061013rockslakeM

someone left this line of pretty rocks for us

061013sleepingbears

sleeping bear dune in the furthest distance, and south manitou island the dark line to the left of it

061013zonrockwithflies

see the fuzzy black dots? not dirt on my lens. flying black insects…with no breeze to blow them away. at least they weren’t biting, just annoying.

061013birdprints

large prints and wee prints

061013yellowbeachflowers

welcomed color on a gray day
(my parents were canadian and i still spell gray, “grey” first)

061013zdogshadows

a big bouncy dog found my daughter, i love the long shadows

061013zsunset

she has seen many sunsets at pt. betsie

061013ptbetsieon
pt. betsie lighthouse with the lamp just lit

061013autored

reading “the autobiograpy of red” on crystal, recommended by my daughter, the sun finally shining

061013turkeyshouse

wild turkeys bigger than my pug. i later noticed the christmas lights on the house. a newer kind. did someone live here so recently? or did they just decorate to draw attention to the antiques store next door?

weekend escape to the big lake

“i won again mom. did you see i used the word “idiosyncratic”? shall I put my can of whup*** away now?”

My daughter and I escaped this weekend to northern Michigan, to the big lake, Lake Michigan, and to Crystal Lake. My husband’s parents have a cottage on Crystal Lake, very close to Lake Michigan, which we have spent time at every summer since before our children were born. As a child my husband spent most of his summers there. He spent so many hours combing the beach for Petoskey stones, he would fall asleep with the pattern of Petoskey stones on his eyelids. I love that image.

It is not always easy for me to spend time at that cottage. Clutter, clutter clutter everywhere…I wish I was wired differently and that such unimportant things didn’t bother me, but I’m not and they do. I haven’t even mentioned the dog toys, crates, hair…gah. And I love dogs.

But it is in the midst of paradise and I am grateful for time there, especially since it is a place my children and husband love. (They don’t mind clutter…believe me and don’t get me started.)

It was a quiet weekend, almost too quiet for us. It was grey and cool. No waves on either lake. I have never seen Lake Michigan with no waves. No breeze in the woods surrounding the cottage. And very few people– that will all change at the end of this week when school is out for the summer.

Still, it was nice to get away together. We walked along Lake Michigan at Empire Beach, sat on the beach at Crystal wrapped up in towels and read and napped, bought coffee and giant soft chewy butter pretzels at the Crescent Bakery, watched the sun set at Pt. Betsie, ate at the Coho Café where our up north neighbor from Virginia was being trained to be a waiter (his family stays up at the lake all summer), and played Bananagrams, which I enjoy less and less every time I play with my daughter.

We plan to go back up north with the rest of the family in July, after my daughter’s job working at the Ann Arbor Summer Festival ends. Hoping the lakes and the air will be a little warmer!

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road tripping

April 2, 2013

040213kidsarches

040213stetsonshadow

road tripping

040213canyonlands

040213canyonlandssunset

photos:
1. arches national park, delicate arch
2. a cowboy’s first stetson, purchased in moab
3. north rim of the grand canyon
4. canyonlands
5. sunset at canyonlands

My son and husband hit the road today for Washington, DC, and oh how I wish I was with them. I will be visiting my daughter this weekend at her college, which I am happy about, but I wish we were both going with them to DC. I love vacation road trips with my family.

I am not sure how it is in the rest of the country, but here in southeastern Michigan, home of the Motorcity, we are all about being behind the wheel of our automobiles. Or maybe because it takes more time to drive from Ann Arbor to some parts of Michigan than it does to some parts of Florida, we think nothing of a 12-18 hour road trip.

My family has often driven to the warm sunshine of Florida for spring break. We have also driven to DC and Virginia. NYC is close enough that we considered driving, but the thought of dealing with NYC traffic was too scary, so we flew. (Insert Arrested Development’s Gob chicken dance hare– chaw chee chaw chee)

This year, with my daughter now away at school, we don’t have the same breaks. Family spring break road trips, all family spring break trips, are a thing of the past, My son is itching to be the age where he can take trips with just his friends, so I’m sure even divided spring break trips will soon end.

So I am dreaming about a summer family road trip. It is unclear if we will be able to coordinate our schedules for a family trip this summer. It will all depend on my daughter’s employment situation which, in my mind, is a priority. But that hasn’t stopped me from thinking about it.

Some people will think I’m crazy, and they will be correct, but I love the driving part of a trip almost as much as I love the vacation itself. I love sharing a book together, via an audiobook, the way we used to when our kids would let us read to them every night before bed. I love it when I hear my kids unexpected bursts of laughing from the back of the car—while they watch a movie together with headphones on.

I remember driving in the early morning sun through the Rockies on I-70, which twists and turns through the towering mountains, as a river cascades down on one side. I remember feeling such incredible joy at traveling in the midsts of such beauty with my family right there with me.

Real talk- it is not all bliss. But you knew that. An argument ensues every time we have to choose a restaurant. The goal never seems to be eating at a restaurant you enjoy, the goal is getting to decide where we are going to eat that is not the place your sibling wants to eat, even if it is not the place where you really want to eat.

I remember at least one occasion where we pulled over at a rest stop and made one or the other kid get out of the car and told them to go be by themselves for awhile. And then we locked the car doors (stellar parenting skills right there). I’m sure the one who had been assaulted made smirking faces from the back seat window…

But really and truly, for the most part, the driving is great. And the fact that my kids are asking if we can drive out west again this summer, tells me they enjoy it too. I think because our lives are pretty stressful, that time with nothing to do but drive, or listen to an audio book, or watch a movie, to look out the window at the amazing landcape of this country, or just to process—this downtime in the car is kind of a luxury. And we are pretty good at planning car entertainment. We buy or rent movies before we go, we stock up on audiobooks and music, we make sure we have a car charger for electronic devices…not sure I would have done these trips in a pre-electronics age.

Two summers ago we drove to the Southwest: Zion, Bryce, Arches, North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Dinosaur National Monument and through the Rockies to get there. The summer before we did the Rockies, Tetons, Yellowstone and Dinosaur again. Oh such great trips. I’ll spare you the 4 hour slide show. It would be much better if you just go and see for yourself.

This year I would love to travel to Yosemite, San Francisco and maybe drive Highway 1 to Oregon to rendez-vous with my Seattle sister and her family. I think we would need to fly out and then rent a car to drive up the California coast. That would be a very long drive. We will see…

The worst part of driving, even worse than kids fighting in the car, is the drive back home. Oh Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois…or from the south, through Ohio…Gah! After awhile your fruited plains and amber waves of grain get really, really boring, especially after seeing those purple mountains’ majesty in Colorado, or Tennesee, or Pennsylvania. It is in these states that the media usually runs out, and where begins the stress over all of the work that faces us when we get home…

And still, I’ll take it. The team bonding power and shared discover of this vast and varied country of ours far outweighs the downsides of a long road trip.

And really, how much more time do I have with these people I love so much when we are just focused on each other and our shared experience?

The answer is at least 72 if we decide to drive to California, and back, this summer.