Mini-Vacation Home

Posted on October 31, 2012 by

We’ve had an exceptionally rainy, cold fall this year, at least compared to the one fall that I’ve spent in Philly so far.
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Rover peeking out.
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One night two weeks ago, I came out from a night of babysitting to find that someone had installed this horn on my bicycle! So strange. It was parked at a bike rack outside of a bodega. No idea who or why someone did it, but I kept the horn on my bike for a week or so until it rattled loose and was too annoying to keep on.
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I also spent some time over the last month participating in a 31 postcards in 31 days challenge, started by the Southside Letter Writing Club in Chicago. It was a great excuse to get in touch with people I haven’t said hello to in too long.
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Aside from the gloomy weather, I have been enjoying the golden hour sun that pours right into my bedroom when I get home from work now.
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After some sort of gloomy, routine weeks at home, Mikey and I headed out of town for a mini-vacation to Michigan to visit my family. Rover came along too! Here’s a bad cell phone photo of us at a rest stop outside of Pittsburgh.
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We left after work on a Thursday night and drove as far as Pittsburgh, where our friends live in a borough called Braddock. They were kind enough to let us all crash there for a night on our way through.
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Rover too, even. I’m really fortunate to have an easy going enough dog to be able to travel with. He’s a perfect house guest.
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The following morning in Braddock, on Rover’s walk.
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Our friends bought and are rehabbing the house on the end.
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We returned to find Welch cooking a waffle breakfast for everyone.
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We have good friends.
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Trey, another housemate.
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Welch’s partner, Hannah, was visiting too.
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Rover hoping for waffles.
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After breakfast, Welch took us over to see the warehouse space they rent.
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They have a lot of construction projects going on inside. They started out by building a mini ramp, and are now working on a soundproof practice space.
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After seeing the space, we headed on our way to finish the drive to Michigan. Rover slept the whole way. Rover’s one major pitfall is that he’s a big shedder.
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It was a really beautiful drive! All the trees were starting to turn and storms were looming overhead.
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We arrived in my sleepy town of Paw Paw late on Friday night. It rained for most of the next day.
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We mostly just settled in on Friday night and I introduced Mikey to both of my parents. In the morning, we went out to brunch with my mom and two of my siblings, one of my older sisters, Rosemary, and my older brother Abe who was visiting from Taiwan, where he lives.
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There’s my mom!
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It was gloomy for most of our stay, but gloom is a lot prettier in rural areas.
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There was even a rainbow outside of my mom’s house.
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After brunch, my oldest sister Rachel came over with her younger son, Asher. He’s a little ball of energy.
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A photo that Asher took, when I showed him which button to push on my camera.
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Rover feels right at home at my mom’s house.
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We mostly just hung around at my mom’s house and had a big family dinner out on Saturday night. It was rainy all day.
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Sunday was the only real non-rainy day! So we headed over to my dad’s house, which is the place I mostly grew up. I lived here until I was 16, when my parents split up.
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We met my dad back in the woods, where he was working with the tractor. He’s trying to create a better stream system because these backwoods have been dying as long as we’ve had the farm, because they’re so saturated with water. It’s always been a swamp, which is why there’s no undergrowth at all.
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Showing Mikey around.
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Down by the lake. I grew up in a really big house. It isn’t a fancy or ritsy house, just big. It’s actually very midwestern inside.
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Back inside, both my nephews, Asher and Thomas, and other siblings came over. My younger brother was out of town at a convention.
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Playing outside with the boys.
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and then my dad took Mikey for his first small aircraft ride. My dad is a hobbyist. He’s a doctor but keeps a farm because he enjoys working outside, and flies airplanes for fun.
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That’s the lake I grew up on.
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My sisters and the boys watching as we take off. I remember doing this so many times as a young kid.
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There’s our lake. The little triangle left and center is our farm.
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We just flew out to the coast of Lake Michigan, which only takes about ten minutes by plane.
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One of the airplane windows had a yellow tint so it made my photos look filtered in a kind of cool way.
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We just went for a short little cruise because my dad needed to be back to fly my brother somewhere on business.
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Afterward, we all went out for a quick lunch to the Sugar Bear, which is my towns ice cream parlor that has been there for my whole life. It’s been passed down through a family and the newest generation has expanded it to a full restaurant so it’s open all year, and strangely enough has a large vegan menu.
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Who knew you would ever be able to go to Paw Paw and get a vegan chili cheese dog? Especially at a place that looks like this.
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I did this a lot as a kid too, standing in this same ice cream shop.
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After lunch, my brother left on business and we headed back to my mom’s house, where my best friend Katie and her partner Kristy came over to visit. They brother their two dogs and we let all the dogs run around and play in the backyard.
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After going out to grab dinner, we went over to my dad’s house to go swimming.
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On Monday, we woke up and wandered around my town going to all the weird little shops. We went to a few consignment stores and then to an indoor flea mall.
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Mikey found a live Guided By Voices concert DVD or something, and a Who record he had been looking for.
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We also went to a barn store that I love where I got a big wooden trunk and another small wooden box, and two wooden mirrors.
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Then I took him to this island that I haven’t been on in years! My best friends Katie and Merry are neighbors and live on a lake that’s right in the center of my town. It’s a man made lake, and they made an island in it too. We would always ride boats out to the island to hang out at night in High School. I hadn’t been back since.
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Since it’s a man made lake, they have to dredge the bottom of it every 5-10 years because the river pushes silt through and it starts to make the lake all mucky. We discovered that when they pump the silt out of the lake they keep it in gigantic sandbags on the island?? I don’t know what happens to them after that.
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Naturally, we climbed on the sandbags.
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They were made out of tightly stretched tarp, just like a trampoline. So any spots where the silt had fallen away, left a bouncy spot on the sandbag.
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Walking further on the island.
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We took a self-timer picture that turned out way cheesier than we had imagined.
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and then a storm started to roll in so we headed home.
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We spent the night cooking dinner with my mom and working on projects and then rolled out of town the next morning to head home.
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We swung through Braddock again on the way home and went to a Morissey DJ night and ate seitan wings.
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Our last stop was brunch at Quiet Storm in Pittsburgh,
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before Rover continued his cross country nap.
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I arrived home to find lots of postcards waiting for me!
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