It’s Day…. Hmm, that was quick. I’ve already lost count and am going to have to go figure out what day we’re on. Please hold.
Okay, it’s Day 6. I guess I’ll have to put at the top of my Google calendar once a week where we’re at timewise. I’ll also, fill you in on the in-between days, but we’ll start where we are.
So, Day 6, and we’re still in rough waters. Not about the itinerary; that part is just fine. For someone who is as ruled by her beautifully color-coded calendar as I am, I do manage to adjust to changes swimmingly. Based on my vocabulary thus far, one might think I’d like to be near a water feature, and they’d not be wrong. This is because it’s a sunny 97° day, and yet my Goal Zero battery isn’t charging, regardless that there are three solar panels atop Hecate’s roof to catch the rays. To add insult to injury, my ‘Air Conditioner,’ doesn’t cool any air, just blows the 97° air down onto the bed. It’s really helpful. Extremely. I’ve (of course - I’m not COMPLETELY dumb) contacted the builders, but since they are 1000 miles east of me at this point, can only offer limited help. I’m really hoping that there’s someone in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area that will be able to help while we’re there for a few days at the end of the month.
Now, on the bright side, and I don’t want to brag here, but I do now know how to put up my sun sail and make it taut, which is really in our favor today since there’s nary a cloud in the sky. While I’m bragging, I want to let you know that on Sunday, I got up to 64MPH. I know, I know, as soon as I saw that speed, I took my foot off the gas and said to myself, “Slow your roll, woman.” Can’t be getting all crazy and whatnot.
A fun little aside that will tie in eventually – let’s talk camper van toilets. I had the option of either a Nature’s Head composting toilet, or a Laveo dry flush. I opted for the dry flush because it seemed like the better lazy-girl option. There’s no cat litter or sawdust or whatever it is that you scoop into a composting toilet, no ‘earthy smell,’ and no emptying the remnants. I’m very into not having to deal with any of that. While the Laveo refills are pricey, I really liked the idea of just taking out the used mylar bag o’ dookie, tossing it, and putting in a new one. That’s more my speed. Now, and I don’t have children and have therefore never really used a Diaper Genie, which is (what I’m told) is basically the same principle. Now, in theory, there should be no odd smells wafting up from the bowl, but I’m here to tell you, when it’s 97° outside, and about 114° inside, THERE’S AN ODD SMELL WAFTING UP FROM THE BOWL. Luckily, it’s only when the lid is open. Of course, even in my normal everyday life, I’m a ‘keep the toilet lid down when you’re not sitting on the toilet, because it is just more aesthetically pleasing (don’t even GET me started on people who take pictures of a staged house with the toilet lid up……as they say in Hong Kong, “I am unable to can,”) so it’s not like I started driving around in my van with the lid up. Not that it would stay up anyway with all the jostling that happens (remember that time when I forgot to batten the hatches and all my shit smashed to the ground? That was, unfortunately, not a stand-alone event....). However, because of the cost of both purchasing the mylar refills, not to mention the shipping cost of them (you can only order them online; they are not available in retail stores) and because I like to be conservative with my funds whenever possible, I’ve basically opted to only use the shitter for #2. Not that you asked, but I have a very fancy #1 method involving a takeout soup container. I can’t even count the number of times at this point that I’ve accidently peed a bit o̶r̶ ̶m̶o̶r̶e̶ on the floor or on myself using my tried and true squat method (which works beautifully out in nature, btw, but probably because it’s a free-flow out there and you’re not trying to catch it, but in the van, the squat method is untenable). If there are any prissypants out there judging me at this point, I’d like to take this time to mention that not only do I wander around barefoot frequently, bringing who-knows-what into the van, I have a gigantor dog who also wanders around barefoot, bringing who-knows-what into the van as well, so what’s a bit of urine? I also assure you that I spend about 10 minutes out of every hour cleaning. But I digress. So I devised a new way which still involves the soup container, but now I hold it in the toilet bowl like a clever lass, which not only prevents my floor peeing, but saves my knees as well. It was in one of these momets that I realized that regardless of how well it’s packaged, hot poo does indeed have an odor. If I had to name said scent, I’d probably call it ‘Baking Old Shadoobie.’ I tell you, I’m almost tempted to use the toilet for anything and everything at this point, including a trash can, cost be damned, so that I can empty the full mylar bag. Then we can start fresh and have approximately 12 hours of nothing followed by what we could then title, “Baking New Shadoobie.” I sincerely hope that getting the AC fixed so that nothing inside is baking will solve this problem, cause it’s getting real Cousin Eddie up in here.
Okay, here we go with the filling in of the days. Days 3-6 of the Captain’s Log were spent in my hometown of Adrian, MI, and visiting my cousin in Canton, MI. It was a rather spur-of-the-moment decision to venture north from the winery in Norwalk, OH and I found myself passing through Blissfield, MI, where I was surrounded by trains and railroads (have you MET me?!) and suddenly in Adrian. If you’ve seen the show Stranger Things, you’ll understand the reference that I felt like I was in the Upside Down. I left when I was 17 years old, and I’ve only been back a few times since then; the most recent visit was 8 years ago. So things were familiar, but also odd. The mall (which used to be the most happening spot in town) is now defunct and derelict. Some of the beautiful architecture around town was still intact, and some was getting run down. I went to Frosty Boy to get Gatsby his first ice cream, and to Hoagie Man for a sandwich that was as delicious as I remember. You know how some things you remember a certain way, and then when you revisit them years down the road, they're something of a letdown? Hoagie Man was the opposite of that.....boy did they deliver.I saw the schools I attended that are now operating as other things. The hospital I was born in has been shut down. I’m not even sure where people go for emergencies anymore. I wanted to go inside the church I attended as a kid, but I didn’t want to actually have to go to church. I saw the glorious Croswell Opera House, the first stage I ever stumbled across. I went down the ‘hill’ that I learned to ride my bike on (I’m pretty sure if I parked on it, I’d only need a couple of levelers to even out). The Roller Rink seems to still be in operation, and I am PUMPED about that! I got to go for a walk with my favorite high school teacher who was my choir teacher and Balladiers (that was our version of Glee Club) director. I turned off GPS, because even after being away for 23 years, muscle memory will remember how to get places like we used to before we had all today’s technologies. Our overnight on Day 3 was at a lovely golf course. I really enjoyed that because not only was it picturesque, but nice and quiet as well. One of my favorite things about golf is that it’s a rather silent sport. Since I am traveling with only my driver and my 5i, I didn’t play the course (and they unfortunately didn’t have a driving range), but it was pretty.
On Day 4, I took a driving tour of Tecumseh, MI, where both sets of grandparents lived while I was growing up. If I had to settle down in Lenawee County, I would definitely choose Tecumseh. It’s clean and sweet and quaint. I saw both their old houses, and both were looking well, and I was able to stop in to visit the graves of my Grandma and Grandpa (my mother’s parents; my father’s parents were Granny and Grandad). It, like most of the previous day, was unplanned. I just found myself there, and found myself crying over their tombstone. I’m not entirely sure why; they’ve been gone for some time, but I felt a nostalgia for simpler times. Grandma was my best friend. She always made things better, and while I was not loved in my own home, I was loved in hers. It also makes me miss my neighbors back in VT. If I could have hand-picked a set of parents, it would have been them, and Anne’s mom, who lives with them, reminds me SO MUCH OF MY GRANDMA. I miss them while I’m on the road.
After I got that out of my system, I got on the road to get to my cousin’s house in Canton. At this point in life, he’s pretty much never surprised to get a random phone call/text from me saying I’m on my way, regardless of the fact that I live 700 miles away. So I spent two nights with him, his wife, and his mother-in-law. It’s always a treat getting to spend time with family when you live so far away. Well, when you’re spending time with family you like, anyway. It was also a treat to take a shower in which I got to let the water run the entire time! So luxurious. I’m not going to lie, it was also the first time I’ve washed my hair in a week (but also, if you know me at all, that’s only about a 1-day difference than in my normal life).
Day 6 finds us in the Irish Hills area of MI. We’ve spent the day at Hidden Lake Gardens (a horticultural display of acres upon acres, maintained by Michigan State University – I used to come to HLG as often as possible growing up…..it has so many things I like - nature, vast spaces, solitude….. it’s where I felt connected and calm, and how I think people should feel in church but I never have. I have always felt that here…..), largely parked under a couple of big trees at the crest of ‘Evergreen Hill,’ which has always been my favorite spot in HLG.
After we finish our shade-chasing rotation here, we’re overnighting at our first Boondocker’s Welcome location, which is a part of the Harvest Host membership (have I even explained Harvest Hosts yet? I’ll go back and find out, but if not, I’ll fill you in), but instead of staying at a business location, you park at someone’s private home. I believe said home is on a lake, which in today’s weather, would be a welcome reprieve. Let’s hope tomorrow’s temps come down slightly from Satan’s Taint. In the meantime, please send us cooling, and pleasantly scented thoughts. Until then……