The past week was spent on a family trip to Michigan. The primary reason was to bury my father’s ashes on the family plot at Crystal Springs Cemetery in Benton Harbor, Michigan. I thought that I would be ready to speak about him, but the words just don’t come yet so he gets put off for another day.
This was not a normal trip, but none of them ever are. I prep for everything and this was no different, just to a lesser degree. My mom came with us so many of the things I do to save money were out the window. Of course I found a few.
We *rented a car instead of taking our Jeep. We used Priceline.com to rent the car. I have an Avis membership, but Priceline beat even those prices. We made the reservation about 3 months prior to the trip and set aside the money to pay for the rental. I continued to search every website known to man to get a better price on a full sized vehicle with unlimited miles. There just wasn’t a better deal to be found.
We chose not to pack a huge cooler for drinks and a smaller one for food. I just did not know how much room we would have in the rental car. We didn’t even schedule hotels prior to the trip. If you know me that is a no no.
I packed our suitcase. Yes I got everything for Chris and myself packed into a mid sized suit case. All the traveling we have done is good for something.
We borrowed a smaller cooler from Mom for Chris’ soda and my water. I struggle with food and drink for myself on these trips. I normally drink loads of tea and some water when I am home, but on the road trips I end up drinking diet soda. I found a product by Dasani. It is a flavored sparkling water. There are other companies who sell the same thing, but this was an apple flavored water. It was awesome! I had no desire for soda except for a 2 liter of Verner’s ginger ale. I ended up throwing that away as it was way to syrupy for me.
The week prior to leaving life was as per usual. I worked on Monday, babysat Tuesday through Thursday, and worked on Friday. I stopped at the grocery store for water and some last minute stuff. Oh, and some Pringles. Yes Pringles. It just isn’t a road trip for Chris without the Pringles. I was able to get the house cleaned, dishes done, and laundry completed prior to leaving on Saturday. Oh and I picked up the rental car at the Melbourne International Airport. We ended up with a Nisson Altima.
I call these trips whirlwind trips because that is exactly what they are. We left at 3 am Saturday morning. We drove from Florida to Georgia, then South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and Ohio that day. We stayed with my wonderful Aunt Norma. Sunday we parted ways with mom for a bit. Aunt Norma wanted to travel with Mom to Berrien County for the ashes being buried and to see family. We drove on to Troy, Michigan to see Chris’ sister.
We spent a few hours in Troy and headed towards Berrien County. We decided to call it a night around Kalamazoo, Michigan. I used the **Priceline hotel app on my phone to search for a room. We found a ****Microtel Hotel with an 8 user rating and a price of $75, This was pretty good considering anything priced less was rated 5 or lower by users. The hotel was clean and comfortable. The hotel staff very friendly. I have stayed at Microtel’s before, but Chris hadn’t. He was very happy with them.
Monday we stopped for breakfast at Mcdonalds. Oatmeal for me!!!! I decided we needed to stop at ***St. Julian’s Winery on I94 in Paw Paw, Michigan. I had bought a bottle earlier and we really enjoyed it. I decided we may as well buy some to take home. We bought 5 bottles, including one bottle of cooking sherry.
We had a bit of time left before meeting with mom and Aunt Norma. We had even more time left before we dealt with dad so we went to Lemon Creek Winery. My dad was raised and lived in a house on Gray road in Baroda which is just down the road from Lemon Creek Winery. I finally found the house after looking for it my whole life. We got a couple of long distance pictures of the house. They are not very good, but we got them just the same.
Lemon Creek Winery has very good wine. The store is very nice and they have a fruit stand near the winery. My only issue is the customer service. The gentleman behind the bar said nothing to us until we had spent 10 minutes in the store. He must have been busy with all the other customers, but since we were the only ones there, I sincerely doubt it. I promise no soap box on customer service. We just won’t be going back there again. We didn’t have time to go to Founders Wine Cellar as we had to head to Benton Harbor for Dad’s burial.
What can I say about this? It was different. I had dad’s ashes in the car with me. Mom had some final paperwork to finish up. We drove to the family plot where my grandparents Ganong, my great Aunt Belle and Uncle Arthur Edsen, my great grandmother Lou Smith Dunham, and my great uncle Francis Francher are buried. They had the hole dug with the instrument to place dad’s ashes inside. They placed a green cloth down with a pedestal to place his ashes onto. We put the container onto the pedestal. We had already said goodbye back in December. There really wasn’t much to say. It might have taken 10 minutes. Dad was laid to rest next to his uncle and namesake Francis Francher and with his parents. By the time he died they were all he though about. He lived so deeply in the past. It was just so sad.
Chris and I decided to attend the opening day of the Berrien County Youth Fair after dad’s burial. We saw goats, rabbits, chickens, cattle, and swine. This brought back so many wonderful memories of our kids showing animals in the Cass County fair. We walked through the commercial buildings, and ate deep fried pickles.
We met mom and Aunt Norma and then used the priceline hotel app to find a new hotel. We found another Microtel in South Bend, Indiana by Notre Dame. We ordered a pizza from***** Malano’s Pizza in Niles, Michigan and rested. The saddest part of everything is that I we didn’t get to see Sharon and Laura. I really miss them more than either one knows.
By this time we had been in 9 states. Tuesday morning we headed to my Uncle Jim’s for a small family reunion and lunch. We had a wonderful time. Aunt Marilyn is a great hostess. My mom and Aunt Norma were able to see their two brothers and a niece. It was a lovely time but by 3pm we were on the road again. This time heading back to Ohio where we stayed with Aunt Norma until Wednesday morning. We drove through Kentucky and Tennessee, our last two states. We ended up with 11 states in 6 days.
We stayed in a Hampton Inn in North Carolina. This was a treat. Breakfast was hot and very well done. I slept like a log. I love the Hampton Inns. They wash the duvet and the sheets each time!!!!!
We stopped to see our youngest daughter and her family for lunch at Panera Bread in Jacksonville. We were home by 6 pm on Thursday night. This was really nice. We ate a very nice steak dinner, home cooked by me, and slept in our own beds, with our dogs right beside us. Sometimes there really is no place like home.
*Renting the car saved us enough money on gas that we ended up only paying $100 for the car.
**Priceline Hotels App took a lot of the stress out of hotel searching. I was able to use this to find pretty good deals on hotels. I was able to see ratings by other travelers. The app showed where the hotel was in relationship to where we were, along with the prices of each hotel. I have memberships in Holiday inn and another hotel groups, but their apps on my phone were not easy and quick. This app is the only one left on my phone
***St. Julian Winery is in Paw Paw, Michigan. It was started by Italian immigrants and was called St. Julian Winery in 1941. You can order from them on http://www.stjulian.com/.
****I discovered Microtel hotels, by accident. I had to travel to Michigan to help pack mom and dad up for the move down here. I booked one in Perry Georgia and fell in love. They are very clean, have at least a continental breakfast, and the beds are comfortable.
*****Malano’s pizza in Niles, Michigan is Chris’ favorite pizza place. He must have one every time we go to Michigan.