food, farming, friends and family: a meditation on chosen simplicity and (in)voluntary complications – life.

Retirement Continued: Trying on the Mitten

There’s nothing like a road trip to remind you what a vast country the United States truly is (a vast country that seems to be 99.9% covered in snow in early March).  After moving out of our Bellingham abode (complete with a really sweet send-off from friends and neighbors) and spending a few days at Cloudview to get Neil a bit more moved in, he and I drove from Royal City, Washington to Chelsea Michigan – 2,145 miles, give or take – and we did it in just 3 days!

When it looked like some heavy winter weather might be gaining on us and when some frigid night-time temps forced us to get a hotel in Minnesota (the night before we spent a pretty comfortable night on a platform Neil built for the bed of my truck), we decided CHELSEA OR BUST!

Even though it was a (relatively) quick drive, we still made sure to take in some of the highlights of the middle stretch of the US: things like flocks of wild turkeys, beautiful farmland, hot drinks at a sweet cafe in Sundance Wyoming (where the barista, after seeing my license plate, told me that she grew up in Coupeville Washington of all places!) and a CHEESE shop in Wisconsin (of course) that supplied us with the cheese that would fuel the last bit of our drive and the beer that would reward us once we arrived at my mom’s door.  All of it local and delicious!

The road trip had a beautiful symmetry to it; 4 and a half years ago, Neil and I made the trip across the country after our year at EarthCorps.  Unlike his last visit (a time when I was pretty anxious about an upcoming 3 months in Japan), I was determined to be a better host and give Neil a good look at what my little slice of the MItten has to offer.  A week of long walks, local brewpubs, Indian restaurants, museums, cooking, parks, tours of both Tantre Farm and the Jiffy Mix factory (a mom and pop business started in my hometown) and lots of time spent with my nutty family brought to a close the month-and-a-half long celebration that has been our shared retirement.  And following what was certainly the hardest airport send-off of my life, we’re starting in on some pretty exciting seasons this year.  Of course none of it is that easy or seamless (otherwise my brain wouldn’t be in the total whirlwind it’s in right now), but it is truly a new adventure.

love from Michigan,


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