Spitfire Road Trip Part 3

Spitfire Road Trip Part 3

Our trip home was mostly uneventful too. We stayed with extended family in Aurora, IL which meant we could leave early on Monday without needing to attempt driving through the night on Sunday.

We stopped for lunch just inside the Indiana border in Dyer at a great BBQ place called Doc’s Smokehouse, it was fantastic!!! The berry, peach, raspberry, and strawberry hard ciders on my flight of beverages were great too. Perks of being the passenger!

I wanted to put my feet in Lake Michigan on this trip home so chose to stop in Michigan City, IN to see the lighthouse and it was beautiful!

The location itself was a juxtaposition with the nuclear plant and industry on one side and the dunes and the lake on the other side.

It was very cool to be able to look across the lake and see Gary, IN (20-30 miles away as the crow flies) and Chicago, IL (40 miles as the crow flies) from the lighthouse.

We were able to enjoy some time walking in the cool waters and feeling the sand between our toes knowing full well we had to put our shoes back on to protect our feet for the journey home. (hot floors in the car)

We also saw a storm crossing Lake Michigan and luckily we had just enough time to wipe off our feet and hop in the car before heading out, but not before enjoying the beauty of the dark clouds, the rain from a distance, and the awe-worthy lightening from across the lake.

Instead of taking the long back roads we chose to drive home on I-94, especially with the storm which was getting bigger and redder on the radar.

The first part of I-94 between Indiana and Michigan is north-south so we didn’t feel like we were making any progress on the storm. When I-94 finally flattened as eastbound we were able to get some good distance behind us and we made it home well before dark. We also found a new route that I’m sure we will take on other road trips this year!
The storm was beautiful to watch… the shape of the clouds as well as the dark and light was amazing to see as we traveled on. It was in this moment that my friend’s prayer of “Praying that you see God everywhere you go. Be on the lookout for Him. He loves you.” This was definitely one of those moments where we could safely watch a storm and we could see the beauty of nature’s power.

On this trip home, we made many choices… we chose to stay longer than intended visiting with extended family. We chose to enjoy our trip home and stop for lunch instead of grabbing something quick. We chose to enjoy Lake Michigan and when the storm came we chose to take the direct route home. We chose our adventure AND we chose to accept that not everything worked out to plan, resulting in an enjoyable and less stressful trip together.

On future road trips, I hope we can adventure off the interstate more often and I hope we can appreciate the time together because it was SO much more enjoyable when we rolled with the journey instead of trying to keep everything predictable.

I’m off seeking my next adventure… what about you?


Spitfire Road Trip Part 2

Spitfire Road Trip Part 2

In part 1 I left you in a cute little town where we fixed the 1979 Spitfire. We were somewhere along our journey from metro-Detroit to South Beloit, IL.

Nerd and Super Nerd Adventure Spitfire Nerd and Super Nerd Adventure Spitfire

Most of the way across Michigan we made our road trip “official” with the sighting of a Bronners sign in a cute little town called Tekonsha. For those who aren’t from Michigan… Bronners is a HUGE Christmas store/warehouse located in Frankenmuth (Michigan’s little Bavaria) and they have signs near all the major highways and entrances into the state of Michigan. In some ways it’s not a road trip until you’ve seen a Bronner’s sign… so this is where our trip became “Bronner’s official”. LOL.

Nerd and Super Nerd Adventure Spitfire

After a short time, we also found ourselves on Route 66! The Michigan Route 66, not the US-66, but still! Our first Route 66 trip was in progress (for about 10 miles).

Our next planned destination was the longest covered bridge in Michigan and once we arrived it was nice to get out of the car to stretch our legs. Dave wrangled my “real” camera out of the tightly packed truck, out of my stuffed backpack, and then miraculously put everything back into place to be able to close the trunk!

Wrangled… yes that’s the right word. Success would also be another word I’d use for whenever we’d get the trunk to close the first time. Woo hoo!

We spent a bit longer at the bridge than I think we needed to just because I wasn’t ready to go back in the car and it was a REALLY pretty summer-type morning just before it got too warm.

Back on the road we found beautiful tree lined areas and stretches of road where we didn’t see a soul.

We entered a town it must have been a big town because it had a Dollar General AND a Family Dollar in the town. <<that was sarcasm in case you missed it! *smiles*

As we were passing through this “big town” of Cassopolis we found a replica Sinclair station! It was SUPER CUTE! 

This is where I actually yelled at Dave — PULL OVER RIGHT NOW!

He was glad that I did even if he wasn’t too happy that I asked for my “real” camera again since we had put it back into the trunk after the covered bridge… oops!

My favorite pieces of the station were the oil cans, the bright colors of white, red, and green AND the big brontosaurus!

Dave’s favorite part of the station was seeing the passion of someone to capture a time period. It felt like you were transported back in time.

I figured it was time to get a selfie of the three of us… Dave, Me, and the Spitfire.

Some people say we should stop and smell the roses, but I say we should stop and snuggle the brontosaurus… too bad he was up on the roof!

With these little detours we missed the gladiolus fields Dave had found as a destination on our journey, but I was getting hungry so we continued onto the beach town of New Buffalo, MI where I saw neither beach or Lake Michigan… hmmm… must have been getting tired in our 6 hours of journey to not head to the lake.

In New Buffalo, Dave let me wander a touristy shop where I got some cute summer weight Snoozie slippers and looked at EVERY shirt to see if it was something I’d wear, they were not very cute.
We wandered another two shops trying to get decent cell phone service trying to find a place to eat since the destination in New Buffalo was the wine store and we weren’t that excited for wine by the time we got into town.

We found our way to the restaurant Stray Dog, which we have been seeing signs for on I-94 on all of our travels from Michigan to Milwaukee for years and years. It was great food and great atmosphere! The benches at the table were cool and comfortable and not the car. I’m glad that it wasn’t SO comfortable that we fell asleep because we still had a long ways to go!


Once we were on the road again we drove thru Michigan City, IN where we were surprised to see the nuclear plant right along the route. We typically drive I-94 along this stretch of Indiana so I forgot that there was a nuclear plant here at the base of Lake Michigan.

By this time we were a little more than half way to our destination and the temperatures had risen to 91*F. The roads we planned next were smaller highways with lots of traffic lights. I was tired, HOT, and getting cranky… very cranky.

At one point I said we WILL pull over at the next gas station and I lucked out that it was a Speedway with a Beverage “cave”. I surprised the delivery guy who was restocking the cooler shelves. I stammered that I came in the little two-seater car and it was VERY HOT. He said “I don’t blame you. I don’t work here, you’re not bothering me.” Dave eventually found me and cooled off with me… Can’t all wives be found in the cooler right? Hahaha

After that we stopped every 45 minutes or so because I was simply overheating, mostly at my feet. We later found out from the car guys at the race track that the exhaust blows right in front of my feet on the other side, in the engine compartment and there wasn’t really a “heat shield” to protect my tootsies. Owie!

Little did we know that the WHOLE car had heating issues and our bags were hot too… it MELTED Dave’s gummy vitamins and our deodorants wound up in the refrigerator so we could salvage them (they were nice and chilly the next morning when we used them!). Once I found out that the car melted gummy bears I didn’t feel like such a whiner.

We had initially avoided the big interstates, especially I-94 going through Chicago because of the traffic congestion, but US-30 was miserable as we hardly moved from one traffic light to another and we chose to get on the interstate so we could just be MOVING.. Once we got on the interstate the wind helped cool us down as we zipped north to Rockton, IL, where our Airbnb was located.

I love that our Airbnb hostess had been chatting with us the whole day so she knew we had a hot road trip. She turned the air conditioning to very cold and added fans in front of the vents. AHHH! It was a relief to get out of the hot car after 12 hours of travel and enjoy our air conditioned accommodations!!

All in all our trip was fun! We made some loose plans to visit places like the Covered Bridge and the town of New Buffalo and we let some plans go like the gladiolus fields. We were flexible in our time so we could stop at the Sinclair Station, enjoy a long lunch break, AND make a cooler stop to literally cool our heels.

I’m surprised that the Spitfire is so comfortable and I’ll be happy to head out on another road trip (maybe on a cooler day!).

Life is all about capturing the little things and enjoying the moments that make our adventures meaningful. I hope you’ll take some time this summer to adventure a little and to let yourself explore more than usual… who knows you might even find a brontosaurus!


Spitfire Road Trip Part 1

Spitfire Road Trip Part 1

The weekend of June 17th Dave and I went to Blackhawk Farms Raceway in South Beloit, IL a 6-hour drive from our home in metro-Detroit Michigan… IF we had taken one of our modern cars.

Because it was a Triumph race weekend we took the 1979 Triumph Spitfire on this road trip. 

The journey itself took 12 hours to get from metro-Detroit to Rockton, IL (our Airbnb about 10 minutes from the race track). US-Highways were our primary mode of travel making the trip slower, but more interesting.

We made stops in two small towns for about 1/2 hour a piece. We had a 2-hour lunch stop, a beverage cooler stop, and we visited the longest covered bridge in Michigan, and found a Sinclair station too! In some ways this trip was picturesque and beautiful and in other ways the trip was miserable in the 92*F temperatures with a car whose heat from the engine burned up our feet as we journeyed along.

So why do it?

Why subject ourselves to a road trip in a TINY car across three states? 

We went because we’ve always talked about driving Route 66 someday, traveling the back roads and stopping at interesting locations.

We went because it was a great opportunity to take our little car and there wasn’t a good reason NOT to.

We also went because Dave enjoys driving his fun car and cars are meant to be driven.

Besides, I encourage adventure and what kind of adventurer would I be if I didn’t embrace new and unknown situations?

Especially in the safety of one weekend. I mean think about it… We are both smart and resourceful people so if anything went wrong we would be able to handle it.

One weekend won’t make or break us and who knows… it might even be fun!

As we prepared to leave I was VERY proud of myself for packing so little for our 5 days away from home especially since I had filled up my SUV the weekend before, for a 2 day, 2 night weekend… *inserting sarcasm here* The dog has SOO much stuff. Hahaha!

I was SO excited that all of my clothes and toiletries fit into FOUR small containers! The toiletries for the weekend, mostly sunscreen, bug spray and other “just in case” type items since we would be in VERY small towns all weekend… with a car I can’t drive.

Nerd and Super Nerd Adventure Spitfire

Nerd and Super Nerd Adventure Spitfire

In packing, we ended up having everything we NEEDED and not much else! We had clothes for Friday thru Monday, Dave had two sets for each of the racing days. We brought extra tennis shoes for Dave and sandals for both of us just in case rain and puddles made our shoes wet. We had a lawn chair (only one fit), my camera, laptop, and electronics for a work-from-Airbnb day. We had rain gear, a box of tools, a box of other car related gear, a soft sided leak proof cooler, and a small bag of snacks. Everything we truly NEEDED and a few extras stuffed in for good measure (24-waters, 8 Bai waters, and 7 Gatorades—Dave had one the night before).  Whew!

Lesson learned: It’s SO much easier to pack for a road trip when there is plenty of space. When it’s time to pack a carry-on bag for a weeklong airplane trip OR pack a tiny car for a long weekend we have to plan ahead with the most smarts and efficiency we can muster. It also might mean my dining room table is filled with all the things that didn’t fit and will need to be put away when we return from the trip.

So… we had everything we needed, it fit in the car, we got a mostly good sleep the night before… we were top down and ready to go… until it started raining as we were getting into the car. Dang it!

Nerd and Super Nerd Adventure Spitfire

I was bummed that it was raining and that the roof had to go up, it ended up being a blessing in disguise because the heat of the sun would have given us both sunburns and the conversation would have been almost non-existent… DAVE TURN HERE would have been our only chatting points!!!  I’m pretty sure if we had left the top down that we both would have lost our voices before we even started the weekend of family and friends.

Dave had pre-planned a few points of interest along the trip and our first destination was the Irish Hills Towers not far from Michigan International Speedway (MIS) along US-12. Even though it was a NASCAR racing weekend we left early enough on Thursday morning that we avoided any pre-weekend enthusiasm and enjoyed the rolling hills and farm lands in this remote area of Michigan.

As we drove past MIS we also sailed past the Irish Hills Towers in an “oh there they are and there they go” type fashion. We came, we saw, and it wasn’t worth the stop.

A lesson in Life: Just because we planned to go doesn’t mean we are meant to stay and sometimes life is funnier when it doesn’t go quite as planned. We laughed as we caught a glimpse of this landmark and laughed even harder when we sailed right past it.

Life and road trips are supposed to be fun or at the very least enjoyable enough to journey again… and if they’re not you’re doing them wrong!

Believe me… we’ve done MOST of our road trips wrong… point A to point B travel isn’t any fun and our next trips from metro-Detroit to Milwaukee (to see Dave’s family) will have a few more points of interest so we can enjoy the long journey.

Before we left I told a friend about our travels and she sent me back a prayer text. Here is what it said “Praying that your travels are mechanically uneventful, that the conversation is rich and life giving to your marriage, and you see God everywhere you go. Be on the lookout for Him. He loves you.” She added a googly eyed android man too because every prayer needs one of those right? *smiles*

Well as we came into a small town Dave’s car started making a strange noise accompanied by a lurch… wonderful. 

Nerd and Super Nerd Adventure Spitfire

So we roll up to a tiny town and find the (only) gas station in this the cute town and as I make my pit stop (from all the hydrating I was doing). Dave opened the hood of his car and found that a part of his distributor came loose causing the engine to misfire… in plain English two pieces that were supposed to be attached to each other were loose. He grabbed a small screwdriver and plunged it into the hole to keep the two parts together dubbing himself McGuyver, and rightly so.

Not to one up him or anything, but I asked the girl at the gas station if she knew where the nearest hardware store was located, to my surprise she pointed across the street (remember small small town)! Yea not the next town over with the screwdriver holding together the thing-a-ma-jig!

Being super prepared Dave (aka Super Nerd), took out his calipers and did some fancy math to get the right # machine screw to look for at the hardware store. *tongue in cheek* We should all carry along our calipers… just in case.  I joke, but they seriously were helpful so the joke is probably on me.

As I was heading to the hardware store on my own the Nerd I am thought about something… shouldn’t there be something to hold the screw in place better than a simple nut so I asked if he needed a lock nut and to my surprise he said great idea! Yea my Nerd skills are still in tact, not calipers and pocket protector worthy, but nerdy none-the-less.

We paid our $0.36 at the hardware store, placed the screw and nut into place and vroom off we went!  *insert snickering because I’m immature, but we fixed our car with a screw and we might be a little nuts*

Nerd and Super Nerd Adventure Spitfire

As we started driving off several retired guys looked out the diner window to see Dave’s cute little car. Several gave Dave a nod of approval… old guys are SO cool like that. They can give approval without saying a word or putting down their coffee!

Life Lesson: Fixing our minor mechanical issue was a fun detour! We could have been arguing and upset with the delay (like we have SO many times in the past), but we worked together, we both participated, and we supported one another… maybe just maybe we should do this every day. Show up, jump in, and let the minor things stay minor!

Life Lesson: Find joy in the small things especially in moments that remind you of times going by… the hardware store had pretty rough floors and an unfinished raw look to it, but it had everything I would expect in a true hardware store. It had small brown paper bags for our nut and screw. We simply wrote down the part # and quantity before we paid our $0.36… Thirty-Six CENTS.  Yes Cents!  It has been a VERY long time since I’ve paid with all cash let alone coins! It was a moment where it’s time to reminisce hardware trips with dad or grandpa because this scene will look different by the time we take our future kids or grandkids to the hardware store for a few small things that once cost $0.36 way back in 2017.

Today’s moments are tomorrow’s memories and stopping to enjoy today wherever you are is important so take stock of where you are right now because a few years from now your view will be different, your experiences will change you (hopefully for the better), and you can choose right now to look back on this moment with positivity even when you are in the midst of turmoil.

You are made of tough stuff and I am confident that your journey is going to be great!


2010 v. 2017

2010 v. 2017

In the Beginning a New Chapter post I introduced myself (Hi I’m Laura) and my husband Dave. I talked about Nerd and Super Nerd, the original 2010 debt-free journey website, and the plans for our 2017 “inspiring everyday adventures” website.

I also promised honesty and behind the scenes looks into our story so today I thought it would be fun to show you how our life is different from those early days.

Five Ways the Nerds life has changed since 2010.

Changes to the Nerds since 2010 #1 – No More Loans!

We paid off $133,313.33 in student loan and second mortgage debt in 2012!

It took us 2.5 years of saying no to eating out, saying no to vacations except for family cottages, and being VERY conscious of everything we were spending at any of the stores, no pretty things for the house or extras.

We still did home upgrades like painting the entire exterior of our house, staining the deck and a few other projects, but small (and cheap) fixes.

Those 2.5 years allowed us to eliminate ALL payments to loan companies except our primary mortgage.

NOW! We get to do anything we want with our income!

I’ve had family and friends tell me how lucky I am for paying off my loans, but I’m here to tell you that it’s hard work and it’s SO worth it! Being smart with money for 2.5 years allows us to adventure, to say YES to lots more experiences, and we don’t worry about making ends meet like we used to… which leads me to point #2.

Changes to the Nerds since 2010 #2 – Leaving engineering and work travel

In 2014 I left industrial and manufacturing engineering after 8 years of full-time engineering and 2 years of engineering projects as a student — I usually say 10 years because my student projects were REAL projects that a junior engineer would typically create, plan, and execute.

By mid-2013 I had been traveling for about 6 years, launching automotive assembly lines and I was exhausted from full-time travel. I tried transitioning into similar jobs but doors weren’t opening for jobs closer to home. Because we paid off our debts we could make the choice for me to transition into home life, which to be honest I’m still trying to figure out what a “house wife” looks like after so many years of intense travel.

Changes to the Nerds since 2010 #3 – Grandpa Time!
After I left engineering I was able to spend a lot of time with my favorite person in the whole world, my grandpa, who got sick shortly after I left my full-time career. It was a blessing to be able to spend time with him in that year and a half before he passed! I got to share pictures with him, hear stories, tell stories, and I got to help make sure he was taking all the right things when grandpa wasn’t listening to mom’s care taking urging.

Speaking of loss… since 2010 we lost our black lab, our orange kitty, my dad, my grandpa, and had a miscarriage in that order.

On the flip side (*smiles* yes I know what a flip side is!) we’ve also said hello to a niece, a nephew, two kitties, our black lab, and LOTS of new brothers and sisters through marriage — I am the oldest from a family of 3 kids and Dave is the oldest from a family of 5 kids. We have a much bigger family now and in case you missed it… we are two first-born engineers living in a house with a black lab and two kitties and yes it gets a bit crazy!

Changes to the Nerds since 2010 #4 – Traveling for Fun!

We have traveled A LOT! Mostly we’ve taken Midwest trips, usually from our home in metro-Detroit to Milwaukee where Dave’s family lives as well as “up north” to my family’s cottage on Lake Huron. We love taking trips to Traverse City, MI, and Marquette, MI to experience Lake Michigan and Lake Superior’s beauty… usually on the way to Dave’s family cottage in northern Wisconsin.

In 2014 I was able to join Dave on a work trip to Australia and in 2016 I was able to tag along on a work trip to Germany. We traveled to California for two weeks in 2016 which turned into a work trip by coincidence, this work trip meant I got to enjoy my February birthday in sunshine (only to be topped in 2017 as we had an unseasonably warm 75* day in in Michigan on February 18th!) — time to grab your calendar… my birthday is February 18th! Dave’s is June 9th… for those who want to send us cards.

All these trips had elements of wonder, frustration, awe-inspiring beauty, crankiness, and life-giving moments. None of these travels would have been made possible without the hard work up front (to pay off our loans) and the village who takes care of our house when we are gone from neighbors who keep watch (we have three law enforcement officers in the neighborhood) to the friends who check on our kitties to my family who usually takes our black lab, Clementine while we wander to a fro.

Changes to the Nerds since 2010 #5 – Cars

Since 2010 Cars have become an even bigger part of our life. Our careers have always been in the automotive industry and we both naturally have been around cars in some way since we were kids.

In 2015, we started helping my uncle on Vintage racing weekends with his Austin Healy Sprite as part of his pit crew. Usually, pit crew means helping tune up the race car between races so Dave gets to turn wrenches and I get to take pictures and make sure everyone is hydrated.

Because of the vintage racing weekends Dave’s heart for the Little British Car grew and in 2016 with Dave’s bonus we were able to add a “fun car” to our garage with the arrival of Dave’s 1979 Triumph Spitfire. It’s British Racing Green and I can fit a whole weekend into the trunk!

Sometimes life is completely ordinary like right now we have a few house projects and an endless supply of dishes and laundry. Sometimes life is filled with whirl-wind adventures, but all in all, we are working on enjoying life and supporting one another, even if we fail a lot in the process.

This is a small look into the story of Nerd and Super Nerd and I hope you’ll stick around to hear more!

If you’re not already signed up, I hope you’ll consider giving us your email address so we can let you know more of our story as we add more volumes to our adventures!

As always thank you for being here!

Beginning a New Chapter

Beginning a New Chapter

Hey there! Welcome to Nerd and Super Nerd a place for stories, pictures, and adventures to inspire you to find the spark in everyday life.

My name is Laura Gutknecht and I will be the writer, photographer, and cruise director of Nerd and Super Nerd. *smiles and waves hello*

Before you start wondering who Nerd and Super Nerd are let me tell you a short story… In 2010 when my husband Dave and I began paying off our student loans we made our first budget. It was a slow day at work so I made the budget and printed it out. After dinner, Dave and I sat down and looked over the plan I made and with a smirk on his face he declared me a Nerd!

We discussed how we would pay more attention to our income and after awhile Dave started talking about investments and interest payments – my eyes glazed over. I shook my head (trying to clear the fuzziness numbers can cause) and declared that if I’m a Nerd then he must be a SUPER Nerd! We had a laugh and THAT is how Nerd and Super Nerd came into being!

So Dave, the nerdier of us, is the one who I adventure through life with. We met in engineering school and this year we celebrated 10 years of marriage! He supports this website by editing and giving input for each of the stories, he steps in with tech issues just before I injure my computer, and tells me my pictures are awesome. He may not be writing the stories, but he lived them with me and helped me reminisce so I could tell you so he is almost always here in spirit.

Nerds and Budgets…

The rest of the story about Nerd and Super Nerd is this…In 2010, we started Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University with the hopes of paying off over $100,000 in student loan and second mortgage debt.

Spoiler Alert! We paid it all off!

A few months into our journey, I started this website, Adventures of Nerd and Super Nerd.

The original post can be found here.

I had hoped to share ways we saved money, to talk about things we made ourselves, and to inspire others on their journey to being smart with money.

After a few months, I stopped writing because to be honest paying off debt was SO ORDINARY and I didn’t feel like I had anything unique to add to the conversation. When my engineering career had me traveling most weeks during the year I let this website go quiet.

Years later I have learned to embrace the ordinary and I my passion for sharing stories with everyday people hasn’t changed.

Welcome to Nerd and Super Nerd 2017 Edition!

Nerd and Super Nerd is a place where I get to share our triumphs, our adventures, and our true-life moments, even the not-so-pretty ones. I want to be honest in a way that is upbeat and thought-provoking without falling down the rabbit hole that failure seems to bring. It is where you can come to hear stories, to get inspired to seek out adventure wherever you are in life and to find a positive place to land when you need a time-out in everyday life.

Nerd and Super Nerd is first and foremost a place for you to escape and enjoy reading our adventures.

We have plans to share our far away adventures as well as adventures from our own backyard— which could include a house project or two, we might showcase our laundry mountain or the nose printed sliding glass doors our black lab and two tabby cats use when watching the “Nature Channel” aka outside where the chipmunks, birds, and squirrels roam.

Nerd and Super Nerd is also a place where you can hear what we honestly think as we share the good, the bad, and the downright funny as it relates to life, travel, and being human. You will get a behind the scenes look at how we choose our travels, where we find great travel information, and when taking a great picture is most important for us. You’ll get a peek into our blooper moments and will get an honest take on what works for us and what doesn’t… it could be a product we love, an app we use, OR it could be a life perspective that made us more enjoyable people to journey with.

This is a place for YOU to enjoy great photographs, to get lost in stories of two Nerds, and to be inspired to seize adventures in your own life!

I hope you’ll enjoy Nerd and Super Nerd!

Much love and appreciation,
Laura Gutknecht (Your Nerd for the Journey Ahead)