24 June 2015

Family Vaycay Plans

Before we were pregnant, Matt and I were eagerly planning a short vacation in which we would actually sleep in a tent. Intense, I know. We want to be tent campers and we decided to start slow by camping some place super close to our apartment and for just one night. But then we got pregnant and 5-months pregnant Jacqueline does not tent camp.

Even if we brought our air mattress and got the site closest to the bathrooms. It's. So. Not. Happening.
But even with proper camping off the table, I still really wanted to make some sort of vacation happen, because, as I keep saying, I really want to do lots of memory-making, bonding, lovey-dovey family and spouse stuff before we re-enter the newborn days.

Matt and I casually brainstormed during family walks, car drives, random texts throughout the day. We needed something very affordable, something we could do without taking time off work (we need to save all Matt's vacation days for his paternity leave), and something kid-friendly. After a few weeks of thinking, we finally settled on Mackinac Island.

For those of you who aren't familiar, Mackinac Island is a small island between the upper and lower peninsulas of Michigan. Its known for a few things, including:
-Being frozen in time. They don't allow automobiles on the island, instead, everything is done by horse-drawn carriage or bike.
-Really good fudge. As in, really, really good. Really super good.
-A gigantic, gorgeous, and very historic hotel called the Grand Hotel. This place is such a beautiful and incredible draw that non-guests have to pay $10 just to stand on the front porch.

As you can imagine, this place is a huge draw for Michiganders, and finding a hotel in the area on a holiday weekend would destroy a modest budget. Luckily for us, Matt's parents' cabin is only 1.5 hours from Mackinaw City (a port of call for the ferries that make hourly runs to the island). Having such a close home base makes Mackinac Island a day trip. The second deal-sealer is that our kids are still young enough that everything save food is free. The ferry? A horse-drawn carriage island tour? Entrance fees to the 1780's Fort Mackinac? It will cost us the same as if it were just the two of us. The ferry doesn't even charge to haul our double stroller!

Neither Matt nor I have been since we were kids, so we're both pretty excited about the trip. In true Jacqueline fashion, I've already been planning the details of the trip for weeks:
-We'll leave the cabin super early so we can take one of the first ferries over (gotta maximize the day!) and when we arrive, we'll do all the "intensive" stuff, which means the site-seeing we'll do by foot. Everyone (especially me, the pregnant one) will be most energetic and patient at this time of the day.
-We'll save the horse-drawn carriage island tour for after lunch. This will be timed to coincide with Eleanor's nap. Plus we'll all enjoy the rest before we resume walking.
-Souvenir and fudge purchases will happen shortly before dinner so that we don't have to lug the extra bags any longer than necessary.
-We skip the diaper bag in favor of a backpack. It'll be much easier to maneuver with, especially when we leave the stroller locked up during the carriage tour.
-We wear light-weight clothing and comfortable shoes. I'm thinking this tropical dress and a floppy hat will be perfect:

Matt has Friday off work, so we'll leave on Thursday after quitting time. I plan to skimp on Eleanor's nap so the girls are more likely to fall asleep in the car and I'm seriously contemplating a family-wide game of travel bingo so Matt and I have a nice distraction once we hit traffic. We think Friday will be the day of choice for our Mackinac trip, that way we'll have a nice recovery Saturday before the return drive (and traffic) of Sunday.

There are a shocking number of logistics involved in taking small children on vacation. Even to a cabin! Do I lug up the girls' high chairs or do we just wing it? Where on earth are we going to put Abigail for the night? She's too big for a Pack n' Play but won't stay in a bed. What is our meal plan going to look like? I want to bring as much food as I can so we don't waste precious vacation time at the grocery store.

This top looks comfortable and breezy - a definite "yes".
How many tropical dresses are too many?
After an exciting but exhausting day on the island, we are planning to be as relaxed on Saturday as possible. We will fill the day with all the up north traditions: ice cream at the harbor, visiting the light houses (it will be Eleanor's first time!), putzing around the lake on the pontoon, making s'mores when the kids go down. The cabin will actually be surprisingly packed: Matt's parents, all his siblings, and a few aunts will all be up north at the same time (my sister-in-law who just had her baby will probably stay downstate with her littlest ones, but her husband and the older kids will be up too). It'll be crowded, but for only one day, so even an introvert like me is looking forward to the visiting.

Arriving home and resuming regular life is too depressing to think about, so instead I'm focusing on all the fun pitstops we can make on Sunday: that one rest stop that overlooks Lake Huron would be a great place for a snack and diaper change. A local burger joint would be yummy for lunch.

Only one more week until the big trip: I guess I need to find a few more things to plan to fill up the time...

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