Monday, July 5, 2010

The Five Days of the 4th of July

I actually like this photo of me, which is rare. I probably look so calm because this is on the first day of our crazy five-day camping/biking/hiking/fireworks/parade/houseful of family fourth of July "vacation." Here, it was Wednesday, early evening. I had gone to yoga while Jason was at work, packed the car up and hitched the bikes on the back. Jason and I had just driven up to Glen Arbor, gotten the second-to-last camping spot at DH Day Campground for two nights, and were driving around Glen Lake on our way to dinner at Funistrada.

It was glorious: plenty of wine, Anniversary Chicken, pasta, and adult conversation. We caught the sunset on our way back to the campground.

The next morning, we were awakened bright and early by two loudly screaming children a few sites over at 6:40 a.m., (and you can bet I rolled right out of the tent and went to have a friendly chat with the mom on my way to brush my teeth, ahem) and biked into town to have breakfast at Art's. Then, we biked around Big Glen Lake, which was beautiful if a little hilly in one particular spot (I may or may not have gotten off my bike and walked a teency bit of that hill) and had us swooping down dirt driveways with For Sale signs in their yards, wishing and dreaming and wondering if.

We stopped to catch the view at Inspiration Point . . .

did a little photo op at the beach near the end . . .

then parked our bikes and rented kayaks for the Crystal River for the afternoon. We didn't bring the camera since we didn't have a dry bag for it, but it was such a clear, shallow, wandering river and we hardly saw any other people the whole trip, just soaked up the silence and listened to the sound of our paddles dipping into the water.

We spent the rest of the afternoon reading on the beach before heading to Empire for beer and awesome burgers at Joe's Friendly Tavern. The sky clouded over as we skipped stones afterwards.

We drove up to the big overlook at Pierce Stocking Drive to watch the sunset. Nobody else was there, and we felt like the only two people on the edge of the planet.

The next morning, we slept in a little bit later, got coffee, and hiked to the top of the dune climb all by ourselves. It was the perfect spot for a few sun salutations.

We packed up camp, stunned that our two nights was over so quickly, and drove the rest of the way up to Petoskey for the second, less-quiet-but-just-as-Norman-Rockwell half of the holiday weekend.

The girls (FOUR of them, because Trevor and Lisa and their girls are living with the in-laws for the summer while they renovate their new house) besieged us when we arrived, clamoring for TREATS! and LOOK AT MY TOENAILS! and LET'S GO SWIMMING! We took the three big girls down to the dock to swim.

Annie got to drive the boat.

And of course there were popsicles and red-and-blue-painted toenails.

Saturday morning, we played at the waterfront park before walking to Bay View for brunch. The girls did so well playing together and were thrilled with their pancakes.

That night, we ate dinner at home before doing baths and getting jammies on to watch Bay Harbor's fireworks from the field above the bay.

We forgot Jemma's sunglasses, so she wore Jason's.

There was plenty of time for pre-firework silliness . . .

Then: Sunday! The actual fourth! By then, the ten (ten!) people in the house (plus one half-paralyzed dog who we took turns carrying around with a sheet for a sling . . . poor Mosey) were bordering on slap-happy exhaustion, but we powered on for the biggest day yet. This year, for the first time, the up-north contingent of the family decided to have their family business be in both the Harbor Springs and the Petoskey parades, so our day was packed with getting in the lineup and packing a picnic in addition to the usual amounts of Tom's Mom's cookies and wading in the bay and taking in all the red, white, and blue.

Here's the very sweet playhouse my father-in-law built for the float. The girls loved riding in it, waving to the onlookers (one of whom was Annie's kindergarten teacher, much to her delight), and drawing smiles of admiration.

It was around 90 degrees as we made our way down the parade route, and so the best part of the day was perhaps when we arrived back home, changed directly into bathing suits, and ran and jumped off the dock right into the aqua blue waters of Walloon Lake. We swam and splashed and started teaching Annie to dive, and nobody wanted to get out for at least an hour.

Anyone who knows me well knows that ten people together in a house with a lot of planned group activities is not the easiest thing for me to take after a couple of days, even when those people are without exception people who I love and who I love to be with. So the chaos got to me from time to time, and the girls each took their turn being a little difficult, and we forgot to take pictures of the float actually going down the road, and Jemma had a fit about her outfit (OF COURSE SHE DID) and the girls stayed up talking when they should have been sleeping, and none of that really mattered. Because there was a moment when I was rummaging around in Annie's bed (the one she shared with Berit for a few nights, then with Jemma for a few nights) and found a pile of clothes she'd discarded - some hers, some Berit's, some dress-up thrown in with some pajamas and a borrowed headband - and it suddenly seemed like she had three little sisters instead of just the one. It seemed like we'd given all the girls the gift of a big, happy family where people share clothes and toys and fall asleep wherever they find themselves at night; where the grown-ups stay up later than they should drinking good beer out on the deck and watching the fireworks over the lake; where people pitch in to calm a child or make a sandwich or paint toenails or ride in a parade or push a stroller.

Jason's been spending this particular holiday up north for as long as he can remember, and even though I'd be lying if I didn't say the first half of the trip was the more relaxing and effortless half, the second half was full of so much energy and laughter than the noisy chaos almost didn't matter. It's tradition, and you can't fight tradition.

And over here, the unpacking continues . . .

1 comment:

  1. After reading this post, I want to do it all again! But first I'm going to sleep for a week.