September 1, 2012

The Big Move - day 11

Today is Aug 29th , day 11 We drove 143 miles today from Tinley Park, Illinois to Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Starting our we did well with another great night. This time at the Comfort Inn at Tinley Park. I think pulling off the highway when we did was the right move, I didn't see anywhere worth staying around Gary anyhow, and giving the kids a chance to swim last night made them all tired out for a good night's rest. Didn't I say this would be the start of a trend...

We had another good continental breakfast at the hotel to kick things off. We've really decided that the only way to go is free breakfast, pool, free wifi, no smoking, 2 beds. Everything else is just gravy. Anyhow, the kids did well and we soon hit the road. But before we got too far, we decided to pick up a few more supplies. This may be our last Target run before we get to Canada (where they don't have Target) so we wanted to make the most of it. And what better pace than the SuperTarget!!! Yes they have a SuperTarget here. Totally Targetastic!

After getting fuel for the camping stove (which was the wrong size), a few new clothes for Erica, and new sippy cups all around we spent a few minutes checking in on the toy aisle. Alec has a real affinity for the toys at Target from all the time he's spent “playing” with them in the store. Sure things may be slightly different in Illinois than California, but not that much I bet.

Definitely rousing. From there we bundled back into the car and may one last quick stop at Best Buy for a look around. While we were there Alec got a chance to give his best at a game of Just Dance (I guess it was JD3?) And he was of course fabulous.

Then it was time to really really hit the road. Today should be a bit simpler day. We're not going quite as far today and we've got a time change in the middle of it again. This is definitely starting to feel like the beginning of the end of our trip. Hopefully we can have a few more adventures along the way though.

We made it into Indiana, and the change to Eastern time, smoothly in the car. I don't have much of anything to say about Indiana though. We really sped through our little corner of it. We're finally really into the Great Lakes region. Right after Gary we finally split from the 80 east and started north along the 94. 

Our thought was that we might go to either Kalamazoo, or up to Grand Rapids, Michigan for the night. And yes we soon found ourselves entering the state of Michigan. I spent some time on the iPhone trying to figure out where all the best vacation spots are for families in Michigan but got a bit stymied when trying to find something nice in the middle or eastern part of the country. It sounds clearly like everyone who wants to go to Michigan on vacation really wants that “great lake” vibe (I believe that's even the state motto). Northern Michigan sounds lovely, I'm sure Luddington or Traverse City would be great, but we basically ended up turning off the coast when we hit Benton Harbor. Those other places are just too far and we ultimately need to get across this state mot get lost in it.

Speaking of the state in general though, if I thought yesterdays drive was getting to be like southern Ontario, then this was exactly it. Michigan looks exactly like Ontario in almost every geographic respect. Even the houses have some similarities.

While we drove, Calum slept and Alec played. He'd gotten out his John Wayne cowboy hat, a real favorite now, and just like the chicken game started putting it on and getting us to play along. E: “where's Alec gone to all I see is a cowboy”, A: “howdy do, y'all”, E: “hey cowboy, have you seen our little boy Alec” A: “nope I'm just looking for my cows.”, E: “well I haven't seen any cows but I swear we had a little boy in the seat a minute ago.” A pulls off hat: “it's me I'm here mommy!” This is of course followed by crazy giggles and then an exact repeat of the performance.

When Calum woke up we decided that we needed to stop for some food and a stretch. We'd looked up what to do along the way, but weren't getting very far. Eventually we pulled off the highway into the little town of Coloma. It looked at least on the map like lots of nice lakefront property, and even though there wasn't any designated park in town, with all that lakefront there'd surely be something nice. That was not the case though. The lakefront was full of houses, all the way around as far as we could tell, but truthfully we only drove 2 / 3s around and then back. The odd thing is that the lakefront property didn't look very nice. I'm not really used to seeing such lower-end property on a lake. Erica says this is common I'm not sure where she's been to see it though. Maybe its a southern Ontario thing. But my experiences near lakes in southern Ontario have been cottage country, all very nice.

So with the lakefront choices a bit weak we puled back towards the highway and found a park right before we got on. I don;t want to go to much into details on the playground or people, but I will say I didn't really like it. There was a bum sleeping on the bench next to where we were cooking, and I generally felt like the people at the park we're pretty shady. Although with that, we did meet a few nice folks there.

That was the only issue though, because the playground itself was Fantastic! I mean really fantastic. I think this is in my top 5 playgrounds of all time. It was so elaborate, and I felt like it was totally payable. One section was like a castle, another like a pirate ship, and another like an area with teepees. It was multi-storied with lots of activities as well as great lookouts.

The kids romped off to play while Erica and I alternated on the grill. At one point Alec asked Erica why there was a guy nearby sleeping on the table. He then told E that he really “looks like he needs a rest.”Other than that Alec ran around like a little wild tornado playing with the local kids. He did well meeting people, really he's very personable. At one point however he went up to a little girl and ask her if she wanted to play. The girl said, that she had regular friends to play with. Alec's response to that was “don't worry you can still love me”

After a lunch of sausages and corn (our best BBQ meal at this point) we packed up the car and headed back on the road. This was a really nice playground, but overall I suspect that this town is a bit sketchy.

We drove east on the 94 into Kalamazoo. Well the outskirts of Kalamazoo, and found another nice hotel with the Fairfield Inn. Alec spent some time 'talking on the phone' and then had us bury him in pillows, made a pillow train, and then the kids wrestled a bit. This is pretty typical nighttime play for our kids at least. Probably a thing little boys have to do :)

Since it wasn't too late, and with the time change our kids we're too tired Erica tried to calm Calum a bit while I got Alec into his swim stuff and we hopped into the hotel swimming pool. Alec and me had such fun swimming. He's really getting great at swimming, even though he's wearing water wings you can tell how much he's learning. We splashed and kicked, and swam over and under each other. Pretty fun times all around.

For dinner we had thought to make pasta, but after getting the wrong propane for our camping stove we're in a bit of a bind. How to make pasta without a burner? The BBQ seemed a bit extreme for pasta. But Erica had the idea that we might be able to do it in the microwave. Unfortunately this hotel is one of the few hotels we've had that doesn't have a microwave in our room. But there is one in the lobby. Well actually to be accurate the hotel lobby was under construction so they had two guest rooms open as a temporary lobby, and the microwave in there was just sitting around.

We piled into the guest room temp lobby and put our pasta and water in a microwave safe tupperware. After about 10 minutes it actually seemed to work. Pasta was cooked, and we added a sauce made from a can of tomato sauce, half a pepper, and leftover sausage from lunchtime. It sounds all a bit slap-dash but honestly it all turned out very well.

After dinner it was time for bed. Not such a big day today but definitely necessary to get there. Despite still really enjoying the fun side excursions as we go, I think we're all getting a bit tired of the day to day grind of traveling like this.

More tomorrow as we head out for Port Huron and then the following day it'll be into Canada and the completion of our Big Move.

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