Any native Michigander will tell you that the go-to vacation spot is “Up North”. It’s like a thing.
To escape the big cities you don’t lock your family in the car for hours to drive to some tourist infested beach– oh no. Instead, you pack ’em up and head just a short trip north to a lakeside cabin somewhere.
The further north you travel in the mitten state, the more wild and wooded it becomes. By the time you hit the UP (Upper Penninsula) you’re basically in the Canadian Wilderness.
It’s actually breathtakingly beautiful. Michigan beaches can’t be beat. Cold blue water and near empty beaches even during the summer tourist months.
Our family wasn’t super wealthy so family vacations weren’t a normal thing. The one summer I remember was spent in our grandparents cabins up north. These two modest cabins were in a row butted up against a lake.
There was a larger three bedroom cabin and a smaller one bedroom cabin, but most of the time was spent outdoors so it didn’t matter that the sleeping arrangement meant bunking up on the pull out couch or floor.
The best part was watching fireworks out on the pontoon boat – basically a huge party platform on two floating cylindrical tubes with a motor strapped to it. Crude but effective.
We would spend the summer swimming or sitting by a campfire or laying around on the boat anchored in the middle of the lake. It was the best!
A few moments stick out in my memory. One, is the fact that my younger brother couldn’t figure out how to sit in a plastic patio chair. He tipped backwards maybe five million times that summer. The other is a row boat incident.
You see, we kiddos were too young to take out the pontoon boat by ourselves. This was a problem because the banks were rocky – and all the rocks were covered with razor sharp zebra muscles that could shred your flesh. So the best swimming was towards the middle of the lake where your feet couldn’t touch the bottom and you were therefore safe from being sliced and diced Freddy Krueger style.
When the adults were not inclined to take out the pontoon for us – which was often since they had chores to do or were completely s*** faced drunk – we kiddos would plot ways to get out into the water.
In comes the row boat. A rusty tiny row boat with two ill matching oars beached nearby the cabins. We three decided to take the boat out and use it for swimming.
We set out, rowed out, and didn’t have any issues. When we towed back we discovered that my little brother had no idea how to get out of the boat. Even though we were nearly on land, he could dismount.
Instead, he ended up getting a foot hooked inside the boat while his whole body fell to the water. He hung there – head into the water- suspended screaming bloody murder and flailing like a madman.
In two inches of water.
Needless to say, the video footage of this incident provided hours of laughter and amusement for years.
I’ve gotta get my hands on that tape.