Day 43--Saturday, July 19, 2003
The puppies woke me up around 6:00 and refused to go back to sleep. This turned out to be okay, because everybody else was already up. After showers and some additional puppy cuddling, Ben and I had breakfast with his mom, visited a bit longer, and then got back on the road.
Through several cell phone calls and some lucky timing, we managed to meet up with Ben's Grandma Noordyk and Jill in Kalamazoo, Michigan, to catch up over a soda and some muffins. They were on their way to Elkhart to join in a surprise early birthday lunch for Ben's mom, and we felt pretty lucky that we managed to meet up on the way. We had a nice visit, although a bit short, and then we were on the way to our next whirlwind visit.
We arrived in Hudsonville in time to have "dinner" (what the rest of us call "lunch") with Ben's Grandma and Grandpa Meyaard. It was quite an extensive meal--two kinds of roast meat, green bean casserole, beets, and potatoes. We were quite full by the time we finished! We had a really nice time talking with t hem about trips they had taken in their younger years and doing an after-lunch devotion. The only awkward part of the visit came when Ben's grandpa said that he didn't really approve of our trip and asked what my grandfather thought. Obviously, I wasn't quite comfortable saying, "He thought it was great, gave us $300 for expenses, and told us to send him a postcard from the Coors Brewery" (all of which was true). I was very glad when the moment passed.
Our third and final grandparent stop was to see Ben's Grandpa Noordyk in Lamont. We woke him up from a nap and sat on the bed to chat with him. I took Ben's Uncle Bill's dog Dino (who was being babysat at the house) out for a bathroom break while the boys got to catch up. This was our shortest visit, and we then we left both Grandpa and Dino to resume their naps.
All of our visits had taken longer than expected, and I was pretty anxious to arrive at Portage Point Inn, where my family was waiting, but we still had a two-plus hour drive ahead of us. Since I knew the way, I drove this leg of the journey while Ben kept dozing off. It was great from the point of Manistee on, where everything looked so nice and familiar to me, even though it had been three years since I'd been up there. I woke Ben up as we drove into Onekama to point out all the sights: the Blue Slipper; the IGA; Portage Lake; Little Eden; Wynken, Blyken, and Nod; and finally, the big beautiful, white lodge of Portage Point Inn.
Dad and Diane were waiting in the parking lot for us, and they took us right up to the apartment, which now stands where the old casino used to be. The casino, the entire building, has been picked up and moved to sit next to the main lodge, and it looks like it has been there forever. Anyway, I was pleasantly shocked to see our living quarters. Unlike the main lodge of the old days, with dirty wooden floors, sand-filled beds, and no air conditioning, this apartment was as nice as the units we used to stay in when we went to Panama City. It had two bedrooms on the main floor, a full bathroom, a living room, a kitchen, and a dining area, plus an upstairs with another full bathroom and bedroom, which Kristin and Carly shared. The whole thing was clean, new, and tastefully decorated, and I could hardly believe our good luck.
We began by carting our stuff upstairs, and then I set out to give Ben a tour of all the old places, with stories of my childhood overflowing. We took a bit of time looking out at Lake Michigan, where Dad introduced Diane to all of the Wenstrups. After seeing Angel's Slide, Ben and I joined my dad and Diane on the back porch of the apartments, overlooking Portage Lake, and we sat and talked as the sun sank lower over the water.
I showered and got ready for dinner, including drying my hair and applying makeup for the first time in months. We got dressed up all nice for dinner in the dining room, where we were served a barbeque buffet. This mostly meant an excellent salad, fantastic fresh bread, and a hamburger for me. We filled nearly an entire round table ourselves--me, Ben, Dad, Diane, Lindsay, Kristin, and her best friend Carly.
After dinner, we changed into grubby clothes and all of us set out for a walk on Lake Michigan at sunset. Kristin and Carly made it almost all the way to the point before during around to go back along the beach, not realizing that this way was longer around than following the beach up to the road and taking that back past Angel's Slide. Dad, Diane, Ben, Lindsay, and I made the whole two-mile loop, and I felt great at the end of it.
When we returned to the apartment, we participated in a rousing game of Scattergories. Kristin got a phone call from my former student Kaivon (it appears that my matchmaking efforts are working!), so I got to talk to him a little bit, which was nice. He says he's going to take Kristin and I out to eat when she comes to visit. He also claims that he's going to help me set up my classroom this fall--but I'll believe that one when I see it!
Lindsay and I shared the smaller ground floor bedroom, and Ben slept on the couch in the living room. I didn't fall asleep right away because Lindsay was watching television, but it was nice to just lie there and relax in a real bed in an air-conditioned room!
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