On Wednesday and Thursday, we drove to and from Detroit for the Bar-Mitzvah of our nephew in Michigan (Raizy’s sister Esty’s oldest son). It was an exhausting but memorable trip, we spent more time on the road than in Michigan.

We played the license plate game both there and back, coming up with 38! It was interesting to see which states had the most variations on the road (Michigan and Ohio both have various colorful versions), that a disproportionate number of trucks have Maine plates, and we had to catch up to a speedy car to make sure our eyes weren’t playing games and it was indeed a Utah plate.

On our way there we drove through Canada, stopping at Websters Falls on the way. Websters is no Niagara, but was beautiful in its own way. You drive a few minutes off the highway near Hamilton Ontario into a rural, quiet village. The road gets narrower, and you arrive at a small parking area. After parking the car and walking up a grassy hill towards the muffled rumbling sounds of water, the majestic falls suddenly come into view on the right. It is set in a beautiful park, with birch trees and forest, and cobble-stone bridge and pretty lookouts. The falls were surprising, much larger and more powerful than expected. You don’t get a true sense of the falls until you are up close – similar to the unexpected discovery of richness and potential within people, sometimes we’re blind to it until we get close.

The foliage was still so beautiful, though in some places past its peak season. In some ways the earthtone rust colors of the late Fall season looked even richer than the vibrant colors at peak. It was interesting to see the changes in scenery as we traveled through different regions.

It took us a while to get back into the USA, there were long lines at the border. Later we had traffic on Detroit’s 646. But eventually we got to Commerce MI, a suburb of Detroit where our brother-and-sister-in-law run a Chabad Center with their family. We passed by the corner where they are renovating and expanding an existing home into a synagogue/Chabad House and then got to their home after nearly 12 hours of travel. We ate a delicious supper, especially yummy after being so many hours on the road. We got to see family, catch up after a long time, see how the kids have grown, spend a little time together, before the older girls and Raizy got to work helping set up for the Bar-Mitzvah.

Later that evening, I took the kids to a family in Oak Park Ten-Mile where we would stay the night. That family is related to Mendel’s brother Efraim through marriage, and they actually stayed in Shabbos House a few years back when we hosted that super-large Shabbos Sheva Brachos celebration after Efraim’s wedding. In the meantime Raizy took the older girls to the Shul to set up for the Bar-Mitzvah the next morning.