GRANDCHILDREN -- OUR FIFTH GENERATION

In July of 1985 Marie Adkins and I took a trip to Michigan with Kevin Bookless, 17, and David Baird, 16. Our plan was to camp near Mackinac Island and take day trips from our camp grounds, which was located at St. Ignace, Michigan. This was an attempt to get these boys to know each other better. A mutual friend of ours, Shirley Scholl, came to my house the day before we were to leave and brought her camping equipment for us to use since we had none. Such excitement and anticipation we had when the three adults did most of the work and the two boys never showed up to work.

St. Ignace, with a population of around 2,600, is steeped in Indian history. The town was founded in 1671 when Father Jacques Marquette established a mission. A fortress was built shortly thereafter. Later, the garrison moved to Detroit and St. Ignace's military importance became a thing of the past; by 1706 so was the mission. It is the gateway to the Upper Peninsula. This little town is on the north side of the Mackinac Bridge and at night, we could see the lights on the Bridge close to our campground.

One of the highlights of the trip up to Michigan was crossing the Mackinac Bridge. The Mackinac Bridge connects the Lower Peninsula at Mackinaw City to the Upper Peninsula at St. Ignace. Known as the "Mighty Mac," the five mile bridge is one of the longest suspension spans in the world. Its opening in 1957 unified the two sections of the state and eliminated such nightmares as twenty-three mile lines of cars awaiting ferry passage across the straits. There were signs for at least 100 miles before we arrived at the Bridge saying "Mackinac Bridge." I was driving when we crossed the bridge and Kevin took pictures out the window.

We took food to prepare meals and two cots that Marie and I slept on in the tent. We removed the back seat of my mini-van to accommodate all our equipment and luggage. Then when we arrived at the camp ground we removed the middle seat so that the boys would have a place to sleep in the van.

We had taken bacon, eggs and an electric skillet to plug in so that we could fix our breakfast at the camp ground. We usually ate one meal a day at the restaurant in St. Ignace. There was a little squirrel that kept getting in our stuff. David thought he was so cute. We had to put everything in the van at night to keep the squirrel out.

The very first morning at breakfast David set the hot skillet down over the bread wrapper and the plastic melted to the bottom of the skillet. The plastic is still there to this day. This skillet is still in use as I donated it to our church to use at food stands.

Kevin and David went sand sculpting on the beach of Lake Huron at our camp site. The water in Lake Huron was so cold that Marie and I managed to brave putting our feet in up to our knees and then hurriedly ran to shore. However, the boys wanted to prove to us that they could go swimming in Lake Huron. They wouldn't admit how cold the water really was.

One of the side trips we took was to Sault St. Marie, Ontario, Canada. This is where we crossed the International Bridge into Canada from the United States. Marie had never been out of the United States and this was a thrill for her. This day we visited my sister who lived in the Canadian city. My brother-in-law, Clare, worked at the Algoma Steel Company which employs many people from the Soo. We spent the day with them and had dinner with them. His sister from Toronto was visiting and we spent the afternoon playing scrabble. However, the boys did not play with us. Clare took them on a tour of the city.

We visited Castle Rock, an ancient lookout of the Algonquin Indians one day.

Another day we boarded a ferry to Mackinac Island (pronounced Mackinaw). The Indians called it Michilimackinac, or "Great Turtle." The island is three miles long and two miles wide, with high cliffs fronting the shore. It can be reached by boat from either St. Ignace or Mackinaw City. No motorized vehicles are permitted, except for a public utility truck, a fire truck and an ambulance. For this reason, State Route 185, which rims the island, is possibly the only state highway in the nation on which a motor vehicle accident has never occurred. Bicycles may be brought over on the ferry, or rented on the island. Most people know that there are no vehicles allowed on the island except horse drawn and bicycles.

Marie and I just did a lot of walking to the points of interest on the Island and we let the boys go their own way and told them we would meet them at a certain time. One of the points of interest was the Governor's mansion.

On the way home the boys took turns driving. When it was David's turn and I sat in the front seat with him and watched the speedometer increase. After several warnings I told David if he did not slow down he could quit driving. So, when we stopped to eat I said, "Hand me the keys." and from then on I drove for awhile. Kevin was noncommital sleeping most of the time in the rear seat. After a few hundred miles he woke up and said, "When is the next rest stop?" We kept watching and watching but nothing indicated any rest stop near. Finally Kevin said, "If we don't stop soon, I'm hanging it out the window."

Kelly Bookless (Fender), Linda's daughter, was five when she and I flew to California for a visit. When we changed planes in St. Louis we barely had enough time to get to our gate leaving for San Diego. The pilot had warned us before landing that we were late. When we saw the length of the line I asked for help from one of the airline employees. He told me to go around to the gate and they would let us on. I kept reassuring Kelly that if we missed the plane we would just take a later flight. However, I noticed how nervous she was. She never cried but was worried that we would miss our plane. We ran. We made it. I have a picture of Kelly picking an orange off one of the trees in my sister's orange grove at Fallbrook. I also have a picture of her taking a bath in the long, large bath tub which was flush with the floor of the bathroom. It was long enough that she could swim in it!

Kyle and Kurt used to come for weekends to stay over night. We popped popcorn and watched television. They liked to sleep in their sleeping bags, which they brought along. Their favorite breakfast was Grandma's pancakes (the recipe was Bisquick). However, I did make my own homemade syrup of brown sugar, water, and maple flavoring. Sometimes to make it thicker, I would add dark or light Karo syrup.

Steven and Matthew wanted Bibles for Christmas in 1996 which I supplied. They both sent me thank you notes. They have been taught to send thank you notes after any event in which they should show their gratitude - an act worth noting in today's society.

Andrea was only a few weeks old when her parents, Kevin, Paul and I drove to California to visit my parents and sister in Tim and Pat's station wagon. I had two weeks vacation from my job and in order to have more time to visit after we got there we had to drive 2400 miles in four days. Each morning Tim would wake us like a drill sergeant to get up and get going. We would usually drive an hour or so before we would stop for breakfast Our goal was to drive 600 miles each day. The passenger who stood the trip best of all was Andrea. She slept and ate most of the trip. Each night when we would stop we always selected a motel where there was a swimming pool. The only ones ready for the swim was six-year old Kevin and me. After a long hot drive even though it was usually 8:30 or 9 p.m. a good swim felt good. My father had rented us a motel in Laguna Hills and there was a swimming pool at the motel. Kevin and I swam there, also.