Author: Brooke Housenga
About a year ago, my family packed up the car and headed north from our hometown in West Michigan. We were going up to Torch Lake. And we were pumped. See, car rides for us are half the fun! It’s not all about the vacation itself. Amazing memories are built on the journey to your location as well. This trip would be no different.
According to MapQuest, Torch Lake is approximately 184.3 miles from my hometown. Also according to MapQuest, it should take us three hours to get there. But, I have an elementary-age brother and a sister who happens to be two years younger than me. Plus, we will be pulling our twenty-eight foot boat behind us. There is no way we will arrive at our destination in simply three hours. It will take us more like five or six. And that’s exactly what happened. After taking frequent “potty-breaks” for my mother and stopping at McDonald’s for my brother, we arrived in a little town called Alden, right alongside the gorgeous Torch Lake waters.
The summer we went up to Torch Lake was an Olympic summer. The 2008 Beijing Olympics were held while we were on vacation. The television set in the old house we stayed at was one of those antenna TVs. We pulled and prodded and pulled some more on those metal sticks trying to catch a glimpse of the Games. Somehow we managed to watch the events every morning until about eleven. We’d check the times of certain matches or races that we wanted to watch in the evening. Then we’d pack sandwiches and head out to the lake.
Boating is what my family does best. So everyday we'd put the boat (we call our boat Smilin’) in the water and speed off into the sun and waves. We spent our afternoons swimming in the deep, blue waters and lying in the sun on beach towels on the back of Smilin’. There is a really cool sandbar right in the middle of Torch Lake that we hung out at a lot. We played football and Frisbee and all kinds of things out there. We even made a couple of friends while having a blast out at the sandbar. There is a super cool, old guy with a decorated pontoon boat that grills and sells hamburgers off his boat (he calls his boat The Burger Barge)! I have fond memories of our time spent at the sandbar.
Every day at about seven after all the swimming, we’d head back to the house exhausted and sunburnt, yet smiling. We’d spend the rest of our evening watching Michael Phelps swim in the Olympic Games and Kerri Walsh dominate on the beach volleyball court. That was the routine. Eat breakfast and watch some of the Olympics, head out to the lake for the afternoon, swim, swim, swim, and come back to the house for dinner and finally Olympics-watching on the fuzzy TV set. It was like clock work.
That trip was a real bonding time for my family. Whenever I think about that summer, I think about Torch Lake. We smiled the whole time. We laughed a lot. We swam together and ate together. I remember every single, solitary detail about that trip up to Torch Lake. It was the best week of my whole life. Torch Lake is the most beautiful place in the world to me. It was a traveling experience that I will never forget. I will treasure the memories of our trip to Torch Lake forever and ever.