Cruising  ~ The Cat’s Meow Style ~  Summer, 2009

Our Most Excellent Summer Adventure – Pt. 2


Waving good-bye to Carolyn and Dave, in Illinois, we were on the road again. It had been SO GOOD to see them!


Usually, July in the Midwest is quite warm and humid. Robin spent a portion of her growing-up years in this part of the country, and remembers well those still, hot, humid nights. This summer, however, it was a very different story. While the western states were burning up with temps in the 90s and 100s, the Midwest was much cooler, and wetter, than the norm. The corn was not knee high for the fourth of July…… it was even fairly difficult to find good sweet corn in late July! Bummer!! But find it we did  J


When we arrived in Michigan, at the family summer home of one branch of Robin’s family, it was cool and rainy. We had a great time anyway! The Schaefer clan was there, having a good time inside, while just outside, Burt Lake was frothy and gray. Fresh blueberries were heaped on everything: pancakes, ice cream….you name it  J  Lots of activity as usual, even in the wet weather. 



               A slightly blurry representation of the Schaefer clan at Burt Lake                                                  Li’l Ben having a great time after dinner


After a short visit, the Kat-Mobile was on its way again, heading north through Upper Michigan and into Ontario Canada. Just a tiny bit north of Lake Huron, there is a fresh water lake where Robin used to spend her summers as a young girl. Robin’s cousin, Sharla, now has a cottage on this same lake, and it is always a very special place for Robin to spend time, especially with Sharla. We were surprised that we needed to wear jeans and long sleeved shirts, and we had a fire in the wood-burning fireplace every day, but the cottage is so cozy and comfortable, we did not mind a bit! Sharla and Robin had time to talk and reminisce, time to walk along the lake too. It was wonderful to just BE at the lake. Lots of great memories…..old and new. 



                               View from Sharla’s cottage                                                                                                                Greeeen


Sharla cooked and baked, Robin watched and sampled, and Martin worked on some RV projects. Those of you who know Martin will understand, and smile, when we tell you that a high-lite of this part of the visit for him was wandering thru the dump……looking for treasures…..


 O my.



We stopped again at the Burt Lake house, to visit with cousins Becky and John again.  This time the sun did shine for a while. It was really grand to have Sharla, Becky, and Robin – all “sister-cousins” – together. We need to do this more often. 


 Sharla, Becky, and Robin – “sister-cousins”


Next stop: Fostoria, Ohio, where Robin used to live during her elementary school years, and where Sharla lives now. It was fun for Robin to re-visit some of the places of her childhood, all the while eating more sweet corn!! While in Fostoria, Robin was able to get together with four girlfriends from her elementary school days! Carol and Cindy lived across the street, so did Helen for a short while, and Jane was another good friend. Wow – we first knew each other in the mid-50s!!! It was fun to meet, catch-up with each other’s lives, see photos of families, and gossip about sooooo many people from “the old days”!!! Truly, this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and treasured by Robin. She hopes to maintain contact with all of them, and follow their lives and adventures. 


Jane, Carol, Robin, Cindy, and Helen – friends forever


Another significant happening while we were in Ohio: Robin’s birthday, which she celebrates with gusto each year!! Sharla made a from-scratch birthday cake (yummmm, chocolate of course!!!), and we went out to dinner and had a great time.  Later, about midnight, Martin and Sharla decided to serenade Robin…..playing the birthday song on their chosen instruments!


“Happy Birthday” never sounded quite the same….. ...or as sweet


O my.


It was time to head west…..we needed to get to Oregon to see Martin’s 93 year old mum, so we said a heart-felt good-bye to Sharla and headed toward Oregon.


Martin drove our motorhome through thunderstorms and some good winds, on highways and on back roads. We drove through small towns and large cities; we drove through many many many (did we say “many”??) fields of corn and more corn and yet more corn…… up and down hills, over rivers, through the dale…..well, we hope you get the picture. We saw LOTS of interesting and beautiful places!! It was fun, it was pretty, it was at times exciting, and at times it was boring. It was quite a trip.


When we had been in Michigan, the four cousins talked about the Corn Palace. Robin remembers visiting the Corn Palace with her mom in 1961, during their drive from Ohio back to California. Robin believed that Mitchell, the location of said Palace, was in Nebraska. John, on the other hand, said it was in South Dakota. John is never wrong. But Robin really believed she was correct this time.

Wrong!! South Dakota it is, and we went there so we could send John a postcard!  Bet most of you reading this don’t know there is a Corn Palace, do you? The original was built in Mitchell during the Depression (the Great one), as a means of bringing tourism to that part of the country as well as giving the area a place to hold cultural events. The exterior walls of the building and portions of the interior walls are completely covered with (dried) cobs of corn, with different colors of corn, i.e. black and red and orange, in very artistic scenes. Every year, the scenes are replaced with new art, and new (dried) cobs of corn. It is a very interesting place! So, there we were!



              It’s kinda corny….heh…..but interesting, too                                 One outside wall of the Corn Palace – art made of corn on the cob


Since we were in S. Dakota, we decided to make a stop in the Badlands. Raise your hand if you have ever been to the Badlands……ahhh…not too many of you, eh? Well, this is a really strange looking place. Really strange. Moonscape, sorta. Eerie-ly quiet. We parked the land yacht and walked out into the strange-looking landscape. Ooops. One can get lost very easily amongst those rocky structures……. This area has its own kind of beauty, but not a place we would want to stay in for very long. The drive through the park is quite interesting, with many pull-offs and exquisite views. But….weird. 





After a night in an RV park, we were on the road again. It was RAINING. Hard. A lot. And there were hundreds and hundreds of motorcycles, going both east and west. LOTS of motorcycles. Harleys, Hondas, spiffy and new, old and worn.  Then we realized: it was the huge Sturgis motorcycle rally!!! We were near Sturgis and didn’t even know it!! “Well” we said, “let’s go!” First, however, we decided to stop and see what all the billboards were shouting at us about – something called Wall Drug. Wall is a very small town, with a HUGE “drug store” that takes up one entire side of their (short) main street! Another one of those “yep, we did that, and it was kinda interesting” places. Martin found it purrrty interesting, tho’: 


                                                                        Martin enjoyed Wall Drug a little too much


Sturgis is another one of those small town America places, pretty obscure except for one exceptionality: the annual motorcycle rally. My my my. We have never seen so many cycles in one place at the same time. Interesting bikes, very interesting people on the bikes, and more interesting people looking at them! We walked the area around the center of the little downtown, wondered at the spectacle. Some of these bikes, probably most of them, arrive on their own tires; some of them arrive via big RVs pulling “toy  boxes”; and some of them are even rented from nearby business’!!! It was fun.


            This is the main street in Sturgis – the left and the middle of the street……


In the Black Hills part of S. Dakota, we decided to try another diversion: a cave tour. Sharla had raved about the Wind cave, so we found it on the map and went. To get there, we drove through the grasslands – stretches of different types of grasses, all different colors and shapes. It was very peaceful, and pretty. We did see bison, as well, within the Black Hills park area, unhindered by fences. Those animals are BIG! Very cool to see them, especially with young. 




The Wind Caves were a good choice. Our guide was a good one, explaining the formations we saw along the way and pointing out the very obvious (once pointed out!) fault line through this cave. This, also, was very “cool”, but in a completely different way! 


By now, it was the 8th of August, more than a month into our planned two-month trip. This is a good place to take a breather, but we do have even more adventures, and more reunions with friends (some not seen for decades!!) and family, so please continue on with our summer adventure, …. land Cruising ~ The Cat’s Meow Style…….