A couple of years ago I visited a friend in Arizona. One of our adventures was in Sedona where we hiked a few trails, one of the trails took us to Devil’s Bridge. The natural bridge can be walked across but being afraid of heights I stuck to the side while everyone else, including some kids, walked right out there for a photo.
The thing I thought about was this bridge will likely one day break. With the number of visitors this spot gets I can’t help but wonder if when it breaks there will be people standing on it. That thought was on my mind when my friends talked me into walking out to the center. The photo was taken and I went back to the sidelines.
A view from a window in the Little Sable Point Lighthouse. I was lucky enough to walk to the top of the lighthouse twice last year. On this visit the weather was perfectly sunny with a few clouds.
The beach seems to go on forever on the shores of Lake Michigan. I’ve always felt lucky to live within driving distance of the great lake.
I always talk about moving south to Arizona where the weather is a better match to what I like but it’s the trips north that I would miss and I can’t imagine living in another state. I’ll always think of living in Arizona but the reality is I’d rather live on the shores of Lake Michigan.
Over the years I’ve imagined living north in a cabin on the lake. The winters would be rough but who knows, perhaps a winter home in Arizona would not be out of the question. The picture has faded from my mind for now, things in life have changed. I’ve still got a ways to go here so who knows. One thing is for certain, you never know what’s ahead.
It was such a calm and warm night. The kind of night that goes good with a camp fire and cold beer. We sat around the fire, I drank beer and told corny ghost stories. All my kids but the youngest just laugh at my stories, they’re too old to think they are scary. My youngest though put her feet up on the chair and moved closer to me saying, “dad, is that true.” I smiled and didn’t answer.
Hello reader. My name is Vince. I’m 43, self-employed, love the outdoors and am a father of two boys and two girls. I’m getting a divorce.
So just like that you put it out there. One of my favorite bloggers puts it out there and I’m glad he does because his journey has been inspirational and has helped me. Thank you for sharing it. For the first time I will kind of put it out there like that.
But it feels strange to say the last part. Not because I’m embarrassed by who might see it or ashamed that I could not keep my family together, rather I don’t want that last part to define me. It’s true I’m getting divorced but it’s not who I will be. I won’t be the divorced guy with kids. Alright so for a while as I pick myself up I will be just that. You don’t spend 20 years with someone, lose them, then not be that for a while at least.
This morning I was looking at pictures stored on an external hard drive and I came across one from the summer of 2004. It was on a trip north and the first time we all went to Ludington as a family. My kids were ages 6, 5, 4 and 2. When I type that out I think “wow how do you do that?” Well the answer is obvious but still I can’t imagine being pregnant for that long..like back to back.
Looking at the photos from that vacation I can’t believe how much my kids have grown. They went from not even being in school to having two in high school and two in middle school, I want to hit the brakes. My mother always told me I was growing up too fast but as a kid that’s all I wanted to do. Now I get it. With kids, ten years brings so many changes. You do see them grow up so quickly.
Over the years I’ve documented life in journals and photographs. I go back to them periodically. Sometimes I dwell on the past but mostly I go there to remember. So many of those memories are awesome I know I’ve really been fortunate over the years to have this family and create the memories. Things of course were not always great or even good but I always believed they could and should be better. There was never a time when I gave up that hope, always willing to work at it.
-When our first child was born I thought the right thing to do was to work opposite shifts. That way one parent could be home with him at all times. Kids need their parents right? Over the years we become passing strangers handing off the children then heading out the door. That was a bad plan. Couples need to spend time together. I regret that.
-When I was introduced to the church she knew growing up, I was fascinated by what I heard there. Here was something that seemed to be solid. An element that was missing from my life. A foundation that I could build my life on and ensure my family would be happy and in harmony. In truth it burned me out, I just got so tired. I became angry and frustrated then controlling. It’s never fair to set expectations for a person that you can’t even attain yourself. Expectations can be a dangerous thing that should be used with caution. I didn’t realize that and I regret it now. I’m sorry for expecting her to be a certain way and not listening to what was happening.
-The distance caused by those years. The sadness I felt was not expressed appropriately. As a child I used anger to escape my surroundings. All the things I faced then were, in my mind, made bearable by being angry. If I was angry nothing could touch me. With anger you don’t need other feelings, a security blanket even if a poor one. I used that blanket as an adult. It wasn’t an anger that made me say hateful things or hurt people but it was there. My anger prevented me from opening up and saying I was hurting inside. By the time I got it under control, with help, it was too late. The defensive wall had been built up years before and I would never be able to reach her.
-For most of my marriage I made less money. I’m not at all saying that’s wrong or that somehow a man is less of a man because his wife makes more bread. I never felt less of a man and she never made me feel that way because of that fact. But I watched how she worked her way up the ladder, always moving forward and always excelling at each task. It has been quite inspirational. She opened my eyes to something different. The desire to excel and reach. Without that I would not be where I am now in business. I’m grateful for that.
-As a kid I always hoped to one day find a wife. She would be someone who had a good childhood and we would get along really well in our house. The house would have good food in it and a no fighting rule. We would hang out at the park and spend time together being happy. She would smile at me and I would hug her then we’d eat sandwiches. That’s what I thought as a kid. Lucky me I got that. Even when things turned she tried. I remember it well.
-There are things that happen in life that change you. They change you and open your eyes in ways you never imagined. When she gave birth to our fist child it opened up my heart. He was on the table and looked up at me. My heart melted and instantly there was a love I never experienced. That was an amazing feeling. I got to experience that four times. I’m so grateful for my kids.
I’m only 43 years old and if I live as long as my grandparents I have not even lived half of my life yet. My choice is to continue to be a hard worker and to make myself better, spend time outdoors and be a father of four. I will not always be the guy who got divorced.
Over the summer on our trip north we visited a couple touristy locations where gift shops sell cheap souvenirs mostly marketed to kids. For the most part I was able to avoid these stores but this time there was no escaping the glitter. You had to enter the store to buy a ticked for the dune ride then wait twenty minutes or so. We browsed the shelves for a while. Interesting how the shelves in this particular store were no more than four feet tall full of plastic toys and shiny rocks. I couldn’t blame my kids for going crazy, kids like sparkle.
After a little begging I agreed to let each kid buy one thing. My youngest picked a mood ring. While on the dune ride she held up her hand and said, “look dad, I’m happy!” That made me happy. I didn’t tell her green was the default color because it didn’t matter. This little girl is happy by default.
Over the summer we visited the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive and stopped at the covered bridge for pictures because that’s what you do on this drive. You stop, take pictures then continue on. In the middle of summer there are hundreds of other people doing the same thing. When you pause for a picture like this one there are often times groups of people waiting to do the same. This time not so much.
This vacation was the second of two trips north with just the kids, this time with the girls. It was late in the year, the weather wasn’t great, cloudy and windy for most of the trip, but the air was warm enough. The rain pretty much held off too so there was plenty of outdoor activity.
Our idea to visit the scenic drive on this day actually worked out quite well. In years past we hiked in this area and the heat made it hard especially when the kids were younger. We woke up to a cloudy day and a little cooler so this seemed like the obvious day to visit the area.
The kids are all big enough now to handle the walk across the dunes to the Dune Climb but there was a time when I had to carry my youngest back to the car. I can still remember her wearing a green hat, red-faced, walking slowly like she was about to faint. The memory is not hard because of course I took a picture of her. She’s always been so dramatic but in truth it was a hot walk. I put her on my shoulders and walked on. Carrying my little princess to her chariot aka mini-van.
It’s only around two or so miles from the place we always park but when you look out at all the sand, dune grass and hills it seems like the walk is forever. Sometimes you run into people on the trail who ask how to get to Lake Michigan from the trial. It’s about a four mile walk across the sand and not hard to miss but I’ve never tried it.
When we arrived the girls quickly took off down the hill where most people park. I sat up at the top and took pictures because that’s what I always do on vacations. I’m the one who always takes the pictures. For me the pictures always take me back to the time. I swear if we didn’t have two feet of show and the whole polar vortex thing going on, I’d plan a trip north. This was the last vacation before winter when I decided I just couldn’t let go of summer. I also knew there were significant changes about to take place in the home so I thought this might be my last chance for a while to take the kids north.