The last few days in Michigan were great! Well, except for the heat and humidity combination. We helped out with an event in Ortonville and it was above 90 degrees with lots of humidity! I was dripping with sweat just standing in the sun. Others weren't, so I'm thinking I haven't totally adjusted to the climate! The event was called "Septemberfest" and it was in downtown Ortonville, which is very small. The dog rescue had a booth set up and they were selling jewelry, pillows, stickers, candles, and other things that people could buy and support the rescue. They even had some of the puppies at the event.
On Sunday, we went to the local Petco where the rescue sets up shop every week and does adoptions. This is when I hooked up my phone to the internet and watched the Patriots vs. Texans game. I watched it for the entire event and even on the way home because the game still wasn't over. It was a nail-biter and super uncomfortable to watch, but it had a great ending. Pats win at the last second! Woohoo!
After the Pecto event, we went to Mr. B's for a volunteer appreciation dinner. I had some rum and cokes and watched the Sunday night games at the bar while the volunteers did their mingling and visiting.
W: This was a really special night for me - well, a really special visit overall. I was one of the founders of this group (Canine Companions Rescue Center) in 2004 (in the photo below are several of the other original members) and spending time with the people who have helped build it over the past 13 years, as well as newer volunteers I hadn't personally met before, was a real treat. I was amazed at the people we have brought together to do this good thing - at how much they genuinely like each other and take care of each other while helping the dogs.
J: While in Michigan, I had access to a Steinway grand piano. Since it's Fall, I decided to learn Maple Leaf Rag by Scott Joplin. I haven't figured out how to put the video on here yet, but as soon as I do I'll put it up!
W: One of my only regrets from this visit was that I didn't get a photo of me and Joel with Erica and Courtney (or Court-in-eee, sung in a singsong voice, as done by Lindsay's twin girls). Erica is the Operations Manager of the rescue, and Courtney is her right hand lady. They are both such wonderful people, and a lot of fun! They are the ones we hung out with at the pub and I think I will miss them most of all.
J: It was an early morning on Monday because we had a long drive ahead of us. It was about a 13 hour drive from Michigan to Maine, and we did 'er in one day! Again, no huge traffic problems accept there was a little hold up in Canada, and another wait to get back into the States. I told Wendy, "Well I guess we're not wanted in Canada or the U.S., otherwise they'd have taken us away right on the spot." Not that I've done anything to be wanted by any government... Anywho, we got to Maine late at night and booked our usual hotel in the area for the next ten days. After booking the hotel, we went into town to get gelato at Gelato Fiasco (they are open really late) with our friends Mark and Rob. Gelato Fiasco is known for creating it's own unique flavors based on what's going on in the town. Still waiting for the Lobster flavor..... not.
By the way, we spent more in tolls going across New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine than we did in gas for the day. Welcome to New England, that'll be $100!
Our first day in Maine was great. I was up early and running along my favorite path that follows the Androscoggin river. It was especially nice because the mornings here are very misty and cool! It's like running in a cool sauna! Woohoo!
We also had our first Lobster roll of the trip! Yum. Just because I'm a freak, I took pictures of beer and chips with the Patriots logo on them.
J: Later in the day we visited Mark and Rob at their new house which is awesome! They just put in a pool so of course I had to go swimming. Yes, in September. Actually, they have a heater, so the pool was 81 degrees. Seriously though, the days have been *HOT* so far and the pool felt nice. Also went for a swim when it got dark, because it's a totally different experience with the rainbow lights, you see.
Mark asked me to bring my rodeo rope on the trip, and I was nice and agreed, even though I haven't been practicing! I did my routine for them and Wendy and I even gave them a short lesson on how to twirl the rope in a circle.
Now, everything above was done after a few margaritas, so imagine that. Although, maybe it was just me... it always hits me harder than others.
W: Mark is my friend from high school, so around 35 years now. He and Joel became friends during our previous visits so we always have a lot of fun with him and Rob when we're in town. Although - Mark is a lot like my grandmother, but instead of "eat! eat!" it's "drink! drink!" lol. I've got to admit he makes a good margarita. :-)
W: One of our most perfect days so far was partially spend in Harpswell, visiting the ocean and eating wonderful food. We sat outside Estes Lobster House, eating our haddock tacos, steamers, and lobster stew, watching the tide come in while enjoying a light breeze, full sun, and 75 degrees. It was pretty much perfect.
J: Just a few more pics I took because I was amused!
J: In the picture below, look for the giant pine cones in the tree. They are different colors! This was taken at L.L. Bean.
At 7:00 a.m. it's still pretty dark here. That's going to take some getting used to! My deer friends were back in the yard this morning. It's becoming a normal thing for them to show up in the evenings and mornings, and I'm more than OK with that! This morning, there were even some babies out there.
W: This has become Joel's perch each morning. He sits out in nature (humidity) and communes with the deer and the squirrels (and Facebook).
J: It's nice and cool in the mornings, and the deer always show up in the evening around 7 p.m.
W: I did not drive 2000 miles to sit in 90 degree heat with humidity, but that's what we're getting. Michigan is being cruel, and I can only hope Maine will treat us better! Thank goodness I packed a few pairs of capri pants.
W: My family has been pretty much obsessed with Fudge Du Locke fudge since I was born. The company, in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan (aka "the Soo", where I was born) has been around since 1964 and it defines fudge as far as my taste buds are concerned. Back when I still lived in Michigan, I was absolutely tickled to discover that the same fudge was being sold right down the road from my house at the Frankenmuth Fudge Kitchen in the Yates Cider Mill. Since Joel could not recall having been to a cider mill, that went on our to-do list. In addition to hot cider (which was wonderful even though it was over 80 degrees that day) and donuts, we just had to pick up some fudge. As I chatted with the man at the counter, I explained how this fudge was "a thing" for my family, and had been for my entire life, that I was born in the Soo and originally discovered it there. The man, who turned out to be Zak McClellan, told me he was born in the Soo as well, and that Fudge Du Locke and this fudge shop are owned by his family. Well, knowing that I just had to get his picture! He was the nicest guy, all smiles, and said it made him so happy to hear what I had said to him. My mom, aunt, and cousins are going to be SO jealous! I'm buddies with *the* Fudge Du Locke guy!
J: I'm sure I went to a cider mill when I was younger, I just don't remember it! Actually, I remember not really even liking cider as a child. Well, as an adult I can say it's pretty awesome. The perfect way to taste the fall season (sorry people, it ain't pumpkin spice anything!). Cider and donuts... MMMmmm.
J: The fudge guy was nice, but he reminded me of Will Farrell, whose comedy I don't really care for... except maybe in the movie Elf. Speaking of Elf, after the cider mill, we went to a place called Old Canterbury, which is basically like Trail Dust Town in Tucson but it has a King Arthur/Castle-y vibe. The place was dead, but they have this shop called "Always Christmas." I love Christmas and I listen to Christmas music pretty much year-round, so this place was perfect for me. When Wendy and I travel, we try to pick up an ornament from wherever we visit. Well, this seemed like a pretty good place to pick up an ornament!
W: After the cider mill I had to go to a local high school to film an episode of "Pet Flix", our dog rescue's local TV show. I was being interviewed as the founder/director of the group, which was very cool for me. I was ready for it, I swear, but some questions were asked out of order and at some point my mind couldn't keep track of it all and completely shut down. I recovered quickly, and thank goodness for editing (I hope, anyway), but it was harder than I thought! From there we had to go to a board meeting for the rescue. It was at the home of one of the board members, who happens to have three young kids. In no time at all, the shy little ones were swarming all over Joel, showing him their toys, bringing him plastic food, and sharing all of their stories. It was so cute, but I totally failed to get a picture! The dad is a hard-core Patriots fan, like Joel, so they had some bonding time while I attended the meeting. We ended the day at a pub with the two ladies who work for the rescue, and stayed were there until 1 a.m.! I am not a night person, but my brain is still on AZ time (and we were having a great time) so I managed to stay awake.
I finished my postlude on Sunday, September 17th then we were outta town! Wendy and I were on the road to Michigan at 12:17 p.m. in my new(ish) Prius. Although it's smaller, we were able to fit everything into it and averaged 48 mpg all the way to Michigan ($82 in gas total!). Jazz, my German Shepherd, is staying with Chelsea.
The first day of travel (which was only a half-day since we left in the afternoon) took us to Amarillo, Texas. We went through New Mexico and drove through a beautiful pine area called Ruidoso. The rest of New Mexico looked just like Arizona, although we did see a few alien-themed items on the side of the road as we approached Roswell. No U.F.O. sightings this time. Darn!
Wendy: There was lightning happening inside some clouds over Roswell as we passed through, so we can't totally rule out the lack of UFO sightings...
Also, while there's no point in spending a lot of money to crash somewhere for just a few hours, is it so much to ask that a place not have paper thin walls, extremely weak water pressure, and sticky, fake hardwood floors?
J: On the second day of travel, we were able to get to Effingham, Illinois. Traffic was actually really great the whole way to Michigan. No major holdups or accidents to be seen! When we entered Missouri we could tell the leaves on the trees were just beginning to turn. The hotel in Effingham was terrible.
W: "Terrible" is an understatement. Rock hard beds, a half-empty water bottle on the nightstand left from either a maid or previous occupant, again with the water pressure being non-existent, and this time, a curved shower curtain rod that tilted downward, forcing the curtain to fall away from the walls on both sides throughout the shower, soaking my clothing in a humid state, thick with fog (see below) as we left the room. Oh, and I can't forget the musty, smoke smell. Ugh.
W: On a completely different note, the people of Missouri have a very odd sense of humor. I'm sure this is old news to many who have traveled Route 66, but I swear it's the first time in my 50 years I've seen the billboards for the Uranus Fudge Factory. I took the first photo as proof, but grabbed the rest from online as I wasn't quick enough with my camera to catch them all on the roadside. I promise they were all there in some form or other, with more besides.
J: On the third day, we reached the house where we are staying in Michigan. It's between Flint and Detroit and it's in a lovely little area. In Michigan, the tree colors are a little further along, although still in their color-changing beginnings. Wow!!! I haven't seen a true fall season in almost 20 years and I was blown away by the colors! All down the freeway were reds, yellows, greens, oranges, and purples. I think the purples were really just a darker red, but I call them purple. Few pictures were taken during our travel days because nothing was really *that* interesting. As vacation hums along, I'll post some pictures of the colors and things we are doing. We'll be staying in Michigan through Sunday, then we'll drive across Canada, enter the States again in Buffalo, and make our way to Maine through New York, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
W: Things that make Wendy cranky: Humidity, being cold, and driving in traffic. Please pray for Joel as he is stuck in my immediate presence pretty much non-stop for the next 30 days, under constant and various combinations of these conditions.