We were invited to stay with friends at their family holiday home on the Shanty Creek Resort - the place we stayed when we went skiing with them. The resort is a little north-east of Traverse City (about 3/4 of the way up the main part of Michigan - the lower peninsula or mitten).
This time we were going for some summer fun. Unfortunately the weather had other ideas!
Thankfully the sunshine came out just long enough on Friday for us to enjoy a few hours on a pontoon. We hired one and headed out onto the local lakes... Lake Bellaire, Torch Lake and Grass River which connects them. We stopped for lunch on the river just near Lake Bellaire, parked up on the sand bank and jumped out for a swim. It was paradise.
The weather was a bit cloudy but it was sunny and warm enough for a swim (and for me to get a bit red on my back... whoops!). The kids loved every bit of it - we all did! From helping to steer the boat, to jumping off the back into the water, to sunbathing on the leather seats - it was all a new experience for us and such a fun one.
The weather took a turn for the worse on Saturday - it was cold and cloudy - so we took a drive up to the most northern part of the lower peninsula (it took about two hours) and a ferry over to Mackinac (pronounced Mackinaw) Island. It's somewhere that we have wanted to go since we moved here and heard all about friends' holidays 'up north'. It's a small historical island (only a few miles across and 8 miles around) which only allows horses and bicycles for transport. You can take a horse drawn carriage ride with guided tour or you can jump on a bike and do it yourself. With 5 fidgety kids between the two families we opted for the latter and took off. It was a bit crazy busy getting the bikes so we went a bit fast at the start and missed a couple of things but we all settled into it and spent a lovely two hours touring round the island, seeing the sights and racing each other. Most of the kids were attached to an adult's bike with a mini unicycle that had pedals so the kids thought it was great fun to pedal as fast as possible to beat Mummy or Daddy's bike.
We grabbed some lunch, took the kids to the park to burn off some steam, purchased some fudge (because it all looked so tempting and every other shop is a fudge shop!) and before we knew it, it was time to head back to the mainland on the ferry.
As it was our first time up that far, we couldn't resist driving over the Mackinac bridge or 'Mighty Mac' as its also known. It's 5 miles long and crosses the Mackinac straits. It cost us $8 for the privilege of driving across it to the Upper Peninsula, turning around and driving back across, but it was interesting and it's definitely a tick on the bucket list.
Some of these were taken from the ferry and the others during the drive across
Sunday was our last day and the weather was still too cold for the beach so we headed out to a local farm and picked sweet cherries and raspberries - neither of which we have seen growing before and both of which were delicious!
So even though it was not typical July weather and not what we had planned for, we had a fantastic time with a great family who always make it fun. There were some particularly funny moments which will always make us laugh out loud when we remember them, including Jeremy's hilarious walk through the fly screen, complete with comedy legs as the screen fell away but he had nowhere to step and the spray of boiling hot tea all over himself and the deck! (He escaped without any burns, though it took a while to stop laughing so hard, wipe the tears and check he was OK!)
And hopefully there will be a rematch of the game Sequence... I am going to practice without the 2 G&Ts, CC and half bottle of cider so I have half a chance next time!
Thank you Martinson family for a fabulous weekend and a great adventure 'up north'.