Monday looked to be a busy day. On Saturday, after breakfast, we had stopped in The Bicycle Shop to look at bikes and the two bikes William was looking at – were gone. The staff said it could be at least a couple of weeks before they expected to receive more bikes from Trek. Therefore, Sunday afternoon Beth looked at bikes online and found a dealer that had two bikes in stock – one for William and the other for Olivia. However, the store was in Traverse City and it was over an hour away, so we made plans to drive over Monday morning. In addition, William and I were diving home to Wheaton Monday afternoon so I could attend a planning meeting at school and William could attend the Tuesday scout meeting. We would be coming home after sixteen days away and we would complete our trip around Lake Michigan. I would be in the car quite a bit on Monday.
I attached the bike carrier to the tow bar and the kids, Ivy piled into the truck, and we took off for Traverse City, which is about fifty or so miles west of Grayling. The trip took us through the thickly forested rolling hills of upper lower western Michigan – that is a lot to take in! We drove through Kalkaska and into Traverse City and before long; we were at the bike shop – Brick Wheels. We walked in and William spotted ‘his’ bike right away it was on hold in the front with his name on it and he remembered what it looked like. Olivia’s on the other hand was not ready and they did not have it – the clerk had made an error and they did not have a bike for Olivia. However, they had another model, actually two. One a boy’s model in black and the other a girl’s model in pink; Olivia is not a pink kind of girl. On the other hand, the matte black model was not a great color for Olivia. She hopped on, gave it a test ride around the parking lot, and returned – grinning from ear to ear. She was sold, we were not. Beth called another bike shop, one she had not called on Sunday at my suggestion. According to our information, Brick Wheels had both bikes at reasonable prices (below MSRP) and the shop was close, or relatively close. I advised her Sunday her not to call the other shop and now we were. . While Olivia and William road tested the bikes in the parking lot and Beth checked the other store, I walked Ivy who was cooperating quite well. Unfortunately, the other store did not have the bikes in stock and we had dilemma – black or no bike. The pink bike was not an option – too girly and Olivia is not a girly-girl; the black bike was a good fit and Olivia was sold. Eventually we were, too and the bikes were paid for, loaded on the bike rack, and we were on our way to a quick lunch at Poppycock’s – our favorite restaurant in Traverse City.
Traverse City’s main business district is a row of shops lining a half-mile long street running parallel to the shore of Little Traverse Bay, a branch of Lake Michigan. It has all sorts of shops including a hobby shop, which sells trains. The row also is home to Poppycock’s an eclectic restaurant with great soup. Every time we visit Traverse City, we have lunch or dinner and once we had both. Lunch was quick; after lunch, Beth excused herself to go shoe shopping and I waited for the check. Afterwards, the kids and I walked back to the truck with a cup of ice water for Ivy. Though it was not a hot day, we had parked in the shade and cracked windows to let air inside the truck and Ivy’s crate. She was very happy to see us and slurped the water thirstily. After a short walk to the hobby shop – where else? We were back in the truck headed home.
The truck had no sooner pulled into the driveway and the bikes were off the rack; and the kids were excitedly riding up and down the lane on their new bikes. It was too bad William and I would be leaving for Wheaton within the hour. While William and Olivia rode their bikes, I loaded camping gear to be returned to Wheaton and other unneeded items. I packed clothes for two nights, my laptop, planner, and dop kit and William were on the road home.
When we left for summer camp sixteen days before, we had driven north – 350 miles – to Tesomas Scout Camp just north of Rhinelander, Wisconsin. When scout camp ended, William and I drove another 360 miles across Wisconsin, and the UP (Upper Michigan), crossing the Mackinac Bridge, and south to Grayling and lake Margrethe. Now, we were headed south to Grand Rapids and along Lake Michigan’s southeastern shores and home to Wheaton, a final 360 miles. The drive would complete a circle around Lake Michigan. Driving 360 miles takes a while, though it is easier with two people than it is with four and William and I were able to maintain a steady pace and were home at a reasonable time. William slept the last hour and half and I listened to a mix of old Marketplace podcasts and music on my iTouch.
Driving 360 miles takes time and gives a person time to think and reflect. It has been a good summer. A year ago, I was driving the same drive home to Chicago, not for a meeting, but to fly to Memphis and drive to Oxford, Mississippi to be with Julie and my dad, who had taken a turn for the worse. He would pass away within the week and I would get to spend time with him at his side. Warren would drive over and David, too. We would all have our good bye. However, for this drive it was time to reflect on dad’s final journey to Paris and our final good bye at Aisne- Marne and Belleau Wood. It was time to think of summer camp, the cottage, and writing. It was time to think that the days matter; that they do indeed count. It has been a great summer with many great days – some a million and six times better than the day before.