Thursday, September 21, 2017

Great Lakes Tour Day 4

Part of our homeschooling adventure involves online courses. #1 and #2 had four courses we would have to "connect" to while we traveled. This involves a lot of creative thinking on the part of the travel agent (i.e. moi) and sometimes you just have to set out and hope for the best. How appropriate that our next stop would be Sault Ste Marie...
While there is some debate on the exact meaning of “Sault,” scholars of early French note that the word translates into jump, referring to the place where one needs to “jump”, or put into the St. Mary’s River. This translation relates to the treacherous rapids and cascades that fall 21 feet from the level of Lake Superior to the level of the lower lakes.
Our travel to our Northern Neighbor would involve jumping...but not into a river...this was definitely more stepping out and trusting the Holy Spirit would make it all work according to plan and, when not, that God had the bigger picture in mind.

Heading out of Mackinaw City is always beautiful and the day was perfect...sunny and clear. It was great for viewing Mackinac Island to our right and the Straits of Mackinaw on our left.


About an hour north, we checked through customs, crossed another bridge
 and we were in Canada!

It's funny, I was talking with my friend who had been there a few months before and we were both somewhat disappointed with Sault Ste Marie...not sure why, just seems like there should have been more somehow. Luckily, there were plenty of adventures in store.

Our hotel was fabulous. The people there "got" the whole family thing...they had suites made just for us (I think ours slept 10!) and we were greeted by this cute guy as we walked in the door...
Check out little guy's expression. I think he was waiting for the Mountie to move!
I loved our room (I always love a room that leaves me alone in my own bed...this one even gave me walls and a door!) and the kids loved the bunks and all the room to stretch.
One of the many realizations that we were no longer in the US - 6 foot bunk with no guard rail !

That was #3's day to bunk with tiny...luckily they're both small.
The living room had a big, comfortable desk and the WiFi connected without trouble. However, there seemed to be an issue with connecting through the Internet...one that, after trying about 70 minutes, I was unable to cure. This part of the trip was likely the most stressful and I was thankful confession was only a few days away...I would need it ...I flew right past the "offer it up" and straight to "scream at husband from another country phase." I'm ashamed that it wouldn't be his only call like that over the following 24 hours.

Lacking the ability to attend Latin and literature classes, phys ed seemed like the next best thing. Besides, this was no ordinary hotel pool...it was filled with saltwater.

Since it was the middle of the day, the pool was empty and they had a nice long swim. Perfect to relax everyone. The blessing was clear. Stress relief, good sleep...preparation for tomorrow.

When I travel with the kids, we always have at least one "grocery store dinner". This can be prepared foods or things we take back to the hotel to warm up, or just a bunch of yogurt and fruit and pretzels. It actually turns out to be cheaper and usually more nutritious that eating out all the time. This grocery trip was also special. Being in Ontario,along with the bags of milk (so sad I forgot to take a picture...I was so shocked!), all the packaging looked different than what we see at home.
All I can say is I've forgotten all of my French or this is Canadian dialect. Some of the words look a bit odd.

Another not-in-the-US-flashback...this is what it looked like when I was a kid. Before sugar became evil and the cereal became "Golden"
 While we were out driving, my tire warning light came on. This happens sometimes when we travel and the outside temperature varies but, just to be safe, I stopped by the local gas station, traded in my dollar for a
it's called a "loonie" ;0) and filled up my passenger right tire. The light didn't go off so I figured it was a computer thing, we went home, had our feast, and got some sleep (after watching the Great Food Truck Race or whatever it's called. We're Food Network people ;0))

I was grateful for the good night's rest because, as I took the luggage out to the car before breakfast, I couldn't help but notice the tire I had inflated was now sitting flat on the ground. Yep, lacking all air. Yes, we're still in Canada. Indeed, this would be DH's second earful. I am so grateful for him. When I am crazy-stressed-hysterical woman, he is the voice of calm. Somewhere, after two or three calls, I finally "heard" him about calling CAA (the Canadian version of AAA). The kind man rolled up about 35 minutes later, inflated my tire and followed me to

As often happens, the man at the desk saw a mother with five kids and no adult male, and assured me they would expedite my case. We watched the coverage of Hurricane Irma in the lounge and, as promised, less than an hour later we walked out with 25 fewer dollars (Canadian) and one less dry wall screw in our tire. Considering where we were headed, I was so grateful that God chose this cross for us at this moment. I failed terribly in my handling of it but I was able to see His protection and wisdom after-the-fact. God is so good.

It seemed fitting that one of our last images of Canada would be found near the exit door.
Seriously. If you'd like to step back in time a bit, just head North!

We are blessed.


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Great Lakes Tour, Day 2&3

We woke up, had breakfast, and headed a bit north to see my brother. It was a good preview for visiting our friends in WI: they live down a long, wooded driveway; they have adorable little ones; and they have big, white, fluffy dogs. These guys are full grown. So glad they're friendly :0)
The view out their bedroom window

The stairs that lead to...

A very lovely lake

Mama was a bit stressed, though, jackets or not, it was too chilly to go into the drink
I don't have any pics of the furry babies (I forgot) and I can't include any of the human kind (they're still fostering) but, trust me, everyone was really cute and well-behaved ;0)

We went to vigil Mass the next town over and I was pleasantly surprised to find that, even though the posture wasn't Ad Orientum (visiting priest, they usually do), the Sanctus and Gloria were sung in Latin and when the Communion line began, the kneelers were placed at the front so that we could receive kneeling, on the tongue. This is not the only experience we would have like this...so it's not only the South! Praise God!

We had a nice night and headed out early so we could reach the top of Lake Huron and ferry our way to Mackinac Island. I wish I could find the pictures from our last trip...#3 was only 8 months old! What a cute guy he was. We retraced our steps (with two extra kids and one less father) and had a great time.
The ride over we opted for the back of the boat
Beautiful day, beautiful way to cross Lake Huron! #2!

Good view of the Mackinaw Bridge

The Grand Hotel (for you Somewhere in Time fans)

St. Anne's from the lake
We made it to the island!
Just down the street from the hotel...
Is the Gate House, where this little one was munching on celery 8 years ago!

The interior of St. Anne's

Beautiful, beautiful day
T-shirts and fudge purchased, we headed back to the mainland
So funny
I was so happy that our hotel was literally across the street from the ferry dock.  I booked this place because I figured, after three days, we would need some time to ourselves. The cabins were the perfect solution! Everyone within reach and no shared walls with other people!
Looking down from the loft (at our messy cabin) and my sleeping buddy


Cozy loft bedroom
Third bed, straight ahead. It was a really neat space. They loved the stairs and I love that I have kids who are all big enough to not fall down them (well, perhaps #1 if she is being graceful that day)

Sunrise over Lake Huron

Time to say farewell to our doorman and head across the border!
We are blessed.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Great Lakes Tour 2017

Every year, DH has a conference in mid-September in Chicago. Our godson was kind enough to be born at the end of August and baptized on September 14th. This year we combined all of those wonderful events into our first homeschool field trip of the academic season. Since we touched or saw 4 of the 5 lakes, we've dubbed it the Great Lakes Tour ;0)

The kids and I set out early on Friday, September 8th. I had planned a stop at a monastery but the trip was already lagging and we all just wanted to be on our way. We ended up stopping at a launch dock just east of Toledo. #1...Lake Erie!
It was windy and cold


I can't remember what this was


We had to keep moving because I wanted to get to at least one of the churches on the itinerary (I'm becoming so lax with that...or over planning!). The National Shrine of the Little Flower Basilica doesn't have all that much to do with St. Therese that I could see but it was an interesting example of "church in the round". I remember attending Mass there once with DH and I remember it being fairly distracting. Still, beautiful place.

There are side altars the whole way around and a balcony so the stained glass is tiny and high up!

St. Clare altar

St. Sebastian
We landed at our Drury, unpacked, freshened up and headed about 15 minutes away. DH's cousins were kind enough to provide us with family, food and fun. The cousins enjoyed themselves marvelously.
They were looking for tennis balls in the giant hosta

These three were hysterical

An apple from the apple tree!

And ice cream!!!

Cousins big and small

Cousin Thomas is very, very strong

Our fun ended for the day, we headed home and little boy got his first (of many) whirlpool baths. Livin' large, that one.
We are blessed.