Tag Archive: Travel


We made it to Michigan (and through Michigan taking a more scenic, albeit much longer route winding our way through forests, farmland and little towns).  Total duration: 18 hours.

I forgot to mention a previous adventure which subsequently made for a lot of fun had on the longer trip north.  Friday morning, Erick woke the whole family and hurried us out the door and down to the Apple Store to wait in line for the new iPhone.  I thought he was insane – the line was hundreds of people long (five-hundred during our six hours) and the wait was boring, but the reward well worth it.  I’ve never before been so enthralled with technology (you know, the word that means magic). 

At first glance, the unassuming little device appears to be little more than an iPod, but spend some time surfing the internet and email photos while driving through a mountain tunnel and you’ll know the little iPod-GPS-camera-phone has super-powers.  Rather than using satellites to locate your position on the map, it triangulates your position by bouncing signals off nearby towers.  Maybe not as cool as satellites, but someone had to come up with the idea and I’m impressed.  I’m also impressed that Erick needed only stand near his computer while his personal data was uploaded “magically” to his iPhone.  And that during our trip, I snapped a photo of the “Welcome to Michigan” sign, attached it in an email and sent it to Erick’s family awaiting our arrival up north with the message, “We’re here.”  Me, a simple human being, capable of wielding such power!  Bwah-ha-ha!

Anyway, wow.  Again, wow.  Cooler even than the personal computer.

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This afternoon we drove out to Grandfather Mountain and did some exploration in the rain.  It was a **beautiful** trip and I hope to return sometime soon.  At the peak, Grandfather is over one mile high and there’s a suspension bridge leading to the peak that spans a forty-foot gorge one mile deep!  The girls enjoyed the wildlife – cougars, an eagle, bear, an otter, some deer and a muskrat that crossed the road while we were leaving.  Celli accompanied us and seemed to enjoy the mountain as much, if not more than anyone. 

Driving to the peak was exciting.  Our back wheels slid against the sharp inclines, and our truck was far too big for some of the 180-degree turns, but we managed and made it to the top with time to spare before the storm.

The storm hit hard some time after Hickory and seemed to be firing water and lightning at anything that moved.  In the city, the thunder roared and ricocheted between buildings – like War of the Worlds, only really wet. The rivers were swollen to twice their size – I guess this happens quickly down here.  Everyone drove with their hazards because the water was so deep on the roads and you couldn’t make out the other cars very well.  One of the things I love about this region is the rains storms – they last for hours, unlike Michigan where it seemed we would get bursts of a storm, but they would quickly fizzle (except in the winter when the snow seemed never-ending).  

We’ve enjoyed some fireworks in the city – reminds me so much of Harbor Days back home.  What a wonderful end to such an adventurous trip.  Tomorrow we hope to see the ocean!

Happy holiday everyone!  Have a safe, adventurous weekend.

The girls take a break beneath split-rock – One serious bolder.

Okay, they weren’t really wild like I told my mom.  They were as tame as could be and waiting for hand-outs from visitors.  

Popo and I take a break in the rain for one quick photo 5000+feet in the air.  Photo by Wolfy.

The Mile-high “swinging bridge”

 

The storm was raging by the time we reached Charlotte.  Cars, trucks and motorcyclists especially crowded under overpasses to wait for a clearing.  Visibility was crap and here you can see the hazards on the car ahead of us.  

My favorite stop along 321.  The only truly affordable and fun, hand-made locally shop I’ve found.

I love the drive into the mountains for all of the old farmsteads and homesteads, fruit-stands and the views!

In the heat, Celli cools off by lying on any concrete surface she can find:

 


Our week back in Elk Rapids, MI afforded me some time for reflection on all of the recent changes in our lives. We spent the majority of our time near the water; either on East Bay or Lake Michigan, but I made it a point to visit the chain and made a special visit to the old willow whose boughs sweep the currents of Elk River.  We used to climb out onto limbs as thick as barrels over the water to watch fish make their struggles toward the falls.  Treasures found along the shore were tucked safely beneath the tangled roots born bare by sand.  I climbed Johnny Rock and took photos of each of the girls on the early day’s swimmer’s stone; once a goal for swimmers near the newly erected harbor: The goal, uprooted; now a monument. 

Despite a lingering chill in the air, something in the metered pulse of the waves sliding up against sand only to be swept back again brought me into the moment and gave me time to center.  It was clear all at once I have not felt centered for some time in Charlotte.  It’s also clear I’ll need to find some way of “chilling out” now that I’m back in the city.  

It is strange returning home after a long absence, but I haven’t been away very long.  For me, this trip was about saying goodbye and reveling in the emotion unveiled through the process of letting go.  It was about replacing my grief for losing money on our house with gratitude we weren’t one of the dozen new foreclosures in the paper each day.  And about recognizing my ability to travel cross-country in good time with little worry.  This trip also reminded me that no amount of distance can squelch a good friendship.  And no matter how mature we become, we can still wade ankle-deep in Lake Michigan, jump waves tracing lines in the sand, and climb trees.  

On my way home to Charlotte, I occasionally glanced back in the rearview mirror at the thin horizon and worried about when I would return, but mostly my eyes were trained forward on the adventurous mountains ahead, and on the road immediately before me.  When I was a child, it was the road that moved as our car stood still, but yesterday, I accelerated past those reservations I’ve had about moving forward in this new life.  Despite warnings about dangerous cross-winds and steep grades, I was determined to make this trip work- determined not only to reach the destination, but as the saying goes, to enjoy the journey. 

And now for some theme-appropriate Walt Whitman: 

O living always, always dying!

O the burials of me, past and present!

O me, while I stride ahead, material visible, imperious as ever!

O me, what I was for years, now dead, (I lament not – I am content; )

O to disengage myself from those corpses of me which I turn and look at where I cast them!

To pass on, (O living! always living!) and leave the corpses behind!

Please click photos to link to flickr photos of our travels.

 

The old farm house on some acreage turned out to be a structural nightmare in the wait right across from a gas station.  Not exactly my dream, but the latest disappointment spurred a discussion between husband, realtor and I about what it is we want from a property in Charlotte.  We concluded we would like to have land and an old house in which to put down roots, but the fact remains, by Charlotte’s standards, we’re not in the financial position to find what we want.  The next best thing involves temporary thinking with long-term goal-setting.  I ran a search of houses priced below $200K near Charlotte, but with some yard.  Some are bank-owned, some are just older and in need of minor updates and a few are new, but small.  All will house a family our size for the next few years and will likely sell for more than what we pay (which will be nice for a change).  In the meantime, we will pad our savings and hopefully in a few years, I’ll have my book published, Erick will have moved up and we’ll be in a financial position to revisit property back home in Michigan.  Or maybe, we’ll do some traveling.  Whichever, we’ll need to fund our dreams with something a bit more concrete than wishful thinking.  

I feel strongly that a second chance at life deserves a bit of adventure. For months, I’ve been planning a tour of the US including fossil hunting, diving with great white sharks, whale-watching (I want to see a blue whale), walking the Grand Canyon and standing beside a redwood for perspective. Of course, a trip of this magnitude must be shared with friends! Christy, my trusty friend and my personal travel agent, found these two great tours. Click on one of the images below.

whaletail.jpg pic-shark18b.jpg

(photos property of websites)

I’ve been trying to figure out why I’m so interested in seeing larger than life wonders. I think I need to step out of self-importance for a while. My life has been centered on survival for so long, I haven’t had an opportunity to look up and see those things that dwarf my life in comparison. Now I have a chance to live, to experience adventure, and to enjoy it with those I love.

What is your dream vacation?

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