Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Tuesday, July 18th

Today everybody slept in until about 9 am. We had a pretty late night the night. Micah was up at 7 am though, so Matt took him for a walk and kept him occupied for awhile. I feel like we are all off an hour. We switched time zones in Indiana, so that is probably why we are up late in the morning and we don't go to bed until late at night.

I made granola for breakfast, and since my kids had run to our friends' campsite, I just took our pans of granola over there. Once breakfast was over, we started making plans for the day. I told my friend that it was supposed to be 86 degrees today and then cooler the rest of the week.  She thought today would be a better day to go swimming and then we could hike on the cooler days. I thought that sounded great.

I had mentioned that I wanted to go see the Whitefish Point Lighthouse along with the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum which was right beside it. This was about 15 miles away. She then said that there was a beach right behind the lighthouse where everybody could go swimming. Great! Something for everybody!!  Once I got everybody's swimsuits packed along with lunch, we were ready to go. I was assuming we were going to be gone all day.

Not everybody wanted to go to the museum though, which was fine. We ended up splitting up when we got there. I took Megan, Kaelynn, Erich, and Christian to the shipwreck museum and the rest headed to the beach. I found the museum very interesting! I read the displays to the little boys and explained things to them. It didn't take us very long to go through. We learned quite a bit about how ships sank in this area. Many of them crashed into each other in the fog and yet others, the boiler blew up and caused the ship to sink!

Once we were done, we headed outside. We thought everybody was at the beach, but they were all standing by the cars. What was going on? They said the flies were super thick at the beach and they couldn't stand it anymore!! Courtney and Miki were actually in the truck with the doors closed!

I didn't quite know what we were all going to do now.  Five of us had tickets to the museum, so there were still a couple of buildings to go through plus a short movie to watch. I wanted to do all these things, but what were the others to do that didn't pay for admission??

There were also five of us who wanted to climb to the top of the lighthouse (Whitefish Point Lighthouse), so we bought our tickets. You had to be at least 8 years old and wear tennis shoes to climb it. Luckily I had seen this on their website before I left the camper! We got signed up to go at 3 pm and it was only 1:30 pm. We needed to wait awhile yet. We all sat down on benches to eat lunch and then the five of us that had museum tickets went through all the buildings. Matt and Frank along with Jennifer, Miki, Courtney, and Ana did not have tickets, so they sat on the benches and waited for us. Unfortunately, the flies continued to bother them. :( They said it wasn't near as bad as it was on the beach, but still very troublesome. Everybody started to call them "Vampire Flies." They were biting Miki until she bled and were even biting Matt through his socks!

3 pm came and we went to the top of the lighthouse. What an amazing site! We could see the mountains of Canada plus the actually "point" of Whitefish Point. We were up there about ten minutes and then I thought we should relieve the dads. We came down and asked if they were ready to go. They got up  and ran to the car! They had been waiting very patiently for us while getting bit by flies!! They were more than anxious to be done with that place!!

We left about 3:30 and headed to another little beach on Lake Superior where the kids (and adults) could play for awhile. I sat on the side and took care of  Micah. Courtney, Matt, and Christian got in the water. The shore was really rocky, so it really hurt your feet. Frank and Ana ended up going WAY out. You could see the mountains of Canada very clearly from there and we figured up that they were about twenty miles away. You could see windmills on the land in Canada.

We headed home after that because everybody was hungry. We actually stopped at a small grocery store on the way home. We only have about 1 1/2 rolls of toilet paper left and three days yet to go here. Kind of a toilet paper emergency!  We didn't find any. Our kids may be going to the bathhouse to go to the bathroom once it is gone!

 I didn't really have any plans for supper, but Jennifer and Frank were going to make burritos over the fire, so our kids decided that they wanted to make them too. We asked Frank and he said we could use their fire, so I decided to  make all the burritos in my camper and then take them over to theirs to cook and eat. The kids were over there anyway!

I had them almost all put together when it started to downpour. What a great way to put out a campfire!! :(  Matt came in and said their fire was going out, so we just made them in the oven. Everybody in our family came back to our camper in the rain, so we sat down and ate together in the camper.

Once we were done though, the girls ran back to the other camper and didn't come home until 10 pm! Matt and I stayed home with the boys because it continued to rain for awhile. I ended up playing quite a few games with Christian. He had a lot of fun beating me in UNO! We also played a storytelling game and some others. Matt eventually turned a movie on, so I was "off duty." The girls came home and we got everybody to bed. Now everything is peaceful and I am able to catch up on my blog. :)

Monday, July 17th

Today was moving day. As much as I loved this area, we had reservations at a different state park further north.  It was also shower day, which meant that Megan and I headed to the shower house to take showers and the rest took them in the camper.  The shower house at this campground was just as nice as the one prior. (We were now in Straits State Park. Hoffmaster State Park had awesome showers too!)

We had a shower house not too far from us, but when Megan and I got there, they were closed for cleaning. The janitors recommended another one not too far away, so we headed down there. We were on a time limit though. Before I left, I made a coffee cake and set the timer for 40 minutes. I was going to be efficient- take a shower while breakfast was baking! This bath house still had individual showers with doors, so it was still super nice.

Once we were done, we headed back to the camper and Matt had give Micah and Christian a shower in the camper.  They were both clean! Courtney had run off with Miki, so she ended up taking one later. We really try to take showers every other day when we are camping.

When we got back, we cleaned up  the camper. It is amazing how things can just get scattered after two days! The dishes had to be washed, shoes put away, snacks put away, bunkhouse cleaned up, etc.  This took the rest of the morning.  We ended up having leftovers for lunch, and then we had to figure out where we were going to do laundry! If I was at home, I would be doing a load or two every other day or so. Now that we are living in our camper, I can't do that. I usually do laundry when our laundry basket is overflowing. I keep one big basket in our closet and everybody throws their dirty laundry in there. It was definitely overflowing yesterday and I was beginning to have a pile on the floor! Time to do laundry!!

There were not any laundry facilities at our state park (there usually isn't at state parks), so I asked Google if there were any nearby. Luckily there was one about two miles away! Not so far! I sent Matt to the Laundromat to check it out. He went down and said it was clean and reported back the price it cost to do a load. We also had to be out of our campsite by 1 pm, so I wanted him to see if there was any place that we could park the camper for a few hours. He looked around and found some big parking lots down there, but none right next to the Laundromat.

Once he got back, we decided that he would just take me down there in the truck, and I would get started. He would then come back and hook up the camper, dump it, and park it in a lot a couple blocks away from the Laundromat. Then the rest of the family could join me and I would have a good start on laundry.

This is not exactly what happened though!! As we were all piling into the truck to take me to the Laundromat with the laundry, we saw two big motorhomes pull up on our road. Our friends had just pulled out five minutes earlier and one of them pulled into their spot. I looked at Matt and said, "Do you think the other one will want our spot??" It was 12:50 pm and checkout was 1 pm. They don't have a check-in time like in Nebraska.  Matt got out to talk to the driver and sure enough, they wanted our spot.  Matt hooked up  the camper and we left. We didn't want to argue with them! The driver of the motorhome had said to Matt, "You know, there is a 1 pm checkout time."

So now all of us were headed to the Laundromat with the camper in tow. Luckily, there was a line of empty parking stalls at the Laundromat and Matt was able to pull right in! Awesome!! He helped me haul all the laundry in and sort it. I ended up having six loads! There was only seven washers there and three were being used, so I got started with the four that were empty. There was a little toy area for Micah and Christian and Matt and Courtney ended up walking across the parking lot to Dollar General. They brought back strawberry ice cream bars and bug spray. :)  Unfortunately, by the time we got to the ice cream bars, they were half melted. I didn't think they were very good.

When the washers were done, I was able to get those loads in the dryers and put the last two loads in the washers. There were probably twenty dryers in the place! One the dryers started getting done, I was in a race to fold all the clothes and get the next loads transferred. It was quite an ordeal!! Matt helped me with most of it. When were done, he told me he had a new appreciation for me and laundry!

Once everything was washed, dried, and folded, we took it all out to the camper and just put it in the doorway. We could put it away when we got to our next camping spot. When I was coming out with the last load though, Matt was talking to some people in the parking lot. They were giving him ideas of places to go in upper  Michigan. 

Everybody climbed back into the truck and we were on the road again! We were heading north another 60 miles to Tahquamonen Falls State Park. I slept most of the way while the kids listened to "Adventures in Odyssey." Once we got to the area, we didn't quite know where to go! We had lost our internet connection, which means Google couldn't help us anymore. We were watching signs, but must have missed something because instead of turning left at a blinking light, we continued to go straight! Luckily we were at the way top of Michigan and were going to run into Lake Superior. We ended up by the Whitefish Point Lakehouse. I texted our friends to see where we needed to go and they gave us some help. I also got the atlas out of the camper. I guess when all else fails, we should do it the old fashioned way!!

We made it back to the blinking light and turned right like we should have in the first place! Our campground was another ten miles down the road. We went about 20 miles out of our way, BUT we did see a cool lighthouse (that we ended up visiting the next day.)

We got checked in, dumped since we didn't earlier, and filled up with water. We found out campsite and got set up. It was a pull through, so it was pretty easy! Our friends were across the road and about four campsites down. Not bad!  We also had a little playground nearby, so the kids went running there right away. The only bad thing was that the bugs were pretty bad. Good thing we bought bug spray earlier!

I ended up making tacos for supper, and we ate the outside. After dinner, we  decided to explore the park a little bit. This park is famous for its waterfalls. There are the lower and upper falls. We decided to drive to the lower falls and see them. What an amazing site!! There was  boardwalk, so we were able to put Micah in his stroller and push him. We checked out some boats you can rent and talked about how that would work with Micah.

When we got back, everybody wanted to make a campfire, so we ended up making one at our campsite. It was more private than our friends' site. I could also put Micah to bed and still join in the fun.

About 10 pm, I started to put Micah to bed. I put his bed out in the living room, so it took a little bit longer because the kids kept coming in and out of the camper. I was kind of getting frustrated. Matt doesn't want him sleeping in our room anymore, but at least I had some privacy there and could get him to sleep!

He finally got to sleep about 10:35 pm and I was able to join our friends outside for awhile. The girls were telling stories and Jennifer and Matt were talking. I was cold, so I got some beach towels to cover me up! I didn't want any of my blankets smelling like smoke! We sat outside until about 11:30 and then we all gave up and went to bed!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Sunday, July 16th

Today my alarm went off bright and early, and I was sound asleep! I was up until almost 12:30 am last night blogging, so I knew I wouldn't get much sleep. I think I hit snooze five times before I finally got out of bed.  We were planning on catching the 9 am ferry to Mackinac Island, so I needed to get everybody up and going earlier than usual!

I got myself up and got the kids going. We are not used to getting up and out the door by a certain time! We had some trouble getting ready. I wanted to leave by 8:30, but we really left about 8:40. We were having trouble with Christian getting himself ready (this happens ALL THE TIME) and Megan was getting mad at him, so we had to tell Megan to just take care of herself and let us take care of Christian. I know she is only trying to help, but it wasn't helping at all! After we had two kids in tears, we were finally in the car and on our way to the dock!

My friend and I decided that we were going to take a slow ferry to Mackinac Island this morning. This would take about 40 minutes. On the way home, we were going to take a fast ferry that would get us back in 15 minutes PLUS it took a detour under the Mackinac Bridge. This way we got a little of both ways!

When we arrived at the dock, we were there only a few minutes before they started boarding.  We all got on and enjoyed our ride across Lake Huron to Mackinac Island.   I had no idea what to expect when we got there. My friend brought up the idea of going there, so it wasn't even on my radar of places to go. This island is unique because no motorized vehicles are allowed there. The most popular modes of transportation are horse and bicycle. Right away, you could smell the horse poop! You could buy a horse drawn carriage ride to take a tour of the island, but we decided against that. You could also rent bicycles. Since there were 16 of us (our family and my friend's family), I wasn't sure how that would work either. Could you imagine 16 of us trying to get around on bicycles??

Since we were not going to pay for a horse tour or to rent bicycles, we decided to stay on foot and we headed to one of the main attractions of the island- Fort Mackinac. This was a fort that was built by the British during the Revolutionary War in the late 1700's. It was then turned over to the Americans after the war, but taken back by the British during the War of 1812. After this war was over, it was turned back over to the Americans and it was under their control until the fort closed in 1895. It was an amazing place!

We toured many original buildings in side the fort, saw a rifle and canon demonstration, and just learned about life during that time. I thought the park service did a great job putting everything together and making it very user friendly. I was thoroughly impressed!

After we were done there, we headed back to the main street for lunch. The kids wanted pizza, which is actually the cheapest way to feed this crew! Micah was not happy during lunch. He usually naps from 10:30-12, but he didn't fall asleep at his usual time, probably due to the rifle and canon demonstrations! He was having quite the fit in the restaurant while we were waiting for our pizza! Once he got his food and ate, he was much better! I had to set him in a chair beside me in the restaurant. They didn't have any booster seats or high chairs.

After lunch, we decided to go see a place called arch rock. This was about a mile away and we decided to take a path that had no steps. We had Micah in the stroller, so we wanted to avoid steps if we could. We found arch rock and saw it. The girls decided to pose each other there and take pictures with the lake in the background. I wish I had some pictures to show here!

We left arch rock and headed to a place called skull rock. When we were about halfway there, Megan realized that she didn't have her bag with her purse in it. She had been using this bag also to put her camera in when she wasn't using it. Matt, Courtney, Kaelynn, and Megan all walked all the way back to arch rock to get her bag! Luckily, it was where she left it! Unfortunately though, they had to walk an extra mile or two.

Once we were all back together and had some snacks (fudge and pretzels), we headed off to another fort on the island. This was called Fort Holmes and was on the highest point of the island. This was 325 feet above sea level. On the way there, we let Micah out of the stroller to walk. He has give a new name to Ana. Her name is Baba. He was saying, "Baba" all the way up the hill up to the fort. Once he got to her, he gave her hug and then walked away. We let him run around the fort with the girls awhile.

We took some pictures of the fort and overlook and then headed off again to see another rock and another lookout. Again, more pictures.  It was getting to be about 4:30 at this time and our ferry to return left at 6:30 pm. We decided to start heading back to the town because we wanted to go through a few more buildings on market  street that we could get into with our tickets to the fort.

Up until this time, Micah had still not napped. Around 4:30, he was getting pretty still in his stroller. Matt laid him back a little and within 5-10 minutes, he was finally asleep! We passed a cemetery on our way back to the main street and went down a very steep hill.

Once we were on Market Street, we went through a church and grocery store, which had the original floor in it. We learned about a doctor who discovered many things about our digestive system. We went through an old house where a couple young ladies, who were dressed up in traditional dresses, taught us about sewing and cooking in the 1800's. The kids finished off her bread that she had made over the fire.  We finally watched a blacksmith do some projects in a blacksmith shop. Whew! While we were in the grocery store, the lady there, who was dressed in costume, was showing the kids some old musical instruments, such as a fife. She played a little tune for the kids, but  woke Micah up in the process! I  ended up putting him the front carrier and he went back to sleep. I didn't take him out of the carrier until we were halfway home on the boat!

Now it was about 5:30 and we had about an hour until departure. I told the girls that we could go through the souviner shops to see what they had. Of course, the girls were asking for $27 sweatshirts! No way! I did find the clearance rack and they had two t-shirts for $10. Miki and Courtney found matching tie dye t-shirts and Megan and Kaelynn found two matching gray ones. I thought that was a pretty good deal. Christian was begging me for some toy, which I said no to (even though he continued to argue with me and I eventually sent him outside to be with his dad.)

Our ferry arrived around 6:15 and we all got on.  We all wanted to ride on the top, but the seats were filled. I ended up sitting right outside the area where the captain sat. I faced everybody on the boat. This was the fast boat, so we went pretty fast. We detoured by Mackinac Bridge, so that was pretty neat!

We got home about 7. We made some dinner and I chilled out in my camper all by myself for awhile. There are just some times when I need some downtime for myself! The kids were all outside learning how to fight with sticks. The men eventually started a campfire, so some kids had smores. The sun sets really late here, so I think they all came in about 10:30 pm. I got Micah to bed and the others are in bed too. I am sure we will all be sore tomorrow from all the walking. Matt has a fitness app on his phone and it said he walked 22,000 steps. We figured this was about 10 miles!!

Tomorrow we had a pretty low-key day. We are moving 60 miles to Taquenomen Falls State Park, which is further north in Michigan. We will be there until Friday. Before we leave here though, I need to find a laundromat and do some laundry! The children are starting to inform me of the number of pairs of underwear that they have left!! State parks do not usually have laundromats, so I found one about two miles away. I am not sure how we are going to make this work, but we will somehow!

Ok, off to bed!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Saturday, July 15th

This morning we all slept in! After being up  so late last night and not really having anything to get up for, I just kept on sleeping! But of course, Micah was up at 7 am (6 am old time), so Matt took him outside for awhile.

After we got up around 8:30 am, I made apple crisp for breakfast and while it was cooking, I went to take a shower. I had to check out these awesome showers. I agree, they were pretty awesome! No bugs, no frogs, no spiders, plus endless hot water that stayed on the entire time!

Our goal today was to drive another 280 miles to Straits State Park in northern Michigan. But before we left, we wanted to explore Hoffmaster a little bit, so around 10 am, we headed over to the visitor center at the park and climbed a sand dune. Again, Matt carried Micah! (I carried him down).

When we were done there, we thought we should get things packed up and start hitting the road. It would take at least 4 hours to drive 280 miles.  I made lunch while Matt filled the truck up with gas. Once we were all done eating and everything cleaned up, we hooked up and pulled out. Courtney road with her friend Miki's family all the way there. We only had Micah, Megan, and Christian in our truck. Yesterday, Megan and Christian could not stop fighting, so we didn't know how this would go. Fortunately, they both decided to take their "nice pills" today and the trip was pleasant. They watched a movie and then we all played some games. The afternoon went pretty quickly!

About 5 pm, we started to get into northern Michigan.  In order to get the the Upper Peninsula (or UP as many people call it), we had to cross the Mackinac Bridge. This bridge was amazing! Matt said it was pretty windy and kept saying, "I really hope  we don't go over the side!" We didn't end up going over the side, but it felt like it at times! The water was so blue and just looked amazing. Lake Michigan was on one side of the bridge and Lake Huron was on the other. At the end of the bridge, we had to pay a toll of $8. As much as I would like to drive over that bridge again, I do not want to pay another $8!

After we got checked in and set up, Matt made some steaks and potatoes for supper. Yummy! By this time, it was about 8:30 pm and we got word that there were fireworks in the local town. Around this time, we all got jeans and jackets on and headed into town. We watched a local street entertainer juggle fire and ride a unicycle, which was pretty neat. We then got ice cream and ended up watching the fireworks at about 10:20 pm. I have never seen fireworks over water before; the reflections were so pretty!

We got back to our camper about 11 and finally got the kids to bed. We are going to Mackinaw Island tomorrow and are going to catch the 9 am ferry. It should be another fun day!! At least we won't have to drive four hours again!

Friday, July 14th

As much as I want to go to  sleep because we have to get up early tomorrow morning, I want to get things written up. I told Matt today that I want to write here not just so other people can read it, but for my own memories. We have pictures too, but  Matt has not had time to download them yet. I am bummed that I didn't make much of an effort the first week of vacation. I really want to from here on out! Things are going to get exciting!

Yesterday (Friday) we traveled from Chicago to Hoffmaster State Park in Michigan. We were meeting up with our friends there, and we would be with them for the next week while we stayed at state parks in Michigan. Before we left Chicago, we drove around downtown in the morning. We were going to walk to a beach that wasn't too far away, but changed our minds once we saw that there were no sidewalks. We drove over there instead and then realized that we would have to pay to park, so we decided that we were just not going to go to the beach! I wanted to go to Millenium Park while we were in Chicago, and we had already determined that Matt's truck was too tall to fit in any parking garage, so we drove there in a slight chance that maybe we could find street parking. HAHA! The area around Millenium Park was crazy!!  We drove down Michigan Ave and I am amazed that we did not get in a car wreck. There were people and vehicles everywhere. I almost felt like we were back in New York City! And needless to say, we did not find  any street parking and we did not go to Millenium Park!

We needed to be out of our truck parking facility by noon, so we were back there by 11:30.  We got hooked up and we pulled out about 11:45. Good bye Chicago!

We got on the interstate and our next stop was Hoffmaster State Park in Michigan. It was 189 miles away, so about 3 hours. About an hour or so later, we stopped at a WalMart along the interstate near Michigan City. We needed to get lunch and get a few groceries.  This stop took a lot longer than expected! I made leftover chili, but we had no potato chips. Megan and Courtney like potato chips in their chili, so Matt and Courtney ran into the store to get chips and a few items for the truck. Once they came back out, we ate lunch. We then decided to Skype Matt's mom because it was her birthday.  That took twenty minutes and we still needed to get into Walmart (again) and get groceries for the next week. Needless to say, this was not a quick stop!

About 3 pm, we were back on the road and again heading towards Hoffmaster. Soon we go into Indiana and saw signs for  Indiana Dunes State Park. This was one of our favorites campgrounds from our east coat trip in 2013. We also went through a time change in Indiana. We moved ahead one hour. Matt also realized that the interstates were horrible in Indiana. They were not smooth at all and kind of rough to drive on with the truck.

About 6 pm (new time), we pulled into the state park. Christian had to go to the bathroom soooo bad when we got there! We already had reservations, so I just had to get checked in and get a park pass. They call them "passports" in Michigan. Once that was all taken care of, we found our campsite and set up.

Luckily, our friends were already there and had made a big pot of chili over the fire. They offered to let us eat it. (We had chili for lunch already, so I wasn't super thrilled.) I took them up on their offer because it was getting too late to make something decent for supper.

Once dinner was over, everybody headed down to the beach. This campground was  right on the shores of Lake Michigan and had a really nice beach. Our friends had already been down there all afternoon, but we hadn't been there yet. I had the kids put their sandals on because they all had their tennis shoes on yet from Chicago (remember we were going to go for a walk to the beach). Most of our kids ran off ahead, even Christian and Erich, and  they ended up getting a nice lecture about  how they could not do that, even if they were with their older sisters!! I carried Micah the whole way to the beach, which was not very fun.

Once we got to the beach, we played on the sand dunes, let Micah walk in the water, and eventually all our kids ended up IN the water. All their friends were in it too. Remember, nobody had their swimming suits on!! Everybody was in the water in just their clothes!! Silly kids!! They were having a blast though! Unfortunately, once they all got out, they were pretty cold!

We stayed down at the beach until the sun set and then headed back to our campsites. It was a gorgeous sunset and one moment the sun was up, and the next moment, it was gone! Micah was very mad that he did not get to play in the water anymore, and he screamed all the way home. Matt carried him home and his back hurt when we got back. I wonder what all the other campers thought about this screaming kid!!

Once we were home, everybody headed to the showers! The shower houses at Hoffmaster were awesome. They were each individual showers. The kids hung their wet clothes up after their shower and everybody headed to bed.  Some children wanted to have a campfire yet, but all of us adults said no!! It was almost 10 pm by the time we got back from the beach. I think I got into bed at 11 pm.

Friday, July 14, 2017

A Week into Vacation!

Here we are. A week into vacation and I haven't blogged about anything yet! I would love to go back and write about everyday and post pictures. We will see if I have time to do that.

As of this moment, we are hanging out in Chicago. We are not at a traditional campground, but at a truck and bus parking spot. As I was looking for spots to stay around Chicago, the closest place I could find was an hour outside of the city. When we park that far out, we would either need to drive into the city and pay parking or take public transportation, which is expensive in this city. As I got looking online, somebody mentioned this place in downtown Chicago. It is $35 a night, but since it is a parking lot, there is no electricity, water, or even a dump station! But we are a mile away from downtown Chicago.

When we left Illinois Beach State Park yesterday, we filled up with water, so that is not an issue. We will not take showers, so we should be fine. Matt brought along two generators, so that ran our air conditioner last night. As for a dump station, we will just dump when we get to our next park today.

One of the main reasons we stayed here was because it was so close to everything. We got in about noon yesterday, so we thought we would take the afternoon and enjoy some museums downtown (that we had free passes for.)  Google told us it was .8 miles from where we were, so we thought it was easy to walk. Well, the parking lot is actually further away from downtown and it was almost TWO miles to walk downtown yesterday. It took a lot longer than we thought! Plus it was pretty hot out and we didn't quite know where we were going.

We made it downtown after awhile. Matt, Courtney, and Christian ventured to the Planetarium and I took Megan and Micah and we went to the Field Museum. When we were done, we wanted to go out for some Chicago pizza. We had a delimma though! We didn't want to venture too far away from the museums because it would be even further to walk home! We could take the train, but the train station was quite a ways away from our camper too. We didn't want to be walking home late at night in the area between the train station and our camper. It was by a convention center, so there weren't a lot of people around and looked like it could be pretty dark at night.

We eventually decided to walk back to the camper and get the truck. When we got home, we all got popsicles because we were so hot. Our camper was also hot because we didn't have electricity and Matt hadn't hooked the generators up yet. (Why run them when we weren't even there??)

We all had pizza on our mind, so I started looking on Groupon for a great, cheap pizza place. We found a few, but parking is a huge problem in Chicago, so we didn't feel we could do anything near downtown. We felt we would need to drive out to the suburbs a little bit.

After looking through Groupon for awhile, we didn't really find anything that was working out, either due to parking, location, closing at 5 pm, etc. We then went to Travel Advisor and got some recommendations. After looking through these, we found some, but they were pretty expensive.

What do we do? Go to a cheap place we didn't really know anything about or take a recommendation and spend some extra money. We didn't know what to do!! We wanted something at a reasonable price where we could park without an issue due to our oversized truck!

Eventually I found a place on Groupon named "Gulliver's" that had great recommendations and it was a little ways out in the suburbs. We decided to head that way! It was almost 7 pm and everybody was getting crabby! About 40 minutes later, we arrived there, but it was NOT in the best neighborhood. We saw the outside of the building and Matt said, "NO WAY!"  So now we were about 45 minutes away from our camper and still no food. :(

Matt continued driving as I looking on google for pizza places. I found a Dominoes and we headed that way. It wasn't Chicago style pizza, but it was still pizza!

Around 8 pm, we arrived at Dominoes and got two medium pizzas for $11. There was even an area in the restaurant to eat! Those pizzas were gone pretty quickly. I kind of laughed at our cashier though. I had to give him my zip code when I paid and he asked where we were from. I said we were from Nebraska. He said, "Is that by Los Angeles or something??" Um, NO! I kind of had to give him a geography lesson! I said, "We are in Illinois, right? You go through Iowa and then you will be in Nebraska." This is why you need to learn geography!! Nebraska is not by Los Angeles!

We drove the 30 minutes home and put the kids to bed. Matt turned the generators on and they did a great job overnight! I was impressed!!

It is now 8:30 am and we need to leave this place by noon. There are so many things we could go see this morning, but our truck won't fit in any parking garages, so we can't park in there. The side streets are completely full and it is quite a walk to a train station. I am not sure what we are going to do!

After we leave at noon, we are heading to Michigan. We are going to join up with our friends for the week. We have spots reserved at Hoffmaster State Park along the east side of Lake Michigan, Straits State Park, which is the northern end of Michigan, and then at Taqhemomen State Park, which is in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

After we get done in Michigan next Friday, we are going to head into Canada!!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Packing is almost complete!

I am sure glad we had a week or so to get ready for this trip! There are so many more things to get figured out when you are going to be gone for such a long time. Not only do we have to have everything ready to take with us, but we have to have our house ready to sit empty for quite a long time. Matt has six security cameras installed and we have some great neighbors, so hopefully our house will be ok! He is also going to turn the water off, so we shouldn't have a flood while we are gone!

Today was spent doing laundry and getting things into the camper. I want to pack most of our food, but I am having trouble getting it all to fit in our fridge and freezer. I have decided that I need to leave some behind and just buy food as we go. I have about 6 loaves of banana bread that I wanted to take, but that is not going to happen. It just took up too much space in the freezer! I was also going to take some frozen waffles, but again, I needed the space for other things. I am also taking the waffle maker, so if we want waffles, we can make them. :) It just takes a lot longer.

I am also done with laundry too! The poor washer and dryer have been running all day! I have two loads left and then the only clothes dirty are the ones we are wearing! I am going to get all the kids through the shower/ bath tonight, so then we will have dirty towels. I can probably get those all washed before we leave tomorrow.

I also had all the dishes clean and counters cleaned off until I made supper tonight! We are going to make apple crisp tomorrow morning for breakfast (because I don't have any room for the apples in the fridge), so I will need to get everything out of the camper tonight, so I can make that tomorrow morning. And then of course, wash everything and put it back in the camper!

I am hoping to get the living room cleaned up tonight and get all the carpeted areas vacuumed before we leave. I might mop the kitchen floor after they all go to bed! I really want to get as much done tonight as we can.

I told the kids that if we get out at a decent time tomorrow, such as before noon, we could do something in Des Moines tomorrow afternoon. We have reservations there for tomorrow night. I mentioned that maybe we could go to the Iowa Science Center since I have a pass to all the science centers around the country. :)  Of course, Courtney said, "Ugh, is this going to be the vacation of museums??" I responded that when they are free, then we are going to try to go to them! We are then going to head to Illinois to our friends' house on Saturday.

Ok, off to get some more things done!