Week 19 – Ann Arbor, MI

Greetings once again from beautiful Michigan!

Our 19th week on the road has come and gone. As fast as time has flown on this trip, we actually had a friend ask us this week when our one year anniversary of being on the road was. He thought it was coming soon, we agree that it feels as though we’ve been on the road much longer than we have!

20160915_231453Last week we left off having just driven into Milwaukee from Madison, WI. We spent Tuesday evening, Wednesday, and most of Thursday in Milwaukee, mainly doing some work, chores, and training as per the usual at the start of our weeks (the Milwaukee YMCA had a water slide in their pool, that was the big highlight of training over those couple of days, haha). Thursday evening, however, once the chores and training were complete, we set out to check a few things off the Milwaukee checklist – beer and cheese. How can you go to the brew capital of the country and not have a beer?? We rode the motorcycle downtown and were refreshed to see it was a 20160915_183623really nice area, the places we’d been over the past two nights weren’t really the nicest and we were starting to wonder about Milwaukee. We found a great little pub, called Uber Tap Room, and ordered two beer flights and a serving of cheese curds. There’s something about the word curd that has always deterred Heather from wanting to try them, but obviously, she loved them once she tried them. It’s fried cheese – what’s not to like? We ended up ordering a pint and another sampler of cheese, including a cheddar with ghost peppers in it – yikes, that was spicy!

After our little snack, we decided to get back to Bertha and hit the road to Chicago. We’re going to be moving a little faster over the next few weeks as we race to get to Florida by the end of October. As we made the drive down to Chicago, we did some research on areas we might be able to sleep. Clearly, it’s a large city and we didn’t anticipate a lot of wide open spaces that we’d be able to sneak a 30 foot RV into. We settled on a Walmart parking lot for convenience. It seemed to be in a nice neighborhood and was in the northern part of the city, making it a closer drive for that evening. We pulled in and had a nice dinner before settling in for the night. Welp, we quickly learned that we can’t just pick a Walmart parking lot in this part of the country. At around 2:00am we had a cop knock on the door of the RV and tell us we had to leave. We tried asking him for other options, there was another Walmart not too far, surely we must be able to park there? He said no and warned us that if we stayed in the city, it was likely we’d be shot by gang members and/or have our RV stolen from us. He may have been a bit dramatic but that was enough for us to decide to hightail it out of there and head an hour and a half east to Indiana – yes, in the middle of the night. But we did find a great spot (and safe) to park Bertha in Michigan City, IN. We spent the next day (after catching up from our lost sleep) in the Michigan City library getting some work done.

20160917_133907Saturday! Yay Saturday, it was our day to spend in Chicago being tourists! We left Bertha in a safe place and took the motorcycle the 60 miles back to Chicago (it seemed faster and easier than taking the train, and overall it was, despite some traffic slow downs). We went straight to checking out the tourist places since Jim had never spent any time in Chicago. We went straight to Buckingham Fountain and The Bean (Cloud Gate) and then immediately consumed a Chicago hot dog. Yes, we even took our selfie stick, just to be sure we’d blend in with the tourists. The hot dogs were delish but we were still hungry for an actual lunch, so we sought out a pizza spot where we could gorge ourselves on some of the Windy City’s best 20160917_164327deep dish. Mission accomplished! We found a great place in a local neighborhood that wasn’t too crowded and had crust at least an inch thick. We could both only handle two slices and took the rest to go. From there, we realized that a) we weren’t far from Wrigley Field and b) there was a Cubs game going on! So we did what anyone would do, we bought cheap tickets from a scalper (it was already the 4th or 5th inning anyway) and went to catch the rest of the game! The park was packed, like nothing you see in Phoenix or San Diego, and everyone is decked out in Cubs gear. It’s really a pretty electric feeling in there, we sat IMG_20160917_231434.jpgnext to a drunk guy who certainly kept things extra interesting. Sadly, the Cubs lost (they were up when we arrived, oops) but we were thrilled to have had the experience of being at a game together. After the game, we headed toward the riverwalk to try and catch the sunset. Unfortunately, parking was trickier than we’d imagined, but we made it down there eventually to see the sparkling city lights over the river. It’s a hopping place, especially on a Saturday night, so we walked around for a bit, people watched, and took in the sights. We’d hoped to get in a live jazz show in the evening but at this point, we were honestly 20160917_195838feeling pretty tired and also pretty grimey from a hot day of sightseeing. So we compromised and walked over to the House of Blues, where we had a beer and did get to enjoy some live blues on stage. We felt very content with our day in Chicago and decided to make the 60 mile trek back to Bertha before it got any later.

The next morning, Sunday, we slept in a little after our big day of touristing and then decided to head just a little bit further east (about 40 miles) to South Bend, IN…home of Notre Dame! It was a great little community to explore and we scored big time; we found an awesome parking lot right near a river. It was quiet and green and quite restoring after our big day in the city. We got Bertha all settled in and headed out for a bike ride. It was actually 20160918_170333a pretty leisurely ride (yay for recovery weeks!), we rode through the Notre Dame campus while Jim recalled his dreams of playing football there. What a gorgeous campus it is to see, kind of made us both want to go back and do college all over again. From there, we decided it’d be fun to ride to the Indiana/Michigan border (it was only about 5 miles away). We stood on separate sides of the street so we’d be in different states at the same time, there weren’t any “Welcome to IN/MI” state signs so it was a bit anticlimactic in all reality. After the short bike ride, we had some river side yoga in the shady green grass and a relaxing evening of reading and adult coloring books (yes, it’s a thing).

20160920_104902Monday morning we continued our journey east, we had made plans to meet up with an old friend of Heather’s from high school who now lives in Ann Arbor, MI. They had reconnected on Facebook not too long ago and discovered that eventually we’d be passing through her city. Her name is Ty and she offered for us to come over for dinner on Monday evening and said she had a place we could park Bertha…with power! Little did we expect, as we pulled up, that she lived on a beautiful three acre farm! She and her 20160919_224525husband bought the place less than two years ago and have been restoring it since. It’s over 125 years old! The barn has been repainted a bright red, they have roosters and chickens that provide them with fresh eggs daily, and everything in her house is vintage and just ever so cool. Her three kids are all great too. The 8 year old girl, Ellie is a spitting image of Ty and her son Eddie is a sweetheart and quite the talented all-around athlete. She also has a new baby, only a few months old, who is one of the chillest babies we’ve ever met…as long as Heather doesn’t hold him the wrong way! They made dinner for us and built a bonfire, it was such a wonderful evening of catching up with an old friend, sharing experiences, and reconnecting in our current stages of life.

We’re staying parked on their property for a few days while we’re here (power, water, and Internet!). We’ll be doing some exploring and meeting up with another friend here this week before we continue heading east to Ohio this weekend. Since this will be the last blog coming out of Michigan, let us just once again tell you how awesome it is here. So pretty, so green, so friendly. If it didn’t snow in the winter, Michigan might be a place we’d consider living someday. Anyhoo, thanks for reading and we’ll see you next week!

Total RV Trip Miles: 7,679

 

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