Travel

A Fall Pause along Lake Michigan

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This year doesn’t seem to make any sense; we keep time by how long since the beginning of Covid.  There doesn’t seem to be any future or past just a blur of days running together.  We left Virginia just before Labor Day weekend and headed to Michiana about an hour east of Chicago and right on Lake Michigan. 

This is an area with which we are very familiar but because we have to carefully consider the risks before leaving the house, we didn’t have the usual anticipation of things to do after we arrived.

I found a house in what we feel is a perfect location, in the woods, just a couple of blocks from the lake.  Unfortunately because of high water levels the steps to the beach are blocked off.  So many gorgeous homes line the beach road from here into Michigan City, a distance of about four miles; unfortunately many are at risk for tumbling into the water. 

Our house would be a great beach house for a family summer stay…with nice kitchen appliances and a cozy sitting/dining area.  There’s a large screened in porch that was a great place to read and enjoy my morning coffee when we first got here; however, fall quickly arrived and the mornings became too chilly for sitting outside. The house is VERY old, has metal cabinets and although there is an upstairs bed and bath because there is no railing on the steps, we haven’t gone up there except to initially check it out.   The owners have done a good job of adding coats of fresh paint and the place is clean but the floors are uneven and much of the house could use a lot of renovating.  Again, it’s a good choice for a family looking to get away for a week near the beach but definitely not a good choice for a long term stay.  It takes me back to the 1950’s and the weeks I spent at camp! We’ve spent previous summer months near the lake in year round homes which were far more comfortable and cheaper. I thought it would be nice to try something new and this looked great on Airbnb…but pictures don’t always tell the story.  We’re lucky, however, the furnace is good. And on this rainy morning with the thermometer reaching only 41 degrees, that’s huge! 

Besides our routine trips to the grocery store, we don’t venture out much. We do like to drive down to the city park right on the shore of Lake Michigan and sit in our car and people watch. It doesn’t seem to matter if it’s cold or warm, windy or calm.

We’ve seen folks kite surfing, folks chasing seagulls.  The beaches seem to draw people no matter what the weather. And if it’s a fairly clear day we can even glimpse the skyline of Chicago.  It’s definitely a calming meditative place to be!

When we first arrived here, it had been more than a year since we had seen our oldest son, Kris and his family.  We really wanted to see them and were considering making the two and half hour drive up to Big Rapids but weren’t sure. Would it be safe? We definitely didn’t want to put anyone at risk.   Our daughter in law’s parents are our good friends and have a home on a lake just outside Big Rapids. So Andria (our daughter in law) suggested we meet up there where we could visit outside. Sounded perfect!  And it was! Lovely warm weather, great food and wonderful company!  

Our oldest granddaughter is a sophomore at Central Michigan University but she’s studying virtually.  As I think back to my days in college I can’t even fathom what it would be like to not interact with others face to face, to take classes online, and to not have all the fun outside of class!  We were really excited when we learned she was going to have a solo performance and we could watch it on zoom.  Had this occurred during a more normal time, we would have never had the opportunity to see her perform!  So I turned on the computer, got my glass of wine and settled in to listen to Alli and her oboe and felt a lot like I was at the Kennedy Center!

It’s incredible how many words have entered our lexicon in the past eight months.  In early March we first became familiar with “social distancing.”  Recently our five year old grandson was getting ready to go back to his Montessori preschool.  I asked him if he was looking forward to it and his response was, “I don’t even know what 6 feet is!”  So obviously the concept has permeated all levels of our society!  Another grandchild explained last week in a telephone call that she was going to an outdoor sleepover at a friend’s house. This friend’s family is one with whom they “bubbled.”  All concepts don’t appear to be so commonly understood.  For instance, I was flabbergasted when some folks believed that Covid 19 referred to the 19th version of Covid instead of Covid in the year 2019.  

Recently our youngest grandson turned 5. We had a birthday celebration online! Aunts and uncles from Michigan to Rome to DC were all able to join in and wish him a Happy Birthday in Rockville!

We have been genuinely lucky so far during the pandemic.  Our inconvenience pales in comparison to those who have lost family members or contacted the virus themselves and have become victims of a lengthy illness and an uncertain future.

Or those who have lost their source of income!  We are thankful for all the first responders who help keep us safe as well as keep our lives fairly normal.  We recently completed our annual medical treks to the Mayo Clinic and were amazed at all their protocols in place to keep folks safe:  from the special markings in the elevators to individual check ins at all the entrances, to the numerous volunteers who help guide patients to their appointed destinations. 

My major project these past couple of months has been to volunteer for the Democrats.  Like most Americans I can’t believe the lies and misinformation that have permeated our society for the past four years. And the negativity and divisiveness is almost more than a body can tolerate! I feel extraordinarily lucky to be an American but I also believe that democracy is a fragile institution that requires thoughtfulness if it is to remain viable. With our citizenship, I believe, comes the responsibility for every American to be informed and become involved in the democratic process.  To this end, I have participated in a variety of activities.  Bob and I started out making phone calls while we were still in Florida, but we soon became disillusioned with the few times we actually reached a real person.  Then the nastiness with which so many people responded was discouraging.  But when I was asked to participate in a texting campaign, I realized that was something I could do.  I sent more than 5,000 texts and while there was still a lot of negativity, there was also the occasional validating response!  In addition, I found Postcards for Voters so I ordered 100 postcards online, as well as stamps online, and started writing.  If I make the difference in 1 vote I feel my time has been well spent!  Our absentee ballots are mailed routinely to Patrick. He mailed them on to us the day he received them and then we mailed them on to Big Rapids the day after they arrived. We then checked online to make sure they got to Big Rapids!

Now that we’re only a couple of days away from the election I feel like I’ve done all I can do. But wow!  Waiting is hard!  I vacillate between being optimistic and being scared! 

We now are packing up and getting ready to head for Washington DC where we’ll spend a week before heading to warmer temps for the winter. We decided we want to be in a “blue” location for election night.  I’m crossing my fingers that citizens will feel compelled to get out and vote if they haven’t already.

Election Day is Bob’s birthday and so I wrote him a little diddy for his birthday.

Home After Deranged
(Sung to the tune of Home on the Range)

Oh, Give me a land
With Biden in command
Where Kamala stands by his side.
Where once more is heard
An intelligent word.
And the truth is no longer denied.

The voters have all had enough.
We're fed up with all Mitch's guff.
With Trump & Barr in jail.
The rule of law will prevail.
And we'll move on to doing good stuff! 

This election isn’t about party. It’s about returning our country to its values. This yard sign seems to sum it up pretty well!

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