It’s been a long time since my last blog post. The following eight weeks were rather exhausting for this lazy introvert, but life has finally gotten back to our new normal.
From Tennessee, we drove north back to Michigan in mid-May with two objectives: empty the storage unit and spend time with friends and family we hadn’t seen for at least 6 months. I also made several doctor appointments. We spent 5 weeks at Haas Lake RV Resort on the NW side of the Detroit metro area (source of the cover image), then another 3 weeks at Camp Lord Willing downriver.
A FAMILY TRAGEDY
As it turned out, the first two weeks in Michigan focused on Shawn’s family. His stepmother Barbara had been in ill health for the last couple of years with a combination of chronic conditions. Just before we returned to the area, she had a bad fall which resulted in a broken collarbone and multiple broken ribs. We made several trips to the hospital in that first week, holding hands and sitting with family members. Sadly, Barb progressed swiftly from the ICU into hospice care, and passed away on May 20 .
We participated in a family-only memorial dinner at a local restaurant, followed days later by a trip through the family home to gather up memorabilia. We took home 3 boxes of photographs to scour through. (Side note: I managed to scan the more recent photographs, but the old black-and-whites were packed away for another time.) Shawn was happy to retrieve a few mementos of his father, including an old pocket knife, a small carving he’d brought home from the Korean War, and some military medals.
A few weeks later, Shawn, his brother, and their stepsister gathered together on a boat to scatter her ashes – as well as those of Shawn & Kevin’s dad and grandmother — “at sea” near Grosse Ille.
When we first met, Shawn’s dad & stepmom were still hosting Christmas dinner. With such a blended multi-generational family, it was the one time of the year that we saw most of his relatives. With the passing of Chuck and Barb, the family has lost the glue that brought us together.
We spent the month of June accomplishing our original goals of emptying out the 10′ x 10′ storage unit and visiting friends and family. Shawn was also able to go into the office most days; it’s valuable to him as a manager to get face time with his team members when the opportunity is there.
Nearly every day we met up with friends for dinner, or had visitors to tour the new trailer, usually accompanied by a campfire and roasted marshmallows.
A few highlights:
- We met up with a high school friend of mine whom I had lost touch with over 20 years ago, but reconnected on Facebook.
- We spent the Fourth of July with Shawn’s brother’s family, over-eating and lazing about the pool.
- I was able to spend some time with extended family on my mother’s side from Michigan and Canada.
- We visited a dear friend who had just had major surgery, and I was fortunate to be in the state to attend a party for another dear friend who has embarked on a new chapter in her life.
- We spent several days with my Mom & stepdad and my brother’s family of four; they live in New York State but stopped in Michigan to visit with us en route to Minnesota.
While I loved catching up with folks and sharing a glimpse into our new roving lifestyle, this was a sharp change from the daily routine we’d established since hitting the road. Most days it’s just the 3 of us – including the dog, whom I talk to A LOT. Thank goodness these were generally small gatherings, which don’t exhaust me except when they’re back-to-back.
We had budgeted a month to empty out the storage unit, and that’s how long it took. Thank goodness we pre-sold the motorcycles to friends of ours before we even returned to Michigan; I was worried that they would take longer to sell, and we didn’t have a good way to transport them to our campsite or to a buyer.
The items we’d packed in the storage unit before we left Michigan last fall fell into one of three categories:
- Stuff we hoped to find space for once we bought a new trailer (hah!)
- Photographs and memorabilia
- Stuff we need to sell but didn’t have time (like the motorcycles)
With Shawn working full-time, unloading the storage unit was primarily my task. It took over a dozen trips to the storage unit to retrieve all of our belongings. Not only is my car pretty small but we also don’t have room to store a bunch of stuff in the trailer. I tried to do it strategically, first posting a list of items on Facebook so local friends could say “Hey, I want that!” then bringing those items home first to disburse them quickly.
Some of the items originally in Category 1 ended up in Category 3. Until Shawn can get a proper Drom Box (external tall toolbox) built on the back of the Volvo, his tools and materials are all in bins in the single underbelly storage area. This meant we ended up selling or giving away bulky things we had planned to take on the road, like a fold-up wagon, grill, lounger, and so forth. Sigh.
I spent probably 20 hours scanning hundreds of photographs before discarding some, and repacking others into bins. I am very grateful to my Mom for taking 5-6 bins of photographs, yearbooks, and other memorabilia back to New York to store for us.
I am proud satisfied that we eliminated 90% of the items from the storage unit. And honestly, I don’t miss the “stuff” at all.
To this, in 4 weeks. 🙂
Now that we’re back in our more solitary situation, I hope to fill these pages more often. For a daily dose of what’s happening, including cute dog photos and scenic shots, follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/a_elkins1/.
It’s truly amazing what we can do without. The memorabilia is the only thing I miss having in our MOHO. Good job.
The only thing I’m really missing are the kayaks. We bought 2 from friends, stored them in the garage for a year, then sold them to other friends. Just not enough room to bring them along unless we spent big $$ on a rack. So an inflatable is on the wish list.
It was great to see you. Safe travels and I look forward to more inspiring adventures.. 🙂
Same here! I’ll keep throwing you reasons to take to the road on a more regular basis. 😉
That would be wonderful. The road is calling and Bill hears it too. 🙂
Sounds like an eventful trip. Sorry to hear about the Shawn’s stepmother, but glad to hear you guys could be with family when everything happened. And it sounds like you all had a great visit with the rest of your friends and family. While we love being on the road, the farther we get from ‘home,’ the tougher it’s going to be to spend quality time with everyone. Glad you were able to get a good visit in.
Thanks Laura. I’ve been watching your posts and hoping that Dixie continues in better health. It’s so hard when our pups are suffering. Also – I see you started the Canadian leg of your trip. Let me know when you’re heading back into Michigan, maybe our routes will coincide and we can do a quick meet-up.
Will do. Our plans right now do not take us through Michigan until later in the year (we keep changing our route), but that could change again! I’ll keep you posted. Would love to meet up again.
Sorry to hear of your loss. Grief is such an individual thing and it’s good to give it the time it needs. You mentioned the hospice and I was so thankful for the hospice my father-in-law was in for his last week or 10 days. They helped make sense of a very bad situation and I’m ever so thankful that such services exist.
Safe travels now….
Thank you Peter.
Indeed it is.
I’m so glad you’re back with the blogs. I’m so sorry for the loss of Shawn’s stepmom–it’s always hard to lose someone and adjust to the change in family dynamics. I’m impressed at the storage unit–we were going to do ours in July. I opened the door, peeked in, and then shut it again. I guess we will do it another time. Take care and safe travels! Dawn
Thank you for your condolences. Re: storage unit — I guess there’s nothing you really need in there, eh? 😉
Point taken. 😦 Oh, my tendency to procrastinate.
You did amazing on the storage unit. We still have a 5′ x 10′ storage unit packed to the gills!