Sunday, July 29, 2012

Days 63-65 - Lower Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and home!

Mackinaw Bridge, MI
So, it is nearing the end of our trip.  I can tell everyone is getting to the point where they are just ready to be home.  Tempers are shorter, there is less interest in side trips, or doing anything other than getting to our next destination.
River town in Michigan

I had originally planned to spend the night two nights in St. Ignace and then drive straight down to Kentucky, but it would have been a really long driving day (10.5 hours).  So, we decided last week to break this down into two days and spend the night of Day 63 in Toledo, OH.  We also decided to changed our reservation at that time to a cabin instead of a tent like we were supposed to because we knew we were going to get in late.  So, when we arrived at St. Ignace very late (11 pm) and it had been raining I was very glad to have a cabin instead of a tent.  Thus ended Day 62.

Day 63 - When we woke up the next morning it was sprinkling which was a foreshadowing of what was to come.  We packed the car, got gas, and ate poptarts in the car.  We decided not to even go to Mackinac Island because we would have to pay for the ferry over there ($24 per person) and that didn't make sense if we were only going to spend a few hours there.  Plus we still had firewood left over from Yellowstone that we needed to burn before we got home.  So we thought we'd drive straight to Toledo so we could get there early enough to make a fire.

As soon as we got on the freeway it started to rain.  It rained fairly heavily for several hours and made driving miserable.  It was the torrential downpour type of rain you get with thunderstorms, although we saw very little lightening.  We stopped in West Branch, MI to eat lunch at Lumber Jack's Food and Spirits.  This restaurant was right next to an outlet mall, so we decided to stop by and look for a few things.  Moritz needed a new backpack for school and he was able to find one there.  He also needed some tennis shoes (trainers) for basketball, so we found a good shoestore and he got shoes there.  Daniel and Erin also found new school shoes that they liked.  Erin was especially happy because hers were slip-on because she hates tying shoes.  I bought a new rain jacket because I didn't have an actual rain coat (just a windbreaker).  I also got some new dress shirts for work.
Ohio Farm

After that stop we kept on driving on the interstate and it kept on raining.  When we got to our KOA stop for the night (really it was out in rural Luckey, OH) we were hoping that it would stop raining so we could make a campfire.  We ordered a pizza from a local place and had it delivered because we didn't want to go out in the rain.  It did stop raining around 10 pm and the kids made a big fire (Erin got it going with a single match).  It burned for several hours and then we let is burn itself out over night (we weren't too worried about it because it was a really good fire pit and the ground was completely saturated.  It wasn't a terrible KOA (not as bad as Mt. Rushmore), but it wasn't the best.  The showers had very little ability to be adjusted (if you touched the dial it went from cold to scalding instantly).

The next day we drove through Ohio toward Kentucky.  By this point we had passed 10,500 miles of driving (my estimate for the full trip).  The one stop I requested was Jungle Jim's in Fairfield, OH.  This is my absolutely favorite grocery store in the world.  Jungle Jim's has every type of exotic food you could wish.  They have cheese from just about every country in the world.  They even have a whole section devoted to olives and one aisle just for hot sauces (arranged alphabetically).  The rest of the store is divided by country.  It has noodles, sauces, jams, canned veggies and tea from all over the world.  David had fun because he got to get several new types of tea that he hadn't had before.  For example, he's had English breakfast tea and Irish breakfast tea, but at Jungle Jim's he got Scottish breakfast tea.  We had a lot of fun wandering around in there -- I just wish we could have had a way to get some of the cheese home (I love cheese!).

We arrived in Lexington around 7:30 pm and headed directly to Marikka's to eat dinner.  The food was great, as usual, and David got to get some of his favorite German beer.  After that we went to the Liquor Barn to shop for presents and replenish some of David's stock.  We finally checked into our hote and then crashed in bed around 11:00.

Our final day of the trip (Day 65 -- July 29) started out uneventfully.  We got up and got ready to attend church.  I was excited because we could attend Faith Lutheran in Lexington -- my old church in Lexington.  I don't know what it is about that church, but I always feel centered and balanced when I am at that church.  I rarely ever get that feeling at other churches.  I'm so happy if we can stop by there at least once a year so I can get my church "fix."  My former pastor wasn't there that day and they mentioned something about him retiring, so that is sad.  But, I don't think that feeling will disappear at that church, even if they hire another pastor.  At least I hope it doesn't disappear or I will have to look somewhere else for my fix.

After church we ate at our favorite fast-food Italian restaurant -- Fazoli's.  Jacksonville could sure use one of those!  Then we started driving on I-75 toward home.  Right before the Tennessee border we saw that there was road construction on the freeway and they suggested the alternate route of driving on US 25E.  We saw that Cumberland Gap National Historic Park was right off the road from that, so we decided to head that way and get another stamp in our passport books.  We stopped at the visitor's center and then drove up to Pinnacle Peak.  It was an overlook where you could see into Tennessee, Kentucky, and Virginia.  In fact, you park in the parking lot in Kentucky and then as you are walking on the path to the overlook you cross over into Virginia.  David was excited about this because it means that we have officially been in 25 states on our trip -- Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee, and Georgia.  That is pretty impressive to me -- 25 of the "large" states in 65 days. A total of 11,600 miles driven ranging in elevation from 20 below sea level to 12,184 feet. 
Moritz -- in Kentucky & Virginia simultaneously
Sign is self-explanatory!

View from Pinnacle Peak

A lake in the distance
 We will be very excited to get back to Jacksonville!  Of course when we get back we will be jumping right into the thick of things.  Daniel starts band camp on Monday and Erin has to get an MRI on Monday.  Thursday is Erin's pre-operative appointment and we will learn all of the details of her scoliosis surgery on August 13.  Somewhere in between all of the band camp practices Daniel also has to audition for chair placement with EYO (Etowah Youth Orchestra -- Wind Ensemble).  We will also have to get Moritz registered for school.  I also am getting another epidural shot for my back on Friday.  So, I think we are going to be really busy for the rest of the month.  But, it will still be good to get back into our routine and help Daniel and Moritz get ready for school to start. 

That is pretty much it for the trip portion of our blog.  I might post some more on here over the rest of the month to let people know how the kids are doing (particularly Erin's surgery updates), but once we start school I won't have the time to do updates.  Thanks for following us through our many travels!

Moritz sleeping amidst all of the "stuff"

All the kids made it home in one piece and they are still smiling Amazing!

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