Year 2 of our pilgrimage began on July 19, after six weeks of visits with family and friends in New Hampshire which concluded with a remarkable reunion of four generations of my Vincent/Vicente family. It was a hard leaving that shook me to my roots. The closing lines of Mary Oliver’s poem “In Blackwater Woods” echoed in my heart: “to live in this world you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal, to hold it against your bones knowing your life depends on it, and when the time comes to let it go, to let it go”. Breathe.
We wandered west the first night to Glimmerglass State Park, a familiar campground in Cooperstown, New York. After settling into our campsite on a glorious, sunny, summer evening, we walked down to the shore of Lake Otsego as the sun set, sitting in silent gratitude for all that has been given to us and knowing that there would be light in the sadness we were still feeling.
We spent the next night in the comforting presence of friends in Victor, New York and then crossed into Canada at Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. It was our first international crossing in the Airstream and blissfully uneventful. We camped at Fifty Point Conservation Area in Grimsby on a blistering, hot and humid day where the temperature topped 92 degrees. That evening, we met up with some of my Vicente cousins who live nearby for a lovely dinner and joyful conversation, which lifted our hearts more.
The next day, we re-entered the U.S. at Port Huron, Michigan. After a 30-minute wait in line we approached the gate and the dashing young border patrol agent commented on our Airstream, asking what year it was and how much it cost. He then asked the obligatory questions about our travels, looked at our passports, and asked whether we had anything to declare. Once those mandatories were completed, he asked if the Airstream was locked. When we said it was, he asked for the keys. We handed them over and off he went for his own private tour of our 25-foot, front bed, Flying Cloud. Minutes later, he returned, gave us back our passports and the keys to the Airstream with the words, “Nice rig. Have a good day”. So we did.
That night we camped at Bay City State Recreation Area in Michigan which sits along a beautiful paved Rail Trail that winds over 25 miles along the shores of Saginaw Bay. We got up early the next morning to ride along the lovely Tobico Marsh. The trail took us out along Killarney Beach Road for breathtaking views of the sun rising over the Bay, flat and glistening and brilliant. We then turned south of our campground where the trail winds through some city streets and over a lagoon and into wide open, flat expanses of fields tall with grasses reaching toward the life-giving sunshine of summer. By 10:00am the heat of the day felt like someone had opened the door of a pre-heated oven and we headed for our campsite to hook-up and move on.
Our fifth straight night of one-off camping landed us in north central Michigan at North Higgins Lake State Park where we crouched under tall white pines as the evening air, dripping with humidity, surrounded us in damp darkness and making me thankful for 30amp hook-ups and the ability to run the air conditioner.
Our current campground at Traverse City (Keith J. Charters Traverse City State Park) will be our base for three nights of rest, laundry, re-supply, touring of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Seashore and delighting in the tasty, dark, sweet cherries this area is known for.
This is an extremely busy and crowded campground that sits between the airport on the south side and the Grand Traverse Bay on the north. In the middle, nearly 300 campsites spread out like so many playing cards fanned out upon a table. Life on the road sometimes includes these experiences. Like finding yourself in the motel room that faces the train tracks, one can occasionally still be coaxed into building the resiliency of the pilgrim.
Great food, cooked with love by my attentive husband, also builds the pilgrim’s resiliency. Here’s a recent sample of a special (and unique for the way we usually eat) grilled linguica, onions, and peppers sandwich with homemade cole slaw and fresh sweet corn, topped off with one of Michigan’s fine brews, this one from Founder’s Brewery in Grand Rapids. I’m feeling quite resilient! Come on along as the year unfolds before us.
Liz and Peter launch year 2 of their pilgrimage in their Airstream, now traveling through Michigan on their way west to the Canadian Rockies.