We like to return to Michigan for the summer. Our first stop after leaving the Chicago area was one our favorite stops, Woodchip Campground in Byron Center, just south of Grand Rapids. Woodchip is like an oasis in the city. It is surrounded by sub-divisions, but you get a feeling of living in the woods while you are there.
Our reason for staying there was to break up the trip and visit some friends in the area. However, our first errand was to drive to Canadian Lakes, near Big Rapids, to visit my sister and drop off our family pictures. These had been stored at our daughter’s house in North Carolina before she moved to Washington and downsized to an apartment. My sister, Susan, was kind enough to give us a spot in her basement. We enjoyed spending the time visiting and helping with moving some stuff around her house.
We met one of Pat’s high school classmates, Kay and her husband, Lynn. We have been friends for years and Lynn and I are two paratroopers that enjoy sharing “Jump Lies” with each other. Later in the week, two retired comrades from the Michigan Army National Guard, Ray and Rhea, joined us for lunch and the afternoon. It was fun catching up with them on what they have been up to. They have custody of the daughter of Ray’s deceased brother and now face the challenges of parenting that most of us faced at a younger age. However, they are enjoying having Becky in their life. As the saying goes, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him you have a plan.”
In early June we drove from Grand Rapids to Bad Axe to camp in the back yard of Pat’s brother’s house. Geri and Marcia are great hosts and staying with them is always an enjoyable time. On our way there we stopped at Marlette RV to have our wheel bearings checked and repacked. This is when we discovered that our axles were wearing out (losing the bow they are supposed to have) and we decided to have Marlette RV upgrade them in the fall.
While in Bad Axe we visited with family, shared meals with Geri and Marcia and their kids. We drove to Freeland to watch our niece, Adi, play T-Ball – Great fun!
We all went to the local winery for a tasting, and enjoyed sampling some local wine.
One afternoon their sons, Matt and Adam, treated us to a wonderful meal of fish and smoked brisket – those boys can really put on a great spread!
I took care of some repairs and maintenance, such as giving the trailer a good wash and wax, and helped Marcia with some work she wanted to have done. I also indulged in some of my hobbies while there. I started a batch of homemade Green Apple Riesling wine in Geri’s basement. My big surprise was discovering a new coffee shop in downtown Bad Axe that offered an open mic experience. I was able to play there several times and I’m looking forward to playing that venue again.
On June 24th we drove to Lansing to stay at the Cottonwood Campground. This has got to be the most convenient campground for anyone visiting the Lansing area. Almost any place in the area is a short drive and it is a short walk to the Lansing River Trail for walking and biking. This week was about the reason we came to Michigan this summer, I will have partial knee replacement surgery on both knees in July. This week we saw our dentist (can’t have dental work done during joint replacement), and had pre-op checks and tests. We did more medical stuff than camping stuff this week! I plan to detail the whole joint replacement in another post.
At the end of the week we drove north to a cottage that Pat’s brothers own on Rifle Lake, near Rose City, MI. Most of the family gathers here for the week of Independence Day. It is a fun week of swimming, kayaking, and for me, sailing. We don’t have the room to carry my small sailboat with us and the brothers-in-law have been kind enough to let me store it at the cottage.
Most of the entertainment is provided by the sons, daughters, nieces, and nephews of the family. Everyone enjoys watching them enjoy themselves. The most popular activity is tubing behind the pontoon boat, with boat rides on the lake a close second. The most popular non-aquatic activity is eating and drinking more than we should. Both men and women take their turns impressing the family by preparing their favorite dishes and specialty drinks. Adi especially enjoyed the Independence Day Bike parade. All in all it is a busy, but relaxing, fun time for all and we look forward to it every year.
On Friday we drove back to the Lansing Cottonwood Campground where we will spend the rest of the summer. I enjoyed my last bit of freedom of movement before my first surgery on July 10th. The remainder of July and August were taken up with the second surgery on July 24th and rehabilitation.
The highlight of the summer happened on August 2nd when two of our granddaughters, the twins Sierra and Clarissa, arrived from Tacoma, WA. They stayed with us for two wonderful weeks. They enjoyed using the pool at the campground, but they really liked it when we took them to Lake Michigan to play in the big waves. The lake cooperated with 17 mph winds and really good waves. All of the granddaughters are great swimmers and the twins loved diving into the waves, getting knocked over by them, and body surfing. It was a perfect day for such a treat.
I think the highlight of the trip was a trip to the Rifle Lake cottage over the second weekend they were with us. Our son, Dave, joined us for the trip and, once again, tubing was the special activity. The weather was perfect for a great weekend.
On our way home, we stopped in Mt. Pleasant so we could see my sister, Susan, and she could spend some time with the girls.
Our last big deal was a visit to the MSU Dairy Store. Even though Michigan State University has a wide curriculum, it started as an agricultural college and maintains those roots. The MSU Dairy Store is a way to taste the work of these students – and the best ice cream in town!
All good things must come to an end and on August 16th we drove Sierra and Clarissa (with their new shirts) to Detroit Metropolitan Airport for the flight to Seattle. It was a wonderful two weeks and we’re looking forward to spending next summer with them in Washington!