We are off! With 3 nights under our belt we already are feeling the new routine settling in.
We spent 2 nights boondocking at Robinette's Orchard and Winery in Grand Rapids, MI and one night boondocking at Chuck and Anitra's in Houghton Lake, MI. We weren't planning to spend a night in Houghton Lake but the opportunity presented itself to leave GR a day early so we took it... we are so glad we did!
Robinette's was so nice! Paul had seen their location advertised on Harvest Hosts, a website where farms, wineries, orchards, etc. can be listed as allowing RV's to boondock for free while just requesting that the RVers simply patronize them in some way. Paul and I went wine tasting and the kids had ice cream. While we were there we got a bunch of errands done and we also had lunch with Zander's oldest sister and her husband. The lot where we parked was much quieter than we expected and the kids enjoyed taking the dog for walks in the orchard.
Sunday morning we went to church at Ada Bible one last time. For the U.S. portion of our trip we plan to attend church with whomever we are visiting and then midweek we plan to watch Sunday's sermon from Ada Bible so we can keep getting transformational teaching no matter where we attend.
We left Sunday afternoon for Houghton Lake and used a website called Boondockers Welcome where RV owners list their property as a location where RVers can spend a night for free. Enter Chuck and Anitra. They are avid travelers in their own 40' motorhome but when they are home they welcome boondockers to spend the night in their driveway.
It was a though we had come home! Anitra made us some tasty baked good and invited us in to chat after the kids were in bed. We had a lovely evening talking and laughing together. There were shared stories about our 8 children combined (theirs were grown with kids of their own), our RV adventures, mistakes made along the way and our religious backgrounds...all of which were very close to the same! Anitra, a musician and retired schoolteacher also offered to give the kids a music lesson about stringed instruments after the rest of their school work was done the next morning!
The kid's whipped through their chores and schoolwork with the motivation of spending time with "Grandma Anitra" who had spent time the previous day admiring and encouraging their chalk art in the driveway. She talked to them all about different string instruments and not only did they get to hear her play the acoustic violin, electric violin and piano but they each got to play them as well! We enjoyed listening to her play classical, country, bluegrass and jazz.
Grandma Anitra also had a 42 year old fern in her backyard that she had written a children's book about (and her sister illustrated). She told the kids all about the fern and read them the story of the frogs that live in the fern. So fun!
As we went to head back out to the RV I was mentioning that we were going to have an early lunch. Anitra asked if the kids could come out to the woods behind the house for a exploring walk with her so I could prepare lunch in peace. What a blessing to be with someone who understands that it's the little things that make life easier! Lunch was ready when they came tramping back with ferns on their heads and big grins on their faces!
Paul worked all morning and then had some good "RV stuff" chats with Chuck. Pushing off again after lunch wasn't easy as we were all having such a great time!
This was our first time using the Boondockers Welcome website and we found out that we were the first boondockers to stay at Chuck & Anitra's place in the 3 years they had been listed since they are usually gone traveling as well!! What a blessing Chuck and Anitra were to us!
As I write this afternoon, we are on the road again through the rain to Mackinaw City, MI. Paul is munching an apple as he drives, Zander is napping in his bunk, the kids are happily playing their ipads (so Mommy could get some uninterrupted blogging time) and the dog is asleep under a blanket on the couch. I love this life already. What will the next few days bring???