Saturday, September 04, 2010

The Incredible Journey (Part 6)

The morning we left Michigan started off like any other. I had a pull-through site so I had left the camper attached to then van. When we got up (at sunrise) we ate breakfast and left. I was looking forward to our next stop in Chicago and hoped to buy new tires for the camper there the following day.
It was a Sunday and the sun was shining and the birds were chirping. As we approached Lake Michigan, I got onto the interstate. We were cruising along at 60 mph when I heard a sound like an explosion. Damn. I knew right away that we had blown a tire.
The nearest town was a speck on the map and everything was closed on Sunday anyway. No tires for Heather.

Although I used to take pride in my ability to change a tire on my pickup truck (in pantyhose and heels) I have come a long way. These days I am perfectly content to call roadside assistance. And I'll admit, I considered changing the tire myself but didn't have a hydraulic jack so it wasn't going to happen.
I waited and waited and fed the kids snacks while we sat on the side of the road. Finally, a truck showed up and my roadside assistant arrived. He stepped out and grinned, revealing several gaping holes where his front teeth should have been. Dangling out of one gap was a cigarette. As he approached me, I immediately noticed his wild eyes. They sparkled and reflected the light in the most eerie way. I was sure I was going to die.

Fortunately, the guy was really sweet. He changed the tire quickly and cracked jokes about the heat, the war in Iraq, and how many kids I have. I asked him not to blow us up as he lifted the propane tanks on the camper with his cigarette still lit. He didn't blow us up. I was happy. The day could still get better, right?
Thank goodness I learned to drive in the traffic of D.C. because I was well-prepared for what happened next. As we approached Chicago, we hit some bumper to bumper traffic that even made me cringe. I reminded me of last summer when I drove my van & utility trailer through NYC. Only this time my trailer was way bigger and it had 4 bad tires and no spare.

I fought to stay calm as drivers cut in front of me, slamming on their brakes. Here's a tip: Don't cut off a vehicle that's towing something because they can't stop fast and they'll just run you over. Okay?
After what seemed like forever, we got out of the city. I have never been so relieved (except maybe after giving birth to twins and instantly losing 70 pounds.)We stayed at the Great Lakes Naval Station and it was beautiful.
The campsites had no water or sewer, but we were only 100 yards from Lake Michigan. Matthew kept insisting it wasn't a lake because it was so big. We set up camp and I decided to take the kids to the beach before dinner.
This involved dressing everyone, packing towels, gathering shoes, walking the dog, and filling water bottles. By the time we were ready to hit the beach I was exhausted.
We walked about a mile to the marina where I somehow spent $17 on corndogs. (Seriously?!)
That should tell you what kind of day I was having.
The beach was goregous and the kids had a blast. It made me forget how much trouble it was to get there. Almost.

There were these crazy biting flies though. And that kind of ruined it for us after awhile. They would swarm us and we'd have about 20 on us all at once. They really bite too! Who ever heard of that? Crazy.
We retreated to the camper just in time to watch the sun set and the lake grow still. It was so serene.
The rest of the night involved the dog pooping in the camper, a baby peeing in the camper, and a generally irritated mama. I went to bed praying that the next day would be better. Considering our trip started off with one child toting a barf bucket, things had gone surprisingly well up until that point. I was hopeful that this was our one bad day.
Even though it was a pretty rotten day, you wouldn't know it by looking at the pictures. I think it's safe to say that the kids are having fun.
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