Are We In Hawaii?

Wow, did we finally find a place where the weather is perfect and the sparkling, sandy beaches await our eternal relaxation? Unfortunately, even if such a place exists, it is not where we were yesterday when this picture was taken.

Friday we left Bowling Green, Ohio, and drove north towards Standish, Michigan. After weeks of hot, dry weather throughout the Midwest the weather pattern took an extreme shift in the opposite direction. It was overcast and drizzly in Ohio and we knew that there would also be rain in Michigan. But we weren’t prepared for the amount of rain and for the drop in temperatures.

Our destination was Saginaw Bay Resort where a family reunion was planned for Saturday. We were going to camp there Friday night. But as the rain increased and the temperatures decreased we realized that we would have to change plans. Cousin Terri has a summer home on the bay less than 2 miles from the resort and when she offered us accommodations there for the night we were more than happy to accept.

After a restful, dry sleep at Terri’s house we awakened to another chilly, gray day. But at least the heavy rains had given way to only scattered showers. Terri and other family members who planned the reunion did a marvelous job of working around the uncooperative weather to find a place to set up the noon meal where the family would gather. Tables were set up in one end of the resort’s pavilion and there was plenty of space for our group to grill and enjoy the dishes everyone had brought. The theme of the week at the resort was Hawaiian and the pavilion was set up for a special dinner later that afternoon for all the resort guests. That explains why we found the photo op in the pavilion of 2 happy Hawaiian travelers.

It wasn’t Hawaiian weather by any means, but it isn’t the weather that counts when a family comes together. What counts is that you are with people that you care about and who care about you. It was wonderful to see everyone and spend the afternoon catching up with each other. This side of the family doesn’t gather together as often as we should. Special thanks to Terri and Kathy and their families for providing the time and place and doing all the hard work to bring this together.

Lee and I are now setting out to cross over into Ontario from Port Huron, Michigan. We will spend a couple of days camping in Ontario, making our way to Niagara Falls, a place that I have not yet seen, but am sure will be beautiful. From there, our destination will be upstate New York where we will visit Lee’s mother and reconnect again with Lee’s brother and sister-in-law at their annual stay at Sacandaga Lake in the Adirondacks. Let’s hope the weather warms back up and that summer isn’t over yet.

Greetings from Ohio

Our year of travel and being “homeless” has been a great adventure, but it has also been a wonderful opportunity to stop at various locations in the country and spend time with family and friends we wouldn’t otherwise see because they don’t live nearby.  The plaque above in the guest bedroom here at the Regan’s house in Bowling Green, Ohio, is a reminder that home is much more than a street address where we receive our mail and place our belongings.

Before we arrived in Bowling Green we spent a couple of days in rural western Ohio visiting our friend, Jerry, at his home in Maria Stein.  When we met Jerry last winter in Florida he told us about Maria Stein but neither of us had heard of it before and were not familiar with that part of Ohio.  Jerry has lived there all of his life.  His knowledge of the area and its people and his eagerness to share that knowledge with us was a delightful learning experience.

Mercer County, where Maria Stein is located, has a nickname “Land of the Cross-Tipped Churches.”  It’s an appropriate name as you look around from nearly any location in the area and see one or more of the church steeples in the surrounding communities.  The area was settled in the early 19th century by German immigrants who were almost all devout Catholics.  Under the leadership of the missionary priest, Francis de Sales Brunner, the Society of the Most Precious Blood founded many churches and schools in the region, as well as several seminaries. The name Maria Stein, in German means “Mary of the Rock”. Besides St. John’s Church, one of the “cross-tipped” churches that is here, Maria Stein is also home to the Shrine of the Holy Relics, which has beautiful park-like grounds where Jerry gave us a walking and biking tour.

St. Sebastian Church in the community of St. Sebastian, about 5 miles from Maria Stein.
Taking a rest stop in front of St. Sebastian Church.

Jerry also led us on a bike ride to nearby Grand Lake St. Mary’s.  This lake is Ohio’s largest inland lake and has the distinction of being the largest hand dug lake in the world.  When it was completed in 1845 it was the largest man made lake in the world, but since the advent of power equipment to accomplish such tasks there are obviously now man made lakes larger than this one.  Looking at the size of this lake (13,500 acres) it was hard to imagine that it was all dug by hand–one sign said it took about 1,700 laborers working for 8 years at a rate of 30 cents a day (and a jigger of whiskey for malaria prevention) to accomplish the task.

lake view
View across Grand Lake St. Mary’s from southwestern end.

After an enjoyable visit in Maria Stein, we made the relatively short drive further north and east in Ohio and arrived in Bowling Green, Ohio, in time to spend our birthdays with Lee’s brother and sister-in-law.  After a much-needed rainstorm Saturday evening and Sunday morning, we are enjoying pleasantly cool temperatures and will be doing some bike riding on roads and trails around Bowling Green.

The 2 birthday kids.  Lee is holding one of his gifts, which is a snapshot of him and his brother at a much younger age.