It’s always a pleasure staying in Bad Axe. It’s Pat’s home town and she gets to see family and old friends. We stay at her brother’s house, just north of the old family farm, and camp in his backyard. He has several acres and he was kind enough to put in 30 amp RV outlets in his pole barn so we can get sufficient power to our RV. Our granddaughters always enjoy the wide open spaces and the fruit and vegetable garden. They help pick raspberries, but I’m not sure how many make it to the table!
We enrolled them in the vacation bible school program at the church we attend when are in the area, and in the summer reading program at the local library. They enjoyed both programs and had lots of stories to share with us. They were even featured in a front page article on the library program in the local paper!
One afternoon we visited the Huron County Pioneer Log Cabin Village. This is the largest collection of log cabins in the state of Michigan. We toured a general store, blacksmith shop, a barn, and an old one-room schoolhouse. The girls listened to Pat talk about her experiences as a one-room school student. They spent more time here than any of the other buildings. We also toured a single family dwelling that housed a family with eleven children – very cramped quarters!
A highlight of the visit was a trip to Dave and Rosemary Seagroves to ride some of Rosemary’s horses. The girls and Robin’s son, Jeremiah, rode in the corral until they were comfortable and then were able to ride in the open field behind the house. Pat’s sister, Mary Lee, and I rode a couple of more challenging horses in the field while Rosemary worked with the kids. It was certainly a BIG difference from a horseback ride at a camp or county fair, and a great time was had by all!
On July 2nd, we drove to the Smith Family cottage on Rifle Lake, near Lupton, MI.
There is a family tradition to gather at the cottage over the week of Independence Day. Pat’s brothers bought a new cottage that is right on the shore of Rifle Lake. Mary Lee and Welton’s fifth wheel (from Milwaukee) and ours park in the driveway of the garage, across the street and the rest of the family stays in the cottage. Elisabeth and Katrina had their own, private accommodations – tents behind the garage! It is a week of family fellowship, fun, and way too much to eat!
The kids decorated the cottage golf cart and we drove it in the park’s Golf Cart Parade. Nearby Rose City has a fireworks display that is quite the show for a small town. We arrived just before dusk and laid on the lawn on the hill overlooking where the fireworks are lit. It’s a great show and laying right under the exploding fireworks is a unique experience. The kids loved it!
One of the new, favorite things to do was to fish off the end of the dock. The five kids shared two fishing rods with a lot of cooperation and only a little conflict – the grandparents were happy with this. There were no shy fishermen in this group, the kids baited their own hooks, and only needed help getting the fish off the hook when it had been swallowed by the fish. The keepers were cleaned by the adults and saved for a fish fry at the end of the week. The prize for the largest fish went to Katrina for her 14-inch largemouth bass.
Tubing behind the pontoon boat was another popular activity. Being pulled by the pontoon boat, rather than a ski boat meant slower speeds, but also the opportunity to stand on the tube. Needless to say our kids had almost no fear and tried every different way to ride the tube.
I keep a small sailboat at the cottage. I took it out and gave the girls a chance to try their hand manning the sails. The winds were light so it was a bit of work to sail around the lake.
One day, Pat, Mary Lee, and Maureen took the kids to play miniature golf and they had a great time. Pat was very pleased with herself for scoring a “hole in one.”
One of the last things we did at the cottage was celebrate the birthday of Pat’s brother, Geri, and sister, Mary Lee. Welton and Geri’s boys had been hard at work building a bean bag toss game for both of them. Geri thought it was a surprise for Mary Lee, and he was the one surprised when he found he was getting on too.
On Monday, July 13th, we left the trailer at the cottage and drove to the Holiday Inn in Flint so I could fly the girls to Memphis to deliver them to their other grandparents. We played in the pool and had pizza for dinner – a great finale to a wonderful month. The next day was supposed to be an uneventful trip. We were up at 4:00 AM for a 5:40 departure. We got to the airport in plenty of time, the girls were terrific during the long trip. In Memphis, we met Dave and Jackie Smalley outside of baggage claim and I collected hugs from everyone and an extra one from each of the girls for Pat. I had a few hours to relax before I flew back to Flint. I made it to Atlanta without any problems, and that is where the problems began. My 9:00 flight was delayed to 9:20, then 10:06, then 11:35. The airport was closed due to high winds. I finally departed from Atlanta at 1:34 AM and arrived back to our room at the Holiday Inn at 4:10 AM – talk about a long day!
After sleeping in we drove back to the cottage, hooked up the trailer and were on our way to visit our friends, Betsy and Stan Pash in Lake City.