Road Trip in Michigan: Sad News and Hail Damage

 traveling in a van with dogs

As I reflect upon my travel experiences, and look through old pictures, I am overcome with a profound sense of sadness. Recently, while embarking on a trip to Alaska to build our tiny cabin, a heartbreaking incident occurred that shattered our world. It was on the second day of our journey, while we were in Alaska, that our beloved loyal companion and family member Saluki, Sahara, passed away. The news hit us with unexpected force, especially since we were far away from our home in Hawaii. It was a stark reminder of life's unpredictable nature—how it can catch us completely off guard. Sometimes life doesn't go as we plan. It can get messy and full of emotions. We can't always prepare for everything that happens.

What to Do at Warren Dunes State Park

In our previous article, we were in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana. However, as we continued our travels, entering Michigan, we encountered an unexpected event that further emphasized the unpredictable nature of life. Leaving Indiana behind, our plan was to complete the circle around Lake Michigan and Lake Superior, which appeared to hold great promise. We wondered why more vanlifers hadn't embarked on this lap, which was filled with new and exciting possibilities. Our adventure in Michigan began as we made our way to Warren Dunes State Park—a place where our Salukis experienced the thrill of running in a sandy desert, reminiscent of their natural habitat. There weren’t any hares to chase after, but they still enjoyed being the center of attention.

dog-friendly Warren Dunes State Park

The park was filled with lots of people, particularly close to the shoreline and parking spaces were quickly filled. Exhausted from the scorching sun and the bustling crowds, we decided to leave, seeking solace in the remote cabin of our friends, just outside of Baldwin, Michigan. It was meant to be a time of rejuvenation, where we could replenish our energy, do laundry, and gather our strength before embarking on the grand journey around the Michigan lakes. Little did we know that a dramatic event was to take place.

what to do at Warren Dunes State Park

Hail Damage in Michigan

The next day began like any other ordinary day. Ed, our friend, had left for work, the sun was out and we settled in with our cups of coffee, ready to tackle our online tasks. However, around noon, the clouds came over us and the power suddenly went out, leaving us without Wi-Fi. This was concerning as we didn’t have cellular service in that area. We knew a storm was approaching, but we had no idea its sheer magnitude. When we glanced outside, we witnessed the disheartening sight of tree branches falling and the gusts roaring like a thunderous train. We ran to the basement and stood speechless, realizing we were completely unprepared for what was about to unfold. The storm escalated quickly, and soon, hailstones the size of baseballs mercilessly rained down upon us. At that moment, we felt utterly helpless, praying and wanting to shield our van somehow, perhaps quickly repark it beneath a carport or wrap it in a protective blanket of some sorts? It was a stark reminder of how quickly everything we had painstakingly built over the course of a year could be undone in a matter of minutes. We were nervous.

stuck at home because of hail

For what felt like an eternity, we anxiously waited in the basement, seeking refuge from the storm's fury. It was not safe to be outside, and so we endured, holding our breaths, as the fierce storm raged on. We could only hope that everything would be okay. Finally, the storm subsided, and cautiously Z ventured outside to assess the aftermath. Miraculously, no trees had toppled onto our van, but scattered over the van were remnants of the storm—large branches and leaves. Our solar panels seemed intact, but our front windshield had a network of cracks. The extent of the damage became apparent when we inspected our van further uncovering the leaves and realizing the most striking realization. The body of our van had over 300 dents from the baseball size hail that fell on it. As we stood there, bewildered and overwhelmed, a surge of uncertainty filled our minds. Our journey ahead suddenly seemed shrouded in doubt, overshadowed by the looming task of dealing with insurance and the logistical challenges that lay in wait. We found ourselves meticulously inspecting everything further and taking pictures of the damages.

hail damage in Michigan

Ed returned from work, bringing with him the grim realization that what we had experienced was not just an ordinary storm—it was a full-blown tornado. As he shared what he had witnessed, we hopped onto his four-wheeler, eager to survey the aftermath for ourselves. The scene that unfolded before our eyes was heartbreaking. Tall trees had fallen, causing damage to nearby homes and blocking roads. The sound of chainsaws filled the air as people rallied together attempting to clear the roads and restore normalcy to the neighborhood.

hail consequences in Michigan

In that moment, it became clear that certain events can abruptly change the trajectory and course of our lives. In this moment, the passing of our beloved Sahara, made us realize that sometimes, amidst the unpredictability and messiness of life, there are moments when we need to pause and reassess. As we reflect upon our travel experiences, we are overcome with countless memories shared with Sahara, stories that we have not shared here.

Keep in Touch with our Van Trips

We had initially planned to continue sharing our van travel journey, but in light of recent events, we have decided to withhold further stories. Life has taught us that there is a time and place for everything. Sometimes, unexpected twists and turns demand that we shift our focus, redirect our energy, and take the necessary time to heal and rebuild. Although many pages of our van life chapter aren’t written, we are grateful for the pages we have already shared. For now, we express our heartfelt gratitude to everyone who has joined us on this journey so far. We will forever cherish the memories of our van life travels and the special bond we shared with Sahara. Thank you for being part of our van travel story. May our paths cross again, and may we all find the courage to embrace the unexpected and forge our own unique journeys. Until then, let the pages of our van chapter rest, knowing that the story is far from over, and that the adventurous tales are waiting to be written.

traveling with Saluki

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