My adventures as an independent woman did not end with my brief affair with Henry Ford.
Last week when I went to yoga, some of the people there were talking about a town "at the end of the road" in the Upper Peninsula called Paradise, MI. This is the actual name of the town and not just a metaphor. I told David that I wanted to take the kids up there for a few days and just breathe, play on the beach, and see the wonders of the northern half of the state. You can imagine his reaction. First just a smile. (Charily checking the water for CIM, but she has been pretty quiet this whole trip...I have been blissfully whole.) Then a careful, "Where exactly is this?" and "Are you sure?"
We left on Thursday late afternoon and headed across the Mackinac Bridge into the UP after 7. It was raining and a bit dark and I felt like the only person on the road. We stopped at a little diner in a place called Trout Lake and the kids' eyes were round and large scanning the menu of hot roast beef sandwiches and all-you-can-eat whitefish, instead of Happy Meals. From there until Paradise, I didn't see another car on the road. It was dark, with just my lone headlights shining through the spotty rain, and CIM started to whisper about just how crazy this really was. It was, in a word: remote.
I drew the red arrow so you could see how close to the border we were...up in the middle of nowhere.
But I needn't have worried. It was glorious. And beautiful. And I am completely brilliant.
The skies were clear and blue when we awoke, and we quickly dressed and headed down to the beach for playing and swimming in Lake Superior, which is the coldest and deepest of all the great lakes, but which did not bother my children at all. They swam and played and built a giant sand castle and a big "bathtub" on the beach. The back of our hotel backed up to the beach and we had the whole thing to ourselves.
My good friend, Sara, and her kids came up about lunch time and after playing with them on the beach for a couple of hours we decided to head over to Tahquemenon Falls. We managed with all our kids (her 5, including a newborn, and my 4) mostly thanks to Olivia and Savannah who tenderly and patiently helped Sara's girls with whatever they needed.
There was only one near tragedy when Olivia lost one of her flip flops over the side of the barrier at the Upper Falls. I helped Caleb under the guard rail, he retrieved the lost slipper, and I helped him back up before the park rangers caught us flagrantly breaking state law.
We finally fed the kids lunch and dinner at 5:30, and then went down to see the lower falls, which were just beautiful. The walk out to see them was just stunning with trees of every variety: birch, hemlock, maple, cedar, banyan, aspen, and I hundred more I couldn't remember from my botany days at the Y. We were going to take a couple of row boats out to an island between the falls, but the place where you rent them was just closing. That could have been quite an adventure with the two of us managing a couple of boats and 9 kids. Perhaps it was a tender mercy that we arrived too late to "merrily" row our boats to the other shore. Our husbands are nothing but grateful about the timing.
And as if all this wasn't enough, the next day was even more spectacular (day 51 of our summer). We drove up to Whitefish Point and saw the lighthouse, the Great Lake Shipwreck Museum, and a movie about the Edmund Fitzgerald which sunk just off the coast.
We got lunch and spent the rest of the day out on the beach at Whitefish Point, the kids flying kites, gathering rocks, walking the beach, playing in the sand. We headed for home about 6, but got sidetracked when we reached St. Ignace and decided to go play in Lake Michigan at one of our favorite beaches not far from there before heading home.
I wrote David an email afterwards and told him, if he were with me, I would lay in bed and whisper to him about my day, my perfect and beautiful day, my little-bit-of-heaven day. It was just that. Day 51 was, indeed, a very good day.