photo of the coffee,. . .

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. . .and the kids (3rd cousins). . .

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. . .and the amazing wood shop (The Hunni’s dream shop!!!)

. . .but I didn’t photograph the people we came to see.

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Well, okay, I have shots of the cousins, but not of Greg and Karin.  Greg is a university professor, and my husband is a pilot.  Greg is academic, and my husband is manual labor.  You would think that they wouldn’t have much in common, but the funny thing is they get along great.  Karin and I are both teachers and share the love of teaching and kids and cooking and travel and many other things, so I find her very easy to talk to.  Our “20 minute stop to say hello and have a coffee” turned into a two hours stop.  And a wonderful time.

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Remember that I said The Hunni was about manual labor?  He decided to see if he could pump up a car tire with a bike pump!!  It took a bit, but he did it!  And it was a good thing he decided on this method of Energy Exertion, because we got a call on my phone that I had left my purse behind.  Greg and Karin thought we were 20 minutes south by now, but no, we were only two blocks away.

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From Mt. Pleasant, it was a long, rainy, drive home.  It was time to end this trip.  We had seen three of the Great Lakes bordering Michigan.  It was an unexpected trip (went because we won the District Tournament).  It was unexpectedly beautiful up in the Michigan U.P. (our first time up there.)  It was unexpectedly fun.  (I had some reservations about trailer and kid hauling for a week without The Hunni around.)  And it was a somewhat unexpected good-bye.  We have plans to move to Florida this fall/winter and are heading down this coming week to house hunt.

Thanks for joining us on this adventure up in the Michigan U.P.  Please come along with us as we explore Florida and make it our new home.

–rebecca

P.S.  If you are just now joining us, you can follow our entire trip via these links.

July 18, 2013–Traveling Up to the U.P.-Day 1

July 19, 2013–First Day of the Tournament–Day 2

July 20, 2013–Kayaking in Lake Superior–Day 3

July 21, 2013–Maritime Museum–Day 4

July 22, 2013–Lake Superior and Sugarloaf–Day 5

July 23, 2013–Picnicking along Lake Superior–Day 6

July 24, 2013–Biking around Mackinac Island–Day 7

July 25, 2013–Biking, Beaching, and Bomb Hole Hunting–Day 8

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She Said–Postcards from Up in the Michigan U.P.–Day 8

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July 25, 2013–Day 8

This was our second night at Wilderness State Park, and we loved it.  The arrow in the photo shows the location of the State Park–about 30 minutes from the Mighty Mac Bridge. Continue reading

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