When Scott and I ventured "Up North" towards the mitten tip of Michigan, we had no other plans than to spend some quality time with his family. I mean, what else could we need? We weren't expecting to meet up with other friends, or swap stories with fellow bloggers and we certainly had no inclination to meet up with any members of my (Illinois-based) family during our trip. Fate, however, had other plans. Turns out, serendipity hitched a ride in our trunk on the way up.
Let me first apologize for the rambling nature of this post. I could very easily flush this out into at least three different posts. I would love so much to delve more into the subjects of Northern Michigan, the magic of serendipity, insta-bonds with fellow sister-bloggers and epiphanies had on the water's edge; but sadly, I don't have the time for that these days. This one rambling and rather disjointed post will have to do.
Northern Michigan is amazing. There's really no other way to put it; it is natural beauty at it's best. The perfect combination of glistening fresh water lakes, sloping ridge lines, and lush woodland vegetation instantly win any visitor over. There's so much to do from boating to biking, from beaching to kayaking...you can easily fill and entire summer indulging in outdoor activities, visiting quaint harbor towns and taking in various points of interest. We love it. It's as simple as that. And the fact that we have family that lives smack dab in the heart of it all is pretty sweet. It's our home away from our home away from home. Wherever that is.
We were soaking it all in, thoroughly enjoying our time with Scott's family when I got a text from my cousin, Ben, telling me that he would soon be arriving in Elk Rapids with his wife and dog on their Grand Banks trawler. He wanted to know a) would we still be in the vicinity and b) could we meet up? The answer to both was a resounding YES. This was crazy on two levels: 1) What are the odds of randomly being within a half hour from my cousin who was on a shake down trip before he and his wife leave on their epic Great Loop journey? And 2) What are the odds of our schedules lining up and that they'd chose the very harbor (of which there are many!) where we happened to pick up our very first boat, Rasmus, almost six years earlier?
And that's not all serendipity had in store.
Earlier in the week we randomly ran into some of our best friends and their two adorable kids for a full day of on-the-water fun. We knew they would be "up north" for a bit on their family vacation, but we made no plans to get together and see one another. Imagine our surprise when we found out they were staying at the resort right next to Scott's mom's place, not even a ten minute walk away?
And the wonderful run-in's continued from there...
You might remember a while ago when I interviewed the awesome duo from KatieandJessieonaboat.com? Well, as it turns out, Jessie now lives not thirty minutes from Scott's mom, and she was keen on a meet-up as well. I was pretty sure we'd hit it off; I've dabbled in her blog for a while and not only his her writing stellar, but she and I seem to share a brain on many levels. We'd emailed back and forth a bunch since our interview, and I was so excited to finally meet her in person. Coordinating, however, was looking grim since she was working just about every evening and our days were pretty packed-up with kiddos and family. As it turns out, mother nature intervened with an epic Armegeddon-style storm that wreaked havoc on Northern Michigan, leaving thousands without power for days. The restaurant where Katie works was once such place. "I have the next few days off work!" she wrote me, "Let's meet up for dinner!"
And so we did. And it was wonderful.
The night was a blast; we drank, ate, laughed, told stories, and drank some more. Our world's collided in the best and most serendipitous of ways, and it was awesome.
As if that wasn't enough, on the drive home, my best friend texted that she and her family were in Holland, MI (which happens to be right on the way back to Chicago) and would we like to meet for a pit stop lunch? Despite wanting to get home as fast as possible (traveling in a car with three toddlers is like playing a game of catch with a grenade), we erred on the side of spontaneity and decided "what the hell". Lunch turned into an afternoon play date at the very same boat yard where we began our first shake down cruise as a family of five which then turned into another night spent at her family's wonderful lake house. The very same lake house I used to go to with her nearly every summer from age seven on. Vacation: extendo. Again, odds that our schedules would coincide like that? Who knows. But we took the detour and were better for it.
Being in Michigan - the family time, the serendipitous run-in's and everything in between - was utterly soul-lifting. Spending so much time outside, in nature, on and in the water with our girls completely drove home the fact that no matter where we 'settle down' it must be somewhere where we can get our toes wet in our very own back yard. Not 'near' or 'by' the water, but on the water...for us there is no other way. It's very obviously a reason why I love living on a boat so much, this direct proximity to water. It's effect on me is visceral. It is truly the elixir of life, and being able to gaze at it, swim in it, and play around it daily is a priority.
A lake is the landscape’s most beautiful and expressive feature. It is earth’s eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature. ~Henry David ThoreauThey don't call it "Pure Michigan" for nothing, that's for certain.
|Having our kids spend time with their beloved cousins was probably the best part of the trip.|
|Random run in with awesome friends? Bonus!|
|Water and sand, two of the world's best (and cheapest!) children's toys1|
|Our babies are right at home on the beach on the water. Add sand, water and sun for hours of entertainment.|
|We did a LOT of pontoon boating. Mira loved it.|
|Isla teaching Mira the finer points of sidewalk chalking, namely - not eating it.|
|We brought out Scotts' family's old CL16 and Scott was in HEAVEN. This little boat is SO fun.|
|Here's a (grainy and low quality) photo of that crazy storm. 90 mph winds, hail and general havok was wreaked.|
|This is Jessie. My soul-sista from another mister. Love her.|
|My cousin Ben and Jessie. "Look what I got for the trip, Britt!" he tell's me, "An old squeezebox!!" Hilarious and Awesome.|
|Loopers and Cruisers UNITE!|
|Boating down the river.|
|The water everywhere was calf-deep, natures perfect baby pool|
|On a mission, as usual.|
|A rare picture of me and our three girls. It's impossible to love this much I think.|
|Our little beach babies. Nothing makes me happier than to see them playing together.|
|A final sunset with my bestest friend on the planet. Perfection in every way.|