Week 15 – Bear Lake, MI


Wow, can you guys believe it’s almost September? That means shorter, cooler days are coming and we’re pretty sad to think that summer is coming to an end. But we will be in northeast for a proper autumn experience and can’t wait to see the leaves start to change.

20160816_205939We’re not there yet though, we’re still loving summer in all its humid, Michigan glory. We started this week with a change to our original plans…initially we were going to head backward after our last race through Chicago and Wisconsin, we have to be back there mid-September for a wedding anyway. But we’ve been hearing wonderful things about Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula so we decided to head north from Benton Harbor and check it out. Our first stop was South Haven, and it was one lucky stop! We had never heard of it, it was just a city that was convenient and on the way…turns out it was 20160817_204307awesome! A super cute little community filled with tree-lined streets, big classic craftsman style American homes, and a very cozy feeling about it as you walk down the streets. Kids playing in the front yard on tree swings and families hanging out at the beach overlooking the lighthouse. We found some wonderful parking spots in the neighborhoods where we got quiet, blissful nights of sleep. Well, almost blissful…those nights were extremely hot and sticky, the only relief was from our small battery operated fan. We stayed in South Haven for three nights, it was a perfect home base. We spent a few days getting some work done 20160817_205108in their library with speedy wifi, got in a few long runs, and attempted a morning swim in Lake Michigan. It was only an attempt because we happened to choose a beautifully clear morning to do our training swim, but it was really windy down at the water. We swam about 200 yards out, against the waves, before turning back and deciding it was just too choppy. Lake Michigan is really amazing in its vastness, clarity, and warmth (at least this time of year) and it’s really such a great place to swim (no sharks is an added bonus).

20160819_121055We had been toying with the idea of doing some home improvements to Bertha for a while now. Well, since before we moved into her really, but once we were in we had kind of decided to make the best of her current state. Finally, however, the desire to replace her 20 year old carpet just got too strong and we decided to go look at peel and stick vinyl flooring as an option. We settled on a design we both liked immediately and it was game on. We spent all of Friday in South Haven getting everything we needed to do our remodel – we got the tile and the tools needed to install it, we got chalk paint to turn our refrigerator into a chalk board, and we selected four different fabrics that we’ve decided to use to have custom curtains made (omg so excited for those to be done!). Then we drove 20160820_152439three hours north to Bear Lake, MI, where we had found a lovely RV park with a great rate. Bear Lake is only 10 miles inland from Lake Michigan and only about 45 minutes south of Traverse City, so it’s a perfect place to stay for a week and get some projects done. Saturday, Sunday, and Monday were pretty much exclusively dedicated to getting the floors done, at the expense of our Ironman training even. But when you’re living in such a small space, you really don’t want to have the mess and clutter any longer than you have to. Friday, we focused just on the bedroom and bathroom, which had the most technical cutting and measuring. Jim did an incredible job of measuring (measure twice, cut once right Jim Sr??) and carefully laying each piece of vinyl – he doesn’t take 20160820_164506shortcuts with this kind of stuff and the result was amazing! Heather assisted where she could, especially in getting the hundreds of staples out once the carpet was removed, but Jim single handedly installed every piece of new flooring. We can’t even tell you what a difference it has made getting that carpet out; it was aged and dusty and made Bertha look much dirtier than she actually was. The new floors make her feel so clean and fresh, like a new home! By Monday evening, the floors were done and we enjoyed a nice bottle of celebratory wine with our salmon dinner. Three days of work 20160820_122201was definitely worth it for floors that make Jim want to cry tears of joy every time he looks at them.

You can see the in the pictures what kind of chaos we were living in for a few days and you can kind of see the old ratty carpet in the bedroom. We didn’t do as good of a job with the before and after pics as we should have…but luckily, Jim thought ahead and captured a timelapse of the entire project! See the full 25 hours of work in two and a half minutes here: https://youtu.be/yzL9KUalkeo

20160823_115211.jpgHere’s what our home looks like as we write this weekly update, we are just loving how cozy Bertha feels now.

We’re planning to stay in the luxurious RV park for a few more days before we head north and continue exploring Michigan. Stay tuned and thanks for reading!

Total RV Trip Miles: 6,773.5



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