Thursday, July 5, 2012


Jen and I, and our three youngest kids (ie, the ones still unfortunate enough to be living under our roof) got home yesterday evening from a little 4-day mini-vacation.  Our goal was to be home in time to catch the fireworks show in Our Town, but as it happened, we decided to pass on the fireworks this year, when it was still 92F at 9:15 PM.  As it was, our A/C could only cool our house down to 81F.  Which was just fine with us, especially given how the A/C cuts the humidity. . .

We spent 4+ days at Jen's mom's house over in the Thumb of Michigan.  Since she remarried a couple years back, my MIL and her husband have spent most of their time living at his house here in Our Town, only four blocks from us.  Which means that Mom's house over Thumb-wheres spends a lot of time sitting empty.  So Jen hit upon this great idea of us taking a vacation there - it's only five miles from Lake Huron, and Jen's sister has a place on/near the lake, only eight miles away, so we could spend a lot of time with her and her two kids, as well.

And all in all, we had a real good time.  We got to hang at the beach and chill with Jen's sister (and help her with some maintenance on her cottage).  And when Sister had to go to work on Monday/Tuesday, we talked her into letting her kids stay with us (five kids is not a freaky situation for us, by any means).

Jen and I were sitting in the kitchen one morning, and we noticed several large paint blisters on the kitchen ceiling, that have bugged us the last couple times we've been to her mom's house.  Jen, being the type who doesn't let annoying paint blisters just sit there, without letting herself be provoked into taking action, decided that, what the heck, as long as we're here, let's just scrape 'em; it's only about ten minutes' work, and her mom loves to paint, anyway.  Three hours later, virtually the entire kitchen ceiling was devoid of paint.  Apparently, the last time it had been painted, the prep-work had left something to be desired.  So Jen ended up shooting her mom one of those phone calls that grown daughters sometimes shoot their mothers; the kind that begin with, "Mom. . . you love me, right? . . ."

8M watched something like two full seasons of Spongebob Squarepants, since we were Officially On Vacation, and Jen and I were inclined to be a tad more indulgent than usual.  I now know WAAAAYYYYY more about Spongebob, Squidward, Patrick, et al than I ever thought I would.  Or wanted to.

We also took a day to Be Tourists in Our Own (or at least, our wife/mother's) County.  I came across something a few years ago relating to the Sanilac Petroglyphs, Native American etchings in a large outcropping of sandstone, right there in Jen's home county, and the only such site in Michigan, as far as anybody knows.  And, as is so often the case, Jen had never heard of them, much less seen them.  So, we took a trip across Sanilac County to go see them (I might as well mention that Sanilac County is the largest county in the Lower Peninsula, and the petroglyphs are at the far opposite corner of the county from Jen's hometown, which might help account for why she'd never been there; at any rate, it was roughly a 50-mile drive, without ever leaving the county).  It was very interesting, and very cool; the petroglyphs are believed to be between 300-1000 years old, which pretty much predates the presence of Europeans in this part of the world.

On our way to the petroglyphs, and on the other end of the technological time-line, we drove past three large wind farms - clusters of huge wind turbines - in Sanilac and neighboring Huron counties, of whose existence we had been unaware.  It really was a pretty striking scene - we counted well over 100 wind turbines, each one well over 200 feet tall, with propellor blades probably 150 feet in length.  As we drove, more and more of them kept appearing over the horizon.  It was really quite a stunning vista - the big machines have a kind of stately grace to them, with a clean simplicity to their design as they spun slowly, turning wind into electric power.  And all the moreso for the fact that we had been completely unaware of their existence.  It's funny - in the last couple weeks, on my drives to/from work, I've seen maybe a dozen of the giant propeller blades being transported on the freeway, and wondered where they were all going.  I guess now I know. . .

Anyway, we had a good time.  Or at least a good-enough time.  Close-quarters with two teenagers and a very, uh, chatty and inquisitive ten-year-old, in a very slow-moving rural town certainly had its moments, but on the whole, I think it was good, and family-building.

And it's good to be home. . .


  1. Sanilac sounds like something that would be used to clean a milking machine.

  2. I think turbines are really neat.

  3. Sounds like a very nice vacation. We missed our city's fireworks display on the 1st, here, too. We have had a rather "interesting" string of storm weather and tornado watches in our area of the province of late. After a long, hot and unbearably humid day, the warnings came out again and by the time dusk was settling over the city, things were crackling with a wild electrical storm. We figured that the celebrations would be halted and stayed home to enjoy Nature's show. Only to find out that they did indeed go ahead with the fireworks, after all, and we missed out. Oh well, we also missed out on the chance to be crisped by a lightning strike outdoors as well. :)

  4. Skip - Now that you mention it. . .

    The, uh, 'canonical' account says that the county was named for a Huron Indian chief named, oddly enough, Sanilac.

    Schweeney - You know, I was surprised by how gracefully they fit into the overall 'rural' setting; they didn't seem at all like an 'indistrial intrusion' into the 'pastoral farmland' setting. But, you know, maybe I'm weird that way. . .

    I've been fascinated by wind turbines, going back to my college days. That was a lot of megawatts being generated, that we saw, and, after the initial investment, all that's needed is for the wind to blow. . .

    Flutter - If we hadn't spent the day traveling, we might have put up with the heat. But tired AND hot doesn't dispose one to great exertions. . .

    Glad you weren't crisped. We had a pretty spectacular storm roll thru here while we slept. I didn't hear it (see how tired I was?), but this morning, there were trees down and non-functioning traffic lights all around us. . .

  5. Oh, the joys of 'fixing' paint on walls. I tried to cover up a few scuff marks recently with leftover paint, only to make it look worse than it did to begin with.

    Aren't petroglyphs cool? We have seen quite a few out west, but Newspaper Rock in Utah's Canyonlands is the best example I've ever seen.

  6. sounds like a nice respite from the wilds of life, glad you enjoyed.

    And never scrape the paint unless you mean it!!

  7. Bijoux - Oh, yeah. . . Xavier has it right, below. . .

    Yeah - petroglyphs are cool. I love the whole 'prehistoric' aspect of it - they're concrete evidence of human presence years (and possibly centuries) before European presence. It's fascinating to imagine that big rock as a kind of 'meeting place', with people from various tribes coming in from all around. . .

    And it's a good thing that they're in the care of the State Parks now. They've been distressingly havily vandalized; there are several large 'craters' where somone took a chisel and 'lifted' some of the markings.

    On a lighter note, the park also contains a trail through the surrounding woods, and there are several other large sandstone outcroppings, containing no glyphs. But we do know that someone named Amy walked the trail this past May 11. . .

    Xavier - It was; thanks.

    And, well, the beauty of it all is that, as Jen kept pointing out, "It's a good thing my mom likes to paint."

  8. i only have one thing to say...

    who lives in a pineapple under the sea? SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS!!!!

  9. Lime - "Absorbent and yellow and porous is he. . ."

    Welcome back from yer vaykay!