Mackinaw Has Changed Me - My Family Travels

I live in a typical Michigan family. The kind that still has their windows rolled down in forty-degree weather, stops for deer at least once a week, and lives in a town that has as many bars as it does churches. We’re known as Michiganders, and every year we join the Yoopers by making our routine pilgrimage to Mackinaw. That is our summer vacation.One might find the scenario a bit monotonous. I didn’t see the point, myself. Still, my parents kept us kids going.

Each year we scramble up our hodge-podge of camping equipment, load them into our beaten down 30 year-old trailer, and head north. Mosquito bites, sunburns, and poison ivy only add to the excitement of our lively outdoor life.There are perks, though. Each year, mom plans a special trip, and we spend an entire day at the lesser-known tourist attraction of her choice.

Four years ago, it was the trek up to Cross Village and a stay at Wycamp Lake, before it was privatized due to excessive partying. Three years ago, we ventured over to Cheboygan and visited the Crib Light and The Cross in the Woods Shrine. Two years ago, it was the island itself.

Oddly enough, we had never truly visited it. I’m glad we finally got the chance.In previous years, departure time was hours behind schedule. Once, we ended up driving through a sand pit because we hadn’t arrived at camp until two o’ clock in the morning.

We couldn’t see our hands smacking our own faces, and we certainly wouldn’t have been able to differentiate between the black color of solid earth and the black color of quicksand.My parents attempted to call the operator for assistance with our new three-pound cell phone, already nearing battery death, but discovered it was unable to receive any kind of signal, despite our strained efforts in constructing a foil antenna booster. Our only option was to get some sleep. In the morning, we walked five miles to the nearest town, found help, and received assistance from a local tow truck business, highly overpriced and under equipped.Compared to that, the island trip went over pretty smoothly.

The Star Line Mackinac Island Hydro-Jet Ferry transported us, in style, to the docks of Mackinaw Island. We first visited the local shops, heavily populated with tourists such as ourselves.Eventually, we rented bicycles and joined the horse-and-buggy traffic to take the 8-mile loop around the perimeter of the island. We passed a beautiful wedding, and stopped to hike up Arch Rock.

It was a gorgeous day; the sky was sunny, and clouds were scarce. The water’s cool hues along with the waves’ easy rolling left me with an almost tropical feel.Before completing our ride, we made a special visit to a post displaying a clip from Christopher Reeves and Jane Seymour’s movie ‘Somewhere In Time.’ It was positioned in the spot it was filmed. For fun, we took a picture of my parents striking the same poses as the actors.

Out last stop was the Grand Hotel. It was built in 1887, has the world longest front porch, at 660 ft, and was currently hosting an enormous celebration on the upper level. The inside was very classy, and presented a feeling of leisure. My favorite part, however, was looking into the edenic courtyard bordered by Lake Huron. Combined with the evening sunset, that moment is forever in etched my mind.Looking back, I find it a bit humorous. As a kid, the bridge was more than enough excitement. It wasn’t until I grew older that I gained happiness from the simplicity of nature. The dunes, the lakes, sunsets, and miscellaneous attractions all make up the big picture of a family vacation. Four years ago, my trip might have been a nightmare. Today, it’s bliss. Why is that? My first inclination was that we were just getting better at it, but now, I realize I’ve learned to cherish it. Whether we take an old van up I-75, or a first class flight across the Atlantic, the important thing is that we’re doing it as a family. That’s what my parents have known all along, and that’s what they’ve been trying to share with me.

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