Monday, September 1, 2014

Fly Away: Beaver Island, Michigan -- Part 1

Our mom spent much of her summers growing up at her family's cabin on Beaver Island in northern Michigan. It's not the easiest of places to get to, which was all part of the adventure when she young. But coming from the east coast, getting there involves a flight, a long car drive, and either another flight or a ferry. So, needless to say, we'd never been. When we received an invite to one of our favorite former babysitter's wedding in Charlevoix this past August, mom thought it was fate. So we jumped on in and planned a week at the island with our Grammie and Grandpa B (mom knew their 130 square foot cabin without running water or electricity was not going to fly with daddy, so we rented a house on the the island's best beach). Daddy ended up having to travel for work, so we had to cancel our plans to attend the wedding, but he was able to make it home in time for the Beaver Island trip!

We had an awesome time exploring the island and listening to mom wax nostalgic. But, we were there almost an entire week and mom took about 8 million photos, so we decided to post about our trip in parts. Today we're sharing our trip there and the family cabin!

We first flew to our grandparents' house in Chicago and then all drove up to Charlevoix together the next day. Daddy somehow managed to set a record driving time, which meant more time for us to get acquainted with the important northern Michigan delicacy of Superman ice-cream. Holy cow. Then it was a little plane ride in a little plane -- some of us were more nervous than others. But we made it! 

We arrived to our beach house welcomed by sunny skies and sparkling water and, of course, wasted no time getting ourselves into the drink. When the sun is out, Donegal Bay is by far the best swimming beach on the island and mom and her siblings used to beg Grammie and Grandpa to go there when they were little. There were some rocks right in front of the house, but big patches of sandy, shallow water stretch out along the bay. We floated, splashed and explored until dinner time. Donegal Bay is also famous for its sunsets. And we caught a pretty good one our first night!

Our first full day there we woke up to lots of clouds, which mom and Grammie announced was the perfect weather to take a trip down to visit their cabin out in the woods. We bumped our way along dirt roads and parked at the top of "the hill," which apparently requires some serious engine gunning and lack of care about the car you're driving to drive back up. So we skipped down excited to finally see what all the fuss was about. We didn't quite get why someone would pack 6 people into a 10 X 13 cabin on purpose, but we soon got down to the point of Beaver Island: exploring. We took to catching frogs, daddy long legs, slugs, you name it. And we were glad Grammie brought a "habitat" with us. Mom showed us the remains of their once fabulous treehouse and pretend sailboat, now just barely frames.

We fashioned our own walking sticks and headed off on the hike to their "beach," which apparently back in the day used to be an hour-long hike marked off by favorite landmarks (lightening tree, fern field, bee attack cove). Today, there's a road cut to follow, but it was still pretty wild for us. Mom's beach used to be completely deserted and they'd often shower right in the lake, which was cold, but still much warmer than the solar shower back at the cabin. But it's changed a lot. There are homes on the beach now and a lot more vegetation than mom recalls. Grammie thinks part of the changing landscape is from the zebra mussels assault on the Great Lakes. We were just psyched that Grandpa B taught us how to use a compass and walkie talkies. So awesome.

Stay tuned for more on our vacaye later this week and Happy Labor Day!