AAAAAAAHHHHHHH! It's good to be home! After almost two weeks staying with family, Steve and I have retrieved our dear Big Red from the manufacturer and are happily sleeping in our own bed again. But before I get to that, let me update you on the week of visiting friends.
First, while Steve and my dad went to have dinner with my brother-in-law Yog, I met two friends for dinner at my mother's favorite restaurant - - Mexican Fiesta! These two women - - Lisa Harris and Michele Patrick - - are the funniest and craziest women I have ever known. All three of us used to work at Visteon but Michele moved on to Continental and I retired so Lisa is left on her own, but she manages okay. Anyway, I absolutely loved visiting with them and laughed so much the entire time we were together.
Next, Steve and I focused on cleaning out that storage unit. We were giving away furniture and "stuff" like there was no tomorrow, but honestly, I am not missing any of it. On Tuesday afternoon, we went to visit our friends Dave and Deane Luce who live next door to our beautiful farmhouse in Swanton, Ohio. While we were visiting them, I looked over at that house and was taken aback to realize that we used to have enough stuff to fill up that huge house, a 3 1/2 car garage, a party barn, a 40 x 60 pole barn, and a chicken coop. Now, the sum total of everything we own fits into a 40 foot fifth wheel and a 10 x 7 storage unit. I was really blown away just looking at that house and realizing how much has changed in just a year or two.
Anyway, back to Dave and Deane. We just love these people so much. They are a total hoot, even if they do beat us in euchre every time (well, except once, the memory of which we cling to like it's life-giving or something). Anyway, our dear Deane is having some health issues and had just gotten out of the hospital but had to model her "Mighty Mouse" cape for us. A neighbor made this cape for her because no matter what medical issues befall her, she keeps coming back and charging hard. Thank you Lord for her ability to rebound because we want to have these two people in our lives for a long time to come.
One evening last week I got to go and visit Little Lauren Marie (she's not named after me but does carry some of my personality traits - - Oh Lordy!). This girl is so adorable and the last time I saw her, or her brother Alex, they were so much smaller. Now Lauren is 3 and Alex is 7 and in second grade. When you see little kids after a long period of time, I think that's when it hits you that time is really moving quickly. Know what I mean? I think it's because children just change so much so quickly that not seeing them for a year makes a huge difference. Anyway, the main reason for the visit was to catch up with my friend Michelle Laser who I have known for almost 20 years. We worked together at Dana Commercial Credit back in the early 90's, then again at Dana Corporation in the 2000's, and then at Visteon. She's "together" as ever and looked great and I love the family picture I was able to take. Also, if you are looking for a good tax man, I highly recommend her husband, Aaron. His tax firm - The Laser Group - is located in Toledo and can be reached at 419-578-1040. Ok, that's all for the commercials.
Now on to my buddy Christine Perrine. She is such a cool chick and I am so glad that we got to spend some time together, even if it was just a brief lunch. It's hard to believe that her baby, Stephanie, is finishing her last year at OSU in the Nursing program and plans to go on for her Physicians Assistant degree. Geez, that girl used to clean my house when she was about 13 years old so to know that she's about to graduate from college just blew my mind. Chris and her husband, Bob, like to go to Vegas so Steve and I are hoping that they come out for the March NASCAR race in Vegas and hang with us for a few days. That would be a blast.
So Friday came and we had to say goodbye to everyone and head to Indiana to retrieve Big Red. WOW was I excited to see her! It's not that I don't appreciate seeing family, but I really really really love my own bed and my own stuff. Can you relate? Steve and I spent the night in Indiana and then headed east to Cleveland where we spent two days relaxing at the Round Up Lake campground. On Saturday, we celebrated our 12th anniversary at the camp's Chili Cook-off. I couldn't have asked for a more appropriate venue for our anniversary celebration, given our new lifestyle. I enjoyed myself and met some really nice people so to me, it was perfect. Can you believe it's been 12 years? And you thought it wouldn't last . . . . . .
Anyway, today we visited the Cuyahoga Valley National Park which is just south east of Cleveland. What a lovely park and what a great time of year to visit with the leaves in full color mode. We took a little hike to see the Brandywine Falls, which were absolutely gorgeous. Alongside these falls was an old electric company - Champion Electric - which produced restaurant appliances and was the last industry in the Brandywine area. Since this park is only 2 hours from Toledo (or 3 from Detroit), I highly recommend a visit. There is just so much to see and do in this park - - the hiking trails alone could take weeks to get through. There are a number of old farms that sell fruits and veggies, a beaver pond with live beavers in it, a beautiful train that takes you the length of the park (which, by the way, is a 3 1/2 hour ride). There is also a paved bike path that runs alongside the old Ohio & Erie Canal that is very scenic and a nice path to take for some exercise. Along the way, you can see a number of buildings that were quite important when the canal was in great use. We also saw "Hell's Half Acre" which is where the Canal Visitor's Center is located. So when someone tells me that they've been to Hell's Half Acre and back, I'll know exactly where he was.
Okay, that's it for this week. Tomorrow we head to the Pittsburgh area to visit Ed and Ilona, friends we made while we were in Watkins Glen, New York this past summer. From there, we will spend a few days visiting our nation's capital (capitol? I can never keep those straight). From there, we head south to the North Carolina coast, then through South Carolina, Georgia, and on to Florida where we will be participating in a huge geocaching event in the Ocala area.
Thanks to everyone who made our visit to the Detroit and Toledo areas so wonderful. My dad was the best host ever (even his crazy dog, Sandy, was nice to us). Steve's sister Beverly and her husband Larry were also gracious enough to house us while we were engaged in the Toledo area. Thanks to everyone else who hugged us and said that they missed us. Our life is quite special, no doubt, but missing all of you sometimes takes its toll. Even a life of perpetual vacation has its drawbacks, no?
Alrighty, try to stay warm folks. We are not happy that we've had to run our furnace continuosly since we picked up Big Red so we have to head south in a hurry. We will be thinking of you as we walk the beach later this month. Sorry, but I had to say it!!!!
Love you all!