I returned from a 10 day vacation yesterday and have a few take-aways.
We dropped youngest off at the camp the oldest is working at -- the one they have attended for 8 years now. Then we headed North to Mackinaw City. I had never been, so we stopped and looked at some of the touristy stuff and got ice cream. I took pictures from the beach of the bridge.
*The sky was grey which made the water grey which made it hard to get any real depth to photos. I need to research lighting situations I might encounter before these experiences.
Then we went across the bridge. I had heard stories about the bridge. I had heard some people have such a hard time that they require someone to actually drive them. Granted my hubby was driving, but I was on the side closest the rail.
* The bridge was not that scary. Maybe in fog I would feel differently, but... it's not that scary.
We stayed at a Bed and Breakfast. It was OK. The next day, we went to a beach to look for agates. A beach forever down a dirt road that a book said was good to look agates because it was so out of the way.
Within 5 minutes another couple showed up. 5 minutes later a couple more people. 10 minutes later 3 more further down the beach. The first couple that arrived, started looking right next to us. We only stayed a couple hours because there were a ton of biting flies. Got some good rocks, but I want more. Maybe next year.
* It is easier to fake eat a breakfast you don't like, if your spouse does like it.
*Rock hunting right next to somebody else is like Phoebe's lurker in that episode of friends where they are in a casino. Not cool.
*Sand flies are mean!
Turns out there was an alert about those flies. As long as we stayed away from the beach we'd be fine. So we set off for our next stop, but found a waterfall we could stop and look at first at Pictured Rocks State Park. There was a little rain, but it stopped by the time we got there and the waterfall was nice.
We found a place to eat -- a road side stop. They had Truffle Fries -- actual mushrooms. Yum! Then we set off to find our next Bed and Breakfast. We could see rain moving in, as was the dark. We got a little lost and had to backtrack but we finally arrived at a sweet old lady's house. It used to be an iron mining town and her house was what used to be the company's offices. It was a really nice house and she was a sweetheart. Storms came through that night that were crazy. Really loud thunder and lightning flashes all night long. The innkeeper mentioned them in the morning too and said she expected there to be damage outside but she didn't find any. Breakfast was scary. I am not an adventurous eater. Some say picky. We say selective. :-) Any way, I had asked the night before what she was planning and she said she was making a special recipe. I should have pressed, because it turns out the special recipe was a sort of pineapple flavored mush with a hash brown texture. I tried a "No thank you" bite. Unfortunately we had cloth napkins and I had to swallow.
* Find out what your host is serving for breakfast. Be insistent so you can inform them whether they need to go through the effort or not.
We had plans to spend the day looking for waterfalls and were going to try Lower Potato Falls. I also wanted to see if the Wisconsin beaches also had those awful flies. We stopped at a visitor center to find maps. What we found out was the storms that had kept me awake the night before had washed out several roads. We couldn't get to anything we planned on. So we found alternate falls. The most amazing one was Rainbow Falls. I am talking about standing in the presence of God's power. Because of the previous night's rain, this Fall was a take-your-breath-away-stop-your-heart experience. And the other direction was a beautiful, tumbling, river of brown winding it's way through a canopy of green.
We followed a trail to find the beach because the road to it had a traffic barrier. We saw mud every where. Equipment was moving it around in an attempt to repair the roads. We tried to walk to the beach. What we saw was Lake Superior-- a rich,chocolate brown color because of the rain and wind and mud from the land slides. A land slide that was blocking the path. AND ... there were sand flies.
*There is beauty in danger.
*Sand flies are mean.
Next was a surprise for me. Hubby didn't tell me where we were going until we were in the town and looking for the Bed and Breakfast. The town was Ladysmith, Wisconsin. The bed and breakfast? A former Carnegie Public Library! All hotels and future Bed and Breakfasts have been ruined for me by the perfection of this establishment. First off... it was a Carnegie Library! The breakfast area has actual library tables and chairs. The walls are lined with short bookcases that have old phones and business office type equipment you might have found in a library at the time it was built. There is a presidential bedroom downstairs that has a big screen tv. Upstairs ...is heaven. There are 5 bedrooms and all have themes. One is behind a bookcase! Behind a bookcase. There is a Sherlock Holmes room, a Titanic room, a Civil War room, and the room we had a Jane Austin room that was complete with a four poster bed. The attention to detail was amazing. There was a common area that had a fire place and comfortable seating. The books lining the walls were all older books and complete works. We were shown a closet where we could find snacks if we got hungry. Breakfast was delicious -- puff pancakes. I can not say enough about this place.
*I always wanted to live in a library. Now I know which one.
The next day was just driving to Des Moines. A boring drive.
*La Quinta is actually a nice hotel. We usually stay in the Comfort, Clarion hotels. There was a girls softball tournament going on, but you wouldn't know it. Very nice experience.
*New experiences can actually be as good or better than the routine ones.
The next day was the main reason for vacation... hubby had a y conference in Kansas City, Mo. We had the conference rate for the Marriott downtown. Our room was up to the second floor... Across the sky bridge... Through the door to the rooms in the building across the street... Then up to the 10th floor.
Hubby was now officially on the clock and I was partially on my own. The next day I went to Kansas to try to see if I could find information about ancestors who had moved there from Indiana in 1889. My Great-Aunt married the man who would be the first pastor of Bethlehem Lutheran in Bremen, Kansas. Did not find anything, but I did see the church and cemetery and got my own pictures so I have my own instead of those from Find A Grave.
* God bless the inventor of GPS and those that made it accessible by people like me. Because of them, I made the 2.5 hour drive to Kansas, found the church down 8 miles of gravel and dirt, and back to Missouri -- all... by... myself.
We ate with some of hubby's friends at a very nice restaurant. We are not fancy people so I was a little uncomfortable, but the food was amazing, the pacing of the meal by the servers was spot on, and the conversation was wonderful.
*While nice, I still don't think I am the type of person to get used to fancy meals.
Saturday was spent by me in the room and it was wonderful. After so much travel and people it was nice to read and surf the web and watch tv.
*Sometimes you need a break from vacation.
Sunday, after his last key note speaker, we set of for home. Google said 8 hours and 15 minutes of driving. So we broke it up into planned stops. The first was a BBQ place in an old train depot. Out of the way place but decent food. Hubby liked the BBQ pulled pork.
* Out of the way places can be gems.
Next, I had been craving an old fashioned malt so hubby found Becky Thatcher's Soda shop and Emporium in Hannibal. Such a fun little town. The river boat was docked. The malt was yummy. The museum was interesting. And we got pictures in front of Mark Twain's boyhood home and pretend painting the fence. Spent too long here it was so fun.
*Even touristy places can be fun. I usually don't like them. That's why I like rock hunting -- not generally touristy. But Hannibal I would go to again.
Ate at the first chain restaurant of our vacation-- Pizza Hut-- two hours from Hannibal. Nobody there, which would be scary to have a restaurant so empty, but although the service was slow, the food was good.
* Familiarity is nice when you are on the road.
Then supposedly 3 hours to go, but stretched to almost 4. We got a great light show from the storms in Illinois. Got to hubby's apartment a little after midnight. Then the rain arrived.
* The trip home, after a long vacation, can seem endless. In the end it is worth it though. Having an "Alice" (from Brady Bunch) to unpack the car and do the laundry would make it better. :-)
* I also learned that my husband and I can still survive hours and days in the car and still not only speak to each other but actually want to be together. The last time we spent this much time driving was when we moved to Alaska our 3rd year of marriage. We've crossed the 26 year mark and I still enjoy his company. That's a good thing. :-)
Can't say I want another 10 day vacation, but I will be back North to look for those agates. Just need to research those awful flies.