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Michiana Chronicles writers bring portraits of our life and times to the 88.1 WVPE airwaves every Friday at 7:45 am during Morning Edition and over the noon hour at 12:30 pm during Here and Now. Michiana Chronicles was first broadcast in October 2001. Contact the writers through their individual e-mails and thanks for listening!

Michiana Chronicles: Vacation Misadventures and More

I don't know why we thought driving over 1500 miles round-trip to North Carolina with 4 dogs in a motorhome would be a good idea. Especially at the time when it's Africa-hot and Amazon-humid. This is our first trip in this motorhome and a first for me in general. I've never met the majority of my husband's family. His mom was one of 11 children, so that’s a lot of family. His Aunt Mabel was in poor health and we decided it was time to head to the little town of Prospect, NC. The first part of the trip was great. Then, we needed a place to pull over for a restroom break in our bathroom-on-wheels. But, the rest area had no parking spots. We left and somehow we got sidetracked and ended up on a narrow, twisting back road in West Virginia. The road had sheer drops on each side and no guardrails. That's concerning even when you're not in a 30 foot house on wheels. Every place that we thought we could turn around had posted signs with dire warnings. If someone is serious enough to spray paint a warning on a barrel and put it in their driveway, I'm going to heed that warning. Did I mention the GPS signal dropped? Over an hour later, we found our way out and got back on the road. A few hours later, we stopped at The Golden Arches for a break and suddenly things got very quiet. Our generator died. This is the generator that operates the roof air conditioner. It was 91 degrees that day. The unit had just been serviced so we called the people who serviced it. Apparently those things turn off when they get too hot and you have to adjust them for higher elevations. Who knew? During this time all four dogs started to rebel. As we waited for the generator to cool off, they started barking, knocking over water dishes and climbing on the dash. It was like a canine version of Lord of the Flies. So we gave them treats to gain control. Yes, we rewarded their terrible behavior. Our dogs really need stricter parents, but we’re not it. But, we were outnumbered, hot, and frustrated. That’s the only excuse I have for our lack of canine parenting. Eventually the generator came back on and we were back on the road. There was a lot of road construction. and when you're in a motorhome, those barriers that take you down to 2 lanes are too close for comfort. Especially when you're beside a semi. Speaking of semis, when one passes you, you'll enjoy the sensation of swaying and/or fishtailing. Again, who knew? Things were relatively calm until we realized the GPS had taken us into some territory that was not RV friendly. It was starting to quickly get dark. The GPS kept trying to send us down a sinister dirt road, but my husband wasn't buying it. He did a U-turn on a narrow dirt road. I still don't know how, but it happened. Then the GPS signal was lost and so were we. After about an hour and a half we finally found civilization in the form of a gas station. I almost wept at the sight of fuel pumps. Now, it's around midnight. At this point, we called my husband's cousin to just give us directions. We're still 3 hours away. My husband forged ahead and we finally pulled up to his cousin's house around 3am. It ended up being a 19 hour trip. To our surprise, his cousin was on the front porch in a rocking chair, waiting for us. That sight was a balm for the soul.

My husband's family made me feel right at home. The street where they live, and most of the town, is occupied only by family. My husband's cousin June and his wife, Ellen, took over the farm where my mother in law and all her siblings were raised. Their house is a place where everyone in the family seems to drop by and hang out. Ellen is one of those people who seems to always have food and sweet tea ready at a moment's notice. I'm not talking about sandwiches...but baked chicken, corn right off the cob, mac and cheese, collards and cabbage with something on it called chow-chow. It's a pickled relish. I liked it so much, she sent some home with us that she had canned. We did not starve while we were there. Plus, I found out some interesting stuff about the family I married into. In 1885, My husband's great grandfather, Rev. William Luther Moore was instrumental in enacting a North Carolina bill to establish the Croatan Indian Normal School in Robeson County. He was the principal and only teacher there for the first few years. That school is known today as the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. In 1964, the William Luther Moore Arts Building was dedicated in recognition for his contributions to his community and to his school. My husband's great grandmother, Mary Catherine Oxendine Moore, was the first female Native American teacher in the County.The most important thing was, we got to spend time with his Aunt Mable. After we got home, a week later, we found out that Mabel had passed. That message was loud and clear...don't wait to see people you love. What else did we learn? Well, that Cesar Millan, The Dog Whisperer, would be appalled by our dogs behavior and it’s completely our fault. The hardest lesson we learned? Pack an Atlas. GPS is a fickle mistress.

"Holiday Road" by Lindsey Buckingham as heard in the movie National Lampoon's Vacation.

Shelli has been with WVPE since 2021 and is the local host of All Things Considered. She has been working in radio longer than she cares to admit, but has been in local radio in the area for over 20 years. Shelli has worked in Charlotte, NC, Cincinnati, OH, Louisville, KY and Long Island, NY at both music and news stations. Michiana, however, is home. (She grew up in Coloma). Shelli is married to Mark and they live in happy chaos with four dogs and three noisy parakeets in Granger. When not working, she is probably in the middle of a Netflix binge, reading, or thinking of the next way to spoil her granddaughter.