Monday, June 23, 2014

California to Chicago and Michigan by Rail - Sturgis, Michigan

Sturgis Day 1
I was born in Lansing, Michigan and moved to California when I was ten years old so I am more Californian than Michigander, but my parents were both born in Sturgis Michigan so most of my relatives are there.  Today we are going to visit a couple of my cousins and drive around Sturgis and the surrounding area.  Judy picked us up around 10:00 and our first stop was to visit the farm started by my great grandfather many years ago and is still in the family.  Although they no longer farm it themselves, my cousin Mark has his cement business located on it and there is a barn over a hundred years old that Mark’s wife Kelly has renovated and made available for special events.  

After visiting with Mark we drove into Sturgis and visited Kelly’s store "So Vintage" and talked to her for a while.  Then it was off to my cousin Cheryl’s home for lunch with her and her husband Chuck.  They have a small farm which Chuck farms.  We had a great lunch and good conversation and then we were off to continue our tour.  There are many Amish farms in the area and we stopped at an Amish store which was interesting.  By late afternoon we had finished our tour and Judy dropped us off at the hotel to get cleaned up for dinner.   

 Judy is taking us to a place called Cowboy Up which is a restaurant / bar / line dancing place that is very popular in the area.  To be honest, line dancing is the last thing I wanted to do, but Judy loves to dance and wanted us to see the place and do a little dancing herself.  We met Cheryl and Chuck there and had dinner and the then the four of us watched Judy dance.  It was interesting and we had a good time, but definitely not my cup of tea.  After that it was back to the hotel to call it a night.  My brother and his family who were flying into Chicago would be arriving in Sturgis late, and we would be seeing them in the morning before the big cousins reunion.

Sturgis Day 2
Today is the day of the cousin’s reunion.  We went down to breakfast and my brother and his family were already there, as were Judy’s children Joe and Ann Marie and their families.  We chatted for a while and then it was time to get cleaned up and leave for the reunion.  Judy had reserved a large table for 28 at the Sturgis Civic Auditorium where they have a breakfast / brunch / lunch buffet every Sunday.  Besides all of my cousins from my mother’s side, there were some family friends there also.  I hadn’t seen most of them in quite a while so we had a great time getting reacquainted and catching up on what was happening in our lives.  We lingered for most of the afternoon, but finally we had to leave and we said our goodbyes to everyone.  Since we moved to California when I was only ten years old I haven’t seen most of my relatives for a long time, and don’t visit very often, but this gathering made me realize that I have to make more of an effort to stay in contact and visit more often.  We had a great time; it was a really special day.  Thanks Judy for setting it up and generously paying for everything.  Here are a few group pictures from the reunion.

All of my cousins on my mother's side with Aunt Judy in the middle in front.
My cousins with their spouses and some of their children.

Back row from the left: my brother Doug, his wife Janis, me, Val, Barb and Scott.  My parents had been friends with Scott's parents since high school so we have known him all of our lives.  The front row from the left are my brother's daughters Becky and Mandy.

Judy drove us back to the hotel where we rested a while and then we all went out to visit my Uncle Bob who is my dad’s brother.  My cousin Jim and his wife Theresa were also there so we had a good time catching up on everything.  All too soon it was time to go as we were leaving for Mackinac Island in the morning and wanted to get an early start.  The end of a wonderful day.

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