Family Gathering, Michigan, July 31 - August 6, 2012
The annual family gathering happened at our place this year. Traditionally, we have met at the cottage on Elk Lake, but since Granny's passing last year, things have changed a bit. Seeing as how we are the only ones still in Michigan, we became the default setting for this year's gathering.
The partiers started arriving Tuesday evening; Dee, McKinley and Adam drove in from Wisconsin; Mom and Dad and Craig, Lora and Marco came from Tennessee via Ohio where they spent a few days camping and playing with Craig's grandkids. Dee and family moved in with Mom and Dad in the motorhome, while Craig and Lora stayed with Marco in his trailer. Betty would arrive on Wednesday, and Aunt Micki on Friday. The scene was set for a good time.
We sent the early arrivals off to Muskegon State Park on Wednesday for a day of hiking and playing on the beach. I had to work, and Kathy stayed home to finish preparations and await Betty's arrival. The crew returned looking a bit red--apparently they weren't used to the intensity of the sun being reflected back off the water. We enjoyed a great dinner and celebrated Betty's birthday (we used that excuse for dessert every night).
The crew assembled for the canoe trip
Thursday was the day for the traditional canoe trip. With the drought conditions this year, I wasn't sure what some of the smaller rivers would be like, so I chose the Muskegon River. Wisner Canoes in Newaygo provided excellent service, and the weather cooperated (in spite of an occasional shower). We had a great time with lots of laughs. Marco provided great entertainment as he tried to master several tongue-twisters we through at him. Kathy spied an ice cream shop across the street from the livery for a nice treat before we headed home. The drought had me worried that we might not be able to enjoy our traditional evening campfires, but a nice rain the previous weekend eliminated my concerns, and we formed a ring of chairs around the fire pit to continue the festivities.
The motley crew arrives on their short bus.
Relaxing on the river--sure is good to have the Admiral up front!
The hot sunny weather dictated that the beach should be our destination again on Friday. Dad took the motorhome over the Muskegon State Park to serve as a temporary beach house. Kathy and I took the Brewer family to the marina with us to take a morning sail. The winds were light and out of the east, so waves were pretty much non-existant, perfect conditions for introducing folks to sailing. For lunch, we anchored off the beach and waded ashore to join the others. They had been hiking that morning. Now the brauts were on the grill.
Dee gets some assistance getting in the water
After lunch, we took the Tennessee trio out for a sail. The wind had shifted to the north and picked up a bit, so we had a great sail! After mooring in the evening, we made the obligatory stop at the ice cream place before heading home for pizza and another evening around the campfire. Aunt Mickey had arrived while we were out, so she joined the party at home.
Thar be the Admiral maintaining watch on the bow.
Be that Craig or Captain Bligh?
Dee and family headed out Saturday morning. It was card playing time, another traditional past time for our gatherings. We had a relaxing day and enjoyed everyone's company. Kathy served up a taste testing of various vintages of Glenfiddich for the Scotch drinkers. We watched some of the Olympics in the evening.
Sunday morning, Craig, Lora and Marco headed out. Dad and I did some chores while the women visited. Aunt Mickey left in the afternoon. After dinner, Dad and I took a short walk then put a coat of clear epoxy on some parts to the boat I'm building.
Monday, we tried to see the new motorhome Mom and Dad are considering, but the dealer had recently sold the unit he had in stock. Kathy picked Mom and Betty up and took them shopping, while I took Dad down to R & R Trailers in Three Rivers to pick up our new cargo (and soon-to-be camping) trailer. When we arrived home, we found the trailer just a bit too long to get it around the back of the shed, where I planned to store it. So, after building up our strength with lunch, Dad and I moved a wood pile, replanted a few young Spruce trees and cut down some weeds to make a larger approach. That proved to be a successful solution, and the trailer was soon in its new parking place. That evening, we said our goodbyes to Mom, Dad and Betty. They would be heading out in the morning after we left for work. It had been a very nice gathering with everyone, and we had a lot of fun.