Maybe it's that a hot day up north was 85 degrees & at night its 75, while Chicago was sweltering with 95+ even at 9pm.
Maybe it's the amazing lakes, the trees, the cherries and the wildlife.
Perhaps it's just the get-away of all get-aways for my family- lazing on beaches, searching for rocks, swimming in lakes and sailing (and an awesome strawberry lemonade sangria recipe).
Whatever it is, Up North lured us in again this year, as I hope will for the rest of my life.
Scott realized a life long dream last year and bought a 16 foot Hobie Cat (he rules). This meant the little cabin we rented no longer worked for us as we needed beach front property to moor the boat for two weeks. After an extensive search (who would have thought washer/dryer AND beach access would be an impossible combination? I'll be damned if I spend a day or two of my vacation in a laundrymat), we found a cabin on Elk Lake, 15 miles east of Traverse city.
One morning, Sam & I took out the row boat. As we glided along, I looked into the water and there, 5 feet below me, was a ginormous snapping turtle. It was almost comical, really, like being in a Go Diego, Go! scene. Can YOU see the huge snapping turtle amongst the barren sandy bottom?
We turned the boat around for another look, but it swam away, possibly from a yell of "Oh my God! A huge snapping turtle!" echoing across the lake. I named her Big Bad Bertha, and when I asked our neighbors, "Guess what we saw?" They said- a snapping turtle? She's a long time denizen apparently, so much so, that when I looked up "snapping turtle Elk Lake" I found this youtube video from the north end of the lake in 2009!
Another day, Zoe left the cabin just ahead me. As I followed her out, I saw a large grey bird fly away. "Oooh!" I said, "What was that?" but it flew into the woods too quick to tell. It was big.
On our last night, there was some crazy squealing outside. It's hard to describe, it started low, then ended high, but I'd not heard that noise before, so of course, it was time to explore. It was a big ole owl! It was awesome. My whole life, I have watched birds, raptors especially (my nickname is Bird, afterall), but had never seen an owl before. I was thrilled. I ran in to get Zoe (Sam was asleep with a fever, so I left him in bed). Scott photographed our owl, and when it gave that odd call again, another one answered it! From nearby! I took off that way and found another owl chatting back. I named him Mr. Who (as he's not a Dr.) and his wife, Mrs. Who, of course (for any "A Wrinkle in Time" fans. Sheesh, both those names cover a lot of Sci Fi ground).
We also saw two chickens living in a neighbors yard, a momma peahen & her babies, but they were in high grasses so were hard to really see (and of course, we had no camera), and caught crayfish & minnows. Wild Kingdom!
Elk Lake is connected to a smaller lake that has some coastal houses, but is mostly wilderness area, making it a lovely spot to sail into. It's called (hilariously) Lake Skeegamog. We'd stop the boat there and go swimming, and when both kids were in the water, we named them the Lake Skeegamonsters! Aaaahhhh! They were going to get us!
We were the first renters of the year, and as a result, we had an entire winter and spring's worth of Petoskey fossils to collect. We brought home a huge bag full and found some of the biggest ones I've ever seen.
All in all, a relaxing vacation, with a lot less driving to and from a lake everyday.
As we returned home, Sam got a fever, headache, tummy ache and swimmers itch. Zoe had an eye infection and a fever. We spent our first three days home being sick.
Vacation: over. Ay, Mama!