Friday, September 28, 2007

Maine to Michigan to Florida

We planned our three week trip from Amherst to Maine to Michigan to Florida in order to visit friends and relatives along the way. We really enjoyed our visits with everyone and could have stayed longer. Towards the end of the trip we listened to books on tape which made the time fly and also made sure we got out and took walks. We traveled about 3000 miles but it didn't really seem that long. We miss all of our Amherst friends but hope to see you at the end of October.

Highlights of our first three weeks with photos sprinkled in:

Amherst, Aug. 30: We had a great send-off dinner at Bertucci’s with friends. It should have been Sandy’s first day of school. (He did think about what the kids would have been doing at certain times during the day.)

Ogunquit, ME: Julie and Michael went with us. It was beautiful, as it always is, and we had a great visit with Sandy’s mother, June. We did a little work around the house. We managed to leave the computer in Maine and had June overnight it to Sandy’s brother in Rochester.

Rochester, NY: We had a really fun time with Sandy’s brother, Scott, wife, Amy, and our niece, Kerri. Daughter, Megan, was off at St. Lawrence University. Sandy loved golfing twice with Scott. We had dinner with college friend, Robb Adams, and wife, Nancy. There was lots of catching up. But, so much to say, so little time.

Toronto: First we did some sightseeing. We took an interesting tour of the city on the Hippo Tour, a bus that goes into Lake Ontario. We also went to the Royal Ontario Museum. Our favorite parts were the Bat Cave and the Bird Exhibit where the stuffed birds were mounted as if in flight. We hadn’t seen our niece, Tania, or nephew, Morgan, since our visit to their home in Belgium 5 years ago so they had changed a lot. They’re 17 and 15 now. We tried to catch up on things but, again, so much to say, so little time. We drove 2 cars to Michigan as Bruce and Linda were also going to a birthday party with us. At Customs, we learned we couldn’t bring into Michigan fruit with seeds. We had to give up our grapes and raspberries that Linda had given us.

Fenton, MI: We were thrilled to be able to help a family friend, Marge Conover, celebrate her 90th birthday. It was great to see her and her children, Nancy and Don, and their families. Don came all the way from his and Nora’s home in Cali, Colombia, South America. Their daughter, Gloria, lives in Tucson, so we’ll definitely look her up when we’re there in March. (Since Bruce and Linda were there we got to visit with them more. They're in the right-hand picture.)

Ann Arbor, MI: Bev Seiford, friend from Amherst, has been trying to get us out to visit her and husband, Larry, for years now. After dinner we went to hear a bluegrass band play downtown, the “RFD Boys.” We didn’t know how much we enjoyed bluegrass. Larry made us copies of some of their CDs to listen to on our trip. We had brunch with Bev’s son, Jeff, and his friend, Jen. Sandy taught Jeff in 4th grade so it was nice to see him again and talk with him as an adult. What a beautiful house they built with a great guest room!

East Lansing, MI: We had a delicious dinner and non-stop conversation with college friends, Gary and Dorinda Van Kempen. They talked a bit about the weak Michigan economy. All towns in Michigan get the same funding for students, helping the poorer communities and hurting the wealthier communities. Money comes from the 6% sales tax.

, MI
: Jakob Koster and his wife, Nellie, were gracious hosts for a lunch at their renovated farmhouse. We thoroughly enjoyed the conversation and then the tour of his house and yard. They have a huge vegetable garden, flower gardens, and even raspberries. Becky loved to see Jakob make the delicious pasta dish and wishes Sandy would get into cooking as much as he loves golf. Oh well, not reality!

Holland, MI: Carol and George McGeehan have been friends since 1966 when Carol and Becky lived in the same cottage at Hope College. It was great to be back in Holland where we spent 7 years. It's grown so much but also has tons of great recreation opportunities. Sandy enjoyed golf with George while Becky and Carol shopped and walked and talked. We enjoyed their dog, Muffin, who warmed to Sandy but not Becky. (No surprise there, Becky not being a dog person.)Left picture: Carol & George at Lake Michigan sunset. Right picture: McGeehan's and their yacht. (Well, they wish!)

Driving south: We saw lots of corn fields and flat land through Michigan and down into Indiana. Finally, south of Louisville we saw some hills! Our driving was made easier with our GPS system that Becky had to be convinced into buying. We also loved listening to XM Radio: the Red Sox, comedy shows, bluegrass music, 60s music, and Broadway show tunes.

Louisville, KY – home of the Louisville Slugger baseball bat made from white ash: We basically just stayed overnight.

Mammoth Cave, in Cave City, KY: We took a 4 ½ hour tour (with a ½ hour lunch break – yes, they actually have a little lunch place in the cave). It was pretty amazing seeing the different kinds of formations in this cave. Sandstone and shale keep the roof from caving in. Rushing water ate away the limestone and formed the cave. (At the lunch break we met a family from the Berkshires. She grew up in Longmeadow and her brother lives in Shutesbury!) Here are some interesting pictures from the cave. The bottom left is a spelunker exiting part of the cave we opted out of doing. Can you see how small the space is?

Nashville, TN: We started off at the Belle Meade Plantation, basically a horse farm. We had an interesting tour where we learned that one of their horses, Bonnie Scotland, sired Seabiscuit. The house was big and beautiful with numerous outbuildings for slaves quarters, a smokehouse and the gardener's house. I was surprised how well they treated their help. There was also a small craft fair that day so we wandered around that but it wasn't too interesting except for a woman who sold lace things. (I have some lace tablecloths I may sell to her.) There was some neat old cars in one large building which made us realize how the trunk of the car got its name. The car literally had a clothes trunk behind the back seat. (We're always learning!)

We headed downtown for a little walking tour but it turned out that the Nashville Titans football game was going to finish up in about 20 minutes so we didn't have much time to look around and head to Katey's and Sean's house. We saw on an fort down at Riverfront Park and also the football stadium right across the river.

Katey and Sean just got married last summer and just a month ago were able to enjoy the renovation of their home in Nashville. The renovation was gorgeous! We had a nice time visiting and watching the Patriots win. The next morning we were off on a long drive to Gainesville, FL.

In all our driving, I75 in Georgia had the best rest areas: beautiful, big areas with lots of picnic tables and sidewalks amongst trees.

Florida: We stopped to visit Becky's mother in her assisted living apartment on our way down to Ft. Myers. She's doing well and was very happy to see us. Becky hadn't seen her in a few months.

Ft. Myers: It was great to finally reach our destination although we didn't really mind the drive. We painted a number of rooms that only had the flat developer's paint on the walls. They took a number of days but came out great. We're sprinkling in some golf, time at the pool and the beach, reading, biking, kayaking, and sightseeing. We had dinner with a friend of Becky's from UMass, Alita Woodcock-Parody and her husband, Mark. They showed us a great restaurant by the Ft. Myers pier where we had dinner outside while the sun set. It was lovely!

Mark and Alita have been retired for four years so they are really enjoying having the time to do what they want when they want. Mark said the thing he misses most is the Friday high in anticipation of the weekend off!

We're looking forward to seeing Doug Gagnon and Paul Hamel on Friday, Oct. 4!

Next travels: Oct. 10-17, Davis, CA to see Scott and Libby. Oct. 17-22, NYC to see Julie and Michael, Oct. 22-26, Amherst, staying with Gagnons and Mullins.