Metropolis to Mackinac

Whew! I've been busy, guys.

When I left Colorado, I made my way to Kansas City. I enjoyed some barbecue and a little shopping. From KC, I took myself to St. Louis. I know I've mentioned it before, but one of my very favorite movies is Meet Me in St. Louis. Because I love that movie and because I'll never be Judy Garland but can always dream, I took a trolley tour of the city. Did you know Tums are still manufactured there? At one time or another, St. Louis was a leading manufacturer in shoes, top hats, beer, and even baby carriages. At the World's Fair in 1904, St. Louis introduced the world to ice cream cones, Dr. Pepper, and peanut butter. I was there when the river was threatening to crest at a record high. It was a fascinating tour. Afterward, I drove myself to Kensington Avenue, which is

where Garland's character lives in the film (the lyrics of "The Boy Next Door" tells me so).

From St. Louis, I went to Chicago. My friend, S, has lived in Chicago the last couple of years and I was looking forward to seeing her. She and her adorable foster pup took me in and fed me some incredible deep

dish pizza. The following day, we went on an architecture cruise of the Chicago river. We even made the obligatory stop at The Bean. It was great to see S and to snuggle with Alastor Moody, her foster dog. I also got a much better look at Chicago than I had the last time I visited. In many ways, it is a really interesting city. It is so tall and all glass but it still has a heart.

When I left Chicago, I drove north to Milwaukee. I'm lucky enough to have another friend, E, in that city. E also took me in

and allowed me to pet her adorable dogs. She and her husband treated me to a dinner of brats (classic Milwaukee!) the first night and the second night, E and I went to an outdoor concert. It was so wonderful to catch up with my friend and to see her life in Wisconsin. S, E, and I all worked together in WV and now we've scattered ourselves all over. I really loved getting to catch up with these faraway friends.

My third day in Milwaukee, I picked up a third friend, N, at the airport. She was in need of a break from home and I was more than happy to have some company. We drove to Madison to camp and went to see Frank Lloyd Wright's home and studio,

Taliesin, in Spring Green the following day. I'd been to see Taliesin West when I was in Arizona and I was really looking forward to seeing his original Wisconsin homebase. What I didn't realize is that Taliesin is haunted by a shocking mass murder. If I knew that about FLW's life, I did not remember it. The tour was incredibly interesting and the house was as fascinating as other FLW structures I've seen.

From Madison, N and I went to Green Bay for a night's stop over. We enjoyed some fried cheese curds and beer because that felt like the most authentic way to enjoy Green Bay.

We spent the weekend in Marquette, MI on Lake Superior. Before I arrived in Michigan, I had only ever seen one Great Lake (Erie). The campground in Marquette was called Rippling River and it did, indeed, sit right next to a beautiful and rippling river. There

were also a lot of beautiful dogs to admire! On Saturday, we visited some excellent Yooper tourist destinations and took many silly photos. The weather was lovely but pretty cool so we bundled ourselves up and I did some camper cooking.

After Marquette, we drove to St. Ignace on Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. St. Ignace is one of two ports where passengers can catch ferries to Mackinac Island. I've been fascinated by Mackinac for a while. I've dreamed of staying at the magnificent Grand Hotel and living a kind of dreamy old-fashioned elegance for a little while. Instead, N and I took the ferry from St. Ignace and enjoyed a Diet Coke on the

porch there. After a leisurely sit, we strolled into town to each lunch and do some shopping. Mackinac is one of those places that has done what it can to hold on to the past: no motor-powered vehicles are allowed there. Horses and bicycles are the only transportation. It's very charming. We also had really beautiful weather, so that helped with the charm!

I dropped N at the airport in Grand Rapids and took a day to be lazy and do some laundry before I headed out for Ann Arbor. I have family in Ann Arbor and I'm looking forward to another visit. In many ways, the last month or two has been an anomaly for me. I've had more company and more people to visit lately than at any other time on this journey. It's been nice. It's also been strange. I'm a weird introvert and I'm used to having a great deal of time to myself. I've loved the company, but I think I've also missed a little of my isolation. Just a little.

I have been feeling a little bit of weariness about my travels. Many of the destinations to which I'd most looked forward have passed. The landscape is beginning to look much more familiar to me. I'm closer to home than feels entirely comfortable. I am not ready to be finished, but I am feeling some of the effects of my restlessness. In a few weeks, I'll join my blended family for a vacation in Gatlinburg. I'm going to re-evaluate how much further I'd like to go after Gatlinburg. I don't think I'm ready to finish...but, I just might be. We'll see.

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