It’s been waaaay too long since Jeff and I visited Michigan. We had an eight-month gap, last visiting at Christmas. I don’t know where the time went this year, but here we are, facing fall and coming off our first visit to our home state in 2013.
We had one week in Michigan, and we quickly got down to business. We took the latest (or earliest?) red-eye I’ve ever taken – 12:55 a.m. – to Detroit to kick things off with a surprise 60th birthday party for Jeff’s dad on Friday evening. Relatives and friends stormed the Krasses’ place and stayed up into the wee hours playing LCR and chatting on the patio. Bob opened his present from us kids: a surprise skydiving excursion with his sons on Sunday, announced with a custom T-shirt that says, “I’m 60 and my family wants to throw me out of an airplane.” He loved the idea, remarkably!
Somehow Bob, Rob and Jeff woke up a handful of hours later to tee off at the Lakelands Golf and Country Club, but that afternoon Jeff and I headed to the outdoor wedding of Jeff’s high school buddy Neal and Amy. It was a steamy, sunny day, but the ceremony in the neighborhood park was over nearly as quickly as it began and the 200+ attendees shuffled a hundred yards down a path to the tent-covered reception area. It was a really lovely wedding, complete with a barbeque buffet, DJ and band, Chinese wish lanterns, professional fireworks and late-night pizza. We danced…and danced…and ate…and drank…and caught up with a bunch of Jeff’s best friends and other Brighton High folks. One of the funniest moments: one of the groomsmen face-planted on the slippery-from-spilled-drinks dance floor, and the best man’s brother, a physician’s assistant, quickly pulled his traveling doctor kit and stitched up the groomsman’s busted lip and everyone returned to the festivities. It was a memorable evening and we’re so happy for Neal and Amy as they begin the exciting adventure of marriage together.
Sunday was skydiving day at Skydive Tecumseh. Bob attracted a big cheering squad of friends and family, most of whom cruised to the dive site on their motorcycles. While the appointment was at 2 p.m., there was a serious backlog of people that kept the guys waiting for almost three hours. (Who knew so many people willingly choose to jump out of a plane?) But before long, the three daredevils got strapped to their tandem partners, hopped in the suffocatingly small plane, and jumped to the earth from 14,000 feet in the air. Bob LOVED it, as did Jeff and Rob, who had skydived before in Houston. Jeff, Chris and I followed the thrill with a drive up north to deposit Jeff and me with my family for the remainder of our Michigan visit.
The time with my family was a little more leisurely, although we crammed in a ton of quality time. We celebrated my brother-in-law Cory’s birthday Sunday night, where we got to see my Grandma, Uncle Ron, nieces and others for the first time in forever. I helped my little sis pick out her wedding dress. I had a girls’ night out with my best friends at North Point. We watched my 5-year-old niece Ava’s tennis lesson and gymnastics lesson. We ate way too many sugary treats from Bayne’s Apple Valley Farm, the Gourmet Cupcake Shoppe, and Grand Traverse Pie Company. We taste-tested my uncle’s homemade beer. We gambled at the two local casinos. We stopped at a couple bars, including the new fancy vino bar in Midland called Whine. I also dutifully logged many hours rating grant proposals as part of my volunteer gig on the Nike Employee Grant Fund committee. We spent our last night in Mid-Michigan at the ballpark, watching the Great Lakes Loons (who hold a special place in my heart since I helped get the franchise off the ground) clinch a playoff spot in the MiLB. The next morning, Jeff and I boarded a plane from MBS Airport’s slick new terminal and touched down in Portland at 10:30 a.m.
What happened after that…well, it’s not the greatest string of incidents. Jeff and I had the ambitious plan to scoop up Cooper and spend Labor Day weekend in Sacramento with our friends, the Tillmans, who recently had an adorable baby boy. Unfortunately that fell through after our dog-sitter left a note that she thought Coop had fleas, a surprise expired plates ticket prompted us to visit the skeevy, suffocatingly-packed downtown DMV, and we realized someone broke into our Jeep. We reluctantly took a raincheck on our Sacramento visit and spent the long weekend lying low – although we did have two amazing food experiences at the adorable brunch spot, Swadeedee, and The Oregonian‘s Restaurant of the Year, Ox. It pained me a little going back to work on Tuesday, feeling a little homesick for Michigan and not ready for summer to come to a close. As much as I love football season, crisp autumn air and the kaleidoscope of changing leaves, there’s a definite sadness saying goodbye to two big things I love in one fell swoop.