Empire, MI. // Another Instagram Meet-up

By Maggie -- Jul 23, 2014

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Once the bridal shower extravaganza was over, we picked up our stuff and headed West towards Michigan. We drove through Canada and started heading North, and that's when things began to feel unsettled and something just wasn't right between us. After 6 or 7 hours of driving we reached a stopping point at a casino in the middle of nowhere, and we totally crashed. Both of us felt exhausted, our stomachs ached, and we felt annoyed with each other for things we couldn't explain. We were going around in circles about why we were upset without any resolution, and it felt like we'd hit a wall.

Of course our weekend in Buffalo was fun and we don't regret spending time with friends there, but sleeping in a stranger's driveway and socializing for 3 days straight was draining (considering most of the time the only socializing we do is with a park ranger or a grocery store clerk). At the Soaring Eagle Casino, we knew we had to sit and talk it out and figure out how to get back to our normal schedule and pace. Not knowing what to look forward to in Michigan, and anticipating nothing but long drives ahead, we felt anxious that we didn't have a concrete plan and hadn't been able to create one while we were in Buffalo. We parked in the huge casino parking lot and stayed put until we felt rested enough to continue driving. We loaded up the car the next morning after a solid night of sleep, and that's when Dan from Malimish Airstream emailed us, letting us know we could stay with him and his family on some farmland up on the Lake Michigan shoreline.

The timing could not have been any better. We had no plans and this gave us a destination to look forward to. We've also been excited to meet Dan and Marlene and their three kids for longer than we've been on this trip. They're sort of like our road idols; they're some of the first people to ditch city living, hit the road full-time and keep a blog about it. I had found them online almost a year ago while searching for full-time airstream and vintage trailer people. The day had come to finally meet them and we couldn't let it pass us by.

Halfway to Lake Michigan we stopped for lunch at a small lake. We both put on our running shoes and went on a jog around the lake to get our endorphins going and clear our heads. We stopped at the end of a street and laid down on the mowed grass to do some sit-ups. Suddenly, we were startled by a honking horn at the stop sign. A man in a huge diesel truck began pumping his arms, the universal signal for weight lifting. We just laughed a little and waved, thinking he was a local crazy old guy just trying to be friendly. Then he got out of his car and ran over to us, crouched down and said "I used to be in shape too, I used to be able to do just what you're doing, but I'm 75 now and it's getting a lot harder. It's great to see you guys out here doing this!". We got up off the ground and shook hands, and he told us about how he was in the army, and now lives nearby on a small farm. He never told us his name and never asked for ours. We talked for 5 minutes and he asked us where we were from. We told him our story, and immediately he took our hands in his, closed his eyes and began to pray. "Please, God, watch over these two people for the rest of their lives," his prayer began. His voice cracked and he became emotional. Once his prayer was over, he left us just as quickly as he came. It was surreal and we still don't know what to make of it.

The farmhouse that we were headed to belonged to an awesome couple, Emily and Ian, who own an airstream, and coincidentally have been following our Instagram feed from very early on. Currently they are wedding photographers with their own company and it keeps them incredibly busy. They specialize in "pop-up weddings", which are small weddings (10-15 people) that they plan and photograph for a flat fee. Before settling down in Northern Michigan, they bought an airstream and toured the country for 5 months hosting pop-up weddings. After that trip, they purchased an old farmhouse built in 1896 for $60k. It sits on a 3-acre property surrounded by tall trees, lush meadows with wildflowers, apple and cherry trees and rolling hills. It's sort of like heaven. They're sort of ridiculously awesome.

Just as it was in Virginia with the Kreugers, we felt all warm and fuzzy as soon as we rolled onto the woodsy property. Emily was kind and welcoming, Ian was hilarious, Dan and Marlene were sweet as can be, and the kids were adorable and fun to be around. We cooked a potluck dinner and stayed up until midnight drinking rum and talking about everything under the starry sky. We learned a lot from them about life on the road, how they manage with work and family, and what to expect when we come back to Los Angeles and the adventure is over.

Crossing paths with Malimish and Emily and Ian was something that happened to us for a reason. It revived us and reminded us that it's OK to feel angry, bummed out and tired when you're supposed to be having this wonderful Grand Adventure. Looking back on the last couple of days, we know we needed to have that meltdown to get us back on our feet again. It had been exactly 90 days of full-time road travel. At the pace we're going it was just a matter of time before it happened and it was good for us to get to that point of saying "what the hell are we doing?" to get our priorities back in sight. Of course we're not going to stop. We've come this far, how could we give up now?

The good news is, we're back on the road and back to our routine. Our stomachs are feeling great, our spirits are high and we've got a lot of good times ahead of us. All aboard the Kaplandia train once again!