Reunion Accomplished

We are spending a good part of July in parts north of home. Last weekend was at Andrea’s family reunion, bringing people as far as Tennessee. We didn’t operate too far from our home base in beautiful Beulah, our longest excursion being to Crystal Lake for some swimming and ice cream. But it was relaxing and rain-free, with lots of good food.

Our trip home involved going sideways to eastern Michigan, where Elena was safely dropped off at her home for the next week – summer camp. She was pretty excited to go there, and I was pretty excited about getting G’s Pizza, along with their awesome cheesy bread sticks.

The 4th

I celebrated the Fourth of July with a 30+ mile ride on the Musketawa Trail, the section that runs from Marne to Ravenna. I actually started earlier because I exited the freeway before I was supposed to, but another trail system hooked into the one I was looking for, so it all working out, and I got a couple of extra miles in the process. I’d love to show you pictures, but I can’t get my new phone to connect to the computer.

Then it was off to Aman Park for a bit of hiking. As an added bonus, the bugs weren’t bad, and I hardly needed the head net I wear when off in the woods.

Finally, Founders in Grand Rapids was calling my name. And after 9 1/2 minutes, I actually had someone stop by my barstool to take an order. 10 1/2 minutes is my limit. I wouldn’t have sat there that long except Wimbledon was on, and it worked out because I had a decent American Pale Ale.

Jimmy!

We had a great time at the Jimmy Buffet concert at Pine Knob (A.K.A. DTE) on Saturday. Though we missed out on a lot of the tailgating fun that the thousands of people there before seemed to enjoy, we had a nice picnic on the lawn with a good view of Jimmy and his opening act, Huey Lewis and the News, my favorite 80’s band. As soon as I can figure out how to get the pictures off my new phone, I’ll post a couple.

Lake Huron sunrise

I took a recent hiking and biking trip to the northeast side of Michigan, and extravaganza that involved a trip to the Lower Peninsula’s only waterfall, Ocqueoc Falls, a trip to the lighthouse at 40-mile Point north of Rogers City, dinner at a premier Alpena burger joint, and hiking along the Au Sable river.

I spent the night at Oscoda, at the Lake Trail Resort. Though it will not win any premier travel destination awards, it met my needs. And it was right on the beach, where I was able to capture a nice sunrise over Lake Huron.

Lake Huron sunrise
Lake Huron sunrise

Flat

My Rubaix:

Rubaix
Rubaix

After a long morning / afternoon of work (i.e. being at home on a Saturday), I went out for a ride. I got about .5 miles before I hit a pothole that gave me my first flat on a bike. Ever. My afternoon plans disrupted, I went to Denny’s in Okemos to buy a new tube. Back at home, I fixed the flat and was ready to go, feeling awesome that I actually changed a tube in only 10 minutes.

Taking the bike out, I was ready for a ride when I realized that the back tire was only flat. The pothole had taken out both my tires. Yes, a double flat. That, I wasn’t prepared for. Michigan strikes again.

Where you been (again)?

Hey Scott, what’s with the not posting for a week. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so:

Sunset at Barcelo Maya
Sunset at Barcelo Maya

Andrea, Elena and I (along with five members or our family) returned the scene of the crime, where Andrea and I were married ten years ago, to renew our vows, which had expired in December. It was a week of food, more food, and lots of sun time. I also got some minor sunburns, nothing big, and nothing to stop the enjoyment of being in constant 80+ weather.

The photo above was taken from a sunset dinner on the beach, with lobster, steak, and lots of wine. With only a small fiasco involving the music, the meal was flawless, and we are once again under vow to stick with each other for the next decade.

This was our fifth trip to Barceló Maya. Every experience has been wonderful – except for the registration process. This part of the Barceló experience is always slow, painful, and a crap-shoot. We joked while standing in line about what could go wrong, and our request to be on the third floor with a king bed was dashed by the receptionist by telling us we had a first floor room with two beds. It turns out she was wrong about the beds. At least our room, in the Oaxaca building, was quiet. And the bathroom was certainly nice, too. But seriously, the registration process is terrible and painful. I’ve written hotel reservation software before, and it’s not that hard.

Que un bano!
Que un bano!

Everything else was enjoyable. The water was perfect, both in the pool and, more importantly, the ocean. I’m not a pool guy, but give me a sizable body of open water, and I’m happy – if it’s warm. Our spot outside of the lobby building on the Palace was usually clear of others, probably because the swimming right off our portion of the beach wasn’t that good. But it was great was some sun.

I took up snorkeling on this trip, and loved it – and I have the bumps of sun poisoning to prove it. There is a reef just off shore, filled with colorful fish I had only seen before in aquariums, and sea urchins with spikes big enough to do some serious damage. The first two days were calm, but the others were windy, and stirred up a lot of sand, making visibility difficult. Still better than standing at my desk in East Lansing, though.

And the food! So much food…

A plethora of options
A plethora of options

Many nights were theme nights, and you can probably guess the night from this picture. If you couldn’t find anything you liked among the hundred or so options, you have a serious problem in life.

Our next Mexico experience will not involve Barceló, but perhaps a future one will. Will the sixth time be the charm to win at the registration game? No – there are only losers in that contest. But they’ll still have a great beach.

The Liberty Bell

This is a rare shot of the Liberty Bell for two reasons:

  1. There is only one person in it
  2. That one person is Elena. I am the only one with a picture like this in the whole world.
Liberty Bell
Liberty Bell

Technically, the Rite Aid on Market Street was out first visit to Philadelphia. But excluding that, this was our first item of interest – a broken bell. But it’s not just any bell, it was the one to call the citizens of Philadelphia to hear the reading of the Declaration of Independence, which was kind of a big deal.

If you want to see the bell up close and in person, it’s easy. You just travel to Philadelphia, stand in a fast-moving line (no ticket required), don’t bring a knife through the X-ray machines (my tip to you), and push your way through a hundred tourists crowding around the bell. No problem.

That building in the background in Independence Hall, the subject of a future post.

Where you be at?

You may be asking that if you had terrible English and bathed daily in ignorance. If, however, you asked “Where have you been?”, then I applaud the fact that you’re not an ignoramus. Congratulations! You’ve probably read a book after graduating high school.

Since you asked so nicely, I was in Philadelphia last weekend. While I would have liked to say it was an extended birthday trip for Elena, the real reason was for Andrea to take a required test for medical school in beautiful Conshohocken, PA, a mere thirty minutes from The City of Brotherly Love. I’m almost certain a few riveting pictures will follow, as soon as I get them off of my camera.

But to summarize: Drove through late-season snow storm, Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, multiple visits to same food courts, Adventure Aquarium (in New Jersey!), U.S. Mint, other historical stuff, sushi. I know, I’ve whetted your appetite. More will (most likely) come.

I thought we had moved past this sort of thing

Wasn’t the snow supposed to be done by now?

Snow!
Snow!

This was not actually from today. No, the 1/4″ we had today will not be closing the roads. This was actually taken in February where we got at least 8″ in two consecutive weeks and four snow days. But it looked pretty bad out there today.

In other news, we stopped by Denny’s to get Elena new bike, a Specialized Dolce, which joins Andrea’s Ruby and my Rubaix. Of course, the snow stopped any possible ride today, but there is plenty of time before her first DALMAC, which will be in a few years. DALMACs are required in this family.