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Friday, October 29, 2010

Magical Midwestern Tour 2010

We recently spent 10 days traveling about Points Midwest visiting friends and family. It was a great trip - of course, we didn't have enough time to see everyone we wanted to, nor could we spend as much time with everyone as we would have liked, never works out that way. Nonetheless, we had a splendid time back in the Old Stomping Grounds.

The impetuses (impeti?) for the trip were: my 20th class reunion at Kalamazoo College and the arrival of our new niece, Abby. We left NC on a Thursday and drove as far as Columbus, where we stayed with Bruce's sister and family. We had a delightful visit including dinner out (Mongolian barbecue!) and a preview of our nephew Derek's Halloween costume.

From Columbus we drove to Kalamazoo and checked in at our hotel before meeting up with Cyndee, Marnie, Wendy, Alisha and David, and Patrick and Kati for dinner and visiting. After a late but great night on Friday, we spent most of the day on campus at K College for the reunion on Saturday. The weather was fabulous, the fall color was glorious, the turn-out was huge, and a grand time was had by all. The night wrapped with our class dinner - full of friends and memories - followed by an ice cream run with Alisha and David!

On Sunday we drove to Detroit to meet Abby - and see my brother Joe and sister-in-law Traci, of course. Our niece is just the cutest little pumpkin - sweet, snuggly, and beautiful! Speaking of pumpkins, we all took Abby to pick her first one at the pumpkin patch. The weather continued to cooperate with sunny skies and mild temperatures and we got in a hayride before sitting down to donuts and fresh apple cider. Mmm!

After a delightful dinner and visit, we backtracked a little and drove to Ann Arbor to Mom Stahl and Larry's. We spent all day Monday with them and enjoyed going over to U of M campus to meet up with my former intern Paul for lunch - followed by meeting Mom Stahl's friend Aletha for an afternoon snack/visit. We wrapped up the day by seeing "Secretariat," which is a great movie (I must review it!). Mom and I are both Triple Crown fans, so this was a special treat for us, but everyone enjoyed the film.

On Tuesday, we drove down to Toledo. We started our day visiting with Cindy (including a trip to Anderson's Market!). Again, the weather was fabulous, so we took a walk at Wildwood Metropark where the fall color continued to be spectacular. While we were in the park, Dad Stahl got home from work, and shortly thereafter my sister Suzanne and brother-in-law Tim joined us for a yummy and fun dinner.

On Wednesday, we met up with Mom and Dad Loebrich for a scenic drive to East Harbor - with a stop at Cheesehaven in Port Clinton, of course! We had packed a picnic and added some yummy snacks on our stop before staking out a picnic table at the harbor. The weather was still gorgeous - albeit windy - and we had a nice lunch enjoying the scenery. Lake Erie sure had low water levels, though! After lunch we had another scenic drive back to Toledo, toured through the renovated Anderson's, and had dinner at an area diner.

On Thursday, Dad Stahl and I played cribbage! We used to play all the time when I was growing up - he and Grandpa David taught me everything I know about the game. Well, Dad skunked me in game 1 and double-skunked me in game 2, but I came back and beat him in a game 3 that included my getting a 24-point hand! Afterward we went over to see Suzi and Tim's house and get the back-story on all the work they've put into it - the place looks great! We wrapped up the night with a big family dinner at Ventura's which included Aunt Barbie and Aunt Maggie.

On Friday, we drove down to Columbus and went with Debbe to pick our nephew Derek up from school. We had a great dinner at Bob Evans together. Later in the evening Bruce and Duncan took Derek stargazing to use the new telescope eyepiece we'd got him for his birthday.

On Saturday, we drove to Lebanon to visit Bruce's best friend Ralph-Stephen, his wife Pamela, and their son Alex. We had not been to their house in probably 7 years, so it was great to see all the home improvement projects they'd done. We had a great lunch on another weather-cooperative day and enjoyed sitting out on the deck talking and playing with Alex. We wrapped up the evening by driving back to Columbus and getting together with the McEwens and the McIntyres to carve pumpkins and have chocolate fondue!

On Sunday, we drove back to North Carolina. We hit construction, an accident, and several patches of heavy traffic that extended our drive from the usual 8 hours to 10. Ironic that the day we came back was the worst day of our trip, eh?

All in all, it was a GREAT visit, we had so much fun, we miss you all already!