Exploring the world one word…and one mile…at a time

Summertime in Central Michigan

L to R: Crossing back into the U.S. at Blue Water Bridge; Capitol Dome in Lansing; inside the Lansing City Market; and the MSU campus

Greetings from Michigan!  Michigan is the 21st state we’ve traveled through this year, and we picked up our first Canadian province (Ontario) on the way.  By the time this particular trip ends in early September, we’ll have touched ground in 26 states since March.  (As for the license plate game, we’re still on the lookout for North Dakota and Wyoming, but we’re headed in the right direction…)  I was hoping this would be the year I’d notch the last three states I need, but a lot has changed since we first envisioned this trip in the spring.  After being on the road for three months and just recently moving into our apartment, we’re reluctant to spend an extended amount of time away right now.  We also got a later start than planned (due to move-in slipping by a month), so the weather at the western national parks is chillier than we’d like for tent camping.  And then there is our fall race schedule—which kicks into high gear in mid-September—and we’d like to be rested and centered by then, not car-lagged and road weary.  So we culled this adventure down to two critical objectives: visit friends in Michigan and Pennsylvania whom we’ve been talking about visiting for a year and check out two graduate schools that are on M’s short list.

We arrived in Michigan Friday afternoon and spent the weekend enjoying the waning days of summer vacation with our friend T and his family.  It’s just the two of us at home most of the time, so it was a fun change of pace to be part of a lively household that stretched to more than 10 people at one point during the weekend.  On Saturday, we managed to fit in an early 8-mile run along a scenic, rolling dirt road before spending the afternoon exploring downtown Lansing (the state capital) and neighboring East Lansing (home of Michigan State University) with T and his youngest son.  That evening, the grown-ups (yup, we’re in that category…) ventured out to meet up with another couple and see a comedian, Gabriel Iglesias, who put on an entertaining show.

L to R: M and me at the dock; the younger boys waiting patiently for their turn; the terrifying bumper-boats; and me, post-ride, windswept and happy to be alive

On Sunday, T’s wife cooked up a breakfast feast of pancakes and eggs with assorted meats and fruits before we all piled into two cars and drove an hour to T’s friend’s lake house for an afternoon of boating and tubing.  The lake was picture-perfect and scattered showers held off until we were out of the water.  Most of the ladies and smaller kids boarded the pontoon boat, while the tubing crew donned PFDs and jumped into the motorboat.  M had been tubing once before, but it was my first time.  The older guys (including M) went first, followed by a joint ride where each of them was joined by one of the younger boys.  M and his 7-year-old co-pilot got dumped at one point, which did nothing to help my nerves.  But they survived, and suddenly it was my turn.  I was anxious bordering on terrified before launching myself onto the giant tube, and I was terrified bordering on ecstatic during the ride.  Apparently the terror part was visible on my face, since T had his friend slow down the boat at one point to ask me if I was okay.  I meant “no” but evidently said “yes” because the boat took off even faster, at first going straight ahead so we were in relatively calm wake, and then bearing down hard to the right (resulting in a game of bumper boats) and then left (resulting in M and me taking a tube to the face and me barely holding on while he slid off the side into the deep).  The boat stopped to allow us time to regroup, and I took the chance to swim back to the boat and, um, let someone else have a turn.

Back on land, we capped the day with grilled meats (real and faux), side salads, and good conversation.  We said goodbye to T and his family this morning, and we’re now on our way to Nebraska, a short 700 or so miles from where we started the day in Michigan.  Good news is we’ll pick up an hour.  Bad news is we still have 10 hours to go… -J.

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