Meandering in the Midwest

The Pennsylvania Turnpike has always been a traveling route whenever we took trips to Michigan from our home in Virginia. In those days, a car full of kids, a couple of stops at Sheetz and White Castle, we would reach our destination. Today, the adventure with the Black Pearl was much different. A whopping 65.00 for the toll left Deb and I speechless. We made an overnight stop at another Cabela’s in Triadelphia, West Virginia. Another clean quiet place to park for the night.

We stopped in Dayton, Ohio to see family, spend some time “thrifting” with the Sis and lunch with the nieces & nephews. It was awesome to see everyone.

In keeping with our interest with military museums, we visited the National Museum of the US Air Force. It was highly recommended by other friends and travelers and in the many times we visited this area we had never gone. Deb and I have been to Smithsonian Air & Space Museum, the PIMA Air & Space Museum in Tucson and the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola. The US Air Force has one of the best collections and display of aeronautical history and artifacts that we have seen.

“Meechigan” was our next stop, we headed north with Scottville in our sights and an opportunity to park the RV at the river park, a place where I played with childhood friends growing up. Sometimes the timing of our adventures is well thought out.

We planned to go see Mother Mary at her gravesite in Manistee on the first Sunday of our visit. Only later did we realize it was Mother’s Day. We left her a big basket of purple flowers, shed a few tears, told her we missed her and thanked her for her adventurous spirit.

Of course, A Sunday drive up the Michigan shoreline was next. A quick stop in Frankfort, a chance to see Point Betsie Lighthouse, then a drive around Big Crystal Lake before we headed to Baldwin for some homemade Jone’s ice cream. It still has to be the best Orange-pineapple, ever!

I had breakfast with my brother Bob, we chatted about life in general, little did I know it would be the last conversation and the last time I would see him as he passed away a month later. R.I.P. brother, you will be forever loved and missed.

It was nice to see the Mayor, (My old high school basketball coach) and a few of the hometown business owners that I knew many years ago. We also had the opportunity to see some of my high school friends, had lunch with a few more. It’s always special to reconnect with the people that you grew up with.

Deb and I visited Ludington State Park, enjoyed walking the dogs across the dam at Hamlin Lake. I had forgotten how scenic it was along the river and the trails were much nicer than I remembered them as a kid.

A short trip to Grand Rapids to see more family and spend a few days in a campground right on the Grand River.  Another lunch gathering with sisters, nieces and nephews. Deb and I thought it was nice to see everyone one again! We got the grand tour at Temple Emanuel from my sister Peg, who is a nationally renowned historian and genealogist for the work she has done preserving and archiving Jewish History.  We also went to the Cirque du Soleil – Crystal show on ice that was filled with artistic possibilities with skaters and acrobats. A fun Sunday afternoon.

The weather in Michigan was uncooperative, we picked the best day (according to the weatherman) to take a drive to Lake Michigan coast to see the Holland Lighthouse. Dreary skies didn’t give us much of a “photo-op” but the dogs enjoyed walking out on the break wall and it didn’t rain!

Memorial Day weekend was fast approaching, and we were off to Chicago to make a return visit to Great Lakes, Illinois. I went to Recruit Training Command in 1972, much of the area was a weak memory of where my Naval career began.

The mayhem of big city congestion and a holiday weekend were NOT very appealing, so Deb and did an obligatory drive through downtown, whisked by Wrigley field and luckily got out of there before the game was over!

We found a couple of cemeteries that were right up our alley! Being Memorial Day weekend, it seemed appropriate to pay our respects.

Graceland Cemetery was founded in 1860, Free, self-guided tours with Maps provided allowed us to see some of Chicago’s great architects and their influence, the city’s turbulent history, its powerful and inventive citizens, and the Cemetery’s natural beauty.

Not too far from there was the Rosehill Cemetery, much like Graceland, many notable Chicagoans were buried here. We had less than an hour to visit before the gates were locked, so we made a hasty trip through the grounds. The highlights of this park were not so much the gravestones and monuments but the roads that were lined with USA flags. The display of patriotism, honor and respect to the fallen was very touching.

Deb and I enjoy building architecture and some of the churches/cathedrals in Chicago were breathtaking.  It also gives an opportunity to pause, count our blessings and light a candle for Mom.

St Mary of the Angels was our first stop. Mass was NOT in session, so we managed to photograph the highlights of the church.

The Holy Name Cathedral Parish was only blocks from North Lakeshore Drive yet we managed to find a parking place so we could visit. Unfortunately, Mass was going on here, which made taking photos a little more difficult.  We did manage to get a few from the back without being disruptive tourists. (LOL)

Deb found an awesome hot dog place called Fatso’s Last Stand that seemed appropriate for our “foodie affliction”. It did NOT disappoint!

The bonus of having lunch there was the church that was right across the street. Saints Volodymyr & Olha Ukrainian Catholic Church had open doors and what was inside, at the time, left us speechless. The massive chandeliers were unreal, their multiple lights and crystals radiated throughout the church. The ceilings, walls and the altars were brilliantly illustrated and masterfully crafted.

And then, the road beckons, now begins our Westward Ho journey across America. Goodbye Chicago. Dakotas here we come!

2 thoughts on “Meandering in the Midwest

  1. Awesome! I had no idea you had roots and so much family in Michigan! So great to have the opportunity to share some precious time with them….. especially your brother. Can’t wait to follow this path in our future….

    1. Thanks Darcy,
      Always appreciate you comments and support of our travels..Deb and I look forward to seeing you guys again out here on the road, soon..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *