365/52 week 31 (ie "vacation")
my daughter, the ant lover

okay: michigan.

remember two weeks ago i posted a photo of the day of a painting i bought of lake michigan, and i said i needed it for sentimental reasons? well, here's the sentimental reason: i adore lake michigan.

growing up, my family had zero money. but every summer we managed to make it to grand haven, michigan, for a long weekend of camping and swimming at the beach. now, as a kid, i assumed we went every year because we liked it so much. as an adult, i now understand that it was as close as we could get to a vacation without spending a ton of money. the campsite at the state park was $20 or less a night, we cooked our own food over a fire, the beach was free, etc.

and if you've never been to lake michigan, let me just say this: you are missing one of the most gorgeous beaches. the sand is soft and white and clean. the water is vast and beautiful and clean. the atmosphere is quiet and lovely and clean. i will take it over any tropical, salty beach any day of the week.

since moving to minnesota nearly 14 years ago, my lake michigan time has disappeared. we discovered lake superior which, in its own right, is amazing ... so maine-like, which we love. but not beachy. then, three years ago, i was on the docket to teach in grand rapids, mich., at the great american scrapbook convention. i grabbed my friend catherine and we drove to michigan, stopping in saugatuck for a few days on the way. and i was reminded anew just how much i love, love, love michigan.

last year, while marc was away on business, the kids and i headed to indiana then to warren dunes with my parents for the day. and my kids got their own taste of just how fantastic lake michigan is. and now THEY love it.

so this year my family decided to do a family camping adventure, just like the old days, but this time with husbands (becca's and mine) and kids (henry, harper and wyatt).

it all started in march, when i went down to indiana to throw a baby shower for becca. i was talking to one of my aunts and she mentioned i hadn't been to the family reunion in ohio in way too long. i agreed ... it had been 16 years since the last time i attended ... and she said, "tell me what dates work for your family." um ... august looked clear at that point. so august it was. the plan was set, and i was on the hook to bring the family. while talking to my mom and sister later about the reunion, the plan was hatched to be old school all the way: let's go camping at hoffmaster just like the old days! and i couldn't wait.

so last week, we loaded up the car and headed to indiana on friday. saturday we spent in ohio at the family reunion, and i can't believe i didn't take a single photo. i'm glad marc got the one of harper with the fish ... i totally missed that because i was swimming with becca and we were pushing people off the raft just like we did when were kids. my own kids had so much fun that i think we need to make getting to the reunion a higher priority. it was such a memorable part of my summers growing up, and i would love for it to be a happy memory for them, as well.

then, monday morning, we headed to michigan (plus a pit stop at the fulton county museum in rochester to visit my grandma. can't believe i didn't take any pix there, either.). we got to the campground, set up tents, the kids wandered and swung in hammocks, the weather was perfect ... it was just like i remembered, except with the addition of a new generation of people to deal with.

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harper, contemplating the cosmos and a green bb that she found on the ground.


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wyatt, getting into the concept of "great outdoors + excersaucer."


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henry, too engrossed in "the hobbit" to notice nature.


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hey there, mchotness. you're lookin' a little scruffy. i enjoy that.


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uno.


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naptime.

and so it went ... good times by the fire, good times hanging out, good times finding things to burn, good times eating stuff cooked on a stick. including pancakes.

really, pancakes. matt swore it would work.

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it worked only sort of.

and for the kids, the best part of the trip? the beach. of course.

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the water was ... cold. really cold. like, i didn't go in it at all the first day. henry did briefly, then we pulled him out when he started to turn blue.

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so we went exploring down the beach instead.

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true to form, harper found a bug. then built it a house. then set out to find more cool stuff.

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oh, and hey: there i am. at the beach.

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that night we went into grand haven to watch the magic fountain show. henry thought it was "pretty cool." harper was in a mood and "didn't enjoy it at all." whatever, harper.

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wednesday was our last day ... it came too fast. so we hit the beach once more, and while the water was still chilly, the air was warmer. so we all got in for a little while. except harper, who was in only minutes with me. then she wanted to play on the beach and feed seagulls.

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after the beach we broke camp, cleaned up, and headed into grand haven for dinner and a farewell. and some souvenir shopping.

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there was a portable band shell on the boardwalk, with a band playing and cute older couples dancing. it was adorable, and looked like such fun. sadly, i'll have to hold out hope that my second husband will dance with me, because lord knows the current one will not.

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then we got ice cream ...

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but poor wyatt was de.nied. maybe next year, buddy.

then we drove to ludington, mich., where we would catch the s.s. badger the next morning. it ferries cars and people across lake michigan to manitowoc, wis., and we've been meaning to try it for years. so glad we did ... the kids thought it was a great adventure, and it was much better than sitting in chicago traffic yet again.

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and that was it.

oh, except marc, mr. "i've never had a sunburn in my life and don't need sunscreen," got burned. big time.

can you guess where the sunscreen ended that he DID put on?

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silly boy. maybe next year he'll let me put something on him.

Comments

Sue Thomas

What wonderful memories - old and new!!!

Valerie at Home

Love it! I love camping and hanging out with family and sharing things with my kids that I love.

I need to convince Will to take a trip out there and see you guys IRL. I have a feeling our kids would really hit it off. The picture of Henry in the hammock with The Hobbit is so very much like Kate.

Heather

Wow--what a terrific vacation! It makes me want to take my family camping (and THAT is truly amazing)!

Susan

My aunt lives in Muskegon and we LOVE that state park. I try and take my girls when we go back and visit!! We used to go to Alpena and have vacations just like this one when I was growing up but thank GOD we rented cabins...side by side...i think like 4 of them and stay for two weeks (it is as close to camping as I liked). At my mom's funeral we were talking about doing it again...maybe I will suggest Hoffmaster.

Oh and the Ferry....don't get me started. TOm wouldn't even think of it. I have such great memories from that to......Thanks for the trip dow memory land....excuse me while I wipe the tears from my keyboard....

Susan :)

lisa truesdell

awesome awesome awesome. now i want to go!

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