My daughter is my oldest at 5, before my son was born we would take family trip during the summer to Northern Michigan. Not to the U.P. but still to the top of the mitten. We took last summer off because I felt my son was too young to go on a trip, this year Caspar and I were able to go on a trip just the two of us. It was our first trip without the kids. I was so excited to sleep in and not be woken up in the middle of the night by one of the kids. You know you’re a parent when you go on vacation just to get some sleep.
We traveled up to Manistee, MI, looking on the map it’s found on the “pinkie” side, right off of Lake Michigan. We weren’t “Up North” and the drive was only four hours but it’s still north from where we live and it was beautiful. Manistee is not a big tourist area, it’s a small town full of nice, laid back people who love to fish. Our campground, Insta Launch Campground & Marina was right on Manistee Lake, there were sites available for campers to bring their own boats. Honestly, it made me wish I had a boat. We just bought a new tent from AlphaMart’s, our tent is a four-person tent; we were able to fit in an airbed along with all of our stuff and still have some room. We loved our tent, it kept us warm all night. Our campground also offered rentals for kayaking, canoeing, and tubing. Before we get to that I need to tell you about our short trip to Arcaida, MI during this weekend getaway.
Having kayak before we wanted to do it again, however the rental was out, leaving us with a canoe later that day. Not going to lie, I was upset. I wanted to check out the dunes in Arcadia and go to the beach. I also did not want a canoe. If you have the option, especially with small children, get a kayak. Our canoe tour was scheduled for three pm and we needed to be back by 2:30, so we decided to go to the dunes first, leaving the trip to the beach as we were on our way home. I planned on spending hours at the dunes but my GPS was not on my side. It took us to the middle of Arcadia, which wasn’t so bad because they had Arcadia Daze festival going on. This held a car show, craft sales and I believe a 5K run as well but we weren’t present for that.
We walked around and found the beach! Maybe it’s because I spent some of my childhood just down the road from the beach, I don’t know, but I love it there. I love the sound of the waves, the smell, and I love walking in the sand. (By the way, great exfoliation for the feet.) Caspar has started this tradition, if you would call it that, with my daughter; each time we go to the beach we look for rocks. We have a few Petoskey stones at home from a previous summer vacation. Although she wasn’t with us, I picked up some rocks for her.
I still wanted to check out the dunes, we drove around for another 30 minutes looking the dunes. To get there you have to stop at one of the trail, this I did not know but thankfully decided to stop at one anyway. Around this time I needed to use the restroom, being out on trails, obviously there were none. Also, there are warning signs for ticks and poison ivy, I don’t have the best of luck so I was refusing to use the trees. I’ve seen poison ivy on my brother many times to know it’s something I don’t ever want. We were starting to run out of time so I begin to speed walk, Caspar made a joke about how I sounded like a dinosaur stomping around. Together we start making dinosaur noises which made me laugh which then made my bathroom situation worse. Time is running out so we start to run, Caspar is a runner while I am not. I’m breathing heavy, covered in sweat, I still need to pee and I’m starting to worry we won’t make it back in time for our canoe. We’re not the only ones out here and the trails aren’t very wide, trying to make room for a passing group I move over into the grass. Not paying attention to where I was stepping! I heard a passing woman say, “I hope that’s not poison ivy.” All I wanted to do was see some sand.
I was ready to give up and turn back around, it was almost 2:00, we needed to be leaving the dunes by two in order to make it back in time. I kind of have this issue with being late, I can’t stand it. It gives me anxiety.
Finally, we come across stairs, sandy stairs that I can easily trip on but it meant we were close.
We looked at the dunes for only a few minutes, couldn’t even walk around because we needed to turn back towards the car. So guess what, we’re running, again. My chest hurts, Caspar comments on my breathing, making me want to trip him; I am so close to peeing my pants that it makes running hard. Not only that, my legs are itching like crazy so I’m starting to freak out about being covered in poison ivy. We arrived to get our canoe two minutes late, surprisingly, I didn’t care because I was finally able to run into a restroom.
The reason I didn’t want a canoe is because they tip over easy, we almost tipped ours a few times just by trying to pass things to each other. There was alcohol involved but no where near enough to make navigating the boat hard. I had my phone and camera with me, neither of them are waterproof leading me to keep screaming, “don’t tip the damn boat!” Why bring those things if I don’t want them to get wet? Well, I love taking pictures, so my camera is always with me. My phone…I’m a bit paranoid, what if something were to happen and we needed to call for help? Luckily the bag we had our food and drink in was an insulated bag and did an awesome job keeping the water out.
I know I complained about getting a canoe, I still enjoyed my time and it was very relaxing. In certain areas you could see the fish swimming beneath us, we stopped for a break looking at animals and flowers. If you haven’t tried kayaking or canoeing I really suggest you try it, you won’t be sorry.
Our trip was supposed to be about two to three hours long. After two hours a man on a boat stops to tell us we’re going the wrong way. We were going the way our driver told us and we followed other groups going out. He mentioned he just told another boat the same things, we turned around. Turned around! It honestly made things a little easier because we were now going with the currant and not against it, but my point is after two hours we turned around. Part of me was thinking, what if this guy said this to be mean and actually send us the wrong way? Panic started to set in me until we came across the tubers who started on the river the same time we did. When we finally made it back to our campsite my body was sore, an airbed has never felt more comfortable than that day.
Here is how plain and boring I am, I’m not too adventurous when it comes to food. I was honestly always that chicken tenders girl at restaurants until I got tired of being made fun of. We went out for ice cream at House of Flavors, the line was out the door and down the sidewalk. We all know that means good ice cream. The line was long but our wait wasn’t, they were excellent in getting people what they wanted and fast. I had Caramel Caribou, which is just vanilla ice cream with chocolate covered caramel chunks. I’m sorry, I couldn’t bring myself to try something new, I’m a very picky eater. Caspar, however, had Pistachio Almond and Raspberry Rendezvous; I did try his ice cream, I’m glad I got vanilla for myself.
Finally, our last day, it was simple. My body was sore from our canoe trip but we walked around town in Manistee, first just for a walk to check out the local shops, then we went looking for the beach. We came across a Butterfly Garden and painted pictures with a park. If you’re looking to go somewhere to just relax, I recommend visiting Manistee, Michigan. If you’re not a camper there are hotels near the water you can stay. You can make your day busy by trying to do a couple simple things or you can stay all day on the beach listening and watching the waves.