Category Archives: adventure.

Schmidt Family Reunion 2015


This month Kelly and I celebrated our phenomenal family at our family reunion in Reading, Michigan. It’s the first reunion Kelly has ever attended and the first one in twenty years for her mother (a horrible example of family togetherness on my part). We had the BEST time of our lives!

I caught up with my cousins who enriched my life as a kid and Kelly found out there are a ton of people she is attached to at a deeper level than any other person on this earth besides her immediate family. And imagine this… they care for her just as much. She has longed to know her extended family and they are every bit as hilarious and crazy and fun and caring as she hoped.

We roomed with these wonderful, wacky people…

These are the Frank Schmidt’s. My dad was one of eight kids and these are a good sampling of his prodigy.
I hope to God we didn’t shame him. (Highly unlikely). Dad helped institute a new family tradition with his two brothers, Tom and Gerry. It is now continued by Jamie Schmidt and Billy Caverly…. The Martini Club.


I was too soused to get a really good photo document of this momentous event, but believe me when I tell you we honored our heroes valiantly with some damn good gin and recounting of the best memories. Love you Dad.

We were honored by the presence of the three remaining matriarchs of our family. The vibrant and vivacious Mary Schmidt, Emmy Caverly and Pat Smith.


These ladies are incredible.

The camp we were at offered loads of fun activities. One of them was a giant rope swing. Easy peasy for Kelly.


And here she is on the high ropes. This looks easy, but she is 40 feet off the ground. It is freaking scary!


And hard as heck.

We enjoyed the company of some incredible people. I hope to post more detailed pictures. Heck, I took about 800 shots through out the weekend.

After the reunion we spent a few days in East Tawas. We couldn’t stay without capturing a few special pictures of my girl on the lake.


We hung out with my mom and my sister (no good pics of Liz… sorry) and my nephew Sean. He and Kelly had a blast.


Can’t believe how incredible the time we had and how much we enjoyed every moment, every person, every experience.

Happy Summer you all!!


Our Last Day … Loads of Fun


This was our last day. Four hours of it disappeared on the “fetch the rental car” expedition. A really nice drive to Bay City, but all the same, used up time. Kelly was stir crazy waiting on us and my poor mom was in her chair. We ran her ragged this week. Movie watching was all she had the energy for.

We gathered up Cooper, put on our walking shoes and talked Dad into driving us to the beach-bay-lake. It was time for a walk and Cooper was part of it, though the early morning ride in the car made his day already.

The walk through the city park, a beach side venue, started very nicely. That was until I hit a patch of shade. Yikes! Cold!! The temperature had barely warmed from the day before. The sun was out, but a brisk breeze still kissed our fannies with every step we took.

Shivering through every shady spot we passed we finally made it to the marina/pier.


Cooper was all frisky and perky still.


Because his favorite thing to do is scratch and scratch and scratch his back and head on the wonderfully rough texture of ever-loving, marvelously simple concrete.


Even here he was pulling at the leash. Kelly kept wanting to carry him, thinking his little legs had worn out already.

That was until we took a good look at the trek back. This is a loong pier. You don’t realize how far you’ve walked until you look back down to the return trip.


I think Cooper felt the same way… his legs gave out before the end of the pier. We can tell because his tongue starts hanging out and he starts lagging behind.


By the time we reached the last 100 ft of the walk way he was totally wiped. What a wuss. Short legs just aren’t conducive to long walks. See his tongue hanging out? Notice his limp little body? Pooped out.


And then Kelly took a liking to this craft. It’s half the size of the ones we walked past, but every bit as nice.


Then, because this was our last day and we hadn’t had enough of the lake or the water, cold as it was, we decided to do something exciting and reckless and dangerous. Did I mention reckless. It was scary to me.

We rented a skidoo thingy and ran the waves on Lake Huron. Geared up …


… and hit the water. Did I forget to say I have to drive since I’m over 18 yrs? Yep, that’s me in the front. I wasn’t thrilled. I’m the girl who watches her kids as THEY ride the roller coaster. I live vicariously, I tell you. I don’t require first hand thrills. But here I am about to live the thrill. Bob watched Cooper and I had to drive. *shivers*


Very tame here, on idle as we exit the marina.


Then it was …. did I mention scary? The water was the deepest navy blue I’ve ever seen directly below me. I gunned it gradually. Then Kelly MADE me gun it again. We went 35mph easy over the surface of that fathomless bay, water spraying in our faces, the wind whipping around us. We traveled at least three or four miles along the shore… off in the deep area. Then we doubled back, skirting the shallower edge so I wouldn’t freak out over the dark, dark blue waters. Water sprayed us and we dried off in the brisk air as we sailed over the waves. I almost got comfortable. Almost.


Then I glanced at the watch they gave me. We were only ten minutes into our hour.


Twenty more minutes was all I could stomach. Not to mention my throttle fingers kept falling asleep. Not a desirable attribute for a skidoo operator.


I couldn’t wait to idle us back into the marina.


Does that look like a stupid grin on my face? Why, hell yes it is! There are no words to describe the relief pulsing through me as I made my way slowly to the dock. I think I’m getting too old for this kind of excitement. But… this will keep me young.

For the most part, this was an exhilarating day. It was still pretty chilly out there, but the way the skin on my face tingled from wind burn and the sun made me feel alive. And that is always worth the buzz it gives.

Bless you for enduring the updates of my vacation. I hoped to impart some my joy. Thank you for sharing in my little piece of heaven.


Best Mother’s Day Ever!


This post might be in two segments… Just a warning.

My daughter and I went to see Jason Aldean in concert over the Mother’s day weekend. Country music, rocking like the classics. It was a blast. Need I say more?

My hubby insisted we stay in a hotel in town so we wouldn’t have to drive home after the show. The whole trip made for a weekend we will remember for a loooong time.

Our hotel sat in the center of town. Our city has a very tourist friendly downtown district and made our experience even better. We checked in fairly early to have time to get dressed.



After getting all dolled up for the concert, we took a stroll down the main drag to find a place to eat. We ended up at a favorite eatery where we sat outside to enjoy the awesome weather we had that day.


While sitting there waiting for our food, the girls at the table next to us were talking about the concert.So much excitement coming from that table I couldn’t help but be my nosey self and eavesdrop. It was so much fun to watch them having fun. Then one of them asked my girl if we were going to the concert. They got a good look at her boots and made a likely assumption. Those are some great looking boots. Turns out the girls were out here for a bachelorette party. Making their day even better, they were given backstage passes by Jake Owen’s band members! I think Jake even stopped by himself to say hi. They were all hyped up and couldn’t wait to get to the show.


The girls were enjoying the sun and several beers, glasses of wine, whatever. Before long we were exchanging numbers and they were trying on the girl’s boots.

This is Leslie and Jackie. Leslie is sure my girl will be the perfect mate for her little brother (same age as my girl). This, as the mother, is way too early in life to be making that sort of decision.


This was such fun. My girl had a blast talking these young ladies, swapping numbers, taking pics. She didn’t even finish her meal she was so busy having fun.

The came the concert itself. We got to the arena early, plenty of time to find our seats. Only we sat our bums into the wrong seats and didn’t find out until the original owners of those seats wanted to sit there about 5 mins before the show! We felt a little stupid, having picked the wrong side of the aisle to sit. Turns out, our real seats were more awesome than our mistake seats.


As you see, we got there really early… empty seats and a vacant pit.


Our hearts ratcheted up when the lights went down and the place looked like this.

Opening the show was Thomas Rhett.


Cute dude who can really rock it. He’ll be a headliner one of these days. He only performed for about fifteen minutes, though. Short, but still long enough to play a few tunes we’d heard on the radio. One of his titles is “Beer With Jesus”. A personal favorite, I might say. If Jesus drank wine, why not a good ole beer?


I need to add a disclaimer to these pictures. Cameras with detachable lenses were forbidden inside the arena so I was limited to phone and a point and shoot camera. It wasn’t easy getting that camera to get good shots, but here they are. They weren’t too awful.

Jake Owen was the next headliner. The crowd roared, the music blared and we were swept into it like a tidal wave sweeps sand from the shore. It was wonderful.




My girl describes Jake as a younger Matthew McConaughey with dark hair. The girls went wild for that smile and that hair. Jake wore a Razorback tee-shirt through the whole concert. In Arkansas, that alone will endear him to it citizens. Half way through his performance he had a fan do Woo Pig Sooey – the Pig Call (spelling undetermined). Jake is an Arkansan for life now.




He really played to the crowd. He moved so fast on that catwalk, taking pictures was a real challenge. The girls in the pit had him taking pictures with him on their phones, shaking his hand. He’s signing something here. He was awesome to watch. The energy it takes to perform for an hour and a half like that is something else.


Jake’s band was awesome. His songs are country, but the music has so much rock and roll in it. Some awesome musicians.


We sang along with every hit he sang. It was freaky how many songs I knew. We couldn’t hear each other by the end of this set. Totally deaf. I had to watch out what I said, because I couldn’t even really hear my own speech. Didn’t want to say anything embarrassing.

That is enough for this post. The main attraction to follow…… Jason Aldean!!

Thank you for sharing this slice of heaven today.


Garvan Woodland Gardens


This weekend we enjoyed the beauty that is truly Arkansas. We walked through Garvan Gardens on a glorious spring day.

Before nature, we had to make a stop at the go carts.

This was a whole family affair. Even our ever loving Cooper got to enjoy the scenery.

This place has numerous waterfalls of all sizes.

So picturesque and peaceful.

See what I mean.

Azaleas are in bloom and with them the butterflies.

Just another breathtaking sight. I like the little girl there too.

A young family was good enough to take all our pictures together. I rarely get in the shot, you know.

This just makes me wonder where it will lead. My mind goes off in tangents with sights like this.

Another intriguing view with the same girl. Hmmm. She is just so captivating.

A girl and her dog. How did that get in there?

The boy and his girl. So peaceful in the shadow of those trees.

Even Cooper was pooped. That was a lot of walking for those stubby little legs.

That was how we spent our Saturday in my little piece of heaven. I’d love to hear how you spent yours.


A Little Piece of History


This weekend we made a foray into the past. A few miles from our home is a small community that used to be a huge plantation. The community has preserved the buildings from that plantation in a small park. Saturday they opened the park for a a friendly celebration. I have tried to get to this town for as long as we’ve lived here, but the only time we venture to Scott is during the winter when they are all buttoned up for the season.

Here is the Scott Railroad Station.

This is an old railroad light. I just liked the shape of it.

Every plantation had its own blacksmith for obvious reasons. This is an example of a smithy. I don’t believe the whole methodology is entirely accurate, but it does give us good insight into the craft.

This smithy used coal to make his fire. That is a circular bellows to the left of the table to blow air into the fire.

The vintage anvil is awesome.

And the vintage vice.

This is a corn crib.

I like the vintage clothing too.

I encountered, what I have always considered a mystery to me, sorghum processing. I use sorghum molasses in my bread. It’s origin has always been confusing, even after googling it. Today the shadows are cleared and full understanding emerges. Here is what the plant looks like…

To me, this plant looks like a weed. One of the gentlemen processing it kindly demonstrated the nature of sorghum to me.

He peeled away the sheath to expose the cane beneath. When chewed, the inside is sugar sweet! This is where sorghum originates.

So the cane is cut down …..

…. then processed in a mill. This mill is powered by a team of Belgian horses. The mill crushes the cane to extract the sweet liquid inside.

Cane is fed into the mill on the left. The gentleman in the center monitors the liquid and the crushed waste comes out the right side.

I love this team of mares. This breed is bred for this sort of work.

One of the mares also has foul here…

I just love that the little fellow had free reign of the place as his mama worked.

Sorghum is cooked down in a boiler to make the dark, thick syrup we know as molasses. This is the cooking area.

So plantations made their own sorghum molasses as well as provided their own bee hives for honey. I stand amazed at the self-sufficiency of these large farms. They also provided the workers, this is after the Civil War, with groceries and as-sundries through a commissary.

The interior is no different from any mercantile of the era I’ve had the privilege of touring.

This commissary lived on the Marlsgate plantation. We looked at the ledgers on this desk. Living history. I can’t tell you how it fascinates me.

Even more enthralling to me is the equipment displayed. This large-scale…

… and this old mill to grind wheat into flour, or other grains.

This is only half of what we took in. I am enthralled with all things from the past. This plantation had more on it. This post would be waaaay too long for it all. I’ll post the rest in the next post of the week.

I truly loved vicariously reliving this tiny bit of history. Let me know what fascinating history is in your area of the world.

Thanks for letting me share this little piece of heaven with you.


We Had A Time!


It has been too long since posting here. Of course the time has been packed with activities. This is just a very short few words and couple of stunning pictures to give you some idea of what we have been doing with ourselves these few months.

First of all, the kids and I went down to the coast of Alabama for a very special occasion. Our son got married weekend before last on the beach of Gulf State Park and it was lovely. Just as thrilling as a wedding was the fact that my children have never seen the ocean before. Nor had any of us ever vacationed that close to the beach. On the down side, we had to leave Corvette Man to tend to the animals. Unfortunately for him, he came down with our daughters horrible cold while we were gone. It is terrible to be sick and have to drag yourself out of bed to feed. We missed him all the same. He explained he was best left at home sick than going in that condition, though.

Anyway, on to a few of our favorite pictures…

We got to feel the sand between our toes.

Also with us were my two mom’s. We had a great time visiting.

We also saw some unusual animals… at least as far as we are concerned.

And of course we had to drench ourselves in the salty water of the gulf. The water was warm. The kids discovered a stinging shock when they opened their eyes under the water. Not at all like fresh water or swimming pools.

Then of course, we have the main attraction.

The weather was amazing and pleasant. It was the experience of a lifetime for us all.

We didn’t really want to return from this beautiful piece of heaven. Tell me about your trip this summer. I’d love to hear about it.


The Time of My Life


This weekend we took a short trip to Branson,MO. We consider it a mini-vacation. A writer’s meeting drew me originally. The meeting was a blast, but the main attraction was an experience I will likely never forget. It was truly a blast.

During the meeting, while discussing books and assundry writerly things, my daughter calls to tell me she has a reservation to go on a Zip-line. For those of us unfamiliar with the term, it is a wire strung high above the trees where a person hangs suspended by 20 lbs of climbing gear and rolls along the line at moderate speeds from one tower to another tower. She asks me if I want to do it with her. I say yes, not clear about the whole thing, but expecting an adventure.

It isn’t until after the meeting concludes that I learn the details of our adventure. Not only do we zip between two towers for 1/4 of a mile, but we must jump 100 ft off the final tower. It is the only way down. Gulp.

We are talking about a big ass chicken here. 100 ft is very, very high. I don’t ride roller coasters because I hate that horrible drop off. Well…. when we drive into the parking lot of the place, I see first hand how high 100ft truly is. OH. My. Gosh. From the parking lot it is really high.

Our tour guides for this exciting trip are Jessie and Miles. Two strapping young college men who find this job as the job of a life time. Where else could they have this much fun and make money at the same time? These young men are awesome with their people skills as well. The skill they use to keep us nervous nellies calm is outstanding.

We spend about 20 mins gearing up. Helmet, harness and ropes that keep us suspended safely in mid-air. All of them tightened close to your middle. I felt trussed up like a Thanksgiving turkey. Make sure you go potty before this stage. My daughter made a pit-stop, but her nerves managed to make that a moot break.

They brought us up the mountain in an old military all terrain vehicle. That is some hill too. At the tower from which we zip, we are giving a few basic rules. Don’t unhook yourself from any line at any time. And do not unhook the guides line. Actually no one touch his line. The guides are the only people allowed to touch the lines. Once we stand under that cable and are attached to it you look down that line. It is long and dips in the middle, but I will still be several tens of feet above the ground.

Here comes my little girl.

She’s so calm and collected.

The palms of my hands were soaking wet, but I was surprised that I didn’t freak to badly as I sailed through the air about 30 feet above the ground. I held my breath until I decided to scream for a little relief.

The look on my face in this picture relays the tension and “excitement” of the moment. Can you tell how thrilled I am with all the height? Just enthralled.

This was the easy part. We stood on the 100ft tower until all the others of our party jumped off the platform. All this time my hands and feet are exuding rivers of sweat as well as under arms and other body parts. My insides started vibrating, increasing with each members descent to the ground. It means my turn creeps ever closer. The view from that tower is high. Everything below us is soooo far away.

My little girl takes it all in stride. She doesn’t have a qualm about the jump at all!

Finally, or rather, regretfully my turn arrives. By this time I’m shaking like a leaf. My stomach is fluttery and sweat is pouring from every pore. To make this more urgent, an eminent storm is fast approaching. And I mean we see it raining just a mile away.

Jessie gets me ready to go and I approach the drop off. This rig is used to train paratroopers. A line is attached to the back of your harness and you step off the platform and free fall for 70 feet. It’s the stepping off into nothing that scares the bejeezes out of me. I have this aversion to falling long distances. It doesn’t matter if I know the tether will slow my fall at 30 fit above the ground. It’s that initial falling that just freezes me in my tracks.

I am standing on the edge and Jessie gently tells me to ease forward. I inch my toes to the edge, then I ease them over the edge. I am shaking like a leaf and just want to cry for the frustration of it all. There is only one way off that tower and it is DOWN.

I grab a hold of my harness and every muscle in my body is wound tight. About half way down, out of sheer relief, I let out a scream. I wasn’t falling to my death after all.

I am a stiff going through the air.

Finally the sweet firm earth meets my feet and Miles unhooks me and I can walk on my own. I hug the man, so grateful I am still in one piece and blissfully proud that I really did do what I considered the almost impossible.

Can’t you tell by the look on my face the sheer joy of the experience? It was truly a blast and I would so do it again. I recommend the thrill for all you people who love living on the edge.

This was a huge slice of heaven for my and my baby. I’d love to hear all about your dances on the fringes of the respectable. Leave a comment so we all can hear about.