Last summer I took the kids north on a vacation that was to be spontaneous. I’ve done that two years in a row and both times it turned out great. The first year we covered a large area starting in Mears about three hours NW of home, drove up the west side of the state and ended up at the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in the Upper Peninsula almost seven hours from home. We had a great time but there was a significant amount of driving and I crammed so much into five days I felt like I needed a vacation after the vacation.
The next year I decided to plan it out a little better. Instead of just jumping in the truck with a general idea of where to go I mapped it out and decided on particular stops without venturing so far north. Our first stop was just south of Pentwater to visit Little Sable Point Lighthouse. We’ve been there at least a couple of times but this time the lighthouse was open so you could walk up to the top where I took this photo,
One of my favorite places to walk is the Lefurge Woods Nature Preserve in Ypsilanti, MI.
I grew up not far from here but didn’t discover the trails until fairly recently, last summer, even though I passed it countless times while driving into Ypsilanti to visit my mother. I’ve always liked nature trails but I guess I didn’t realize this place was anything other than a quick overlook into wetlands. In fact the preserve has two parts one with longer trails and a hill and another spot about a half mile away shown in this picture.
I think one day on our way to Ypsilanti my youngest said something about the large hill with a small parking area mentioning it would be a great place to fly a kite. Shortly after we purchased the first of many kites and set off to the hill. It took a few kites but we managed several visits to the preserve with successful flights most times.
I’ve spent many hours here with my kids flying kites, walking around exploring and sometimes by myself where I would walk and think. I guess I discovered this trail during a time when things started to really change and I needed to think often. I wish the snow would melt and the warm air would return so I could go back.
Located in a tourist trap this hotel is older then the rest and always has room for more. The other hotels have water parks, large televisions and updated rooms. This one has good rates and solid construction. Sleeping here guarantees a good rest without kids running up and down the halls.
The Stearns Motor Lodge in Ludington Michigan is just the place to get away when you need to.
As a child Christmas was always a magical time for me. As with many kids I saw it as a time when all my efforts at being good throughout the year would pay off. The gifts I would receive were connected to my actions. Plus the fact that it was a time of winter break from school when you hung out with friends building snow forts and talking about what gift you hopped for. Things were simple.
Of course even as a child I was aware that the type and number of gifts were closely related to available funds. Even so I loved the idea of all things Christmas from the, music to the shows I would watch before bed like “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys.”I had my favorites but that was the one looked forward to the most.
For many years I had a calendar I kept near my bed marking off each day of December in anticipation for the big day when Santa would bring me gifts. Eventually I started to put together that we didn’t have a chimney plus there were the kids in school who said it was a lie. In time, as we all do, I learned all about it but not before I enjoyed many years of the thought that he was in fact coming. I swear one year I really heard the bells on his sleigh on our roof, I was completely convinced. Years later I would dangle bells on the end of a broom stick and shake them outside of the kid’s bedroom window hoping they would feel the way I did.
My own kids, at least the first two, were raised differently than I was. They were taught at a young age that Santa was not real because I thought the truth was more important plus my intention was to teach them Jesus is the reason for the season. Thinking back I believe it’s possible to do both and I wish I had. My last two kids though were allowed to dream about the idea though only one actually believed it was true for a while at least.
Some of the magic of Christmas wears off as an adult. It can be hard to focus on the things we did as a kid because of work, money it takes to get gifts, shopping crowds and traffic. Sometimes Christmas can be a time of sadness for some people who have lost loved ones or who have had significant life changes. For them Christmas can become a time of year when you just wait for it to pass perhaps while forcing a smile.
The fact is life happens. Things change and those changes may not always agree with our plans on how things should be. These changes may seem unfair or like a curse even.
Even with the changes life brings there are choices to be made. I’m not saying this is the way it should be for everyone but for me I choose to face those changes with courage. I will accept that life happens and I will make a choice to be happy. The thing happening in my life this season will not be what defines how I face it in years to come. Actually yes it will because this year I will be happy and enjoy Christmas.
As my kids open their gifts I will think about their happiness and how fortunate I am.
When flying I always schedule a window seat. Being able to look out the window is like a road trip allowing me to see each state on the way to my destination. When you travel from Michigan to Arizona that covers a wide range or states.
Of course there’s no stopping on the way to take pictures or grab a bite to eat at the little dinner you find along the way. Things of course look different at 32-40 thousand feet up.
I’d like to take a road trip out west or even south to west and back up but that would take time. There’s the whole self employed thing that makes that hard to do plus kids and all.
This iPhone image was taken two years ago on my way to Arizona to visit a friend.