We just got back this week from a 6-day vacation in East Tawas, Michigan. I don't know about you but when a big family goes on vacation, especially if there are several little ones who are pretty dependent still, it's more stressful than it's worth. Most of the time. This time, it was different.
Thanks to my wonderful friend Colleen, we got to enjoy some really serious vacation time. Serious, meaning it was a REAL vacation where we actually got to relax.... not just a "get away from normal life" vacation. There weren't really too many stresses that got packed in our luggage to follow us to Michigan, as is usual when we take a trip to the beach. Of course, with 4 little children in a strange place, there is definitely some stress. But it was stress that could be soothed with sunshine, pool time, splashing in the lake, s'mores. It was doable stress, the kind that seems to melt away the second you look out over the calm waters of Lake Huron and watch the setting sun.
So, what did we do on our vacation?
We drove 11 hours to arrive in East Tawas around dinner-time. The ride was uneventful. The kids had DVD's to watch, art bins full of snacks, crayons, notebooks, a canteen, and stickers, and of course their all-important "Ishies" and pillow pets to snuggle with when they grew tired. The last two hours proved to be a little bit anxious for their tiny bodies to deal with but we made it without incident and with everyone in good spirits. Juliet (the dog) didn't even throw up once!
Coming into East Tawas, we could see the clear waters of Lake Huron stretching out to the right of us. Gorgeous! Lots of Evergreen trees dotted the backdrop and a slightly-cool northern breeze floated through the open car windows.
We checked into our cabin (which I have to say, I was unimpressed with and it was really too small for our 6-person family with a dog..definitely something we have to do differently next year.) Colleen came with her daughters to welcome us and bring us a basket of Michigan goodies - fudge, blueberry jam, banana nut muffins, a mug with packets of organic green tea tucked inside. Very thoughtful. But I hungered more for the sight of her and her girls, as we haven't seen them in half a year. The only one missing was her son who was visiting his grandpa. That evening, we met her mom and step-dad at the Dancing in the Streets event the town has every Tuesday, where the kids can dance to a live band, blow bubbles and draw on the street with chalk.
After that, the week began. On Wednesday, we swam in the pool at our cabin and then drove to Colleen's mom and step-dad's 30 acre property. There, we cooked out, fished, rode the four-wheeler, ate s'mores and visited with some of the most down-to-earth and loving people I've ever met. The kids put on skits, chased the chickens and stuffed their faces til dark.
The rest of the week was spent much in the same relaxing way. We visited a Lumberman's monument, where we walked 280 steps down to the water (and back up again, me carrying a 3 year old most of the way up!). We went to the lake a few times to splash and cook out. We headed back to Colleen's family's place to hang out again, where we drank homemade wine, canned pickles, ate, fished, shot at targets with Joe's gun, and chased the chickens some more. Colleen and I got to have lunch together on our own, walk around to the many little quaint shops, and catch up. We walked the dock and looked at the yachts and sailboats as the kids bonded, Aidan pledged his love to Emily with a smiley bouncy ball and a shy attempt at a marriage proposal, and Stephen and Joe bonded over fart apps on their phones. (Boys are so icky!)
We attended Mass on Sunday morning at Holy Family with Colleen and her kids and her mom and step-dad. It was a very beautiful church. We ended our last evening there with dinner and drinks with the 3 of us adults while Megan and Steven took care of the kids at Colleen's house. Somewhere in the midst of that night, a poopy diaper was changed by 3 kids wearing rubber dish gloves!
We had a lovely time and already miss our friends! Can't wait to go back next year! God has blessed us with amazing opportunities to enjoy His creation and share special times with special friends.