The July 4th 2015 Road Trip to Michigan Extravaganza

The Ipes excited for our latest road trip to Michigan.

The Ipes excited for our latest road trip to Michigan.

We recently finished a nearly 1500 mile road trip to Michigan. Yah, haven’t done that since January 2014 MLK weekend. This time, we planned out the trip in more detail, and friends Doug & Kathy would also fly out to be there that weekend.

The big issue for us was how to get there and back logistically. Oh, we knew we had to drive — too expensive to fly four people round trip. The question was Josh had Cub Scout Camp that week, Lily had camp activities, July 4th was happening that Saturday, and we had to get back to work on Monday. It’s pretty much an all day 670-mile drive one way, so how do you make it work without killing ourselves in the process?

In the end, we decided to drive out Thursday night after work and all camp activities. We had paid through Fri 7/3 for Josh’s Cub Scout camp, but oh well. No way we could drive out at 3 pm Fri, arrive early Saturday, and leave Sunday morning again. No way. The plan was:

  1. We would pack Wed night.
  2. As soon as camp was over Thursday, we would drive the fully packed car to pick him up, and get on the road.
  3. Stay overnight at the Holiday Inn in Donegal, Pennsylvania.
  4. Arrive in Michigan Friday around lunch.
  5. Hang out and watch fireworks Saturday.
  6. Leave Sunday.

Yeah, that didn’t happen exactly to plan, but that’s okay. You gotta roll with it, sometimes.


We never got to finish packing Wednesday night. As soon as I got home, we continued to pack. I picked up Josh from camp and came back. We loaded up the car. We had to stop by Pearle to pick up Josh’s new eyeglasses since apparently they were ready. Nums took the car for a last-minute oil change, but why was the oil maintenance light still on after the oil change?

We got on the road officially by 6:30 pm. A far cry from 4 pm, but that’s life sometimes. We just had to make it up on the road. I had mapped out a route to a Holiday Inn in Donegal PA (4.5 hours and midpoint) but who knew if we could make it there that evening? As of that morning, they still had room, so we had to try. We didn’t hit traffic at all, and I made some seriously good time along the 300+ mile journey. We stopped for a quick bite at a service area.

Unfortunately, the hotel no longer had room by 11 pm. I kept driving, and Namita kept searching for hotels. Eventually we found another Holiday Inn hotel in Monroeville PA just outside of Pittsburgh with two queen beds and free breakfast. We arrive just after midnight, checked in, unpacked just enough to fall asleep on the beds.


Friday morning, we had breakfast in the hotel, freshened up, repacked the luggage, loaded up the car, got some gas, and picked up some cold medication for me. Did I mention I was hacking up a lung? Never a full moment. It was a bright beautiful day, 10 am, and we were soon past Pittsburgh, and eventually entering Ohio. We stopped for lunch on the way, and finally arrived in Michigan and Paul & Biji’s house around 3 pm. A little later than planned, but good to be there.

Playing freeze tag with the kids on a beautiful Friday afternoon.

Playing freeze tag with the kids on a beautiful Friday afternoon.

We all spent Friday lounging around there house eating, drinking, and lighting fireworks on the street. I haven’t seen people do that since living in my old home town of Congers. Afterwards, we drove over to our friend Sean’s house, as his family would be hosting us for the weekend.


Pool time with Josh, Lily, and Daniel.

Pool time with Josh, Lily, and Daniel.

On Saturday morning, we were up and ready for the day. Sean’s mother made us a traditional South Indian breakfast of appam and chicken curry (delicious), and eventually on our way to Paul & Biji’s house once again. We had lunch from Jimmy John’s, then got ready for the pool. I ended up hanging out with the three kids (Josh, Lily, Daniel), and we just played a lot in the water. Paul’s sister Paula nd her husband and kids were in the pool for a bit, but they were doing their own thing.

Afterwards, we went back to the Jacob’s house to shower and freshen up, then we went to see the fireworks at their church. Quite a show, I must say. We plunked ourselves on the lawn, and watched their fireworks show from a very close range.

After the fireworks show, we all grabbed a late dinner at a local Chili’s before they closed. We said our farewells and then drove to Sean’s house one last time.


Lunch at Kings Family Restaurant in Pennsylvania

Lunch at Kings Family Restaurant in Pennsylvania

We were up early Sunday morning, dressed, packed, and ready to go. We hit the road around 8:15 AM, had breakfast at a local Panera, watched a deer walk around the neighborhood, and finally got on the way home around 9 AM. The drive home went mostly smooth, with some accident-related traffic along the way in Pennsylvania. Nums and I took turns driving every few hours, and we stopped every 2-3 hours for stretch and snack breaks. In contrast to the drive on Thursday & Friday, there were many speed traps set up all along the Ohio Turnpike. Luckily, we didn’t get busted once. A bit past lunch time, we made a pit stop just outside Pittsburgh again to grab a quick bite at a family restaurant. We eventually got home around 7 PM, safe and sound.

While the kids had a simple dinner, Nums and I went to get some chicken biryani to celebrate being home after a long day of driving.

So, was it worth it? Yes, I think so. It’s important to see your friends, to be there for the laughs and the in-person talks, even if you have to drive a long way to get there. I wish we could have spent more time, but everyone flights to catch, work on Monday, and driving to do the next day.

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