Here in Michigan, there is a silly state law that prohibits any school system that gets public funds from starting classes before Labor Day. Purportedly, this is to stimulate tourism. I suspect it does nothing of the sort. What it does mean is that I have a little more time yet before MY children go back to school. And I can share with you a bit of our Summer Vacation. Maybe some of the photos will inspire you a little. To take a trip, go wander, or even make a quilt. Feel free. If you need my permission to use a photo for your quilt – just ask and I’ll happily provide it.
We took a longer weekend than we have in past years, so we could be a bit more leisurely about it. We headed North, stopping at Hartwick Pines State Park to have a picnic lunch. If you’ve never been, it’s worth a side-trip. The park highlights one of the last stands of virgin white pines in Michigan, and has a well thought out logging museum. From there, it was up to the Straits of Mackinac, and across to the island on the ferry.
The upper deck of the ferry affords some very nice views of the Mackinac Bridge, even on a hot, misty afternoon.
This year we ranged a little further into the interior of the island than we have in the past. We walked up to Fort Holmes, which sits atop the highest point on the island, and affords some glorious views.
You can see the mainland across the water. And it was early enough in the morning to catch the sunlight, although a bit eye-watering.
We even got a nice view of Sugar Loaf Rock – which meant we decided we didn’t actually need to walk down to see it up close.
For the first time this year, we paid the separate admission to visit Fort Mackinac. It was interesting, and I was surprised to run into some animatronics. Like most kids, my youngest child was unimpressed with the weight of history on the place. Though she looked like any bored student, seated at the desk.
There were also commanding views of the harbor, from the wall of the fort. Which makes sense, given that it’s job was to serve as something of a sentry.
Of course, we had to walk around the Island and hit all of the usual tourist spots. The Grand Hotel just begs to be photographed.
That soft aqua color that the porch ceiling is painted? That’s iconic for the Grand Hotel. It’s a color I wanted for my blog, but had trouble communicating that to my graphic designer. I’ll go more into why that is, when we talk about building color palettes from photos in a future post.
I also had to stop and get a picture of The Little Stone Church. It’s another Island landmark, with its own historic marker. Mostly, though, it’s pretty and it’s on the hill to the Grand Hotel. This was the first year it was open while we were there, so we did nip inside. The stained glass windows are lovely, though I didn’t have my tripod along, so pictures weren’t really an option.
If you go, I recommend spending the night, if you possibly can. The Island is lovely at any time, but particularly so at night (again, no tripod – sorry), and early in the morning, before the arrival of the first ferry from the mainland. Very few of the tourists are up and moving, In fact, not many of the businesses are open, yet. You can cross Main Street without fear of being hit by horse-drawn carts of bicycles, although the drayage wagons are on the move, delivering things to businesses while they can do so easily.
And we took the time to wander just a bit. There are so many lovely cottages along the shores that I’d love to have. And then I remind myself that I’d need a lottery win. And it would still be massively inconvenient, even as a Summer Place. Still, a girl can dream:
On our way home, we stopped by what I refer to as “The Olde Homestead.” It’s the farm my mother grew up on. It’s still in the family, but no longer really being farmed. Faint strains of Deana Carter’s “Strawberry Wine” run through my head whenever I walk around there: The fields are grown over now, years since they’ve seen the plow. There’s nothin’ time hasn’t touched. Various old farm implements languish in the weeds. This is what is euphemistically referred to as a “honey wagon.” I’m betting you can work it out.
The house is gone, as are the tractor shed, chicken coop, and granary. But the old barn still stands tall. It even has it’s lightning rods. I remember playing in the hayloft, and chasing barn kittens around in the attempt to tame them. I also remember falling down the hay mow (not a huge deal, given the large pile of soft hay at the bottom. I’m lucky grandpa didn’t bother to sweep up, much).
Pine trees stand 20 feet tall in the old cow pasture. But my uncle still works the sugar bush on the back forty every spring and has revitalized the orchard. Maybe I can find time to go up this fall and sweet-talk him into some apples.
We ended our trip with a stay at the Great Wolf Lodge – a treat for the girls for being half-way well-behaved for the rest of the trip. I hadn’t realized just how kid-friendly a place it is. Even autistic-kid friendly. I think we’ll have to plan a longer stay, so that we can take advantage of more of what they have to offer.
I was a good girl, and didn’t make my husband stop at any quilt shops. (Though there were probably at least 4 within easy reach and 2 more a short distance off our route). This was part virtue, and part because I new the weekend after we returned was AQS Quilt Week – and I wanted to save my quilt budget for that, instead.
I hope I’m making memories for the girls, although it’s hard to tell, just now. Either way, it’s good to rattle them out of their routines just a bit, and practice social skills out in the wild, as it were.
What are your favorite family vacations? Any things that your kids particularly enjoyed – or hated at the time but remember fondly, now?