An Assortment of Wonderful People

Dear Friends and Family,

So the next couple days in the road trip don’t have much of a narrative, and I am mighty tired this week, and saving up my writing energy for the last couple of posts about the road trip. The trip was well and nearing its end by this point; it was the last week of August, and I had decided way back in June that this trip was not going to extend far beyond Labor Day for cost reasons. So for the next few days, I meandered through Michigan and Ohio, spending time with the fam and seeing friends I hadn’t seen in several many years.

First among them (in both proximity and machinist capability) was Ian Shackleford:

Ian and I met way back in 2013, when we lived on the same floor in Bursley Hall at U of M. After leaving Cross Village, he very graciously put me up at his place in Conway, and we had a grand old time boating around, and getting hammered, and shooting the breeze about old friends and times gone by. It was a lovely time catching up, and I am very grateful to have had such good company to stay with πŸ™‚ My head has still not forgiven myself for all the beer we drank, but I consider it dues paid for the plight I put you through back in Empire, Ian πŸ˜‰

I made it home the next day, and the day after that:

I got inked!

But wait! I hear you say: “Evan, since when did you wear size 7 women’s Adidas? I thought you were committed to the size 10 Mens’ Dockers Vargas Boat Shoe Game?” And you are right!

That shoe, and the leg to which it is attached, belongs to my favorite sister πŸ’™ Alexis graduated from high school last year, and as a graduation present, I offered to get matching tattoos of her choosing. We couldn’t find the time in 2022, but we finally had the time now, so we got matching water lily tattoos! It was a supreme amount of fun, and I am beyond happy to share such a cool piece of fashion with the world’s coolest and most fashionable person πŸ™‚ Alexis even got me into the jorts game! Can you imagine a world without me in jorts? That world would be the lesser!

For real though, I have never forgotten her codex that “fashion has no rules,” and that is the only rule by which I style myself today. So thank you Sis, for enabling me to enjoy jorts, and colored jeans, and ostentatious jewelry, and long hair, and pretty much all the things that people identify me with today, and gay little flower shirts, and gay little flower tattoos to weave it all together. I’m so glad this tattoo is something we share together πŸ’™

Newly inked, I dipped south into the land of interminable nothingness I described two posts ago: Ohio. My family is among the lucky few Michiganders unburdened by the instinctual, vitriolic, righteous hatred of Ohio, slithering Philistines that her denizens may be, because I something to actually enjoy about the state:

Aunt Betty!

This is my dear Aunt Betty, sister to my dad and Aunt Jeanie from earlier int he trip, and I was very grateful to spend a couple days with her in Cincinnati. We had a lovely time exploring the city and its waterfront parks, and (because my Aunt Betty is rad as heck) exploring cemeteries.

The Ohio River, looking across to Kentucky, a cemetery of hopes and dreams. Andrew Glenn will back me up on thatΒ Β―\_ (ツ)_/Β―.

I walked across the bridge in the photo to say I did, and in doing so, I realized I had returned to a state bordering Virginia since April 26th, when I left North Carolina. I didn’t think about it at the time, but I sure do think about it now while writing this.

Retreating to Cincinnati waterfront park, too incredulous to weigh the implications of walking across a dang bridge.

Anyways, digressions about time aside, Aunt Betty and me had a grand old time hanging out, swapping stories, doing genealogy research, playing games, and exploring around town. Thank you so much for putting me up Aunt Betty, and come see me soon in Virginia πŸ’™

Both diligently trained in photography by my Mom, we tried to take this photo facing directly into the sun so the light would be better. We failed.

But we tried again, and succeeded, because my Mom taught me that too πŸ™‚

(Just kidding Mom, your photography skills were always on point in every light! I love you, thank you both for keeping up with my blog πŸ’™)

After leaving Cincinnati, I went up to the bronze tier of cities in Ohio starting with the letter “C”: Columbus (hey, you made the podium! That’s good! Think little Port Clinton feels about its ranking!). But luckily, I had a good reason to visit there too:

Nooo not this silly little impoundment of the Scioto River.

This is my dear friend David Streicher, who I also met while living on the same floor in freshman year :). Actually, Ian, David, I, and the soon-to-be-seen mystery guest all lived on the same floor. And not coincidentally, we were all groomsmen to the mystery man’s wedding just two weeks ago!

But anyways, I hadn’t seen David in years, so it was great to catch up and shoot the breeze for a good long time. Thanks again for hanging out with my David, and glad you made it back to Columbus two weekends ago without your car exploding!

After seeing David, I routed back home to Commerce:

The old Commerce Drive-In sign, the only thing really telling you you’re here, if you don’t pay attention to all the roads named “Commerce Road” and the two lakes named “Commerce Lake.”

As always, it was good to be home. I only somewhat remember this, but this picture bears out that I must have, in fact, helped my Dad replace the ice machine on the fridge:

(Love you too Dad, thanks also for continuing to read my blog πŸ’™)

It is, as always, lovely to be home.

I puttered about for a day or two there, and I think I at one point had the idea to photograph and show you all every lake in my township. But who has time to drive around and photograph 15+ lakes? Not me, that’s who I had literally nothing but time but I got bored and so didn’t do it Β―\_ (ツ)_/Β―. I’m pretty sure you all have seen enough lakes anyways πŸ˜‰

But just in case you haven’t:

Union Lake (pronounced “Onion” Lake, if you ask my Dad),

Long Lake,

(Did you know, by the way, that Long is the fourth most common lake name in Michigan? In order, the top four are Mud, Round, Square, and Long. This Long Lake was named after the Long family though, who were some of the earlier settlers of a large swathe of land in Commerce Township up to the lake).

Cooley Lake,

(There is no history with this one, Cooley was just some guy in the area, presumably).

The Fox Lake outlet, part of the Huron River.

This was a supremely high water year, actually the highest water year I can ever remember. This weir usually maintains a 3 to 4′ drop, but there was so much rain that summer the water was overtopping the dam.

And the best lake, the one I grew up on, Commerce Lake (actually North Commerce and South Commerce Lakes, but they’re connected and you can boat between them):

And at long last, there’s the last member of the Bursley Hall Foursome! Dan Vukelich, one of my best friends, and the most recently married πŸ™‚ Thanks again for coming out for a boat day Dan, and congratulations (for the upteenth time, I’m sure πŸ˜‰ ) on your wedding πŸ’™.

Can you believe this guy managed to get gay married before I did? Not that I’m jealous or anything πŸ˜‰

Here are some more photos from my home lakes, illustrating the high water:

In normal years, there is about an 8′ wide strip of beach in front of this house.

This seawall my Dad built is 30″ tall, and the bottom bricks don’t get wet in some years.

This dock is usually 18″ out of the water, let alone 3″ below it. Truly the highest water I have ever seen in my hometown.

Yeah, it was good to be home.

Friends and family, it is with a heavy and weary heart that I inform you there are only two posts left in this rambling, blogging journey. It was August 31st when I took this photo. But there is still one more adventure left in this trip, and with one more gang of friends near and dear to my heart.

And to every friend and family member in this post: thank you all for spending time with me on this roadtrip. I will never stop saying it: the best part of being on this trip has been having people I care about near me, that I can share this wonderful experience with them.

That’s all for now,

Stay well everyone,

Evan πŸ’™