Thursday, May 28, 2009


This is our last morning camping on Lake Michigan. It’s really peaceful looking out over the calm lake, although the weather is grey and 56 F. This Great Lakes Navy Station has been a good stop, where we could easily pop into Chicago for the day. It was also an ideal place to spend Memorial Day. We attended a solemn Naval ceremony overlooking Lake Michigan, where we stopped to remember all the men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom and for our country. It is important to Thom and me that our children grow up with these traditions to honor our service members.

Thom visited yesterday with a cardiologist at the VA Clinic. He’s had heart palpitations for many years, but they’ve increased over the past year and especially the last 3 months. When we were in Key West, FL, Thom saw a doctor also. He wore a 24-hour heart monitor there, as well as here. The good news is that both locations say these are not reasons for serious concern. The cardiologist explained to Thom that many people have palpitations, and they’re easily controlled by daily medications called Beta-blockers. Thom also had many blood work tests run, including cholesterol and thyroid. It’s good peace of mind to have these things checked out.

Last weekend we were thrilled to visit with Matt, Julia, Alex, and Sophia from California again! They flew to Chicago for 3 days to celebrate the 50th birthday of Matt’s Navy friend, Marty. It was also Matt’s birthday (not 50th yet!). Our reunion evening was spent at the Navy Pier where we had dinner at Bubba Gump Shrimp. Thom surprised our waiter by answering almost all the Forrest Gump trivia, and Matt surprised us all with his talented dance moves standing on a chair for his birthday! Way to go Matt!

Last Sunday was our marathon day in Chicago with Julia’s family, where we packed in so many great activities from 10am to 10pm! It was a beautiful, sunny day. We went on an hour river cruise where we learned about Chicago’s architecture. I had no idea that the buildings here are world renown for design. After the Chicago fire wiped out thousands of buildings around 1870, the whole city was rebuilt. Did you know that Chicago is home to the first skyscrapers, and that there are plans in the works to build the world’s tallest building of 2000 ft. here? The Sears Tower holds the record here in North America at 1454 ft.

We went to the 94th floor of the John Hancock Building for the view, followed by lunch…. Chicago’s famous stuffed pizza. We discovered you only need half as much pizza as usual, since their pizza is over an inch thick. To work off the pizza, we rented bikes and pedaled north against the winds off Lake Michigan. There we walked through the Chicago Zoo, with some pretty amazing gorillas. We headed back to Julia’s hotel for a bit of a respite, followed by ice cream for dinner! We love seeing our dear friends, and the kids had a lot of fun catching up since our time together at Disney World three months ago.

The boys diligently continue their school work. Today, they’re finishing lesson 140, which is the big green test! They only have 20 lessons to go, which includes the final green test. Calvert is an impressive homeschooling program, and our children have benefitted, especially in the area of writing skills. If we keep up our same school pace, they’ll finish up at the end of June.
From here, we plan to head west to Colorado. Not only is it a beautiful place, but it’s also at or near the top of our list of choice places to settle down. Thom’s applied for a few jobs there, but we haven’t heard anything back. Colorado Springs is one of the key missile defense places in the country, which of course ties in with Thom’s last job in Alaska. There are no missiles in Colorado, but instead have radio and communications.

So we’ll take the boys to Colorado, and check out housing, schools, and the general atmosphere. Who knows? We all love to snow ski, and of course the boys want to jump back into hockey. We all like the idea of living in a less populated area. This is perfect timing as our year winds down. We’ve now been traveling for 11 months! Ideally, we’d like to settle down in July in order to have the boys start school at the end of August. So please keep us in your prayers.

When we enter Iowa later today, it will mark the 30th state we’re visiting this year. We’ve experienced so much, and met countless people who have made our trip memorable. All six of us realize this is the journey of a lifetime. God has been infinitely good to our family by keeping us safe and showing us so much. Now we’re all eager to find home and put down roots.

May 22, Michigan
From Nappanne, we drove north to Charlotte, MI where Spartan is located. That’s the company that built our motor coach chassis. So we came up to have them do a “44 Point Inspection.” The good news is they only found one problem, which was an oil leak that only took a day to fix. The bad news is that the oil pan needed replacing, and of course we have the most expensive oil pan made! So $3000 later, we were done and on the road again.

While in the area, we visited the Grand Rapids Art Museum in order to see Cousin Steve’s painting. Celeste, one of the curators who knows Steve, met us and showed us the painting. It’s a stunning huge canvas of Western Michigan with gorgeous colors and luminary warmth. Once again, his use of writing text within the painting is engrossing. Steve dedicated this painting to lovely Bridget, his wife who grew up in Grand Rapids and who we all miss dearly since she passed away five years ago.

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