Saturday, July 24, 2010

Michigan Trip 2010 : Parents' Anniversary

Bonnie & I took our oft-annual trip to Michigan over the the week of July 3-10. A bit more full than typical trips - met up at a friends' cottage on the lake for the holiday, and the whole family was in town for my parents' 50th wedding anniversary. Here's how our days broke down :

* Saturday, July 3 :
Shuttle pickup at at 3:50AM, ez time thru OAK, then a 4-hr layover in Denver Airport (free wi-fi, lunch at Paradise Cafe). Oddly, it was a small plane for the DEN-DTW. We weren't sitting together, but we asked a 22-ish woman to switch seats, which she graciously did. Then, she ended up chatting with the 25-ish dude she was sitting next to, for most of the flight. Could be fate...
Anyway, got in uneventfully, picked up the car (a Prius, that was a nice bonus), grabbed some Checkers Burgers, then drove the 3 hours up to Caseville to meet with the Bayleys, and Ron. We got a vague note that they were at the 'County Park'. Seeing as there was only one real park in Caseville, we set ourselves down there as darkness approached (9:30pm). After some trudging up and down the beach, and scant txt messaging, we found them in time for the fireworks. Then back to the beachhouse, Jill Sligay came over (hadn't seen her since just after high school, I think). for a bonfire and chat late into the night. Fun weekend all around, and a bit unusual as a vacation for us -just sitting around & relaxing.

* Sunday, July 4 :
Lazy day, fer sure. It was funny seeing the outdoors in daylight - didn't realize how close the beach/lake was to the house. Made breakfast, went for a beach walk and a swim. Definitely different on the lake vs. an ocean beach : no brine, no riptide, and walkable hundreds of feet out. There was talk about going for a spin on the jet skis, but we decided to take Andy's boat out to Big Charity Island. The island is the site of a 100+ year old lighthouse which has been converted into a dinner destination - the owners ferry people from the shore, serve dinner, and give a tour/speech about the island. It was a long history of the land - about 45 minutes while the boat crew doubled as the catering staff. Exquisite meal, too. Had an nice boat ride across the bay, except for the last stretch into the breakwater - the boat bottomed out, spewing up mud and forcing us non-essentials to crawl into the front... Happened on the way out, too - but we ended up getting out unscathed. Got back just before dark, hung out on the beach and caught lots of homebrew fireworks shows. Pretty amazing to see what elaborate stuff people came up with, lasted til after midnight.

* Monday, July 5 :
Today we'd be heading out to Frankenmuth & Flint , About a 2-hr drive to Frankenmuth, where we caught up with an old college chum Jeff Roberts, his wife Deb and their 3 daughters. Nice time at the famous Zehnder's. for family-style fried chicken, then walked around downtown for some shnitzel and landsjager. Bid farewell, and made a stop at Bronners, the 362-days-a-year Christmas store. I hadn't been to Frankenmuth since I was kid, not as magical as I remember - Bonnie pointed out she thought it would have more displays & dioramas (what it did have was thousands of Christmas Tree ornaments for sale). Then on to Flint.
Had no plan for Flint, we decided to see downtown first. Not much happening, and a place you'd want to get out of before darkness descended. So, we looked up an area, with a chain hotel, that seemed to be a bit more stable, if commercial, but then decided to go to another commercial district - Miller Street, to a Comfort Inn. Dinner at Logan's Roadhouse - one of the less franchisey places nearby. Tasty food, we loved our server, and had a good evening out.

* Tuesday, July 6 :
Went back to the Flint Cultural Center - a host of museums, we went to the Sloan Museum, which had a really thorough history of mid-Michigan, and the start of the auto industry. Then over to the Flint Art Institute, which had a fantastic collection of pieces, and a special exhibit of Tiffany Glass. Stopped a local, organic coffee shop, Good Beans, then on the way to Detroit area. Got in around 3pm to Gordon & Allison's place, would be our HQ for the week. Family dinner & visiting the rest of the evening.

* Wednesday, July 7 :
Went out to Ann Arbor to pick up the rental Chapman Stick from Oz Music. Then met up with former Californian Matt Sullivan (sorry we missed Michaelangelo!), had lunch and walked around downtown area. Back to the HQ - Bonnie and Allison went out for a dinner together (bar & grill), so it was boyz night out, with the little lady... NIce time hanging out, I had the Stick in full swing, I was hoping to get some recording or jamming done w/ the former bandmates, but alas, no. Good Pineland, and Meijer trip, nonetheless.

* Thursday, July 8 :
Had to go back to Ann Arbor to return the Stick, so we also used it as an opportunity to visit with John and Laura Turner, and their new 4-month-old, Marin (Brody was out a day care). Next up - headed to downtown Detroit, where we treated to a special tour of neighborhoods from Rob Feder. Rob is long-time partner to Alicia, Andy's older sister - Rob is a firefighter, and the two of them have lived in Detroit for years. Actual Detroit... So, Rob drove us around, Bonnie had a few hotspots to hit (Avalon Bakery, Cass Cafe), but we mostly got an earful and eyeful of his historical & geographical knowledge. I saw areas of Detroit that day I'd never been to before, and we got to witness the upside and downside : the countless abandoned houses, but very nice houses and streets close by. Saw empty lots turned into community gardens, and some of the businesses that served the community. Ended with a drive through Belle Isle (unfortunately, just as a huge rainstorm hit). Thanks again to Rob for the hospitality.
Thursday evening was a quick visit to the parents, we were there when Greg & Vicki & family arrived, but had to run, we had a gathering of friends at the Buddy's Pizza nearby. I'm always worried about those - will everyone show up? Will too many people show up? But, it was a great evening - mainly to see Dan & Michelle, and Kevin & Jen (glad they came, didn't get a chance to get out to their place!).

* Friday, July 9 :
Friday was a bit rough, schedule-wise. Plans for family events kinda fell through, as everyone went their separate ways. I went out for lunch w/ Greg & Vicki in Ann Arbor, thinking we could go to some record stores in downtown, but with traffic and packed plans, we just ended up sitting in the restaurant for a half-hour or so, then I split to come back and go to the Plymouth Art Fair. Ended up going w/ just Ben and Lila (and a girl Lila was sitting, Alli), but it was a nice time, shared some sweet Elephant Ears, and it was a good reason to get out of the house.
Followed up with Taco Night at the parents house, with everyone there. Well, except for Sterling and Elise who were left with the ex-nanny in Ann Arbor. After dinner, went to Gordon & Allisons for some S'mores and the firepit. I had plans to meet up with KeithF at ye olde Leland City Club, but couldn't motivate, plus I wussed out about making it through downtown at midnight, so I bailed.

* Saturday, July 10 :
The big day - still trying to keep it a surprise. I went with Ben & Gordon to the Livonia Rec Center gym - it was a good idea to get active, but the air was rank and frigid, think it was the catalyst to me getting quite sick later that night. Mostly spent the day helping clean up or setup, Rebecca and Rob showed up soon, then more guests started showing up. It was quite a wide collection of folks - esp. old neighbors, and people I hadn't seen in a long time, and some I don't even remember meeting as a kid. Then the countdown to the parents' arrival, they walked into the yard at 4:30ish, and were very surprised & delighted. Lot of good conversation, folks that they hadn't seen in years. We hung out til late night (Greg and Rebecca even went over to take care of the dog), parents went home about 10ish, along with Greg & Vicki. A few folks hung out at the house, but I was feeling increasingly ill, and went off to bed.

* Sunday, July 11 :
Feeling better in the morning, we went over to the parents' house for a breakfasty thing w/ Rebecca and Rob (Greg & Vicki had left at 5 oclock that morning for the drive back to N Carolina). I got caught up talking to neighbor Bill Jennings, then Ron came by, we made a quick run to Rock of Ages. (Has fallen into a bit of a state of entropy - things out of order, not a great selection, not much used.) Would've liked to have gone to Dearborn Music, or Encore, but time was short. Made it back to HQ, and after a big of contention about schedule and refilling the gas tank, made it to the airport.