Steve and I have had a wild time since returning to the states. We’ve visited six states, driven over 2000 miles, gained 20lbs (each – thanks to finally being reunited with quality beer), and hugged, laughed, splashed, and relaxed with so many of our loved ones we sorely missed for the past three years.
Our travel plans were a bit chaotic, but that’s how it had to be to spend time with everyone we wanted to see.
We landed in Chicago at the end of June and were picked up by our friends Jamie and Sarah McCauley. We spent a week with them and their dog Professor (Pretzel’s bestie), drinking good beer, relaxing outside, eating pizza, and playing Space Team.
After this week of getting over our jet-lag, we sped over to Steve’s parents’ house in New Hudson. We visited Cedar Point, stuffed ourselves with home-cooking, and enjoyed some incredible burgers at Blimpy Burger in Ann Arbor.
After a quick return to Jamie and Sarah’s, we left for Pennsylvania! We stayed a night or two with Steve’s brother and family and made arrangements to move in, in just a few weeks. Despite these plans, our vacation was far from over, in fact, it had barely begun! We left for to stay with the Hoffman-side of the family on the other side of the state.
In the middle of the week, Steve and I took a day-trip to NYC to take in some sights and spend some time just the two of us. We visited Korea Town, which was disappointing because we wanted to feel immersed in the culture that we left, and it just wasn’t the same. We walked ALL OVER that day, like good tourists, making friends, taking pictures, and eating everything in sight.
Once we got back to the Hoffman abode, we rested, we ate (of course), we played video games, and then we left for a beach house on the Jersey shore. (Not the show.)
My family (the Hoffmans) have stayed in the same place on the Jersey Shore since I was in high school. We love to get away, boogie board, eat fudge, shop, sun bathe, and eat a lot of seafood! On the last night we were in New Jersey, my parents renewed their wedding vows on the beach. My brother contacted their original officiant and he phoned in to marry them again, this time with their children present. As we prepared for this, we knew it would be beautiful and special, but I could not have prepared for how touched I was to see my parents renewed love right in front of me. It was a beautiful evening!
We returned to Michigan (from New Jersey) the following day to spend a week at a vacation house with the Rigbys. It’s a much more energetic experience when there are little kids around, and we had a lot of those! Never a dull moment with this crew. If they’re not jumping into a pool and splashing everyone around them, they’re climbing trees, or jumping on trampolines, or getting mani/pedis ( done by your truly).
We had so much fun together! We went on boat trips and visited the LEGENDARY Shipshewana, Indiana. Now, you may think “INDIANA?!” And normally, I would agree with you. But Shipshewana is awesome! They have an Amish Smorgasbord. If you don’t know what that is, you cannot fathom the glory that awaits you. We ate our hearts out. Not only this, but it also has this amazing animal farm named Dutch Creek Animal Farm. They have ZEBRAS. They have LLAMAS. They have WATER BUFFALO. And you can PET them and feed them. So freaking cool. If you have kids, or if you’re an adult, you should visit!
Whew! Five weeks of family, fun, and food. Sadly, this adventure eventually had to come to an end. We returned to Michigan briefly to visit my closest friend from college and then drove back to western Pennsylvania.
While the past month was a whirlwind of fun, we are now facing a very sobering future that will be our lives for the next year in the United States. We feel so blessed by the amount of people who have reached out in support for us. Every week I receive numerous texts from friends just asking how I’m handling the transition mentally. (We’ll post more on this later, but reverse culture-shock is a real thing, and it sucks.)
Steve and I are still on the hunt for job opportunities, though we have a few things lined up. This transition has been difficult, and we know that we couldn’t have done it without our friends and family supporting us and praying for us. Your prayers are felt daily. We love you all so very much, and we’ll keep you posted as this year continues.
❤ Leah & Steven
Check out our last video about our first week back in America!