06 July 2015

The Horse Vacation

We broke out of the stop-and-go freeway traffic that cuts across the state and inhaled deep breaths of fresh air on the open state road that winds along Lake Huron. That's the moment it felt like vacation started. The many chores that precede a frugal family vacation with small children faded to history - dinner made and packed in the cooler, the girls bathed, all nine bags loaded in the trunk.

I planned the trip up well, my friends. I sabotaged nap time, gave the girls a huge meal, dressed them in their pajamas, and left a few hours before bedtime. And once we reached the halfway point, which coincides with the end of the freeway and the beginning of the state road with great views, it finally felt like we were truly on vacation.

We arrived at the in-law's cabin as dark set in, crashed into bed, woke up the next morning, and hit the road by 7:30am. You can imagine how thrilled the girls were to be in the car again. But an hour and a half later, we were here:

Waiting for this:

Which we would take us like this:

To this:


The girls were instantly charmed by the early morning activity - hotel bell boys biking along the coast line, carrying guests' luggage to and from the ferry; the horse drawn carriages with huge Belgian draft horses snorting and stamping their feet, impatient to be off; the rich smell as the fudge shops set their first batches.

Since everyone (especially this here pregnant woman) was most chipper in the morning, we set off to do some site seeing by foot.

We even, I kid you not, hiked up some bluffs. Bluffs so tall the draft horses have to stop at the top to catch their breaths. I wasn't sure how long I'd be able to make it on the island, but the excitement of being there plus the complete denial that I wasn't that pregnant somehow fueled our steep ascent. 

This guy's view from the bluffs:

A view of the Governor's summer residence - on the shorter half of the bluff - from the ground. This 19-week pregnant lady didn't die hiked that, my friends.

Thankfully a not-so-steep path led us back down past Fort Mackinac to a huge park where I sat on a bench while Matt let the girls run around.

After a much needed break for lunch, we took a lengthy carriage ride where we finally convinced the girls to fall asleep while the tour guide regaled us with the history of the island's famous sites, including the Grand Hotel.

Following the relaxing two-hour tour, we stopped for another snack, meandered around the beautifully landscaped residences, shopped, and let the girls run around another park.

After a delicious dinner - food is so much better when you're starving - the girls sounded their "We're Done" alarm and we made our way back to the ferry docks. We were running about 20 minutes ahead of schedule and contemplating a coffee run when we spotted the line for the ferry. It was backed up almost to the road. And it was the last ferry for the next hour. And the sky was threatening rain. We stood about nervously, and I gave great thanks for Eleanor's souvenir: a horse stuffed animal that she spent a good ten minutes straight hugging and kissing when she first saw it.

Somehow, beyond all reasoning, we made it through the line and on to that boat. And somehow, to our great delight, it didn't start raining until a few moments after we sat down inside the protective cabin of the ferry. The cozy boat ride to the cozy car ride were the perfect transitions to the second day of our vacation: the day we recovered relaxed and only did things that would make a post-retirement to do list: visit the local lighthouse, take a walk along the sea shore, eat brats, take naps, read books after kids fall asleep.

It was good - vacation, despite all the prep work, despite the mind-boggling traffic, was good: mind-refreshing. And as we settle back into the monotonous routines of home, and try to catch up on everybody's sleep needs, the memories we made this past weekend are already settling into great "remember that one time!" stories.

1 comment:

Diane said...

Looks like a beautiful place to visit.