Michigan or Bust!

Today’s post comes to us from Steve.

I have always had a strong sense of place. Born in Iowa, I grew up regarding Minnesota as my natural home. I left Iowa in 1960, and for 54 years I was proud to call myself a Minnesotan. Then in 2014 I sold my pink bungalow and moved to Portland, Oregon, driving 1,745 miles in two ferocious days. The main reason for changing my life so dramatically was a desire to be closer to my daughter and grandson. On Trail Baboon “Saint Paul Steve” became “Happy Valley Steve.” I settled into an apartment near the top of a small mountain. In view of my age, I was sure I’d never set foot outside of Oregon. Indeed, because of my physical limitations, I have not often set foot outside my apartment in three years.

Guess what? In June I will travel 2,400 miles to set up a new home in Michigan. “Happy Valley Steve” will become “Port Huron Steve,” or something like that. I’ll get a Michigan driving license and slap Michigan plates on my old Subaru.

Why make such a dramatic move when I only got to Oregon three summers ago? My son-in-law has accepted a job in Port Huron, the town he grew up in and where his mother and brother still reside. He, my daughter and my grandson returned to his childhood home for Christmas a few weeks ago. That home, built in the 19th century, is parked right on the edge of the Saint Clair River. The photos with this article were taken of that on their visit. My son-in-law came back to Portland convinced he really belonged in the Midwest, and that he should do something to make a return to Port Huron possible.

And me? How is it that I’m moving back to the Midwest? I’m like a gimpy old dog that my family rescued from a canine shelter. Having adopted me, they cannot abandon me now. I should start rooting for Michigan athletic teams, for they routinely kick the butts of Minnesota teams. In any fight between a gopher and a wolverine, my money is on the wolverine! But my heart still hopes the gopher will prevail. Hey, you Gophers, Ski-U-Mah! Whatever the hell that means.

I hope the upcoming move will be less wrenching than the one I’ve done. It would be even nicer if I feel more at home in Port Huron than I have in Portland. Oregon is astonishingly beautiful, at least in places, and Portland is a fascinating city. It is only slightly less quirky than “Portlandia” suggests. I expected to feel at home with Portland’s progressive politics, but each day I spend here offers fresh proof that I am a Minnesotan and always will be. I have found Portland to be like a gorgeous girlfriend who chain smokes and makes a toxic mess of her personal finances. She’s irresistible, yet it is hard to believe things will end well for her. And whenever I drive through Portland a little voice whispers, “This isn’t home, is it? We don’t belong here.”

My daughter knew it would not be easy to tell my grandson, Liam, about the move. Ever since he was a toddler, Liam (now seven) has struggled with “transitions.” Now he faces losing all his friends and leaving his wonderful Montessori school to start up life again in a strange land where nobody knows him. Liam raised some concerns, which his mother attempted to address. Then Liam said, “But Grampy, Mom . . . what about him? I can’t leave Grampy behind!” My daughter said, “Oh, no Liam! We’d never leave Grampy. When we move, he comes with us.” Liam reflected and finally smiled. “Well, then I guess we’re good. We can do this.”

When have you taken a leap of faith and moved?

82 thoughts on “Michigan or Bust!”

  1. wow steve
    what an unexpected announcement. are you ready cb to fly out there and make the drive with him?
    this move will be much easier than the last. the last you had to pare down a lifetime into a truckload, this time your stuff can be packed in a half a day and whoosh you’re gone.
    i traveled back in my teens as an adventure and got to see the west as a hiwayman might observing towns and people as i went. never intending to stay only a few locations foe extended stretches
    salt lake, banff, jasper, corona california, then back to the burbs.
    my travels have always been enjoyable with trips to china italy amsterdam germany all captivating but short lived
    i have not done a transplant ever. i wish you well and will volunteer to pilot the subaru if cb decides to pass
    bon voyage steve. what will be the lead features you will seek out in the new place? swimming pool? access to townies? southern exposure? ( i really really prefer southern facing properties)
    enjoy your new adventure
    tigers and lions and red wings oh my

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Thanks, tim. Cb just flew to Kenya and back. Nothing on earth is likely to convince her to get on an airplane again. I have long hated flight that much, too. But one possible plan has me flying first class to Michigan. You might remember that to get to Oregon from Minnesota I cleverly stopped taking the pills that cause me to start each day with six or eight bathroom visits. As a consequence of failing to take that pill I spent my first week in Oregon in the hospital. That’s an experiment I don’t wish to repeat. So there has to be another way. My sil’s brother might fly from Port Huron to Oregon to become a driver. We don’t know. Our heads are spinning. Have you ever tried to figure out that famous puzzle about the missionaries and cannibals who need to get across a river? That’s what this is like!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Morning all. After I got married, wasband and I moved to Milwaukee so he could go to graduate school, but I knew in my heart that I was meant to be in Minneapolis (another long story). When wasband graduated, we moved to the Twin Cities with NO jobs and bought a house w/ a downpayment from my parents. That was the week before Ronald Reagan was elected and you can’t believe how fast public sector jobs dried up (wasband was in urban planning). Took him two years to get a job in his field. We made it through and even paid my folks back but it was a lean few years. Think ramen noodles and peanut butter lean!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I think we all did things as young people that seem astonishing to us now. The young can take risks and don’t have as many requirements as older people do. One of the things that concerns me is how young people seem less capable to doing big leaps of faith than earlier generations. I’m thinking of the patterns of young folks staying in (or returning to) their parents’ home. More than half of the folks I know in their twenties are living at home. That was not true of my generation. Maybe it is better . . . I’m reluctant to judge. vs lived on ramen noodles and peanut butter. For me it was peanut butter and honey sandwiches!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. when we left home you needed $.19 a gallon for gas $100 for a car and $100 for rent in order to survive for a month you could easily do that my pump gas at the corner gas station
        today your phone costs $100 a month in apartment cost $1000 a month and see if you can find another person to help you pay for the car lease requires a $3000 down payment along with your $200 a month and then you have to be able to afford $30 tanks of gas two or three times a week
        no one cooks anymore so in order to be able to eat at chipotle five times a week and maybe have sandwiches and pizza ordered and the other two days you need to have a minimum of $1000 a month so if I do my addition correctly in order to move out of your parents home you need to be making about $50,000 a year today just to live on a proverbial shoestring
        this leads to parents basement

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Happy Pi Day, all, and especially Vs. I know this is a day you always celebrate. Sorry that walking pneumonia got in the way this year. Hope you still get a slice of your favorite pie.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Rise and Pack it All Up Baboons!

    When I was young I loved packing up and moving; transitions were relatively easy; the grass was always greener on the other side. So I moved a lot as a young adult and loved every minute of it. College to first job nearby, Iowa to Grand Rapids, MN. Grand Rapids to Graduate School with a condo in Minneapolis. Minneapolis to St. Paul. St Paul to Fairmont where my life fell apart entirely. Fairmont to Shakopee. And then it all slowed down.

    I have been in Eden Prairie for 27 years, the longest period of my life in one town or one home. While I ran my business it seemed to satisfy my need for novelty. Vacations met the need for change and travel.

    So I need a change now. I will change jobs over the next three months and leave the old practice entirely. I need a new challenge that provides novelty and relief from the feeling of a situation that I have outgrown. In September I will travel to Ireland with a group of artist friends. I have applied to be an artists in residence at a Villa in Italy for 2 months in 2018–I don’t know if I will get that position or not, but that ought to meet the need for adventure if I do get it.

    Meanwhile I am looking for other new moves. After all the grass is always greener…

    Liked by 6 people

      1. 11 days in County Down, Sept 26 to Oct 5. The art part of the trip will occur at a retreat center run by another one of my art teacher’s students who invited us to come there. Coincidentally, this is the area my Irish ancestors hail from . Part of the reason I am digging through my mother’s stuff is to find the information about my great-great grandparents who emigrated in 1841 to Canada, then Iowa.

        Liked by 4 people

    1. Every marriage is a leap of faith, and most moves. Taking on a new job is a leap of faith, although sometimes we have enough information to make that leap relatively safe. There are always arguments for a big change and counter-arguments for sticking in place. One of the magical arts of happiness is that ability some people have to know when to stay and when to go. And none of this is easy. For me, the move back to the Midwest is easier to believe in than the move from Minnesota to Oregon. I thought I’d fit in here better than has proven to be the case. But each leap takes faith.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. My first marriage wss not a leap of faith. It was a cave-in to family pressure to marry. It was simply what was expected. When you are
        Too naive to know better, there is no faith. Just blind compliance that I paid for dearly.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Let’s see. It seems like I’m an old hand at this “taking a leap of faith” business. The common denominator each time has been lack of funds, and no security net.

    When wasband and I left Carbondale in 1972, it was completely arbitrary that we had set our sights on the Twin Cities. Didn’t know a soul here; had never been here, and didn’t have any job prospects. We did have $600.00 in savings, enough, we hoped, to find an apartment, and with a little luck, a job before the savings were exhausted. En route we pulled into Milwaukee, and I was so enthralled with the big lake that I suggested we stay there. Despite the fact that we had no reason whatsoever to move on to the Twin Cities, wasband insisted that we move on. Pure chance, really, that we ended up here, and are still here.

    Liked by 5 people

  6. Well, we are moving our daughter to Tacoma in May. She is excited for her college graduation and a real job. We will have her settled by May 15, and then will go to Portland to see Husband’s brother and family.

    We are hopeful we can see you there, Steve, prior to your move.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Before I saw your post, Renee, I wrote about that in a post above this one. No, that was an experiment that just about whisked me off the planet. The current theory is that my daughter could sell her car and then drive mine to Port Huron. I might fly, although I “like” flying about as much as my sister does.

      Life is so surprising. You think you know what is going to happen, but then something happens you that you didn’t even think was possible.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Flying seems like a good plan to me. You may not like flying, but it is a lot faster than driving, and if it keeps you healthy enough to not land in the hospital, it will be well worth it.

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        1. This is one of many tricky issues our family is dealing with. It feels like trying to juggle six balls at once. The part about flying I most hate is being sardined in a tiny seat. Flying first class might solve that. Of course, that’s expensive, but it would save me from what we anticipate will be four or five days on the road. Think of all those restaurant meals and motel beds. Flying up in the front of the plane might be cheaper.

          Liked by 1 person

  7. Today we have pie of greens, made from chard, ricotta, pancetta, eggs, mushrooms, parmesan and onions, all encased in a crust and baked on a cookie sheet.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. It calls for 2.5 lbs. of blanched chard leaves. I weigh and blanch the requiste pounds of chard in the fall from the garden, and vacuum seal them for use in this pie for the winter.

        Liked by 2 people

  8. Like others of you, I was a nomad in my twenties…raised in Minnesota, school in Colorado, first job in Washington state, “sabbatical” in Switzerland, back to Washington then to Colorado where I married and “wasband” (I love that term, who invented it?) decided to leave the law to work for my father in his retail business in my home town. That was a total leap of faith for me…I never wanted to live here, never considered moving back to Minnesota anywhere, anytime, always wanted to be in the mountains. But here I’ve been since 1974…wasband moved on to two more marriages and several different towns/states. I didn’t think I would be the stable one. But. no regrets. I love the community of friends I have here and can’t imagine living anywhere else at this stage (retired) of my life. Don’t even travel much anymore. No regrets…grateful for the farm, animals and 23 years at MPR.

    Liked by 5 people

  9. In the leap we are about to make, each of us has his or her own set of prerequisites. My daughter informed her husband she could do the move if the new home has a dishwasher and if she can take half a year off from work to start her new life. Liam said he’d go if Grampy didn’t get left behind and if the new home has two bathrooms. And me? I don’t really have any conditions beyond an apartment on the ground level.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sounds to me like Molly isn’t excited about making the move? If that’s the case, that’s a serious impediment to it being successful.

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      1. Molly is amazing. Right now she has a “dream job” working for one of the finest companies in Oregon. She knows she can’t match it with any similar job in Michigan. There simply are no employers in the Port Huron area that can offer a job like the one she has.

        But she knows this is a necessary move for her husband. His soul is dying in his present job, and the commute is vicious. That makes the move important to her. Like her husband, she feels uncomfortable living in a region where the political culture is so odd. She doesn’t want to be in Portland when the big earthquake hits (I’ve written about that before). My daughter thinks she had a beautiful childhood in Minnesota that isn’t available to Liam (they live in a seedy neighborhood where crime is an ever-present issue). She realizes that she and her husband are rats on an exercise wheel running desperately just to make enough money to keep up. Because Portland’s schools are shockingly bad (think Alabama or Mississippi) Molly and her husband pay dearly to keep Liam in a private school.

        One of the things I admire in Molly is her courage. When she looks at her present life she feels the math is bad. There is too much wrong with the life she and her family are living. Moving will cost her the job she loves, but she is ready to do that. The tuition for Liam’s school is almost equal to her salary, so if he finds a good public school her salary is not immediately needed. She wants half a year (or even a year) off work to rethink her life and go to the gym and make a fresh start.

        She is ready to make that leap. And she has enough faith in herself to trust that she can find (or make) a job that will feed her soul. And she will have a dishwasher!

        Liked by 2 people

        1. You’ve piqued my curiosity with the statement about Portland’s odd political culture? How does that oddity manifest itself? Another statement, the one about shockingly bad public schools, also has me wondering about how progressive the state can be?

          Leaving a “dream job” that pays well is never easy, and considering that Port Huron is a much smaller community, I’m sure finding a comparable one is going to be difficult. I’m glad Molly will have the luxury of being able to take her time to figure out what her next step, career wise, will be. My guess is that the cost of living in Port Huron is considerably lower than in Portland?

          I wish Molly and her family the best of luck in finding just the right place to put down roots, and I hope you, too, will settle in and feel like you belong. I agree with tim that this move should be a piece of cake (pie?) for you compared to your last one.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. It sounds good to me. Anything that makes you feel more like a human being instead of a rat on a exercise wheel is a step in the right direction. I bet PJ is right and that the cost of living is more reasonable in PH – I just did a quick search on median house prices in the two locales and the median price in PH is much lower than in Portland. Hopefully, this move will give them a chance to be able to breathe and slow down (once the move is over, that is).

          Far be it from me to give advice, but has Molly ever considered doing more writing? The twins have two of her books and enjoy them very much.

          Liked by 1 person

        3. Reply to PJ. You ask great questions. Portlandia (the TV show) presents Portland as a goofy, liberal, almost hippie-ish sort of city. And that’s true. People here are really progressive. Can you imagine TPT creating an hour-long show about a famous local transvestite? Portland’s TV station did, and they run that show during pledge drives. If some business disses a gay couple here, it is fodder for the local evening news, and the news anchors will almost hiss with anger. Portland is extremely progressive.

          But people here don’t believe in paying taxes. We have no sales tax in Oregon and really low income taxes. Everybody howls about the miserable streets and roads, but then they defeat measures to raise money. We are told by scientists that a terrible earthquake is surely coming. When it hits it will kill thousands and leave the area in rubble. Portland has six bridges that are critical to local transportation. Only two have any chance of surviving a quake. In general, the town wrings its hands when considering the inevitable quake and still nobody is ready to raise the money needed to plan for this.

          I’ve mentioned the homeless. Portland had a clever idea a few years ago. We would solve the problem of the homeless by tolerating them, specifically by tolerating having the homeless create tent cities in Portland’s parks. It was a disaster (crime, arson, drug abuse, hypodermic syringes all over, public defecation, etc). Now the city is desperate to find some other solution (that doesn’t need taxes).

          You mention the cost of living. A home in Portland that sells for $450,000 might struggle to bring $180,000 in the Twin Cities. Port Huron isn’t as depressed as Detroit (what other city is?) but virtually everything is cheaper there.

          Liked by 1 person

        4. Replying to ljb. Thanks for your thoughts. Molly knows enough about writing to know it isn’t a way to make money. But she has mastered a great deal of information about human resources, the field she works in. One of her ideas is teaching human resources in the local college in Port Huron. She has enough faith in herself to trust that she’ll find a good job.

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        5. my daughters new company ( she left nightmare woman) was 500 people and bought a 3000 person company in human resource of some ilk
          daughter is a health related expert and says the companies new direction is virtual office . it was forced because of some odd circumstances involved in the buyout
          i can get company name and have molly check it out
          lots of skype and google meetup stuff might be good

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  10. Steve’s right, marriage is a leap of faith, especially if you’ve had one that was a fiasco. But it took four leap-of-faith moves – San Francisco, Half Moon Bay, New York City, and Mpls – to even FIND Husband. For two of those moves I showed up in a new city with $200 to my name. (In a way hey weren’t so risky – my folks would have bailed me out if I was ever destitute.)

    After lashing my canoe to Husband’s, moves didn’t feel so risky. This latest one, though, kind of caught us off guard. Took longer than expected to land on our feet, but land on our feet we did.

    I think you’re right, Steve, that this move won’t be as wrenching as the last, for lots of reasons already mentioned. I think you’ll really enjoy being back in the mid-west, and watching how Liam adapts to it.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Followed husband through numerous moves…too many to mention…it would be a short novel. We came to Minnesota just to purchase our now cabin in ‘paradise’ and have love it.

    However we are now making the leap of faith to return in April and put it up for sale…then moving back here to Tucson. We shall move either when it sells or come back next November and rent here until it does sell. We’ve found we can manage just fine-temporily- in a one bedroom small apartment with furnishings which are actually folding outdoor chairs and zero gravity recliners. And then the inflatable bed…that is another story. When we return we will have furniture and either use or store until we are able to buy our ‘perfect’ little home here…with two bathrooms!
    Husband has me & my little dog on a first class return in April…he will drive. He thoughtfully decided the driving trip would be too much for me as we drive to Kansas for #2 granddaughters HS graduation and my 50 yr. HS reunion.

    Best wishes on your move Steve.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I made a big leap to come here to be with my family. I don’t regret that. But every day when I drive in the Portland area I grieve for the life I had in Minnesota. I always loved where I lived and did not take its delights for granted. But even so, I was shocked at some of the differences. Even with those terrible winters, Minnesota is a blessed place to live.

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Pretty much every move we made has been a leap of faith. To Carlton, MN to teach. Back to the Cities to more or less start over. To Chicago because my wife’s employer made her an offer she couldn’t refuse (after she had worked at Prudential for almost 10 years and had to preside over her department’s closing when the whole operation shut down–the old Hwy 12 building). Then to Owatonna, although maybe that was less of a leap because coming back to MN will never be a leap of faith. It’s a known quantity and a darn good one. 🙂

    Chris in O-town

    Liked by 4 people

  14. One of the themes today is the complexity of balancing the ups and downs of any big decision. My daughter and her husband are doing extremely well right where they are, especially if you just look at money. Their combined salary puts them officially in the upper class in this country. But the personal toll their current life takes is really grim.

    From time to time we need to take a long, hard look at our decisions and consider alternatives. My daughter and her husband have just decided make money-making less of a priority and make more room in their lives for other things.

    I had a friend who was philosophical, given to thinking about life’s critical issues. One day he announced that one of the huge issues in life was choosing where you would life. He said he had chosen Minnesota and that whatever else he did in life he at least had that one big decision right. Then the love of his life moved to New York City (the place he loathed above all). He went with her. And, I gather, he has not regretted that. It isn’t easy to “do the math” on these big issues.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Nice posts folks.
    Hope it goes well for you and Molly and her family.
    We could be making such a move, Steve, but just in MN. Daughter and s-i-l are looking at other calls. If they move very far, we will have to follow.
    No eyes today. No hands.

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    1. Thanks, Clyde. Good luck to your daughter and husband as they assess other opportunities. And if they move, I hope you will be able to follow. Older folks know what it means to have choices limited. Today you say you have no eyes or hands. But you have family and you have Sandy. That means a lot. Hold them close.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. I might as well say this now. There are many wonderful things about Portland that I am going to miss. But there are things so difficult that I’m eager to leave.

    I have occasionally mentioned “traffic” as one of the worst aspects of life in Portland. I could talk about that for hours. If I did, some of you would only conclude I am timid and foolish, for you almost have to experience this to appreciate its impact. There are many wonderful areas in this town I have never seen because I am not bold enough to risk my life on driving Portland’s streets to get to them. That’s something I could not have guessed before moving here.

    And who could have predicted that Portland’s homeless folks would affect me so deeply? Wherever I go here I see pathetic figures pushing grocery carts up and down the sidewalks, carts that hold all their worldly goods. Homelessness is an issue in many cities all across the nation. But here it is nothing less than a crisis. Property values are skyrocketing, putting families on the street. There are other reasons, too. But to see homeless folks everywhere is also to feel the pain of witnessing how ineffective government here is. People in this town have unlimited compassion for the poor, but they won’t pay taxes to support a government that can do its proper job with the homeless crisis or with infrastructure or anything else.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Husband’s brother and sister in law have struggled with the poor public education system in Portland with two special need children.

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  17. I should mention that one reason for this move is that my family has sort of set me up with a woman in Michigan. The “set up” is not romantic. This woman is my sil’s mother, in fact. She is a retired teacher who has spent her life serving others. Two years ago she nursed her husband and her best friend through difficult illnesses, but both died. She now has time on her hands and nobody to care for. Everyone expects that if I move to Port Huron, she will enjoy helping me in various ways.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. I can’t think of any leaps of faith I’ve made. Which must mean it’s time to make one. Perhaps this will be the year I do that.

    I find it very sweet that Liam felt he could handle this move as long as you come along.

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  19. Every move I have made in my life has been a leap of faith, and several were large leaps, such as our marriage which of course worked, but several did not. We have been in Mankato 20 years. Wow. And to think that The Graduate is 50 years old, but then of course it came a couple years after our marriage, which makes sense that way, but not for the number 50. And to think that everything that movie said about American culture is still true and moreso.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Steve, I know the stat of Michigan quite, well, especially the UP and the SW, but I do not know that area at all. The rest, except Detroit I like. Best state parks of which I am aware, I mean for how nice they are, how complete and maintained they are.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Well……no leaps of faith here. Minnesota born and bred, and have never lived out of state. My moves have mainly related to schooling – to Duluth for two years of college, to the Twin Cities to finish up college, and a few moves within the Cities. I have been in my current location since late 1982. My older sister has more than made up for my lack of big moves. She and her husband have moved at least 12 times. I have, however, traveled extensively – approximately 50 countries with two more coming in the fall.

    I started working at the U of MN hospital while still in school and stayed. there for the next 34 years (even though my actual employer changed from the State of MN to Fairview and I physically moved from the U of MN campus to the old Fairview – St. Mary’s building).

    I guess I am one of those folks who found a comfortable rut and was content to stay there. There are many winters that I wish I lived in a more temperate climate but probably will never make that leap. Right now I can’t leave my younger sister to deal with our elderly mother by herself.

    Liked by 1 person

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