Travis and I were finally able to make a trip down to Michigan. I only had a few days there but it was enough to meet a lot of family, see a lot of Petoskey, and make a lot wedding plans. Travis took me into the alpaca pen at his parents house and managed to catch me a couple alpacas to pet. They were not pleased but I was thoroughly amused watching my fiance chase around alpacas just for me. Clearly he is a very devoted guy. He also tried to catch his llama, Ted E., for me to meet. I've been told the two were somewhat of a pair of ladies men back in the day. Apparently Ted E. was a regular chick magnet Travis used to his advantage. Sam, Ted E's guard llama was not having any of it that day though. He was spitting mad (pun intended), but missed hitting Travis. It was pretty impressive.
We got to go on a four wheeling adventure and I decided I love Michigan woods. The trees made a sort of tunnel to ride through and when it is foggy, it is just the right amount of creepy that makes you want to read a mystery novel. We stopped at a little lake along the way, and I made Travis stick around until I caught a few frogs to play with. I really think it must be my excessive girliness that made Travis fall for me. We also stopped for blackberry picking on the way back. We ran into Travis' mom and sister there. They picked enough for making a couple of pies. Travis and I mainly just picked ones that we ate immediately.
The two goofiest members of the Howard family that I met on this trip were Helga and Shay. Helga is a bulldog and Shay is a dalmation. They are very entertaining. Helga makes every kind of snort and snuffle you can think of. Constantly. And Shay makes this lip curling smile face. If you didn't know her, you would think she was about to bite. But really she just wants to lick your ears. I think Roxi's kookyness would fit right in. Travis' grandparents (the one's I got to meet when they came for Travis' graduation) even had oreos they stocked up on after I mentioned them at point. They should probably be careful about doing things like that or I'll start hinting before the next trip I make. (I'm a big fan of pretty much anything with peanut butter. Or cheese. But generally not the two together, even I have limits.) I got to meet some of the aunts and uncles one on one when we went out for drinks and dinners. We also had a cookout "on the hill." That appears to be the code name for the area a large chunk of the Howard family lives on. Oddly enough, none of them live on the multiple Howard roads in the area. I also met the set of grandparents I hadn't yet met. We stopped by for a very delicious breakfast before heading to go see our wedding venue and test out cake.
We are getting married at the Perry Hotel. In just over six months time, crazy how fast it goes! This was my first time seeing the place but Travis did a good job picking it out. The hotel has a historic and eclectic feel to it, perfect for us. And I even briefly saw mentions of haunting's in the books in the gift store. I didn't get a chance to read up on it properly but that is on the to-do list. It was a rather productive day, we knocked out food choice and even sampled a bit of Perry food for dinner. We settled on our cake baker and had the chance to try out several flavors of cake as well. Though the final decision on flavors for cake are still in the air.
Though I slept for most of the trip from the airport to the Howard's, I was awake for a crucial moment. We passed a sign for Kilwin's Chocolate with free tours. Before I could even finish drawing in a breath to speak, Travis sighed and said. "Ooooh, I forgot about that....yeah....we'll go on that tour." Chandler and Karly, Travis's younger brother and sister came along for that. Only after Travis teased Karly mercilessly about not being invited. It was very delicious chocolate. A new favorite. (Take notes Travis). Travis also gave his brother some advice. "Never take a women to a chocolate store unless your job pays well."
Travis also had a defining moment where he truly realized I could handle being a Howard. on the hill. Anyway, the story really starts out a few days before I arrived in Michigan. Travis went home a few days early while I was still on the slope. Since he is still part of the fire department there, he happened to go on an interesting fire department call of "Car versus bear." Since I had my own exciting bear encounter, his rather small black bear killed by car lost a lot of its effect. But then after I came to Michigan, we stopped at the store where Travis used to work. The store is owned by one of his best friend's mothers. Also they are neighbors. We were just about to leave when we discovered that car accident bear was actually still being stored in the freezer of the store, back in the beer section. We were warned the bear was slightly creepy as it was headless and skinned at this point, apparently causing it to resemble a small headless, skinnless human. Travis rather casually asked, "Well do you still want to go see the dead bear in the freezer?" To which I replied, "Well...yeah...I really do..." Travis gave me a long look, nodded, and said, "Yup, you will definitely fit into this family."