Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Picnics and Road Trips

Thank God it’s Monday, again. I personally look forward to all Mondays, as they’re my 52 Chances a year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with everyone! Therefore, happy Monday to one and all.




This Friday begins the 2024 Memorial Day weekend, which is considered to be the unofficial start of summer. Officially, summer begins in a month, on June 20th. By the way, Friday is also… National Road Trip Day and National Cooler Day.

Similarly, while it’s still May, other foodie observances include… American Cheese Month, National Barbecue Month, National Egg Month, National Hamburger Month, National Salad Month, National Salsa Month, and National Strawberry Month – all things you might pack in a cooler, to take on a road trip, for a picnic.

After my parents became empty-nesters and wanted to take a break from their long work week, they’d often go on a road trip somewhere. Either for the day or the weekend, it didn’t matter where because they were together, exploring and enjoying Michigan’s beautiful scenery.

Me and my husband enjoy doing the same. We really like exploring the sparkling, blue water shorelines of the Great Lakes, surrounding most of our state; as well as the countless parks, in-land lakes and rivers, woodlands and forests, small towns and farmlands.

Did you know that Michigan has 3,288 miles of coastline that borders four of the five Great Lakes? It’s the longest freshwater coastline in the U.S. In fact, regardless of water type (sea or fresh), Michigan is only in second place, to Alaska, in total length of coastline.

Michigan has 103 state parks and recreation areas, plus five national parks, about which to boast – not to mention all of the numerous county parks and local parks, everywhere you go. This state is also covered in hiking and biking trails, connecting small towns and big cities.


As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 23)


…THROUGHOUT UPSTATE MICHIGAN, the roads borough through tunnels of green trees for miles and miles. There’ll be light traffic on these curving two-lane highways with single cars spaced two blocks or so apart coming toward you.

There was the quaint and very unique Settling Inn at the Village of Northport, the most northern point of M-22. And farther south there was the Sugarfoot Saloon at Leelanau, near the Sugarfoot Mountain Resort. It was quiet country, secluded but refreshing, compared to sophisticated urban activity.

At County Road 669, a sign announced ‘Sleeping Bear Dunes’ straight ahead on M-22. The road curved like a long licorice ribbon up and down the hillsides of densely grown white birches, Scotch Pines, Maples, Oaks and Poplars.

Suddenly we were conscious of how clean the air smelled. The city wasn’t like this! What a lovely contrast! What a splendid memory! The first time we saw the Traverse Bay area and upstate Michigan, we fell in love with it. It was Labor Day and summer was still at the peak of its promise.

Six weeks later, we went back to the bay area to feast your eyes on the glorious, fiery colors of fall. There was a crisp, clean chill in the air. Those long, straight, two-lane roads through the peninsula still lay like licorice ribbons on the slopes and hills of Old Mission region.

The side roads were cut like core doors through a series of canopies and brilliant orange, red and yellow, where the trees were all standing like military sentries in full dress uniforms, crossing their branches above the roads like honor guards with their swords raised high.

It was a trip back into another time zone – peaceful valleys and wooded hillsides abundant with sturdy hedges of tall trees framing well-manicured cherry orchards, acres upon acres of them, as well as apple groves in great abundance everywhere!

Here and there a farmhouse and a weather-worn, well-kept barn reminded you that it was a populated and prosperous region, after all. The prosperity appeared to represent hard work, a practical living style and simplicity of needs, unlike the atmosphere of city dwelling.

Sometimes, Mom replayed their road trips in her mind to help her sleep (see her memory of that, below). Road trips provide relaxation and comfort. One reason why is because there’s no schedule to follow, as it allows you set the pace and just live in the moment.

It’s well-known that road trips have a positive impact on mental health. Leisurely drives provide needed escapes and changes of scenery, to break free from monotonous routines and breathe fresh air; letting your mind wander as you wander to new or favorite destinations.

Connecting with nature decreases blood pressure and reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression. Picnics do the same and more, with the added benefit of providing special bonding time with family and/or friends.

If you’re celebrating Memorial Day weekend with a road trip and picnic – what’s your favorite go-to food for such an occasion? Among the classic picnic treats, those that travel best and won’t spoil on a warm day include sandwiches/wraps (without mayonnaise), fried chicken, fresh vegetables and fruit.

Popular picnic side dishes and appetizers include deviled eggs, pigs-in-a-blanket, stuffed mushrooms, mac-n-cheese, baked beans, coleslaw, pasta and potato salads, fresh veggies and/or fruit. Remember that anything made with mayonnaise needs to be kept chilled.

Additionally, don’t forget a favorite dessert or two, such as a fruit pie, chocolate brownies, and/or chocolate chip cookies; as well as popular finger snacks like string cheese, meat sticks, chips, pretzels, and/or trail mix.

Popular things to do on a picnic outing (besides eating) include playing/listening to music, walking, having a treasure hunt or mini picnic Olympic games, playing table/yard games, bird watching, people watching, and sun bathing. Plus, if you’re at a beach, you can also search for special stones and sea shells, swim, fish, and build sand castles.

A simple picnic is a fun and relaxing way to gather and make memories, with friends and family. But if you want to have MORE than a “simple” picnic, plan a mystery picnic! Last year, I discovered this fun twist on the iconic, seasonal tradition combined with a scavenger hunt at, out of Australia.

According to the website, “mystery picnics” combine travel, food, and fun; while solving a series of clues that take you to various places, where you collect things to add to the “picnic basket” at the final destination. It’s a fun idea to explore the area, as you collect “picnic basket items”, and then gather with the other guests to share your collection and adventures.


As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Mixed Blessings – Recipes & Remedies (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; March 1984, p. 178)


FOR A LONG TIME now, I’ve had trouble sleeping at night. For one thing, my love snores like a Yamaha, going uphill in second gear and coming down again. It’s not his fault, mind you, over which he has any personal control. He simply breathes loudly when he’s deep in sleep.

I could sleep through a thunderstorm and not hear a crack all night, providing I once slipped into a cozy, peaceful [mindset] and then drifted off dreamily into a lovely landscape of the lazy fifth dimension of rest that my memory calls upon, whenever I choose to summon the scenes I found serene.

It was getting there that gave me all the trouble! I refused to take pills. Alcohol was dangerous. So I succumbed to reading peacefully worded excerpts, from various writings, and put my thoughts securely to bed, first, before I attempted to put my body to sleep.

I tried to rest on thoughts and images that gave my mind tranquility. I’d recall all of the pleasant places I had ever visited, to which I wished to return. I’d find, in my memory chambers, every corner of my world that made me feel relaxed, and then relish in revisiting these, mentally.

I would walk the beaches around Saginaw Bay… on the movie screen of my mind. The lake was lapping at the beach where I walked through the soft, summer warm sand… It would wash in, and just as easily slip back again like sheets of silk, blue and gray with sprays of white foam riding each tumbling wave.

There was an instrumental rhythm, like crushing pieces of tissue paper in the music of the water as it caressed the sand and returned to itself like slippery, shining satin and bolts of silk, pulled smoothly over a pillowed featherbed, on which the wooded bluffs rested.

These were the pathways of peaceful places where I’d been before and wished to return… I could see the beaches lined with birch trees and long needle pines. I heard in my memory’s echo chambers, the soothing swishing of the waves on the peaceful shoreline of the quiet bay.

I love checklists. They come in handy, when packing for anything. I use part of my camping checklist as a list for my picnic “basket”, which is actually a plastic tote. It’s always on the ready so I can easily throw it in the car, along with a cooler, whenever my husband and I want to go on a spontaneous Road Trip.

It may seem like a lot but it actually packs up fairly small and compact. As a mom of three, I learned from my own mom, (as she used to have to pack for a family of seven) how to pack 10 pounds of stuff in a 5-pound bag.

Organization is key to making the most use out of any space available. I know I don’t need everything but, as the old adage says, “It’s better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it!”


Here are four basic tips for planning a day or weekend road trip that I’ve shared a few other times.

  • Take a hard copy roadmap, as there are still places that may not have cell or wi-fi service for miles.
  • Allow extra time and gas (or electric charge – whatever the case may be) for spontaneity. In case you decide to take a detour to other map dots along the way.
  • Stop and take breaks – walk around, “smell the roses”, photograph the memories, and talk to the locals – every small town has a story.
  • Pack a cooler with drinks and snacks, even if you plan to eat at a restaurant along the way. You know what they say about the best laid plans.


In honor of May, being National Asparagus Month, here’s Mom’s secret recipe for “Cream Of Asparagus Soup”; as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 120). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition)].



P.S. Food-for-thought until we meet again, next Monday…


Other May observances include… Better Speech and Language Month, National Stroke Awareness Month, Older Americans Month, National Get Caught Reading Month,  National Photography Month, National Preservation Month, National Recommitment Month, and Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

Today is also… National Be a Millionaire Day, National Pick Strawberries Day, and National Quiche Lorraine Day.

Tomorrow is… National Strawberries and Cream Day and National Memo Day.

Wednesday, May 22nd, is… National Craft Distillery Day, World Paloma Day, National Solitaire Day, and National Vanilla Pudding Day.

Thursday, May 23rd, is… National Lucky Penny Day and National Taffy Day.

May 24th is… National Yucatan Shrimp Day, National Brother’s Day, National Escargot Day, and National Wyoming Day.  Plus, as the Friday before Memorial Day (for 2024), it’s also… National Don’t Fry Day.

Saturday, May 25th, is… National Brown-Bag It Day and National Wine Day.

Sunday, May 26th, is… National Blueberry Cheesecake Day.


…21 down, 31 more to go!

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