We didn’t have a sandy beach with palm trees. We didn’t have exotic fish or birds. We didn’t have a five star hotel or room service. We didn’t even have electricity. For our two week summer vacation we had what is called “The Outdoor-Living Shelter.” It’s a small one room cabin equipped with tiny bunk beds, a table and a screened in porch. We had a fire pit, all the camp-cooking equipment one could possibly imagine, and a tent. We had biting horse flies and mosquitoes. We had our own private water pump, and when necessary the outhouse, which was across the road tucked into the privacy of the forest, was solely ours to use. Despite how awful this sounds, it was far from it. This was a place to relax and get away from the demands of “civilized” life.
This little lot of serenity is located on the small and tranquil, Townline Lake in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It belongs to my nana, and it was her idea that we take a trip out to visit it. My dad, grandfather, and sister all opted out of this opportunity, so my mom, nana, my friend, Emily, and I embarked on this adventure on our own.
We spent our days canoeing around the lake, and floating on air mats talking about everything and nothing at the same time. It was on this lake that I learned that if a fish touches me I won’t die. I discovered that I was capable of doing flips in the water and that I loved jumping off the dock into the water. I learned that I was skilled at catching fish but that when it comes down to it, I am not able to pull the fish off the hook. I figured out that during lightening storms the whole tent lights up and the best way to sleep was to cover my face with my sleeping bag. I learned how to bathe in a lake and how to navigate to the bathroom without light. Who knew that dryer sheets were excellent mosquito repellent and that the only place where the biting flies couldn’t get to you was when you were completely underwater? Everyday was a new experience that filled me with an eagerness and excitement for life that I had not felt in a long time.
The weeks spent splashing in the water, cooking hot dogs over a fire, and learning how to play every card game known to man have become some of the most treasured days of my life. They gave me a chance to escape and be myself. I didn’t have to dress a specific way, get up at a specific time, or do any tasks. The days passed slowly and gave me a chance to rejuvenate and prepare for my reentrance into my real world that I left back at home. So, although it was no Marriot Resort, “The Outdoor-Living Shelter” is my own personal paradise.
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