As I explained earlier, I had scheduled this as a vacation week, intending to be in Tennessee for my mother’s 101st birthday. She passed away last Dec. 10. So, all the family then planned to be in Techny, Illinois this past weekend and early this week for the laying of the headstone and a tour of the graves of other relatives. We planned a nice gathering at a local restaurant. Then came COVID-19. That planned has been postponed – probably until next year.
Gayle and I then planned to go away for a few days this week. The first priority was to find a way to stay as safe as possible from the virus. We started out Sunday afternoon. We have 10 masks along, both cloth and surgical and sanitizer right at the front of the car. We were aiming for areas where there were very few COVID cases and where we could stay reasonably safe. We decided to take back roads and see what we could see. We had a full tank of gas. It’s surprising how little gas you use when you are sheltering in place. I went over a month without taking my car out of the garage. The above pic. is a hillside of gladiolas in NW Kent Co.
It’s mid-July and the daylillies are out. The blue chickory and white Queen Anne’s lace (also known as wild carrot) are blooming by the side of our country roads.
We spent the first night at The Shack in Newaygo Co. We had stopped their earlier this year. They have over 100 acres and host many groups. Quite a few of the groups have canceled due to the virus, so this was an excellent place to be socially-distant. You can see four cars in the picture above and even the cars were socially-distancing. I was hesitant to stay in the viewing area because I don’t want people coming up too close to me because they recognize me and getting too close. It’s been interesting over the years. Most vacations out of the viewing area, I have been recognized. Someone came up to ask if I was Bill Steffen while I was walking down a beach in Venezuela! That was in the mid 1990s, not recently. I also got recognized twice in the same day in Hawaii. It’s neat that people feel comfortable enough to come up and say “hi”.
I took a walk around the property (over a mile walk). This pic. was walking along the side of the lake (Robinson Lake). Gayle and I took a paddle boat around the lake. Despite my floppy old-man’s hat and casual dress. I did get recognized…once from the shore and once by a family in a boat. The parents knew who I was…the kids were young enough to not have a clue.
Everyone I have met has remarked about my broadcasting from the basement (the “man-cave”). They either ask about my cats (there are several videos of my cats circulating on YouTube. This one has had 369,168 views as of Monday night) or they ask about the backgrounds that keep changing.
I was outside last Saturday working in my yard and a woman stopped and pulled into my driveway. She recognized me. She said she has taken screen shots of dozens of the backgrounds that we’ve had on the air and hopes to eventually send me a collection of the images.
We’re staying at home most all of the time, but we’ve managed to come up with some interesting scenes. We have a collection of Care Beats…and one day we had them at a campfire making s’mores. Another day we had items from Africa, from a lady who is a very good friend of my daughter and stayed with us a few times. She was born in Zambia.
This was sunset at the lake. We saw quite a few boats on the lake…including a number of fishing boats. Early Monday morning as we ate breakfast, we watched two men just offshore catch two really nice fish (bass?). One man held up the two fish, the other took a picture. Then they released the fish back into the lake. On our trip around the lake, we saw quite a few turtles pupping their heads out of the water.
They have a windmill at The Shack. Meteorologists love windmills and flags – that show the direction and speed of the wind. They have a museum on the property with everything old…from old cars (do you remember how long a Lincoln Continental was?) to every kind of old utensil from the 1800s. They served dinner and breakfast. You pick a time to arrive, then are very well spread out in the dining area and you are served a plate of food, so only one person handles the food before you get it. We wore masks when needed.
Also at The Shack, they have a large spring (with many “vents”). In the evening, there was a fire pit and several couples were there. Again, lots of room to spread out and I made sure I was upwind. It was nice to chat with people from Indiana. After breakfast, we packed up and headed north on the backroads.