We met the Nixons at Dunkin Donuts at 7:30am for some parking lot dancing and to begin our road trip. That first 8 hour drive went by pretty quickly thanks to rotating kids and driving assistance. We made great time and arrived at our cabin in the Great Smoky Mountains by 5pm. It was close to 100 degrees up there, not the cool mountain weather we were hoping for. I’m thankful for that cold basement with two master suites where the adults slept for two nights! The next morning we slept in a bit then headed out to the Upper Pigeon River for some white water rafting. The cold water felt awesome! It was a category 3-4. I was expecting it to be more rigorous, but I’m thankful it was a good first time family rafting trip. We headed back to Seiverville to be closer to the cabin for burgers and local beer for lunch. Next, we went zip lining. I’m so proud of Phil for going way out of his comfort zone, especially for this one. He skipped the first two lines but joined us for the rest of the course. Voss was apprehensive at first but said he felt like Ironman by the end. It was lots of fun! You know I loved it! I wish the photographer let us bring a camera. The professional photographer was only there at the beginning and missed Phil and all the cool trick shots. Still, it was an awesome day! The next morning we got up nice and early to pack up, check out and continue on the road trip. The next leg of 8 hours was a little tougher. Phil and I got into a knock down drag out because I insisted we stop and check out Lake Erie. I really wanted the kids to see their first Great Lake. That put us about 30min behind the Nixons, which I think was totally fine. We made it to Jessica’s sister, Adrienne’s house in Rochester Hills, Michigan (a suburb of Detroit). She rolled out the red carpet for us to welcome us to Michigan! They grilled burgers, had two fire pits going with s’mores, cocktails, ice cream and the kids loved chasing fireflies. They have a beautiful home with a big basement for all the kids. The next morning we walked to Van Hoosen farm to see the fairy garden, old time dairy farm and the kids loved stream walking. After a Greek and Cony Island hotdog lunch we headed out to the state capital, Lansing to see the Kuklas. My sister’s sister-in-law, Liane wined and dined us. She and Kyle made brats and all the salads. Their Uncle Bill played baseball with Voss. We got to catch up with my brother-in-law’s parents, aunt and uncle. I was impressed they all drove a few hours to meet up with us. It was also Liane and Kyle’s 22nd wedding anniversary so we loved being there to celebrate them. We all went to their daughter, Isla’s softball game. She played great and we were able to catch up with the Kuklas while cheering her on. Later, we had a nightcap in the infamous Matson Basement Bar and pretended like we were freshmen at MSU! We got a tour of the Michigan State campus seeing the botanical gardens and museum. We took a quick pic in front of the state capital then said farewell to the Matson fam and continued on the road trip. We stopped at a farm town for a local lunch then headed back east to Grosse Pointe, another suburb of Detroit to meet back up with the Nixons. We stayed with their besties, the Guillaumins. They hooked us up with their park passes and we had a day of exploration while they did some family time. We started at Windmill Point park and saw Lake St. Clair with Canada right there below us! Next we went to the Ford House to explore the grounds. We couldn’t go in the house but we got to see the rose gardens, cove and bird island. More amazing views of Lake St. Clair. We went to Mike’s on the Water for dinner (fish burgers and lobster rolls) then went back to Gilbo’s to meet some of the high school friends. The next morning we went to an outdoor mass at St. Paul’s on the Lake and then continued on to the next leg of road trip. We’re having lots of fun exploring new places and seeing new (and old) friends. Here are the pics of the week.