So what if going to Michigan in the summer instead of Labour Day meant that we couldn’t go to the Cider Mill? Everything else about this trip was way better. To begin with, Paul took the most time off work ever, giving us more time to do things. Also, since we were the only family out last week, we had the luxury of spreading out, of increased facetime, and of making our own schedules. In a word, the week was perfect.
We flew out late Saturday night, and when we landed in Detroit at midnight it was 90 degrees and thickly humid. Michigan had not been saved from the heat wave smothering most of the country. Fortunately for us the temperatures dropped to the considerably more comfortable mid-80s for most of our time.
Our Sunday was spent in the quiet jet-lag haze of East-bound travel. We went to church. We ate. We napped. In the evening as it cooled off we went for a walk through the neighbourhood. We saw fish in the lake, played pooh-sticks over the bridge, and watched an egret fly gracefully above. On our walk back Boy Blue made perfect calls to a bird not far off. We couldn’t see him, but my father in law was fairly sure it was a dove with whom Blue was communicating. Their back and forth discussion continued for a while, until finally I told Blue “tell him goodbye, it’s time for us to go.” Blue made one more call and then bird never responded, the skies quiet for the rest of our walk home. It was an incredible experience!
Monday we took a tour of the Rouge Factory. Now, when I lived in Virginia I spent a short stint working in a factory and was quite astounded to see the conditions at the Rouge. The difference? Unions. Whatever your political views, unions exist to improve conditions and we are much better off for it. In addition to the working conditions I really enjoyed learning about the vertical integration pioneered by Henry Ford, and the environmentally sustainable practices being integrated like the living roof and the permeable pavement!
On Tuesday we went to the Detroit Zoo. It was a hot day, and the polar bears (one of the main reasons we went) were napping off the heat instead of cooling off in the water. The penguins, however, were doing their thing, as were many of the other animals. That evening we left the boys with their grandparents and went out for an early anniversary dinner at Assagi. We had a calamari salad for our first course which has completely changed the way I think of calamari (and ruined me on the traditional presentation forever.) I had their fish special, something that started with a b but now I can’t remember, and Paul had something meaty that he really liked, lamb chops? For dessert he had something he liked and I had something way better: mediteranean bananas. All the other desserts I had in Michigan were compared with that and most of them were disappointing.
Wednesday was a very exciting day for me, we headed “Up North” for the nostalgic part of our week. Growing up, Paul and his family made many trips to northern Michigan, and it’s where we went for our honeymoon. Now, a week before our twelfth anniversary, we were able to return for the first time, and take our children to this special place. We stopped for lunch at the Cherry Hut, a restaurant of great fame in our family, before finally making it up to Sleeping Bear Dunes that afternoon. We went to the Dune Climb first, and were pleased to see that not only do the boys love this place as much as we do, but that they are part mountain goat and can climb much faster than we can! We explored the National Lakeshore, then spent the night in Traverse City.
On Thursday we returned to Glen Arbor to explore the dunes around the Maritime Museum, do some touristy shopping in the town, and then hit the road again, this time going to Petoskey. We drove through Charlevoix at the right time to see the drawbridge raise for a ship to go through, and I was as charmed by the town as much this time as I was in ’99. When we arrived in Petoskey, ready for the “great deal on a suite” that my father-in-law had arranged, we discovered that the hotel had been overbooked and the presidential suite was unavailable. So they upgraded us to the Penthouse. This place was twice the size of our apartment, with the two rooms downstairs and the living areas upstairs, complete with full kitchen and dining room, as well as laundry. When Paul and his father went out to buy food so we could eat in (how could we think of going to a restaurant and not making full use of this place?) Paul also picked up some laundry detergent just so we could do laundry in the penthouse. We had gorgeous valley views, a very comfortable suite, happy memories, and we were only halfway through our trip. Instead of using the pull-out couch upstairs for the boys we put the mattress in the walk-in closet in our room downstairs, and we all slept very well.
Friday was probably our busiest day. We checked out the street fair occupying most of my beloved Petoskey, and I picked out a petoskey stone bead for my bracelet as an anniversary gift. We drove up to Mackinaw City where we boarded a catamaran to Mackinac Island. There we sampled fudge, drove our own carriage around the island, and soaked up all we could in that quaint town on that beautiful day. At the end of the day we loaded back up into the cars and hit the road for the long drive back to Detroit, making it only minutes before midnight.
Saturday we went to Comerica Park to see the Tigers play the Angels. The Angels won, and we were surrounded by 40somethings acting with all the maturity of a bunch of wild teenagers, but we had good seats and were with our favourite people (each other) so our good moods were undeterred by the negatives.
Sunday was another day of rest. We went to church. We visited the neighbour and checked out his cars. (A couple of MGs, an old Jag, and a Kaiser Derrin!) We napped. We ate. We took another walk.
On Monday we set out to tick off the last few things that everyone wanted to do or purchase, while maximizing our last day together. After dinner we said our goodbyes to Paul’s parents and to Red, and Paul, Blue and I flew back home. Our Big Red is spending a week of independance with his grandparents. Blue said,”I miss Red” before we even got to the gate, but both have done well with their first time apart. He’ll be home on Saturday, though, and we’re really looking forward to that!
All of the things that we did on the trip were special and enjoyable, but best of all was having the grandparents all to ourselves. It’s the first they’ve really gotten to know our boys, and the bonds created are better than all the fun places. I love the cider mill, but from now on I think my vote goes toward spending a week in the summer, just us. I wouldn’t trade those daily swims and lazy mornings for anything.
**In the next day or two I might add photos to this post, but you can avoid the wait and go to flickr now!