Driving Across Michigan: Saginaw to Traverse City

Woodbury kidsThis morning we managed to sleep through the pitter patter of little feet. We took our time getting out of bed and getting ready, and had a late breakfast of pancakes, waffles, and watermelon. Emmy and Gwen ate breakfast with the grownups, but Mac had already eaten so he was in the next room playing. In the middle of breakfast he came into the dining room driving this huge robot (well… “huge” being over a foot tall). Of course the girls wanted to play with it too, but Scott got precedence, asking Mac what the different buttons did. The thing kept the kids busy all morning. Emmy was mortified when she accidentally made the robot’s claw come off, thinking she had broken Mac’s new favorite toy, but was very relieved when I showed her that the robot’s hand went back in easily and actually had been designed to shoot out.

By mid-morning the kids had started to warm up to us a bit more (they were pretty shy the previous evening, except when Gwenny sat in my lap), and were absolutely thrilled when we asked if we could take pictures of them. Emerson was the funniest – she was totally psyched about having her photo taken, and would say “Cheese!” when told to, but wouldn’t necessarily look at the camera when doing so. And after every shot she wanted to take a look, which of course meant that Gwenny had to see as well. These girls are such a cute pair.

Dogpile on Dave!The kids started rough-housing, so Dave jumped in to rescue Emmy from Mac, and ended up in a big wrestling match between the three of them. I stayed out of it and helped Gwen with her puzzle instead, trying to keep the two of us from getting bowled over. By the time we were ready to leave, the kids were sad that we were leaving. It’s so funny what a short time it takes to go from, “Who are these strange grownups in my kitchen?” to “Keep taking pictures of us!”

We left Jeanne & Scott’s house around noon, stopped by the local post office to mail Dave’s suit to California (we only brought it for the wedding, so why have it taking up space in our car?), then got on the highway.

Dave had a few phone calls to make in order to ensure that our stuff will be moved into our apartment in the morning. We ended up needing to send a fax to our leasing office, so we tried to find a Staples, Office Max, Kinko’s, whatever, in the first town we came across after Saginaw, which was Bay City. We drove around there for about 20 minutes and it was depressing. Not a single chain store in sight, and it was hard to tell if any of the stores even would know what a fax was! So many of these smaller cities in Eastern Michigan are dying a slow death. So we got on Highway 10 with little optimism about finding any sign of the typical suburban stores. But lo and behold! About half an hour later (in Midland) we came upon an Office Max. So we sent our fax, and everything with the move-in was straightened out. Hopefully it will all go smoothly! It’s out of our hands at this point.

We drove on Hwy 10 for a little less than an hour through flat-ish Michigan farm country. Then we turned onto Hwy 115 and were suddenly surrounded by woods, going over some decent hills, passing many dirt side roads. There seemed to be quite a few lakes in that area, and lots of campgrounds and summer motels.

Once we got near Traverse City, though, it turned back into farmland. The road from Hwy 37 to Brad & Julie’s neighborhood was lined with corn and fields of baled hay. Their neighborhood is peaceful – not far from a small lake, and just a few homes on their street and the adjacent cul-de-sac, though there are quite a few houses under construction on the rest of the street.

Traverse City civic prideWe got there around 4 pm and had some time to kill before our friends Brad & Julie came home with their kids, so we drove into the downtown area of Traverse City. We parked near the water and walked around by the lake just a bit, but although the sun had finally come out, the wind off Lake Michigan was very chilly.

Traverse City is a lake resort town, and as such it has a very cute downtown area filled with unique shops. We walked up and down the main street enjoying the sunshine, protected from the wind by the buildings. Then took our time heading back to Julie & Brad’s house.

Julie & Brad have a 3-year-old named Maddie and a 3-month-old baby boy named Cole. Brad brought the kids home from day care and we hung out with him as he gave Maddie some supper. Julie got home some time later and we all had dinner – kabobs on the grill, bread, and rice – very yummy! It was nice enough to eat outside on the patio, and of course it stays light outside very late in Michigan, so we enjoyed a couple hours worth of sunshine outside.

We hadn’t seen Brad & Julie since they left Boston a couple of years ago, so it was great to catch up on things that have been going on. Maddie is so big, it’s hard to believe! And Cole is such a sweetie. He is a very good baby who didn’t really cry once while we were there, and I got him to smile quite a bit by making silly noises and faces at him.

We watched some of the Olympics and then headed for bed. Tomorrow starts the longer driving days…

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