We arrived safely in Michigan after our short visit in Chicago...2400 miles total!
We stayed with my youngest brother Dennis and his wife Michelle and their daughter Hailey.(And their dog Dakota) Hailey is literally twice as tall as the last time we saw her! She went from little girl, to little lady.
While in town, we were able to visit several times with my Dad and his wife Chris, as well as seeing the rest of my brothers and sisters. (Patrick and his little girl Maya...who has Patrick's curly blonde hair....and my oldest sister Kathy and her husband Gary) Everyone was healthy and it was great to see and share some time/memories with the family that I so rarely see these days.
Kathy was given the task of resurrecting my old teddy bear, "BB"...who has seen significant and loving wear and tear over the years at the hands of my daughter Veronica. We hope to see "BB" shipped out in the next month with a facelift of sorts!
We seemed to never stop eating!! We enjoyed Coney Dogs, pizza from "Holiday Pizza" (A place I used to work), frozen custard from "Erma's Frozen Custard" stand" (on three separate occasions!!), chicken from the Bavarian Inn in Frankenmuth, MI, a sack of burgers from the local "White Castle" burger joint and a lunch buffet at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.
Our trip to Mackinac was memorable. We drove up with my brother Dennis and his family. We ventured across the verrrrry longggg Mackinac Bridge (5 miles long and for many years, the longest suspension bridge in the world!) and took a few photos before going back to Mackinac City and spending the night in a motel that overlooked Lake Huron. Hailey and Veronica had fun shopping and visiting the Mirror Maze". (A house of mirrors...that you have to find your way through) We dipped our feet in Lake Huron (and earlier in Lake Michigan) and looked for "Petoskey Stones" and shells on the beach.
The next day we took a ferry to Mackinac Island, where we spent the day riding bicycles around the island (no motors allowed there...its horse and buggy or bicycles) before taking a horse drawn taxi up to the Grand Hotel...one of the finest hotels in the United States!! (for you movie buffs, "Somewhere in Time" was filmed here) It was a bittersweet moment when I entered the Grand Hotel as it was one of my Mom's favorite places on earth. Though I had seen it from across the water several times, I had never been inside the Hotel (none of us had!) ...rather, as a young man I had heard how much my Mom had enjoyed staying there back in the 70's. We enjoyed an incredible lunch buffet in the grand dining hall, taking in the views as much as the delicious food!
Until recently, you were not allowed to even enter the Hotel unless you were a registered guest...after 5 pm ladies must still wear a dress and men are required to wear a jacket and tie. After a beautiful day on the Island, we drove back home that night, by way of Frankenmuth MI, where we had dinner at the famous Bavarian Inn!
While home, we had two get together's at Dennis and Michelle's, one was just to get the Gamble family together for a visit and the other was a Birthday Party for Hailey....who just turned 11! Congrats Hailey! We met some of Michelle's relatives at the birthday party and put faces to names for the first time in some cases!
Before we knew it, it was time to leave. Time for the long drive back to Washington.
Thanks to everyone for their hospitality, generosity and for making time for us. Thank you Dennis and Michelle for opening your home to us and for driving us everywhere!! Thanks Kathy, Gary, and Patrick for making the trip out to gather as a family. We really had a great time!