The sense of elation that comes with your affect is sometimes expected, and other times, unanticipated, catching us off guard. Whichever way you decide to visit, however, we are more than happy to welcome you with open arms.
After spending the 4th of July doing the whole celebratory spiel--parade, family cookout, and fireworks--we took a quick, mini-getaway to the side of Lake Michigan where one can enjoy watching the sunset over the glistening water. We had such a great experience there last year--from the ease of a short road trip, access to beautiful beaches, shopping and dining at quaint stores and restaurants, to coming home with a large boxful of Michigan blueberries--it seemed likely that we'd make this an annual visit. And even better yet, BFF and her family were able to join us for most of the this trip.
There was something we each looked forward to on this little road trip. We all knew pretty much what to expect having just been a year ago. Last time, we came upon a set of stairs that led up to a high viewing spot and then down a steep sand hill--if one chose to "Speedy-Gonzalez" down it to get to the beach. But because
We began the climb up the stairs, and the kiddos went up ahead of us. I decided to count the steps as I went up. At 50, I was already breathing hard. The kiddos were way ahead. At 139, I was neither up nor down, so I kept going. The kiddos were still way ahead. At 268, a little train's voice starting sounding inside my head. The kiddos had already reached the top. I remember counting to 300, and there were still a few steps left. But we made it! We snapped a few pics up there with the gorgeous view and decided to go back down the stairs
Back at the car, as I stopped to get a drink in the trunk, it occurred to me that my legs were actually shaking. If my knees buckled right then I would have been flat on the ground. Just when I felt like such a loser, Dear Husband admitted to me that his legs were really shaking, too. Um, the couple that is out-of-shape together stays together, right? Meanwhile, DD had the biggest smile on her face because she got to climb those stairs and was consistently the first one up and first one down.
We then drove to the beach and DD took her spanking new bodyboard we had bought at the surf shop next to our lunch spot to greet the waves. Except there were no waves, and the water temperature was a whopping 67 degrees. But what came as a surprise to DD was how much fun she had learning how to bodyboard. In that freezing cold water. Look at me, Mama! I did it, Mama! No sooner than she asked me if bodyboarding is a sport did she declare to Dear Husband that her two favorite sports are swimming and bodyboading. Her newly found delight was a giant, pleasant surprise, only marred by the fact that her wimpy Mama wouldn't join her and try bodyboarding, too--it being one of the best sports there is, obvs. Tweens and their new loves, I tell ya.
Dear Son was most excited about the stay at the hotel. No--it was no five-star hotel; it was just your run-of-the-mill clean hotel. To him, a hotel meant a few sure things: a different "home" for a few days, many chances to press the elevator buttons, and swimming at a hotel pool. Those things are his top three Vacation Best.
But we stopped by our first beach after the 300+ Death Stairs before checking into the hotel, and DS's Top Three were immediately replaced when he landed his two feet on the sand. After a million "how many more minutes"s and "when do we get to the hotel"s, the sand and the water made him forget all about the godforsaken hotel. He got busy right away with his shovels and buckets, digging and patting and scooping and dumping away. I sat back and simply marveled at the expression on his face, so full of excitement and fervor, as if that innate need to get to every inch of the beach's sand might simply overcome him if he stopped doing. He ran from water to sand, with full and empty buckets, and stayed busy all by himself for the entire time. His eyes sparkled and his body bounced about as if soaked in pure delight. His euphoria was so evident that I could practically feel it. Boys and their sand, I tell ya.
DH's Bliss List was tied mainly to his gut. He wanted to get reservations at two highly recommended restaurants that we were not able to try last time. A spectacular restaurant that was already booked offered to "squeeze us in" when he called to make a reservation, which certainly made DH's night, but not as much as getting into a local steakhouse that is normally packed everyday with no wait whatsoever on a Friday night. It was such a delight that he actually took a picture of his dinner because... PRIME RIB! Men and their meat, I tell ya.
As for me, aside from the warm-sand-between-toes feeling, the sun,
But what I didn't expect was the highly-acclaimed restaurant DH managed to get us into: Salt of the Earth. It gets all its foods locally, and serves up a variety of freshly-made, phenomenal breads. But what really got to me was seeing this behind the restaurant's parking lot:
Its very own garden. Where it grows its own produce and herbs. The Farmer in me almost cried happy tears, and it took me a moment to remember to snap a pic for good measure. Indeed, I had some cucumber on my plate grown right there from that patch of land, and was it as crisp and fragrant as a freshly-picked cuke.
Best of all, we spent the day at the beach and the evening at this fine-dining restaurant with BFF's family. We've dine together many a times, but none as special as this occasion. We're on vacation, in a really nice restaurant, and toasted with a lovely bottle of wine together. I ate and drank until I was giddy with Intoxicated Bliss. There may have been a few eyewitnesses to my OMG-everything-is-so-funny grin. Mamas and their wine, I tell ya.
Last but not least, we got our souvenirs (like the good tourists that we are) and Michigan blueberries before we headed home. It was a quick 2.5 day getaway, but one that made us all content in ordinary and unexpected ways. Our Happy Places all crossed over with one another's to weave the fabric of a fortunate family so lucky as to have each another. After all, what's more fun than sharing extra fun with the people you love? DS would certainly agree, as he cannot stand to miss out on any of our fun. Nor would we ever dare to exclude him, at any cost.
So, Dear Bliss, twas a beatific weekend filled with Summer and stuffed bellies. Though we didn't watch the sun set over the water this time, nor did I fully submerse myself in the beautiful waters of Lake Michigan, I was content. Summer's not over yet, and I still plan on getting this 40-year-old body on a bodyboard and share DD's fun, in warmer Lake Michigan. Yes, there is something about that Michigan, isn't there? It's pure bliss in Pure Michigan.