June 20-September 2
40 shows, 4 media interviews, a series of modifications to the tiny house and 92 days later we are now headed southbound on the next stage of this adventure. As it always seems to do, this summer flew by.
We spent most of the summer in northern Michigan
splitting time between our parents houses, both of whom are in close proximity to Lake Michigan. This was a saving grace for Doug and Sawyer, but more so for Doug as this hot summer and new climate earned him the nickname, “Sir Pants-A-lot,” or sometimes “Doug the Pantasaurus.” If he didn’t sleep directly in front of the air conditioner, like so,
he would often wake us up by panting so incredibly loud, or if on the bed, panting so intensely the bed shook.
I would be lying if I said we didn’t miss Alaska this summer. There is no doubt we took for granted the freedoms and openness we had there. Curtiss and I were continually frustrated this summer trying to find good spots to take the dogs in Michigan that weren’t flooded with “No Dogs Allowed,” signs:
or had a fee associated with the trail.
The Petoskey Area, or aka “The White Pants Capital” of Michigan, was by far flooded with the most “no dogs allowed signs,” followed by the most amount of people (specifically in Harbor Springs) who gave the dogs a dismissing look and moved to the other side of the sidewalk. We can only assume they imagined dirt-covered dog paws uninvitedly stamping their starch white summer threads.
Aside from the lack of dog friendliness, Petoskey is beautiful, their KOA is clean and friendly, and I met two of Curtiss’ awesome friends, Dana and Andy who never missed a Petoskey show and even opened their house to us one trip. It’s also home to The Noggin Pub, which has some of the greatest pizza I’ve had, and is home of “The Horny Monky” who quenched our thirst more than once. (Thank you, Petoskey Brewery).
This summer the dogs (as did we) got much better at running on the road,
Our favorite spot in Michigan this summer was the Upper Peninsula. The beauty, the quietness, and the people reminded us of the interior of Alaska and all the things we love about it. In the U.P. people were relaxed, not moving quickly, smiling, and dressed like they were ready to enjoy the outdoors. We spent one day in Munising and saw Miners Castle at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
Sawyer was trying to figure out what the hype was about…
We also pretended to not see the “dogs prohibited” sign at Miners Falls and walked the boys the 1/2 mile down the beautifully wooded path to the falls.
Curtiss took me hiking up Hogback, which was a regular weekend hike for he and his friends during college.
I loved it so much, when Curtiss went to Forestville, the dogs and I went back to explore more. It was Northern Michigan University’s Welcome Week, so the trails were flooded with groups of college kids swimming, laying in hammocks, partying and drunkenly yell-singing in chorus. On this trail, Doug learned he loved college students. Particularly the college ladies.
He routinely greeted EVERY group we saw and happily sat in the middle and let all of their hands excitedly rub him from his head to his tail. Meanwhile, Sawyer panted happily alongside me, occasionally barking at questionably placed leaves on the trail and — heaven forbid if we saw a sap-covered pine cone or smashed pop can. If you know Sawyer, you know he finds all shiny objects to be extremely threatening.
I think the most interesting place we slept this summer was alongside a curb in downtown Grand Rapids. One of the benefits to us in having the trailer versus a camper is that we can park in obscure places, and not have anyone think twice about anything…except maybe our Alaska license plate. All night long, every time a bigger vehicle zoomed by us the turbulence rocked the trailer. It was kind of like mixing the sway of sleeping in a hammock with someone abruptly shaking you to wake up.
The most fun show of summer definitely goes to the Ore Dock in Marquette as it was an energetic show with a dancing crowd and multiple encores. The show that achieved the greatest milestone (and most nerve-wracking emotions) was Curtiss singing on the pier before Frankfort’s fireworks for an estimated 20,000 people (thanks CENTURY 21 Sleeping Bear Realty and Frankfort Chamber of Commerce for making it happen!).
He rocked the National Anthem. If you missed it, click HERE.
I think the most rewarding shows were those in Curtiss’ hometown (Onekama) or surrounding areas.
It was fun watching the crowds excitement and talking to loyal followers, both friends and family, who first saw Curtiss play back in high school in someones basement and marvel in how much he has grown. I think my favorite part of the hometown shows was the shift of Curtiss starting to be recognized (and seen) as “Cousin Curtiss,” and not just “Curtiss.” Of course to childhood friends & families he will always be “Curtiss,” but this summer definitely presented a shift. It could be because now this is full-time life. It’s no longer a “hobby,” it’s a career move, and some might consider it a risky one at that. The support Curtiss received all summer long from people was exciting, inspiring and solidified to us that we made the right move.
As for living in the tiny house, we eased into it this summer since we spent most of our time parked at our parents houses. We’re happy we were able to ease into it as it allowed us to figure out what needed to be modified.
We learned that the trailer traps heat…badly. So we invested in an AC unit that made Curtiss and Doug very happy. We also modified the bed two different times, starting with new drawers (thanks to Curtiss’ Mom for her guidance!). We then rebuilt the front frame so that it was one solid piece, making it more stable. The best addition to the bed was buying an actual mattress, versus the $18 foam we bought at Fred Meyer in Juneau.
Thanks to Curtiss’ brother, Pat, we were also able to get an actual door handle (that locked!) on our trailer this summer.
After traveling around with the trailer we learned where we needed more hooks for organization, more bungees to hold things down and we added pincher clips to all of our cabinets so our belongings wouldn’t fly out.
We also learned that in hot weather, especially at campgrounds, the showers aren’t always readily available…and they are often decorated with dirt, hair and a little mold…so before we left we made sure to finalize the shower we built so we can use it when need be (thanks to Curtiss’ Dad for his expertise!).
A few things we still need to remedy, is a large screen on our back door so we can drop it down and an awning to give us a bit more protection from the rain, and potentially provide some more shade.
Prior to leaving Michigan we also mounted a travel box on the tongue of the trailer for additional storage. This allowed us to carry all of our camping gear with us, and keep the tiny house less cluttered. We are super pumped to do some overnights in our tent in the Rocky Mountains! …however it will be the first time the two of us and both dogs slept in a two person backpacking tent…
To all of our friends who haven’t visited Michigan, here are a few pictures why you should. It has awesome beaches…
The best 4th of July celebrations (#4thOnGeorge)…
And is full of amazing craft beer! Here are some of our favorites this summer…
A big thanks to ALL of the Michigan venues (and friends) who hosted Cousin Curtiss this summer: Elberta Solice Festival, Shirley’s Place, The North Peak, The Noggin Room, Stormcloud Brewery, The Cabbage Shed, Frankfort Chamber of Commerce, CENTURY 21 Sleeping Bear Realty, The National Cherry Festival, Walloon Lake Inn Concert Series, Brea & Denny, The Boathouse, The Buckners, Petals & Perks, Onekama Days, The Hideout Brewery, and St. Ambrose Cellars.
Another big thanks to all of our friends, Andy & Dana, Brad & Elisa, Jess & Jason, and Ryan Radloff & his family for giving us a place to park or let us use their house on our Michigan travels.
Of course thanks to all friends, family, new fans and old fans (I wish I could name you all!) for the encouragement, kind words, and support of this crazy adventure. We are having a blast learning the ins & outs of life on the road and in our tiny house, but it wouldn’t be nearly as fun if we didn’t have friends to share it with.
Check out our tour schedule on the Cousin Curtiss website to follow where we are headed. If you have friends in the area, please direct them to Curtiss’ website and encourage them to check out his music. If you know of great venues for music, cool sites to see or places to explore near the areas we are going, PLEASE share them with us. You can e-mail us at PayGasNotRent@gmail.com.
We are already anxiously anticipating what next summer might have to offer! But until then, we’ll see you again in December, Michigan….