Sunday, July 29, 2007

Up North

When Michiganders go away for the weekend, or a week, or a month to explore one of the hundreds of lakes or the more than 1000 miles of coastline along Lakes Michigan, Huron and Superior, we go Up North.

It doesn't matter whether we are truly going west, ie. over to Lake Michigan, or to the Thumb, ie. Lake Huron.

Up North is a state of mind.

We've been going to the same general area Up North since C was an infant. We have pictures at the same spot of our favorite hike - C in a baby backpack, C hugging D's knees, C, grinning toothless for the camera. Well, you get the idea.

I suffered two miscarriages Up North. Experiencing this caused us to move from our initial town, Frankfort, to a town up the road - Benzonia. We've moved back to Frankfort now.

In earlier years, Up North meant introducing our new exchange student (all of them) to the pleasures of America. We came either the weekend before school or over the first weekend after school started, and introduced our new "child" to mini-golf, The Cherry Bowl Drive-In, The Cherry Hut, and s'mores. We also have a collection of pictures of each child covered with marshmallow and chocolate as she took that first gooey bite of graham cracker, marshmallow and Hershey's.

The past two years, Up North has been relegated to camp drop-offs and pick-ups, as C's beloved camp is in the same area. The drive is long and incredibly boring. This morning we were all grouchy and sore from a hot five-hour ride yesterday, and D and I returned through the same five hours earlier today.

Despite the very short time there, we still got in some favorites - walking along the beach, walking out to the lighthouse for the sunset, eating the world's best Boston cream donuts at The Crescent Bakery. D and I walked up and down Main Street a number of times, taking in changes and taking the measure of this season's crop of tourists, among which we number.

Yet this trip was bittersweet. C declared that he doesn't want to spend vacation time in Benzie County anymore - he's "done it all," and without a new exchange student to break in, it feels different. He'd like to see some new places.

So new places, here we come. And those new places may well be in Michigan. Both due to family economics and to the fact that we really do live in a lovely state: Sleeping Bear Dunes are the biggest outside the Sahara Desert, our coastline is endless, and we haven't even explored the wild beauty of the U.P. Since neither D nor I grew up here, Michigan still hasn't shown us all her wonders.

But for our last night in Frankfort, the moon was out full, our stomachs were full of shared Crescent Bakery bump cake and pizza and we watched an impossibly large moon emerge over our beach motel.

Yup, Up North is a state of mind.


anno said...

That's an amazing picture! And I agree, Up North is a state of mind... a good one. It sounds like you are enjoying it all, drinking it all in... Looking forward to having you back in town!

Marianne Arkins said...

Great pictures, and what a wonderful job you did setting the mood. Sounds like your DS is growing up... made me a little sad, and he's not even mine! LOL...

Jenn in Holland said...

Up North sounds like a great place to be.
Lovely thoughts here Jen. Fantastic photos.

Unknown said...

As a kid my parents took us all --2 brothers and an assortment of cousings--Up North every summer for 2 weeks. We stayed at the same cabin on Armstrong Lake outside the tiny village of Alpha in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. I love the area, and know well the state of mind just thinking of it induces in me.

Rebecca said...

I'm sure you can take your 'up North' state of mind with your wherever you go on your next holiday.

Looks like a beautiful spot, though

Anonymous said...

Up North sounds wonderful. (And you are truly "up north" from me! I'm an Ohio girl.) Lovely pictures and memories.

Jen said...

Anno, I wish I could take credit for the pictures, but it was D, who's a far better photographer than I am.

Marianne, I was a little sad, too... and probably need to rewrite this when I'm a little less close to the subject.

Jenn, Rebecca and Leslie - it really is a lovely area. Surprisingly so, because I don't think people ever think of Michigan as being anything special.

Greg - one of my goals is to take D and C to the UP. I've lived here more years than D and went to the UP long ago. It's beautiful up there.

soccer mom in denial said...

Oh. How few people get to have such a special place like Up North. And that last photo looks like a dream.