Monday, June 22, 2015

Day trip to Gun Lake in Allegan County

This past Sunday Bernice, daughters Susan and Joyce and I drove down to the Herrema cottage on Gun Lake to spend an afternoon of relaxation, conversation and grilling food. As a bonus we got a tour of the lake compliments of "Captain" Dave and his nifty party boat.

You would be hard pressed to meet a more generous, hospitable couple than Dave and his wife Marguerite. Aside from their generosity in opening their cottage to the Bergman clan, all close friends for many years, their kindness and hospitality in welcoming strangers was simply inspiring.

We enjoyed a leisurely afternoon of good food and warm conversation. After a boat ride enjoying the sun and blue sky we packed up our stuff, said adieu and hit the road pointing the Subaru back north to Grand Rapids.

the group relaxing in front of the cottage
Dave Herrema, griller par excellence!
sandpit waiting for children
looking up the channel toward the lake
patient passengers waiting for their tour guide
Captain Dave making sure his passengers are properly seated, with tray tables in the upright position

heading to the low bridge -- and I mean LOW

heading out into the lake

a fishing pier -- blue gill mainly, so I'm told
one of the numerous channels; looking to the main part of the lake

para-surfer -- this guy knew what he was doing

a few leaps out of the water no less
Dave and Carl
Marguerite; Melissa chatting with her grandmother
one of the several islands in the lake

Rachel and Steve

Saturday, June 20, 2015

It's all about space: our third trip to Michigan and family gatherings

Time and space plays amazing tricks on us, or at least on me. It was only a week ago this past Thursday that we left Providence on our third road trip to Michigan this spring, hauling more stuff out west, including a university laptop to help expedite my working remotely.

Yet it seems as if we've been here in Grand Rapids for weeks -- in that short space of time so much has happened.

Chuck Peterson, a close acquaintance from our Grand Rapids years in the early 1990s and the man who showed me how to use a video camera, passed away just before we returned from Rhode Island. I had the good fortune of reconnecting with him on several occasions on previous trips this year so for that I'm grateful. He was far too young and still way too funny to be taken so soon.

The very day we arrived in Grand Rapids we looked at a condo in the same complex where my mother-in-law lives, and it seems we have found our new home. Of course, that decision started the rather demanding process of purchasing a new home while contemplating the changes to be made as well. Lots to be done still, to be sure.

We also joined and subsequently visited Meijers Gardens and Sculpture Park, just a short walk from where we'll be living. Susie even signed up as a volunteer. (I just posted again on those incredible horticultural and sculptural spaces.)

Just two days after we returned to Grand Rapids the Bergman clan arrived in Michigan to spend a week together at a friend's cottage on Gun Lake, about a 45-minute drive south of the city: Carl Bergman driving the Parker contingent from Alabama, Rachel and Steve Engels from California, Joyce Bergman and Jonathan and Naomi Bergman from the greater Bangor, Maine, area. Naturally the grandkids wanted to see their grandmother -- and so they all came over to Grandmother Bernice's house for dinner last Saturday evening. Steve Schaap brought his son, and my nephew, Benjamin for the family dinner and to let Ben visit with  cousins he hasn't seen in some years.

It was a wonderful evening, a warm gathering of family, everyone catching up on the recent news and future events (two children on their way).

Grandma Bernice, Carl, Susie and Steve Schaap
You can see why we moved here: Bernice's smile
Adeline Bergman

Susie and Rachel

Mother and daughter: Joyce and Bernice
The  following day, Sunday, was Father's Day. Bernice, her two daughters and I drove to Woodlawn Cemetery to pay respects to Tunis VandenBerg, Joyce and Susan's dad.

Bernice, Joyce and Susie

From Woodlawn Cemetery we drove straight south on Kalamazoo, turned east onto 84th street and made our way to Patterson avenue where we turned south into Allegan County, heading for Gun Lake and some fun in the sun.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park

One of the first things we did when we returned to Grand Rapids, a city we will soon call home (again), was to become members of Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park -- in fact, Susan went so far as to sign up to volunteer in one of their gardens.

 I've already posted about this incredible place -before - and will do so again I'm sure. Spread across 158 acres, this space combines botanical gardens (both indoors and out) with a fantastic collection of sculptures scattered among the landscape. There is also an intimate concert venue as well as a children's garden (and tram).

Grand Rapids has come a long way, indeed, since the early 1990s. . . And so have we.

"Earth, Wind and Fire" by Gary Price (1989)

"Marching Band" by Stuart Padnos (1998)

Main entrance

Entrance to the new Japanese Gardens

part of the Japanese Gardens

Bonsai Garden

Zen Garden

Zig-Zag Bridge

"Existence" by Masayuki Koorida (2013)

one of four waterfalls

"Lying Man" by Sean Henry (2003)

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Returning to Grand Rapids, Michigan - working remotely and looking for a home

As we move ever closer to a permanent home in Michigan, we also move our concept of home as well: it's now "returning" as opposed to "visiting" or "going to" Michigan. As we contemplate our trip back to Providence to tidy things up one last time, those ideas will become even more fixed for  both of us.

We waited until the Memorial Day Weekend was over before packing the car and "returning" to Michigan. I officially started work as a part time employee the end of May so I also spent the better part of our final days preparing for working from the road. Meanwhile, Susie continued to pack our stuff up:

We left Providence Wednesday afternoon and spent a leisurely three hours or so driving up into the Catskills in search of respite at the Archer home in Prattsville. We passed through a rather serious thunderstorm around Albany but by the time we pulled into the Archers we were rain free. Gloria had prepared an incredible meal which was patiently waiting for us: a wonderful salad of greens balanced by a scrumptious slow-cooked pot roast with carrots and potatoes. My God how that woman can cook!

We spent a wonderful evening of warm conversation and good food before hitting the sheets. It was so dark and quiet in those mountains. . .
the Archer home in Prattsville
From the Archer home we meandered our way up New York state roads to Oneonta where we picked up I-88 to Binghamton. From there we navigated our way to I-86 and found ourselves virtually alone on the highway for mile after mile. Not a car passed us nor did we see or pass a car. It was strangely pleasant -- the landscape reminded us of Vermont -- gorgeous in other words.

Along the way we stopped at a rest area that must rank as one of the attractions along the Southern Tier Expressway: the Allegany river rest area. The architecture and interior decor was straight out of someone's dream of what a rest area would be like if Indians (i.e., native Americans) designed them. Incredibly beautiful and very touching. If you find yourself driving this way go see this.
Allegany River rest area along I-86

Once we hit Erie, Pennsylvania, located unsurprisingly along the eastern shore of Lake Erie, we picked up I-90 and turned south to Ohio, one of the more misunderstood states. Just before reaching Cleveland we stopped for the night at a Red Roof Inn in Willoughby.

After checking in we drove to nearby Mentor-on-the-Lake to see what it held in dining possibilities (none) and settled for an unremarkable meal at a Friday's near our motel.  Still, the lake looked impressive:
Mentor-on-the-Lake (Lake Erie that is)

TGI Friday's for dinner 

With an early start the next morning we were in Grand Rapids before noon.

The next phase of our lives - the search for a new home - began in earnest with an occasional aside to see an old friend or two and some family. Fraught with frustration and uncertainty, we were constantly reminded at how really difficult it is to find a place to call "home." But find it we shall.

Tomorrow we leave for Providence, although it's quite possible that we might see a home early in the morning before we depart: that's how crazy we have become. But this place has real potential.

Anyway, we will spend the night in Batavia, New York (nope, not sure why), arriving in Providence early afternoon the following day.

Stay tuned for what happens next!