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June 28, 2002
Riverview part two (Gail)

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On the "Oh look that's my elementary school" tour

After my last letter you must think that we had an absolutely awful time in Riverview. True, it was not the highlight of the year but still we did enjoy ourselves. The best part of the trip was to see our daughter Colleen. She still lives here (we are working on that) and it was a joy just to spend time with her. She adores her brothers and they adore her. Colleen managed to have three days off so we scheduled to stay in the downriver area for just that many days.

When we planned this trip we knew we wanted to show the boys their own country right along with the rest of the world. Our stop in Washington, D.C. showed them the monuments and gave them some of the history of this country. It showed them that our country is just as beautiful as others, our museums as wonderful and our people just as friendly. D.C. was clean, convenient and exciting.

There are not many exciting tourist sites in the downriver area so I wasn't sure what we would do in my hometown. In keeping with our habits of the past year we would just live like locals for a few days. But there were a few things that were very important to me for us to do. Showing my sons where I grew up was the highest priority and I subjected them to the "Oh look that's my elementary school" tour. They took it all with good graces and tolerated my stories. It got even worse for them with "Oh look that's where Grandma went to high school. Great Grandpa helped build that school". Our roots go deep in this area.

No trip to Riverview would be complete without a visit to Bob Jo's (or as Joss saw it, "Bob Joss"). This is a summer ritual in the area and we made the stop on our first night. Bob Jo's serves frozen custard, like ice cream but higher in butterfat. It didn't matter that it was 9:45 pm (they close at 10) and that it was by now pouring rain, I had to have my frozen custard. So we stood in the long outdoor line in the rain, while people stared at Russell. Once we ordered and had our cones we stood alongside the building out of the rain rather than risk running through the rain to the car. Every car in the parking lot had families in them happily enjoying their Bob Jo's. Cameron and Joss couldn't finish the small cones they got so I made the sacrifice and ate theirs and mine too (perhaps Bob Jo's is the reason for so many overweight people here, hmmm).

We started out on the second day with a visit to Colleen's apartment and pool. The boys had a lot of fun but the bottom of the pool is rough and tore up their feet; we never used her pool again, settling for the indoor one at the hotel. Colleen took the boys to a local park and let them play at the play structure while Russell and I went to a movie. This is the first time we have been without the boys in months, the third time in a year. About twenty minutes into the movie I realized we were alone, that the boys weren't sitting quietly next to us. Colleen was amazed at her brothers' restraint, they ordered milk with their dinner and when turned loose in a candy/snack store and told to get anything they wanted they chose one small package of Starburst candy to split, a cranberry juice and a lemonade. "No chips, no pop?" "Nope just this, it's all we need."

We went out to dinner at the Southgate Grill along the waterfront of the Detroit River. From here you can see Canada. We have traveled along so many of the world's beautiful rivers this past year and have enjoyed them all. Here there was no lovely walkway, no swans, no beautiful bridge to photograph. But we did see a hard-working muskrat swimming along. The Detroit River is a working river a link between the Atlantic Ocean and the three larger Great Lakes, Huron, Superior and Michigan. You can watch the big freighters going up and down the river all year long. Our meal was very good, made even better by the company we had. We invited Colleen and her friend Brian to join us and we had a great time. Brian is a firefighter in the city of Detroit. Colleen and I got the giggles and couldn't look at each other for a while. That's normal for us whenever we get together; we bring out the weird in each other.

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A mother and daughter fight the giggles

The following morning we went to visit my "Aunt and Uncle". They are long time friends of my parents and have known me since before I was born. I could not imagine visiting Riverview without visiting them. Aunt Donna's first words when she saw the boys were "They aren't babies anymore". In typical style they stuffed us full of wonderful meats, cheeses and fruits. We enjoyed recounting some of our adventures. The boys showed off their pins and Joss shared his Euro collection so Uncle Joe showed off his coins. In all, it was a very wonderful if all-too-brief visit.

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Uncle Joe and Aunt Donna admire the boys' collections of pins from around the world

We all went by my elementary school, wandered the woods behind it and let the boys have a little playtime on the playground. We then stopped by my childhood home. No one answered when I knocked but we went ahead and took some photos anyway. It is certainly much smaller than I remember. I can't believe seven people fit in there. We also visited the cemetery, I made sure my Grandfather had a flag (he's a WWI veteran) and found all the members of our family buried there.

Like on the rest of the trip we wanted to sample the local cuisine. We really couldn't find anything American so we had wonderful sushi at Black Pine Tree (okay it's not local but it was amazingly good). This restaurant just recently opened and it is the first Japanese/sushi restaurant in the downriver area (Taylor). The three adults managed to eat more sushi in one meal that this place probably sells in an entire night. Cameron and Joss both had Japanese food for the first time they can remember. Joss really liked the miso soup. He couldn't finish his teriyaki but said it was so good he wanted the leftovers packed up. I am very proud of the way they are willing to try new things. Another night we took a chance and stopped at a Chinese restaurant, Wing Wah. After all we had had good luck all around the world with Chinese food, even in Wales and Venice. This was horrible and I apologized to Russell throughout the meal. The "chow mien" was most certainly from a can. It did not have any noodles but lots of bean sprouts. We were supposed to put it over the canned crisp noodles. The waitress was a young blond with lots of purple eye shadow and black eyeliner circling her eyes. She was fairly indifferent in her service. All in all it was a rather pitiful meal.

I went out to breakfast at Millie's down the road from our hotel and was amazed at the menu selections: six pancakes, four pancakes, eight different omelets, eggs, hash browns, eggs, biscuits and gravy, eggs and more. I really wanted yogurt and fruit and had to search out the fresh fruit. I guess I am very accustomed to the breakfasts we have been eating. I miss Alpine cereal (I knew I would).

One thing that we didn't do was go to the Freedom Festival. This is a joint USA and Canadian fest that has an amazing fireworks display. They were canceled once due to the weather and our plans just never really solidified enough to commit. We did watch them that evening on TV. They were wonderful (but with more country western music than I have heard in months). Watching them I realized just how happy I am that we are home for this holiday. We have missed so much this past year it is nice to be part of this unique American holiday right along with every other American.

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Watching the Freedom Festival fireworks on television


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