2018 Road Trip – Day 2

We left the hotel well rested and continued our trek north. It wasn’t long before we arrived in Petoskey, Michigan.

Petoskey State Park

Petoskey is a very busy town and the state park is just outside of town, so it was pretty busy as well. Today was a Friday in July, which probably added to the number of people there. We spent a couple hours searching the beach for the infamous Petoskey Stones.

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A Petoskey stone is a rock and a fossil, often pebble-shaped, img_3016that is composed of a fossilized rugose coral, Hexagonaria percarinata. The stones were formed as a result of glaciatio
n, in which sheets of ice plucked stones from the bedrock, grinding off their rough edges and depositing them in the northwestern (and some in the northeastern) portion of Michigan’s lower peninsula.
” – Wikipedia

We learned while there that the Petoskey stones are more commonly found in the spring, just after the ice melts. We’ll have to make plans to head back during that time I guess, but we did find a few small ones, pictured above.

After leaving Petoskey, we stopped for some cherries to snack on, since we didn’t plan to have lunch until we crossed the Mackinac Bridge. We img_3032thought about stopping and seeing Mackinac Island, but figured since it was a Friday we would save it for after we finished our tour of the Upper Peninsula. It took us a while to make it across the bridge, due to wind and weekend traffic, but we did eventually get a quick roadside lunch before journeying on.

PALMS BOOK STATE PARK

It was a bit of a haul to make it all the way to our first state park in the upper peninsula. We usually like to stop more frequently to stretch our legs and walk a bit, but the sights at Palms Book State Park were worth a bit of leg cramping. This was one of the most unique things I’ve seen in Michigan. The crystal clear water allowed an amazing view of an underwater spring (Kitchi-Iti-Kipi) and all the nature surrounding it.

There is a glass bottom boat that takes you across the spring so you can get the best views of the crystal clear underwater world. If you’re headed here, plan about 1-1.5 hours, depending on the lines for the boat. We were fortunate to get right on, but there were lines waiting when we got back.

You can’t stay overnight in Palms Book State Park, so we continued on to Fayette Historic State Park for the evening. Unfortunately, by the time we arrived at Fayette, all of their campsites were full. This img_3079is the price we pay for spontaneity. Fortunately, we were prepared to camp rustic (no electric, or even toilets nearby) and they let us camp in their auxiliary field for only $15. This field is usually used for larger groups. It didn’t have facilities, but it did have a fire ring and picnic table, so we had all we needed and we drove down to the bath house in the campground to use the toilets. It was actually quite nice because we had the whole field to ourselves. After setting up camp, we had a nice supper and settled in for a rainy night. We saved the historical village part of the park for tomorrow.

 

 

2018 Road Trip – Day 1

We had planned to leave the house before noon, but a combination of sleeping in and not packing ahead of time delayed our start by a few hours. Unfortunately it also made us a bit cranky for our first day… not a good way to start an extended camping trip. Our original plan for today was to drive north to Luddington State Park for a late lunch and then to head up to Petosky State Park to set up camp. Unfortunately, or plans were going to have to change due to our late start.

LUDDINGTON STATE PARK

We sis make it to Luddington State Park. This is one of the one that was high on my list. In my third year of architecture school, I did a project in which I used the beach house lodge at Luddington Sate Park for inspiration. I loved the detail work and the way the light played off the building as the sun moved around it. I’d never seen it in person though and photos can often be deceptive. I was very excited to see it in person and had hoped to spend a little time relaxing on the beach. The beach house was everything I’d expected and was designed to be quite useful. We didn’t have much time to spend, but since we both liked it, we decide to come back again for a weekend sometime.

After Luddington, we decided to call it a night and get a hotel. It was starting to get dark and we didn’t want to make ourselves any more frustrated than we already were by trying to make it further north and set up camp in the dark. We chose a hotel about an hours drive north, stopped on the way for dinner, and spent our first night “camping” in a nice, fluffy hotel bed.

Road tripping again: The dreaded planning process

We really enjoyed our road trip last year, especially all of the amazing new sites we got to see, so we’ve been chatting about taking another road trip this year. My fiancé likes to be exceptionally spontaneous and I’m more of a planner. To make this work, he gives me a budget and a general theme or location for the trip. I then go to town researching the areas we are considering and how that will fit with our goals and budget. We don’t usually pre=book anywhere to stay along the way, so we can play it by ear as we go. This enables us to stay longer in areas we like and not waste precious time in areas that aren’t holding our interest. It also comes with some challenges though, especially when things are booked and we have to drive further than expected to find lodging for the evening.

This road trip proves to be exciting and challenging at the same time. We plan to road trip for 10-13 days around the perimeter of the state of Michigan, visiting state parks along the great lakes. We have thrown in an added challenge in that we will be camping for most of the trip. This means that every time we want to move locations (almost daily), we will need to tear down camp and then make sure we arrive at our next location early enough in the day to have light to set up camp again. It also means planning our food ahead of time. Our diet since the juice fast has been drastically different than our previous camping adventures have been and I need to rethink our camping food choices to find something that works with our new diet. Our entire budget for the 10-13 days is only $1500-1750.

I began by trying to find out which state parks in Michigan might have something interesting to offer that we can’t see elsewhere. There are over 100 state parks in Michigan, so we obviously can’t visit them all. We live in Southwest Michigan, so we have already decided we won’t spend a lot of time on the western side of the state, since we can get to most of those parks as a day or weekend trip. The same is true of the southeastern corner of the state, below Detroit. So, we will focus the bulk of our time in the upper peninsula and the northeastern corner of the state. I have compiled a map of 36 state parks, plus other attractions, that we might be interested in visiting.

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Next step is budgeting. I’ve calculated basic driving distance between select points in the state and determined we will probably drive about 1500-2000 miles and our vehicle gets about 20 mpg; this means we will need about $300 for gas alone. Our basic admission to the state parks is free because of the license plate I mentioned, but we still have ot pay to stay overnight. Camping fees in the state parks vary from $17-35/night, so I’ve budgeted $30/night for 13 nights, totaling $360. Our menu is pretty simple also. I’ll make rice and quinoa ahead of time and bring canned beans for dinner. Since it’s summer, we will stop at farmers markets along the road and pick up fruits and veggies to supplement. For lunch we’ll have rice cakes and peanut butter with fruit on top. Since I’m a BeachBody coach, we’ll have Vanilla Vegan Shakeology for breakfast each day. The powder is easy to mix with water and keeps you full for a few hours. Our grocery budget for all of this (minus Shakeology, because I already have it) is $260. We also have 2 meat days each week. I don’t really like taking steak in the cooler, so I’ve budgeted $180 for us to eat in restaurants on our meat days. This leaves us $400-650 for miscellaneous spending like hotels (if it’s cold or rainy), extra restaurant nights, admission to other attractions, etc. I don’t count souvenirs in the budget; if we decide to buy them, they are extras.

BUDGET $1500-1750

  • $300 – fuel
  • $360 – camping fees
  • $260 – groceries
  • $180 – restaurants
  • $400-650 misc.

After all of my planning, I can see that our trip is actually doable and looks like it will be fun and full of new sights and adventures. When I told my fiancé it was a go, he decided we should leave in 4 days! I already have a camping packing list to work from (I’m a planner), so it won’t be too hard to get things ready in time. Fortunately for my fiancée, my obsessive planning allows him to be as free and spontaneous as he wants to be. This is why we work so well together.

Beginning the Bucket

So you may be wondering why I’ve called this blog “Live the Bucket” when all I’ve done so far is talk about lifestyle habits and plans. Well, in order to be able to do all of the things on my bucket list, I need to get my life in order. Some of the bucket list items require lots of money and/or time. While I may have a lot of time right now, the money part is not currently plentiful. Trips to Australia and New Zealand are definitely out of the question, but things like Hamilton tickets on Broadway are also quite challenging. I’m looking at my ever increasing list and wondering just what I can start doing to live my bucket list. I know I need to make small, habitual, lifestyle changes to make those big items possible, but some of the smaller items are attainable now.

Fortunately, my fiancée has a few days off, so we are going to take a road trip. We’re not going far, just a couple Midwestern cities. We’re not going long, not even a week. Yet, we are going. We will see two US cities on our list and some random sites between them and, more importantly, we are beginning the bucket list adventure. Of course, this is spontaneous… he just told me today that we will leave in the morning tomorrow; so a lot of the planning and decisions will be on the fly. We will have a good time, see new things, and check a couple things off that list. We might miss a few things too, but we can always go back again. The point is that we are not waiting for everything to be perfect. If we do this we may not go. Instead, we are taking action, leaving the house, and giving it a shot.

The blog entries will be short for the next few days as I take time to enjoy the trip, but I will share some of the places we stop along the way. I hope you’ll come along with us on this baby-steps journey into living the bucket list life. Now, I’ve got to get some rest, since I’m the driver for this impromptu adventure. Night all.

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I’m writing, again!

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So one day doesn’t make a habit, and neither does two… but two days is twice as many on the way to starting a habit and I am on day two of my daily writing habit. Yesterday I talked about how I worked through a Level 10 Life assessment and generated 3 SMART goals in each of the 10 categories (read that post here). Well, one of my goals in the career category was to start writing daily again. It’s something that scares me and that I sometimes drift away from every now and then, and therefore it’s actually one of the more important habits I want to get back into.

They say that everyone has a book inside them waiting to come out. I know that to be true because mine started to come out and I shoved it right back up in there and tried to ignore it. In 2009, I found my career in marketing (like so many others) to be a victim of the recession. I had quite a bit of time on my hands and I’d always wanted to write. My marketing background made me decide to start a blog. I figured I would use it to learn about social media marketing, which was the latest buzzword in the marketing world, by signing up for a couple mentorships and promoting my blog writing. Turns out, people enjoyed it. I soon had a nice group of readers, we got on well, and they supported me as I entered and won contests on other websites for my writing. It was a great feeling. Writing the blog every day was easy; there were few other obligations to get in the way. I was a divorced stay-at-home mom writing online and I loved it.

After a year, I decided to get a little more ambitious and write a novel. I had an idea running around in my head that was dying to get out on paper. So I dug in. I created character charts, working hard on developing characters that weren’t black and white, but varying shades of gray to make them more believable. I outlined my plot arc and found it to be sufficient to probably write a trilogy instead of a single story. I worked through where those arcs would end, so that if you finished a book it felt like you had read a complete story and yet still wanted to know what happened next. I edited other authors’ works so that I could gain experience on how the story would progress and how the books would ultimately be structured. I worked on my book every day for at least an hour, but often more. It began to kind of take over my life and sometimes my blog writing suffered for the sake of the book, but it was all writing, so that was ok.

It was an amazing experience, and then something happened. I had to create the environment in which the characters interact. The story takes place in a semi-fictional location (but still on earth), giving me the opportunity to create it any way I wanted within the framework of basic physics. I started planning a city. I thought about the way the streets were formed; were there cars or carriages or another form of transportation that hasn’t been invented yet? What was their technology, and how would that effect the design of buildings. Were people comfortable enough to have their homes infused with technology? At the time, the idea of a device eavesdropping on your home (Alexa), waiting for you to order a pizza, or request a song be played, or to remind you to call your mother in an hour was still pretty scary stuff. Most people were still skeptical of who or what would be listening and how that information might be used against them. Many people still are. I thought that might make a “utopia” with advanced technology somewhere that an average person might find a little creepy, to say the least. An excellent place for more character development.

I spent so much time envisioning the design of the buildings that I started to look at the buildings around me and wonder why we couldn’t have buildings like I was envisioning. I wondered if what I was thinking was impossible to build. I started to become obsessed with architecture. The more I tried to write, the more I questioned the architectural environment I was putting my characters in. I would take out paper and sketch instead of writing. Even if I wanted to write a description of the environment, I would sketch out the basics of it in order to properly describe it. I found that I liked working on the architecture more than writing the story. I was beyond distracted.

By this point it was 2011. I started to look at the possibility of going back to architecture school. I had been out of work for 2 years at this point and thought I must clearly have flipped my lid if I thought I was going to incur mountains of debt to obtain a fancy degree halfway through life, but the idea persisted; it just wouldn’t let go. I enrolled in a community college first and spent a year in art classes, loving every minute of it. I went on to architecture school and felt like I’d finally found what I was meant to be doing. It’s not that it wasn’t hard, or frustrating, or full of moments where I just wanted to quit; but it just felt like it was where I was meant to be.

Now architecture school leaves little time for anything else and writing was quick to fall to the wayside. To be honest, I was so busy that I hardly even missed it. When I really needed a writing fix, I found a way to argue with one of my unfortunately unlucky friends on Facebook; not the good friends, because I happen to be really good at arguing and often find myself blocked when the poor soul can no longer come up with replies to my arguments. Yet for the most part, writing had become a thing of the past.

It wasn’t until I graduated and started to look at how mono-focused I had become that I realized how much I really enjoyed writing… it’s part of who I am. That story is still stuck inside me, wanting to get out; the blog is still in me, wanting to be written; and most importantly, I’m running out of casual friends to argue with (and potentially lose) on Facebook. So when I looked at the career spoke of the Level 10 life wheel, I just couldn’t envision that area ever becoming a Level 10 unless writing was part of it. I set the SMART goal to write for at least 15 minutes a day… so here I am today, ready to finish up my second blog post and make it through one more day of rebuilding my daily writing habit. It feels cathartic. It feels good. It feels like coming home, and I thank you for following along with me.