July 6 – 28, 2018
“Photographs and memories
Christmas cards you sent to me
All that I have are these
To remember you”
Sometimes our lives move so fast, we forget to look back and see where we’ve been. And while our 4 month rambling trip from Florida to Michigan was anything but quick, we had a tendency to focus on the road ahead to our next destination. That all changed when we left Cooperstown, NY. It was about then that our plans completely turned to Jello. We knew we had several people we wanted to visit in Michigan and Indiana, but nothing spoke to us as what route to take or what order to do it in. We had several options to choose from. Day by day, the next stopping point was chosen, but the overall route continued to elude us. What we didn’t realize was that a single event was going to end up choosing our path for us. And once we were here, it turned out that each location held a period of reflection for us, filled with boxes of photographs and memories.
Our first stop beyond Cooperstown was Seneca Lake, NY.
We had wanted to spend some time at one of the several Harvest Hosts locations that our friends Linda and Steven (The Chouters) had stayed at last year. We chose this dandy spot at White Springs Winery, just south of Geneva.
It was a great place to not only share a bottle of Pinot Grigio, but to enjoy a fabulous view! Our original plans had us staying at two separate wineries, but we opted to move further down the road after a two night stay.
From that point, we had to decide whether to route through Canada or the United States. We chose the latter, as we were thinking we would want to visit my aunt and uncle in Indiana first. We spent a few nights at Westfield, NY on the southern shore of Lake Erie.
This charming little community is home to the Barcelona Lighthouse, which was built in 1829. It has the distinction as being the first lighthouse to be lit using natural gas. A concrete dome was built over a spring a half mile away to trap escaping gases, and a pipe was laid between the two structures. Pretty fancy technology for the early 1800’s. We also discovered that the area is a major grape-growing region, and was home to Welch’s near the end of the 19th century.
It was at this location that our route became clearer. Diana received a call that her aunt wasn’t doing well. We’ve always been close to Aunt Marion and Uncle Bob, so we made tracks for Flint, Michigan without haste. We stopped at Cabela’s in Dundee, Michigan for the night, close to 300 miles from our starting point that morning.
If there is one thing that Cabela’s does well, it’s how they showcase the mounts in each store. The displays in this 225,000 square foot location are spectacular. Instead of one musk ox, they show an entire herd of them facing off against a pack of wolves.
By the time we reached Flint the next day, Aunt Marion had passed. We were fortunate to get a camping spot at the Flushing Moose Lodge just a few miles from Bob and Marion’s home, which ended up working very well for us. We spent the next days with family, sorting through photographs and remembering happier times.
Here is a photo of Bob and Marion, looking their usual dapper selves. 🙂 They were quite a duo. Marion was Diana’s mother’s sister.
During our stay, we took the opportunity to drive by Diana’s childhood home and to visit the cemetery where her parents are buried. On the way back to Flushing, we drove by the house where Diana’s mother grew up in Goodrich. This also was the spot where Uncle Bob met Aunt Marion over 70 years ago. The current owners were outside, so Diana mentioned to them that her grandparents used to live there. They graciously invited us in!
Needless to say, Diana was overjoyed to be able to show me the home. Many memories were shared, and several of the owners questions were answered as to how the house used to be. The woodwork on the stairs to the basement survived several remodels.
After the funeral, we headed north to visit my sister Judy and brother-in-law Dale in Harrison, Michigan. We attended a benefit concert for the local library and visited the local veteran’s museum that Dale helps out with.
One of the displays was of Judy’s and my paternal grandfather, a veteran of World War I. He was a Canadian citizen at the time, fighting as a U.S. Army soldier.
While we were there, I even had the opportunity to try out Judy and Dale’s paddle board. I never fell off, but I sure felt it the next day! 🙂 Judy and I also pulled out a box of family photos, as I was looking for a particular photograph. I never found it, but I did come upon this gem:
This is my Great Grandpa and Great Grandma Schmitt. He’s the one who built Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse, among other things. This photograph is probably from the 1870’s. We are only three generations apart, despite the many years. Do you think we look a bit like each other?
From Harrison, we headed south towards Indiana. We stopped along the way at the Moose Lodge in Otsego, just north of Kalamazoo. We used that as a base to travel down to see my aunt and uncle. We also went to dinner with our friends Mike and Cindy, and then the next night with Paul and Sheryl.
We completely forgot to get a photo with Paul and Sheryl, but here we are with Mike and Cindy. There was lots of catching up on what we’ve all been doing. Two great evenings with two sets of wonderful friends. 🙂
And in Indiana, we were able to catch up with Uncle Ed and Aunt Marge, two of my mom’s siblings. Uncle Ed wasn’t feeling the best, so we didn’t pester him with a photo. While we were at Aunt Marge’s, we took a look through her photos to see if I could find the family photo I was looking for. No luck again, but I did find these beauties:
Here I am with my maternal grandfather in 1976. He was 92 and I was 18 at the time. For the record, I loved Detroit back then and I still do today.
And here are my maternal grandparents, just before World War II. Grandma is the daughter of the Schmitts in the earlier photo.
And here is my mom with my aunt and uncles. Uncle Ed is in front, with (left to right) John, Mom, Marge and Fritz behind him. All three boys would soon be in the war and Aunt Marge in the convent.
And that is where she is today, as sharp as ever at 94 years young. It was great to be able to spend time with her and Uncle Ed. 🙂
We’ve spent the past few days taking care of doctor and dentist visits, and the general things we like to take care of around Grand Rapids. We visited my parents’ graves and even found my buddy Richie’s crypt in a mausoleum in the same cemetery. That kind of knocked the stuffing out of us for a bit. You might recall him from our post, Reflections in the Rear View Mirror.
So after a bit of a pause while sorting through old photographs and memories, we are ready to move forward and make some new ones. This week we head north to Leelanau to start a new adventure for us. Be sure to stay tuned for our next post, as we describe what that entails. Until then, safe and happy travels to all!