Notes from the road

According to the smartphone, I am 6 hours, 16 minutes on the road away from home. This will be my last entry in Eastern time for a while, maybe ever — you never know. Not being dark, just real. This — Quality Inn in West Branch, Michigan — has become my favorite stop along the way. The moose decor, the clean and quiet rooms, the friendly staff, the great attached restaurant —

It may be time to acknowledge that I love Northern Michigan and Upper Michigan almost as much as I love Wisconsin — the woods, the water, the quiet (The Mackinac Bridge!!!). It is a lovely place to visit; would I want to live here? I don’t know if I’ve been here during peak tourist season or winter, so it’s hard to say. But, this fall morning, after nine hours of sleep, I’m content to be visiting.

Tomorrow (today by the time I rework this into a blog post), I will be back in the daily grind of making community newspapers and helping run a household and finding time to write what I want to write. This has been a 2,000-mile-round-trip road trip sandwiched around a few hours with my sister-in-law and nieces and beloved cousins gathered for my brother’s funeral — and isn’t that a jarring sound, “my brother’s funeral”? I have not made family a top priority since moving to the Midwest 50 (!) years ago, and I always miss these sweet people after spending too-brief visits with them. In that seemingly distant future where I am free of daily grinds (it will likely be sooner than I expect; the future always is), I shall make a trip that involves more than scant hours with each of them — or at least any of them who want me about for a little time. I don’t want to impose.

My companions on the road (Red stayed back to care for the puppy, the hound, and the cat) have been Mark Manson (The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck), David Rosenfelt (Dogtripping and Dachshund Through the Snow), and Agatha Christie (The ABC Murders and Poirot Investigates), with L. Neil Smith (Lever Action) keeping me company during stops. I went through Manson’s book twice — it’s very interesting and is really about how we make choices every day regarding what we give a f*ck about and making sure they’re healthier and wiser choices. I’ve asked the library queue to deliver me the follow-up — Everything is F*cked, A Book About Hope — as soon as possible.

OK, I feel the need to sum up and say something pithy here, but maybe I just did, so let me turn to one or two of the tasks that will bring home some bacon before I depart this lovely spot.

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