Well, it has been about 1.5 weeks since I last saw Dani and the same amount of time since we last spoke. That’s right folks, after roughly 11 years seeing or speaking to one another nearly every day, we’re taking a temporary vow of silence. For those of you wondering what’s up, everything is fine! We’ve decided to go old school and write each other letters instead. It hasn’t been easy. I find myself wanting to share all the fun things that have happened since I got back to Michigan on the 1st and want to know how she’s been up to as well! I miss her a ton, but I know absence makes the heart grow fonder.

I’ve had a great time catching up with friends and family since my arrival 2 Saturdays ago. I’ve also lost another 5+ pounds on my 90-day body challenge (end goal of losing 35lbs) and put on about a half pound of beard. Check out my personal Instagram here if you’d like to monitor my progress for both! I’ve run almost every day, eaten mostly slow carb (modified Atkins), and done various workouts with family and friends as well to keep me on track with my weight loss. However, if you’re trying to lose weight I’d highly recommend committing to posting status every day for the time period you choose. Nothing like public accountability to keep you on track!

Ess Lake, Michigan

Separate from the diet and normal work stuff, I have had a wonderful time with family. Last Thursday, my brother Kenny and I headed up north to our aunt and uncle’s cottage on Ess Lake to visit with them as well as another aunt, uncle and cousins. It was a typical northern Michigan summer routine… tubing on the lake, laying out in the sun, swimming, soccer, frisbee and board games. It was an exhausting day!

The next morning we all caravaned to the west side of the state for the start of the big family reunion in Manistee. Aunt Brenda hosted us at her place for a Mexican fiesta and we enjoyed catching up with cousins, pontoon boat rides, and cornhole! Later on, we headed over to cousin Jim’s (after getting lost momentarily), where we sat around the fire pit playing telephone and chatting. We finished off the night with ‘May the lord bless you and keep you’ sung by my mom, aunties, uncles and yours truly (it was a hit!). Then Kenny, Angela, and I headed over to our hotel to rest up before the official reunion on Saturday.

In the morning the three of us met up with Justin, Amanda and their dog Bullet, and caravaned over to Jim’s again. We got there late morning, just in time for a turn on the 4-wheelers. It was my first time on one, but I had a blast! Cousin Dave lead the pack through 30+ acres of Jim’s property and then onto 2-tracks out in the Manistee National Forest. Got a bit dusty and muddy, but I was able to rectify that problem later when we went swimming in the mighty Manistee river. Jim is a soon-to-be-retired army colonel, which meant he had lots of fun guns for us to all shoot! I took a turn with the AK47, what an awesome piece of machinery.

Later in the afternoon, we all sat down to eat the potluck dinner. I cheated on my diet with some tasty brookies (half brownie, half cookie) as well as pie and other various snacks. Post lunch/dinner digestive activities included lounging on a huge inflatable raft Justin had brought, rescuing my dog nephew bullet from the river’s current, more soccer juggling practice with the cousins and another spin on the ATVs.

Laying by the Manistee River

As the day wound down we all resumed our positions around the fire. Ken, Angela, Justin, Amanda, the Carlston girls and I left a little early so that we could spend some time swimming in the pool at our hotel before heading off to another deep sleep. Sunday morning we met up with the same Ess Lake crowd for a final breakfast before heading on our separate ways, which leads me to my current location, Petoskey Michigan! I’m glad I get to experience this amazing place again, this time during the summer. Looking forward to hiking with friends tonight, ultimate frisbee tomorrow and maybe something else fun on Wednesday before I return to Southeast Michigan on Thursday.

All distractions aside, I can’t help but think of Dani often and how fun it would be to experience these things with her. Every familiar place reminds me of her, especially up north… A drive past the Perry Hotel where we got married, running the path along the beach at Harbor Cove, drinking coffee and snacking downtown, it’s not quite the same without my travel buddy and partner in crime. I can’t wait to see her in a couple more weeks! In the meantime I’m thrilled to be back in Michigan and spending real quality time with my peeps.

Until next time, thanks as always for reading and commenting. You rock!

– Ryan