Sunday, September 11, 2016

Back to School For DD2 (aka Trip Number Two)

My second trip in the past three weeks was getting DD2 settled back into her dorm at college.  You know, the one 500 miles away.  I had been planning a nice 4-day trip there and back since, oh, about the beginning of August.  I was just waiting to hear from her what the official date was that she could move back into the dorm.

What I had in mind was one day to drive up (it's about a 9 hour drive), camp in our favorite out of the way state forest campground that is never very full, spend a day making sure DD2 was all moved in and had all her finances and books taken care of, spend a day just vacationing and relaxing in nature, and then drive home on the fourth day.  A nice, peaceful, non-rushed trip while assisting DD2 in getting back to school.

Well, that didn't happen.

First, a good thing happened that changed my plan.  DD2 had been working for the DNR (Department of Natural Resources) down here all summer.  When she gave them, near the end of July, her official last date that she could work, she asked if there was any chance she could transfer to the state park near her college for the remainder of the season rather than actually quit (she was hired as a seasonal temporary worker).  All of her supervisors were so pleased with her this summer that they personally called the head of the state park near her college, recommended her for transfer, and made all the arrangements on her behalf.  So, instead of not having an income after mid-August because it was time to go back to college far away, she is able to work part time around her class schedule until the end of the season (late October).  Which meant that she would need a car of her own at college instead of us driving her up and dropping her off.

But she still wanted us to move her up there, and DH and I really kind of wanted that little vacation in the Upper Peninsula, so I still planned to make the trip even though we would be taking two vehicles instead of one. DD2 asked us if her best friend since 9th grade could go too (so that she might see DD2's school and surrounding area), riding up with DD2 and riding back home with DH and I.  We both said sure.

The week before DD2 was to leave, DH was really bogged down at work.  It looked like he might not be able to take the time off to go on Thursday when DD2 was leaving.  At best, he thought we could leave on a Saturday morning, and drive back home at noon on Sunday.  Or, if DD2 could cram everything she needed until Christmas break into her car, she could just go alone.  DD2, BFF, and I were a bit disappointed at the thought of DD2 going alone and the rest of us not getting our little U.P. vacation.

However, he did (on Wednesday) manage to make arrangements to have at least part of Friday off.  So, our plan was amended that DD2 and her BFF would leave for school on Thursday morning, stopping for a late lunch at the BFF's grandfather's place that was actually on DD2's route, about 2/3 of the way to her college.  Then they would continue on to our favorite always nearly empty state forest campground and stay there for the night.  The next day, they would meet up with DD2's roommate for the year (a good friend she made last year) and the three of them would rearrange the furniture in the dorm before unpacking the two students' cars.  DH would work half a day on Friday, including a meeting he had to present at, and he and I would drive up to that campground Friday afternoon, arriving around nine p.m.

All was well.

Except that in the craziness of his work week, DH totally forgot that the vehicle DD2 was taking needed new tires before snowy weather arrived, and that he'd intended to get some before she took it up to school.  Amongst my own craziness (my last days of work at the horse farm I'd been employed at since Nov. 2014) right before DD2 left, I forgot about the tires too.

On Wednesday, DH had the forethought to look up the campground's actual address so DD2 could put it into her GPS since some of the roads out there in the boonies aren't well marked.  It was while he was looking it up online that he found out that campground had suffered a lot of damage in a severe storm about a month prior.  So much damage that it was closed for the remainder of the season.

Big change of plans at the last minute, finding two other state parks/campgrounds for DD2 to check out when she got there, hoping that neither one of them would be full (the one she'd be working at was full, so it was out of the running).  And then we sent an almost 19 year old and a 20 year old off by themselves on a 500 mile trek!

They made it just fine, and from the messages I got along the way, it sounds like they had a lot of fun.  Two young women road tripping, what an empowering thing.  They even decided to take an evening swim in Lake Superior once they'd gotten to the campground.  Because, as DD2 put it "It's late August, Lake Superior doesn't get any warmer than this!"  (Lake Superior is a COLD COLD lake.)  Told ya their road trip was empowering.

Friday was a bunch of challenges. DH's meeting ran long, putting us behind schedule.  DD2 realized she'd forgotten to pack a few things and sent me a text of items to round up and bring with us. Once on the road, DH had to make a few work related phone calls during the drive, and answer a couple of texts and emails too.  Not exactly the hours of quality marriage time I'd envisioned for our first day of 'vacation'.

To top it off, when we were about an hour away from our destination, and it was nearing dark, DD2 texted me, telling me she'd blown a tire.  Oh!  Those tires!  The ones DH had meant to replace!  So that necessitated a call to the insurance company to have roadside assistance sent to DD2 to help her change the tire since we were still an hour out and she didn't have a jack in her vehicle (another oversight).

The tow truck (driven by a young local guy) arrived about the same time we did, and the (fairly handsome) young man got to work on changing that tire for DD2 (while she and her BFF stood nearby, looking like college girls do).  Except he couldn't get one of the lug nuts off.  DH, being older and wiser and supposedly more experienced, gave it a try.  Nope, not budging.  In fact, it seemed to be stripping out rather than turning.

So instead of changing the tire and having DD2 go on her merry way, the tow truck driver ended up having to load her car onto his truck, drive it into town (luckily the same town where she attends college) and drop it at the local tire shop.  Because if we were going to have to have someone with an air wrench get that lug nut off, we might as well just get the tires replaced while the car was there.  DD2 and BFF hopped in with us, and we went to the campground, set up DH & my tent, and went to sleep.

The next day was much better.  It started with a walk along the Lake Superior shoreline, where the water really was warm (for Lake Superior) and the lake was placid.  DH and I got to talk, and relax, and look at all the different kinds of rocks in the water and on the beach.   Most of them were well rounded from the lake, but differed in composition.  Some were red, some were pink, some were yellow, some were black, some were grey, some were purple, some had speckles, some glittered, some seemed to glow under the water, some had stripes. . .   We oohed and aahed and picked up rocks to show each other for well over an hour.  Now that's more like the vacation I'd had in mind!

our favorites, dry 

our favorites, wet
(as they looked in the lake)

After having breakfast at our favorite breakfast spot (that, ironically, we could never afford when DH was a student at the same college), and stopping at the tire shop to pay for a set of new tires (talk about things we can't afford!), we went out of town in the other direction and headed for Hungarian Falls to do a little hiking and to show DD2's BFF one of the popular waterfalls (having an upper falls, a middle falls and a lower falls) of the area.  We found out while there, that she's afraid of heights.  She was a good sport, though, even doing a little climbing on the rocks with us.

between the falls, it's a quiet little stream

middle falls

doing a little adventuring between falls

From there, DD2 requested that we drive up Brockway Mountain. The drive there is very scenic, and puts you at the northernmost peak in Michigan, where the views are spectacular.

looking down at the tree tops

 looking out


The girls spent that night in DD2's dorm room, and after church the next morning (what a joy it is to see such a thriving campus ministry), DH, BFF and I hit the long road home.

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