Hunkering Down For A While – Ann Arbor, MI
For the past week or so we’ve been hunkered down somewhere around Ann Arbor, MI doing a bunch of boring and mostly practical stuff. It was exactly what we’d planned and, apart from an unexpected heat wave and a few excess skeeters, it’s gone exactly the way we’d hoped. Our new “back yard” is an extension of that very same travel-generosity I talked about in my last post. The result of yet another fortuitous blog meeting, and yet another (very) gracious RV parking offer.
Bob and his lovely wife Lisa are local Michiganders who started dreaming about RVing several years ago. They read some blogs (yours truly included), bought a sleek and sexy Airstream and headed out to join the wide world of RV travelers. They’re now experienced part-timers with a permanent place near Ann Arbor, although they seem to be gone more often than they’re home these days (beware, the RV bug is strong once you catch it :)). In their travels they do what every RVer dreams of, exploring wild places, gathering with travel friends and enjoying the freedom of the open road.
Bob started commenting on my blog as far back as 2013 (!), and we finally met up in person in Desert Hot Springs last winter. If you’ve got a really, really good memory you might even recall he participated in the installation of our Tough Top slide covers. He’s the kind of man who’s always ready to lend a helping hand when needed.
Fast forward to earlier this year when all our meticulously laid-out 2016 travel plans were going down the drain. The biggest hit was of course Polly’s unexpected leg surgery and the need to route most of our next 4 months or so around that. As we were struggling with the question of where to take her for rehab, especially in the dead of the crazy summer RV season (without reservations no less), Bob reached out unexpectedly:
“You can always stay at our place in Michigan” he offered “we have 40 private acres and an RV pad with electric hookups”
WOW! We were of course blown away by such a gracious offer and immediately added it to our list of possibilities and planning. Even better, our research showed Bob&Lisa’s place was only ~15 minutes from a well-rated doggie rehab, not to mention several tasty-looking beer spots. It was darn near WheelingIt perfect.
Our only limitation was the distance.
When you actually pin it down on the map Michigan is not exactly close to the West coast. There’s over 2,400 miles of asphalt from Cape Disappointment, WA to Ann Arbor, MI which some folks (yes, I’m thinking of you and your cowboy, Janna) might just consider a pleasant couple of days drive, but is an excruciatingly loooong way for slo-mo travelers like us. So, we decided to fix our initial rehab plans in Sun Valley, ID followed by a multi-week re-positioning to Michigan where we left the possibility open for another rehab, if needed. Not only would that land us in MI at about the right time of year (right near Fall no less), but it would give Polly at least 2 months rehab, in total, with a break in-between. It was a jello plan, but a good jello plan with lots of flexibility for additional jello-ness should the need arise (do you sense a theme here?)
And believe it or not, that’s almost exactly how it worked out.
When we left Sun Valley at the end of July Polly had been given the all-clear by the doc and the instructions to basically “let er rip”. But she wasn’t completely healed yet (since we have a lot of doggie people on the blog I’ll leave the specific details of this for my next post). So we planned our route with a fairly quick (for us) travel plan through ND and the Upper Peninsula of MI, dropping us down to Bob’s place around the end of August. There we would dig in for a while, enter Polly back into rehab, re-check the cat and take care of a few other practical items on our list.
We drove “the beast” into Bob&Lisa’s on a stormy afternoon just over a week ago. Even through the near-horizontal rain we could tell this was a super a sweet place! Their house is on a beautiful 40 acres hidden deep in old-time farm country. It’s surrounded by sleepy tree-covered dirt lanes, romantic red barns and folks that all wave to each other like old friends when they pass on the road. It’s private, it’s relaxed and it feels worlds away from everything. Yet it’s only 15-20 minutes from a big university and several vibrant (and rather upscale) downtown areas. It’s a pretty frikkin’ cool area.
The only thing that didn’t quite complete the magic was the bugs.
When we arrived the area was at the tail end of one of its driest summers on record. In fact it had been so dry that most of the grass had shriveled up and the usually moisture-rich area was getting a tad worried about water supply. That all changed just around the time we rolled into town. Rain storms were coming in waves and the humidity was so high water was running down our window panes in streams. This was immediately followed by almost an entire week of heat wave with temps hitting 90 and heat indices of over 100. MAN it was hot!
This bug-perfect combo apparently gave the skeeters the jump they’d been waiting all summer for.
Mere 8 hours after we set-up the whole area was TEEMING with the little biting pests. As the unofficial “state bird” of Michigan we probably should have been more mentally prepared for this moment, but in the 2-3 weeks we’d been traveling through the UP we’d seen barely a one. So we’d been wandering around in the blissful fantasy that we might actually have avoided them altogether.
Now we faced them in their full fury and woe-be-to-me the tasty mosquito muffin magnet that I am. I’m like a Danish piñata for skeeters, a sweet honey-bucket of Nordic blood, a scrumptious pasty white buffet of Scandinavian Culicidae Delight. Suffice to say, the little monsters are having a ball….
But we can’t deny this place is sweet and we’re super thankful to be able to stay here. Thanks to the generosity of our RV friends we’ve completely avoided all the craziness of Labor Day Weekend and we’ve thoroughly enjoyed both the privacy and all the cool stuff the local towns have to offer. That counts for a lot.
We’re here for the next week while Polly goes through the last phase of her rehab and we (hopefully) nail down the fall phase of our travel plans. We’ve got more cat test results coming (I’ll update on her shortly), a few minor repairs to do, some more friend-time (our buddies Matt & Tracie live just 40 mins from here) and a couple of outings planned too. If the weather forecasters are right (which they always are, right?!) we’ve got only 2 more days of mosquito-love-heat-fest before we head on into Fall. I really can’t wait….