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. . .