After seven crazy nights (not really) it was time to say farewell to our Holland vacation rental. And make our way to the one and only Indiana. For many years, the most memorable tagline (marketing slogan?) for my favorite ‘minor’ state was: ‘there’s more than corn in Indiana.’ Which was surprisingly catchy and incredibly vague at the same time. Whatever it meant, it has stayed with me all these years. Like the Scruff McGruff ‘don’t do drugs’/’take a bite out of crime’ advertisement that was popular in the 80’s or early 90’s. Which has remained deeply ingrained in my mind ever since. (And, it should be said, singlehandedly kept me from a life of drugs and/or crime.)
Scruff, McGruff, Chicago Illinois, 60652. Come to think of it, that was just the address to write to the fictitious crime-fighting dog.
My point escapes me now, but I think it was something about the staying power of unfortunate taglines slash marketing slogans. And how Indiana may have gotten the short end of the tourism-brainstorm stick.
As we prepared to enter our van for yet another stint of driving, the Gort turned to us. ‘How many days until we get to Indiana?’ Poor kid, he measures roadtrips in ‘days’ instead of ‘hours’. Luckily, it was only supposed to be a four or five hour drive. Which we managed to condense into seven or eight.
Because what’s a roadtrip without a stop? Or three?
We went back to the beach-dunes. Because I thought the boys should experience the beach one last time. And because I’d hoped to get one decent picture of the five of us while we were in Michigan and here it was, the very last day of ‘vacation’ and I did not have any pictures of the five of us – good or bad. Of course, revisiting the Saugatuck Dunes State Park meant revisiting the 1.2 mile roundtrip hike. In weather that had not declined in temperature or humidity. And this time we had to carry a tripod.
I have to extend ‘props’ to my gracious husband, who knew I really wanted a family picture and allowed (tolerated) me to drag everyone out to the beach-dunes. But the professor was of the impression that we’d get to the beach-dunes. Set up the tripod. Snap a picture (singular).And be done. He didn’t make any allowances for things like sinking sand. And crazy-bright lighting. And the impossibility of getting five people to look in the same direction. With open eyes. And normal expressions. At the same time.
So it took longer than he expected. And by picture three, everyone was exceedingly cranky about the whole thing. And I was barking commands like ‘smile’ and ‘look like you’re having fun’. Which means we ended up with some sort of smirky family picture, instead of one where we’re gazing lovingly into the camera’s eyes.
After the pictures and the beach, we drove to the orchard that previously denied us (me?) the chance to pick our own fruit. I guess we (I?) wanted another chance to pick our own peaches. Lo and behold the gate was open this time, with a new sign saying ‘U-pick open’. And it was all very exciting, except for the fact that we’d arrived after noon and it was so hot the mere thought of walking around a bunch of peach trees while searching for fruit that was ready to be picked, made me want to stay in the air-conditioned car-van with a very large frappuccino.
But there we were, and it was mostly my idea, so I dragged my already sweaty, red-faced boys out into the obscene summer heat. The professor loaded the oldest two into a little wagon, while Percy and I walked behind. Listening to the Hen cry about not wanting to pick peaches, and the Gort cry about being ‘so’ hot.
It was just like I’d hoped it would be.
The farther we walked, the more scaled-down our peach-picking ambitions became. We set out to fill a bag and by the time we arrived at a tree we told the boys they could each pick two. In the end, we left with about eight peaches, total.
We pulled into my in-laws’ driveway just in time for dinner, having left Holland around 10am. Parents, siblings and cousins came out to greet us. And my niece told me, excitedly, that her mom was expecting another baby. Their fourth. Instead of proffering a conventional ‘congratulations’, I went with the more unconventional ‘is she serious?‘ felicitation.
Driving 4,000 kilometers with three children will rob a person of social courtesies. (Note to self: tell sister-in-law ‘congratulations’.)