Making time for self care

As I sit here surrounded by moving boxes and to do lists, I realize that moving into a new house is a perfect time to establish new routines.  New space, fresh start! I am someone that loves structure, which makes me question how I let myself fall out of an established routine in the first place.  Maybe it was the freedom of the empty nest life?  When we moved here, I wasn’t working anymore and suddenly could do pretty much what I wanted, when I wanted.  It was fun for a couple of years. Who wouldn’t love having 7 bars and restaurants in walking distance, especially on warm summer nights when a band is playing?!  We were like newlyweds all over again, but this time with money! I didn’t have an alarm clock to wake up to or set schedule to keep. I was staying up way too late and sleeping in until I felt like getting up.  I had been home with my babies in my early 20’s so it wasn’t until my 40’s that I even visited bars and stay out late on a regular basis!  It felt like a permanent vacation, especially when my friends came to visit.  It was a great life and I was living it to the fullest.

But as tends to happen, I feel like that phase has run its course. There are a few things that I think contributed to this.

A global pandemic that made it more appealing to spend time at home and with small groups. After two years of living with this virus I pay a lot more attention to the number of people in the crowd and who I am going to be spending time with afterwards. My cozy pajamas, comfortable couch and thousands of streaming options can a be pretty tempting alternative!

It’s been nearly six years since our first visit here and we are still discovering new places in the area. New trails to hike, more local businesses to support, fun events we haven’t been to. This is a beautiful place to live and there are so many great things to do! We love just taking drives with no idea where we will end up.

Working a part time job which does require getting out of bed before 10am. It isn’t nearly as much fun staying out until 1am when you have to work the next morning!

These days our weekly trivia night with local friends is enough excitement for me most of the time. I am more likely to suggest we stay home and spend the evening watching British baking shows and House Hunters International than go out drinking and dancing. Which isn’t to say we don’t enjoy a good karaoke night or getting giggly with our friends now and then, we just don’t need it on a weekly basis anymore. I promise I’m not going to start complaining about the music being too loud or “kids these days”! I’m not getting too old to stay out late, but rather less inclined to feel the need to, if that makes sense.

I feel like I’ve gotten a bit off topic but the point I was trying to make was, I’ve been craving more structure in my routine. Once we move (two more weeks), I plan to make some changes. I’d like to get myself used to going to sleep before midnight and waking up by 7:30 without an alarm clock. This is the sunrise side after all and I would like to see it more often! I also want to create a self-care checklist to incorporate into my regular routine that I can check off each day.  I LOVE crossing things off a list, it’s just so satisfying!  This is what I am currently thinking:

– 20 minutes each morning for stretching/meditation

-Two writing sessions a week to work on my blog/journaling

-A weekly hike with my walking buddy

-A weekly group exercise activity (yoga, cardio drumming, line dancing, group workout, etc.)

-Dedicated time each week to work on my correspondence (sounds old fashioned I know, but how many times do we THINK about reaching out to someone but don’t actually do it)

-10 minutes before bedtime for skin care.  I use moisturizer every day but am hit and miss with other products. I need to make myself a priority and take the time to take care of myself! I have a drawer full of Fab, Fit and Fun products that I should actually use!

In addition to all of this I’ll still be working part time, volunteering with my groups, helping to manage our household, and having fun with friends and family both at home and late nights on the town. It will be a full life. One that I want to take the time to appreciate. Preferably while meditating on my yoga mat overlooking my peaceful, new backyard. 

I’ll let you know how it goes. If you have tried a self care check list of your own and want to offer suggestions or tips please be sure to leave a comment.

A New House!

We bought a house!! We’ve worked a long time to get to this point, a journey which many friends have taken with me. To sum it up very briefly; we built a successful business and had a huge house with lots of toys and then everything crashed in 2008/2009 and it all disappeared. All. OF. IT. We had a few rough years dealing with the ramifications of all of it. But then we decided to make a plan and we stuck to it. It’s taken a lot of work but we climbed our way back up and once again became homeowners. But this time we did it smarter.

This time we bought a house well below the top end of our price range. This time we recognize that sometimes things happen beyond our control and we need to be prepared for it. Unfortunately we learned that the hard way but hopefully our adult kids can benefit from it and save themselves some heartache.

When we moved up here full time in 2019, we knew we wanted to rent for awhile and get to know that area. I was so sure of what I wanted back then. A 2 bedroom, 2 bath condo on the beach. I didn’t want a yard to maintain. Who wants to rake and shovel and mow? I would sacrifice privacy and space for the convenience of being on the beach and watching the sunrise from my living room. Chad would come home from work and we’d take off for a walk on the beach. It would be like a permanent vacation. We didn’t need room for big gatherings or more than one overnight guest. I was so sure this is what I wanted that I wasn’t even open to other ideas. I plugged my criteria into Zillow and Realtor.com and would get notifications of new listings. Whenever a condo went up for sale we would go see it so we could decide which development we wanted to live in. We looked at quite a few in the Tawases and Oscoda. I just knew when the time was right we would be going that route.

Then came the fire. Our oldest daughter and her fiancé where at our place for Easter dinner in 2021 and the call came that their rental house two miles away was on fire. It was devastating. Our family hadn’t been through anything like that and within an hour our two other adult kids were on the road to come help. One from 4 hours away and one from 2.5 hours. For the next few days we all crammed into our little 2 bedroom, 2 bath apartment. 6 adults, a cat and an ever growing pile of donations. And we were all so happy to be together that we didn’t mind the chaos. It felt good to just be together. And in that moment I knew that this mattered more than being on the beach. Having a home where our kids and their families could gather for good times and bad, THAT was what “home” meant.

There are very few condo complexes in our area and even fewer with three bedrooms. So I opened my search to include 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom waterfront single family homes. I didn’t want to give up on Lake Huron quite yet. I updated my criteria and my real estate broker husband and I officially started house hunting in July 2021.

It was finally happening. We were looking at houses for the first time in over a decade and I was so excited. We looked at some small cottages on Lake Huron. They were at the top of our price range and all needed major remodeling, some needed garages and some didn’t even have real access to the water. While I’m not afraid of a little work, I knew if we overspent on the house it would be a long time before we would be able to make changes. This would be a good time to mention that we wanted city water and sewer, a decent phone signal and we didn’t want to be right on top of US 23? Anyone who knows our area knows that can be a big challenge once you get away from town! There was also historically low inventory affecting real estate all over the country, home prices were way up and sellers were accepting offers the same day the house was listed. Bidding wars were common place. All in all, not a great year to buy a home. But I was persistent. I was tired of being a renter and wanted the security of home ownership.

At the end of July, after only a few weeks of looking we found a great house. It was small, only 1200 square feet, but it had a separate little guest house and was across the street from Lake Huron. There were a lot of cons but I was willing to overlook them for it’s access to the lake. Our offer was accepted and we thought it was pretty much a done deal. Until the appraisal, that took over a month to get back, came in significantly lower than it needed to. I wasn’t as upset as I expected to be, and that told me everything I needed to know. It wasn’t the right house for us.

We looked at a few more house but nothing felt right. We had seen EVERY house that fit our criteria and even some that didn’t. Then one day a listing popped up that caught my eye. I had seen this listing before but then it has disappeared and I assumed it had sold quickly just like so many others had been. Turns out it had been briefly listed for sale by owner and now was back on the market through an agent. It wasn’t on Lake Huron and I wasn’t sure how I felt about the location. It intrigued me though so we made an appointment to go see it the next day. The house is on a dead end street at the back of a neighborhood full of small, modest homes. I liked it the minute we drove up and as soon as we walked in the front door, I felt like I was home. Chad said he could see it in my face and knew we were going to be buying this house.

It has three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a loft for even more sleeping space when needed. It’s on a half acre lot backing up to a creek. I could picture my family there for Thanksgiving and cookouts. I could see evenings with friends around a bonfire in the backyard or playing cards in the three season room. What it lacked in beachfront it more than made up for with charm and character. Lake Huron is less than a mile away. It’s only five minutes to my favorite beach and even less than that to our oldest daughter’s new house. It has city water and sewer, is newly remodeled and has a huge porch. It’s a twenty minute drive to work for us and we both have the ability to work from home if need be in bad weather. It’s not perfect, but it’s perfect for US!

As part of our offer, we gave the sellers a month to move out after closing. We get our keys next week and hope to move in the last weekend of January.

Taking the Good with the Bad

So much has happened since my last post!

First the GOOD stuff:

Work is going really well. I only work about 20 hours a week and I can set my own schedule. I enjoy what I’m doing and hopefully making a difference. I REALLY like earning a paycheck again, even if only a part time one. My day consists of promoting our current Chamber members and talking to potential new members. I do our twice a month newsletter, help plan events, answer the phone and greet our visitors. It is REALLY nice to have some events to plan again!

Which leads me to the next good stuff. Our beach town WILL have some events this summer. We aren’t sure yet about some of the bigger events and how they may look. But our weekly street dance, community band concerts, farm market and our arts & crafts shows are all happening. I’m part of the fireworks committee and that is going well too. In the past the show was fairly short and generated a lot of grumbling in the community. So our group is working to increase funding for the show in hopes of a longer, dazzling show. It’s nice to be part of a group that is willing to give up some of their time to help make our area a better place!

I am fully vaccinated now. I’ll admit I wasn’t crazy about the idea of getting it. I would be a lot more comfortable waiting a couple of years before getting a new vaccine. But I wanted to do my part to help try to get the country back to normal. Besides, all of our kids got vaccinated so if it turns out there is a problem with them down the road, then at least we will all face it together! I had the Pfizer vaccine. The first one was no problem. The 2nd one left me with a good size knot on my arm It’s been 6 days now and it is still there. I was also a big headachy for a couple of days. The BIGGEST thing I noticed was the fatigue. I was exhausted for days. In truth, I still don’t have a lot of energy. I know this is temporary though and it will pass.

I have a few framed photographs in a new art gallery/gift shop in Oscoda. It’s a cute shop and hopefully someone will enjoy them enough to want to buy them. It is VERY intimidating to have those out there to be judged and critiqued by everyone. It was a big step, one I am hoping I don’t end up regretting!

The not so good stuff:

Our oldest daughter and her fiancé lost their house to a fire on Easter Sunday. We had just finished dinner and were playing a game when we got the news. They only live a few miles away so we got there really quickly. I can’t even describe my emotions when I was on the scene. My daughter literally crumbled to the ground crying because their newly adopted cat was inside and everyone said there is no way she had survived because she was on the second floor with the raging fire. It was agonizing. After an hour, and to everyone’s amazement, a firefighter came out of the door carrying the cat! She was cleared by the vet and a month later you would never know she was in a fire. It really was an Easter Miracle! They have since found a new rental home, though it is 20 minutes away. It’s more expensive and a longer commute, but there weren’t a lot of options. We are just glad to have them safe. Thanks to their renter’s insurance and help from our AMAZING friends, family, and community, they have clothes, furniture and all of the basics they need to set up their new home. A vast majority of their childhood memories and collections were gone and we will all continue to mourn those things that are irreplaceable.

Another thing that qualifies as “not so great” (at US at least) is that the real estate market is very tight right now. Home are snapped up the minute they hit the market, often above asking price and with no seller concessions. Forget about asking for closing costs and them to fix something wrong with an inspection! It is a terrible time to try to buy a house, yet here we are. I’m trying to find my perfect beach house in the middle of the best seller’s market in decades. Those that know me that testify that patience is not my strong suit. When I know what I want, I want it now. I’m a bit obsessed with the housing market in our county, I can tell you every waterfront listing in Iosco County and I’ve seen about half of them. I’d really like to be settled into a place of our own by the end of the year. Hopefully the right place will come along at the right time.

I guess that’s it for now. I hope all of you are well and as always, thanks for reading!

Friday Night

Living in the heart of our little town, I get to do a lot of people watching. As we get closer to spring more people are out walking around town during the day. They are shopping, exercising, meeting friends for lunch. They are beginning to stop into the Chamber of Commerce for maps and visitor guides. Everyone is looking forward to warm summer days and evenings around the bonfire.

Things are still pretty quiet in town at night though, even on the weekends. The Mexican restaurant on the block does good business, both dine in and carry out. Not much else happening right now. The little theater hasn’t reopened yet and the bars have to close by 11.

I’m looking forward to the day when bars can bring back live music, dancing and karaoke! When the streets are full of people laughing and having fun. When my Friday night isn’t spent reorganizing my closet and falling asleep before midnight!

We are less than 2 months away from bringing out the balcony furniture, having the first spring flowers push their way up through the ground, having 8:30pm sunsets. I wonder what those Friday nights will look like.

Life in 2021

When I started this blog I fully intended to write once or twice a week. I did well for awhile but let’s face it, 2020 was rough! The only thing people talked about ALL YEAR was Covid and politics and those were not topics I wanted to spend even more time thinking about! I’m still not sure I have enough to write about this year, but I just renewed my annual subscription for this site so I might as well use it! This is my attempt to catch you up with what is happening in my life at the moment…

Going back to work. A little over 2 years ago I quit my full time job. I needed knee surgery, I wanted to spend as much time as possible with my mom who was in hospice, and we were getting ready for our move up north. I never intended to “retire” from working permanently. I figured I’d concentrate on other things for a few years until we started our own business and then I’d be working again. My knee healed, I spent a lot of time with my mom before we lost her, and we successfully relocated to East Tawas. I became active in the community and volunteered with a few local groups.

One of those volunteer jobs was at the Tawas Area Chamber of Commerce. I helped out once a week taking calls, answering emails, greeting visitors and helping with social media. It was a good way to get to know community members and keep up with the latest town news. I recently accepted a paid part time position with them, starting next week! I wasn’t planning on going back to work quite yet but I am excited about the opportunity. The hours are flexible so I can have weekends with my friends, time for the beach and still earn a paycheck!

Selling my photographs. My last post was about the new artist gallery opening up in the next town. My prints are ready to be hung and it looks like the gallery should open in about 3 weeks. I have no idea if any of them will sell. If they don’t then a few lucky people are getting nice Christmas gifts from me this year!

Getting Healthier. Since May of 2020 I have been making my health a priority. I’m drinking protein shakes, not eating between meals and drinking more water. I’ve lost a little over 50 pounds, dropped a few sizes and have increased my energy/stamina. While it does feel good to see the number on the scale going down, my main focus is health. It FEELS GOOD to not be as out of breath and be able to push myself further. I have a long way to go but I am proud of the progress I’m making. Slow and steady!

Our kids are doing well. Our oldest daughter is recently engaged, making new friends and enjoying her job. Our middle daughter and her husband bought their first house, have good jobs and their adorable son will be ONE next month. Our youngest son is now a full time firefighter, almost done with his paramedic course and seems to be enjoying his grown up life. I definitely miss the kids and wish we saw them more often, but I am proud of them and the lives they are living. They are all happy and thriving, what else could a parent ask for?

I am hoping now that things are slowly returning to normal and I am not spending as much time on the couch, I will have more to write about!

Blue Ice formation south of Tawas City

A New Adventure

People have been telling me for a long time that I should sell some of my photography. My whole life I’ve loved taking pictures. When I was eight I got a second hand Polaroid camera and did extra chores to pay for the film. I upgraded to a 110 film camera when I was around twelve. I still remember the flashbulb sticks and not wanting to waste a flash! I remember how excited I was when I got my first 35mm. I used babysitting money to pay for film developing. Anyone else remember the double print specials? For years I printed pictures almost weekly and headed off to Meijer to search through the alphabetized racks looking for my envelopes. I made over 40 full size photo albums in the first 20 years of my adulthood! I was a holdout when digital cameras first came out on the market. I loved my multi lens Canon Rebel EOS and didn’t like the idea of not using real film. I eventually got a little Canon Sure Shot pocket digital camera and then later a multi lens digital Canon Rebel. It took me years to get out of the habit of taking every picture twice in case someone blinked! Around 2009/2010 I switched fully to the digital world and just last year scanned all the pictures from my albums and created new digital albums. With each new camera I marvel at how much better the photo quality is. I now have a Canon T7i and am very happy with it, though I am still learning all of the settings and features.

I did two of my kid’s senior pictures and my daughter’s wedding pictures but I never wanted to get into portrait/event photography. That’s a lot of pressure! I enjoy landscape/nature photography. Michigan is a photographers dream, it is gorgeous all year long and we have 4 full seasons. There is always something interesting to take a picture of. I can’t tell you how often we go to the same places and I have to pause to get a picture, even though I’ve taken pictures there dozens of times before.

It’s always just been a hobby, something I have done for fun. I decorate my home with my prints and occasionally gift some to other people. I have never sold anything and if I am being honest, never really thought anyone would be interested. There are so many people that take pictures and so many websites now that make it easy to have your own prints made. I talked myself out of it for years. I told myself that if it became a “job” then it would take the joy out of it. There was always an excuse not to try. After all, I can’t “fail” if I don’t try, right?

Part of this empty nest journey for me is figuring out who I am other than a wife and a mom. What are my interests? What can I see myself doing with my future? Do I have the courage to put myself out there in a new way? I’ve been kicking around the idea of trying to sell my photography since we moved up here. Other than my volunteer work, my schedule is pretty open. I have the time, I have a little extra money to get started. I am finally saying out loud that I believe I have the talent. Now can I actually make it happen?

There is a new artist space opening in Oscoda early next year and I’ve been in contact with the owner about selling a few pieces there. I’ll start with a 4 or 5 piece collection and see what happens. Right now I am ordering different prints from different companies to try to find a good fit. I’ll do the framing and matting myself. I may try a couple of canvas pieces too if I can find a company that can do them in a quality I am happy with. Once I find the right company to do my printing and am happy with the results then I can look into selling them on my own as well.

I’m not looking to make a living from this. Just selling a print every now and then would make a world of difference to my confidence, and maybe help pay for new camera equipment. Even if it doesn’t end up working out, at least I will know I gave it a shot. And for me, that is a big step.

Stay tuned!

Appreciating Nature

As the trees lose the last of their colorful leaves and we prepare for the gloom that settles in until the snow begins to accumulate, I remind myself that Michigan is beautiful all year round. I may be sad that our beautiful fall is coming to a close but I also look forward to snow covered pine trees and the ice formations out over the bay. Don’t take the change of seasons for granted my friends, we witness nature’s awesomeness all year long.

Road Trip!

You never know what kind of weather Autumn will bring to Michigan. It could be 85 one day and 55 the next.  Some years we barely have time to appreciate the color change before wind and rain bring the leaves down far too soon. Other years, like last year, the color lasts for weeks and every weekend is gorgeous. We Michiganders have learned to live in the moment because we never know what Mother Nature will bring tomorrow.

Last Thursday my husband had the day off, the high temp was around 70 and only partially sunny.  Knowing we couldn’t wait for “perfect” weather, we put the top down on the mustang, grabbed a couple of sweatshirts, cued up my favorite playlist and headed out to explore some of the rural areas we hadn’t had the chance to visit since moving here.  Sunshine was scarce and we had the heat on most of the time, but we had a great time anyway.  We stopped at whatever looked interesting.  I can’t resist a scenic overlook!

 

   

We ended up in Luzerne, just outside Mio, for lunch at Lost Sky Creek Ranch.  When we pulled up I wasn’t sure they were open, despite the sign in the window.  It’s a large, wooden building with a covered porch/walkway and has extensive grounds.  We could see dozens of picnic tables, multiple fire pits, and a stage off to one side of the building.  There was no one else around until the owner’s son came out to great us, enthusiastically telling us there was going to be a band the next night.  You couldn’t help but smile as he repeated himself a few times.  His grandma came out and explained they were just putting away their food truck order and we could sit anywhere we wanted.  We went inside to find a pool table, large bar, tvs, a small stage and a couple dozen tables.  We chatted a bit and discovered that they had just bought this property in January and were just getting things up and going when Covid hit and they had to shut down.  They reopened in June and all summer had bands on their outdoor stage.  They have plans to build a bigger outdoor space with an elevated stage, heated bar to be used year round and inside events as well.  It’s the kind of place that would be fun to go with your friends on a Saturday night. They even have some hotel rooms.  I wasn’t able to find a website, but you can look them up on Facebook.  The food wasn’t fancy but it’s a cool space and I would go back again.

After lunch we took a different route back towards Oscoda. We passed a lot of beautiful farmland and parts of Huron National Forest. We drove through the decommissioned air force base in Oscoda. The city is utilizing much of the space for the community. There is a library, community theater, dance studio, condos and senior housing, veterans memorials, parks, etc. Kalitta Air is also based there and is a leading employer in the area.

For dinner we went to Edelweiss in downtown Oscoda. The owners here just had their first anniversary of buying the business. Unfortunately because of Covid restrictions they are only doing outside service at this time. They have invested money in a nice patio area with 4 or 5 tables umbrellas for shade, and a large gathering table in the middle with a fire feature. A fun place for a dozen of so people to get to know each other. I love what the new owners are doing as far as promoting their new menu and updates online. I hope they are able to open up again soon inside, I’m looking forward to going with friends for dinner and live music. After dinner we took a walk around town. There are some cute businesses spread out over a few blocks and it’s only a block off Lake Huron and a big park/beach where in a normal year they have live band and movie nights.

It was a great day for a road trip. I’m hoping for at least one more before the leaves completely fall, but if that doesn’t happen I will be glad I at least had this day! If you have any questions about any of the places I mentioned or have a suggestion of a place I should check out, please comment below.

As always, thanks for reading!

Our 2020 Summer Vacation

When we planned our 6 family group vacation a year ago none of us had any idea what 2020 would have in store for us. We happily planned our trip and spent months making plans and talking about how excited we were. When this Covid-19 craziness started back in March none of us thought we would even still be talking about it by August! But that’s not the way it happened. One of our families had to drop out due to loss of income/vacation time. The other 5 decided to try to make the best of it. 5 families SOUNDS like a lot more people than it actually was. We fluctuated between 13-18 people depending on what half of the week it was. Our kids are mostly grown now and only some of them are able to come on these annual trips anymore.

We spent very little time in each other’s cabins. The resort had a great layout for a group trip so we spent most of our time outside by/in the lake. Sometimes we did things together, sometimes we did things on our own. We tried to come together in the evenings as much as possible by the bonfire to catch up with each other. That’s the great thing about these trips, everyone does their own thing yet we are still “together”.

These are the highlights of our vacation along with links to places you may want to check out.

Heart Lake Cottages

This small waterfront resort has 7 cabins (our group had 5 of them during our stay). They are very close together and on a pretty level piece of property so there isn’t too much walking involved to get around the common spaces. This made it ideal for a group trip and people. It’s on a small inland lake, Heart Lake, which is about 10 minutes south of Gaylord. It’s only an hour from Petoskey and Mackinaw City and just a little farther to Traverse City. The resort supplies kayaks, canoes, rowboats and stand up paddleboards. These things were in “fair” condition and could use a little more maintenance. Each cabin has a picnic table and as with the water toys, they needed a little more upkeep. There is a group bonfire pit with plenty of supplied wood. There are 2 docks and a swim raft a little bit out from the shore. Our group had a great time playing in the water. Those that didn’t want to swim were able to sit on the dock and still feel included. I think we were in the water everyday!

The cabins themselves were about what you would expect in that price point. They are just basic cabins but had all the necessary items. The owners are onsite and quick to provide extra soap, garbage bags, and other things you may need. One thing to note, the cabins do NOT have air conditioning and while that may not seem like a big deal in Northern Michigan, the first 3 days of our week there was extremely humid and made for uncomfortable sleeping. By the 3rd night we were so tired we actually went to a hotel! Luckily the weather broke and the rest of the week was much more pleasant!

If you are looking for a place to stay that is central to what Northern Michigan has to offer, I would definitely check this place out. Heart Lake Cottages

Petoskey, Tunnel of Trees

One of our day trips included an afternoon in Petoskey. This was the only trip our whole group went on. We wanted to hunt for Petoskey stones and went to Petoskey State Park. It is a big beach with plenty of sand and a concession/bathroom building. I will caution you to wear water shoes because walking along the beach is VERY rocky! You will also need patience when entering/exiting the park as there is a lot of traffic! I did end up with 2 small stones, now I just need to polish them.

After the park we drove through Bay Harbor (gorgeous town!) and then took M-119 (Tunnel of Trees) up to Cross Village. I’ve done this drive before but for those that haven’t here are some things you need to know.

1- It is gorgeous! Tons of trees, glimpses of Lake Michigan, beautiful homes and meadows.

2- There is nowhere to stop along the way. Make sure you use the bathroom and have gas before you go. Even when you reach Cross Village there isn’t much there.

3- It is not a fast drive. It’s only 27 miles but takes almost an hour each way. There are a lot of curves and the road is narrow in a lot of places. This could be a problem for someone with motion sickness so take precautions. It can also be hard to stop and take pictures if there is a car right behind you so be careful.

Once we got the Cross Village we had to eat at Leg’s Inn. Most in our group had not been there and it is the kind of place you have to visit at least once. The food is good and we’ve always been treated well by the staff. But the restaurant itself is the draw. It is one of the most interesting ones I’ve ever been in! It is on a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan and there are tables and chairs scattered around the lawn for you to use while waiting for your table or have an after dinner drink. They have indoor and outdoor dining. They had to split us up into groups as they can’t accommodate large groups because of Covid guidelines. They also don’t take reservations. It is always first come, first serve. I suggest making sure when you visit the area you aren’t in a hurry and can just enjoy it. It will be worth it!

Mackinac Island

We’ve been there many times and it’s one of my favorite places in the whole state! This time was a little different. Masks are required on the ferry, carriages and in the shops/restaurants. Luckily the weather was nice because that wouldn’t be so fun on a hot day! Just our daughter and her family came with us for this day trip. We all did a carriage tour together and then split up in the afternoon.

My husband and I chose to leave the hustle and bustle of downtown behind and walked down to Mission Point. The flowers were beautiful and the breeze was just enough to keep us comfortable while we held hands and enjoyed our walk. We had a leisurely lunch, a couple of drinks and were feeling very content. There is just something about the island that does that to me! My husband surprised me by getting a cab (horse powered of course) and we headed to the Grand Hotel. While I prefer the comfort/style of Mission Point, I had always wanted to check out the Grand Hotel porch and it did not disappoint!! We paid our $10 to explore the lobby, porch and gardens. It was well worth it. So THIS is how the other half lives! We reluctantly walked back into town to meet the kids at the ferry and head back to the resort. {*Bonus tip- don’t try to eat ice cream while walking down the street next to horse carriages. The smell will effect the ice cream, trust me!}

I have found this site to be the most helpful when looking for information about the island Mackinac Island Tourism

Overall our trip was quieter and more secluded than in the past. We only left the resort a few times. When we did we followed social distancing guidelines and tried to balance fun with being cautious. Michigan has so much to offer. We’ve enjoyed sticking closer to home this year and supporting our local economy.

I’m glad we were able to spend this much needed time with our friends. When life gets crazy or overwhelming being surrounded by your loved ones can bring desperately needed relief.

If you have any questions I’d be happy to try to answer them. As always, thank you for reading. =)

July Update

Well, I survived my solo trip to Colorado last month! The flights went smoothly, I met up with my friends in the airport, we grabbed a rental car and headed to our other friend’s home. It was a mixed emotions type of visit. I very much enjoyed meeting these ladies in person. Since we have known each other for over 20 years we were immediately comfortable around each other. I felt like I was hanging out with sisters. Since we were there for a passing of our friend’s husband there were many tears along with the smiles and hugs. By the end of our 3 days together our bond was even stronger and we are talking about meeting up again under happier circumstances.

I was only home for a week when my mother in law came to spend a few weeks with us. She has been a great house guest and we’ve enjoyed her visit. We’ve had unseasonably warm and humid weather during most of her visit. My hubby and I are miserable when it’s over 80 but she is loving it! She moved away from Michigan a few years ago and is used to summers in the south so our weather is comfortable by comparison. We’ve had quite a few beach days during the last month. Lake Huron is warming right up and the next 2 months will be even better swimming weather.

As mandated by our governor, our town is back to stricter COVID precautions. We wear masks when inside anywhere. If we are going into a restaurant/bar we wear them until we sit down and then put them back on when we leave the table. It’s a nuisance but I’m not going to let it stop me from enjoying my town and supporting out local businesses. We are supposed to wear them outside as well if we can’t consistently maintain a 6ft distance with people not in our group. That hasn’t been a problem for us as we are rarely among big groups of people these days. Even when we go to the beach bar we sit farther away than that from other people. Our summer has been full of smaller gatherings and that’s ok with us.

We FINALLY got our new living room furniture and are no longer using camping chairs for guests! It took 5 months between picking out what we wanted, waiting for the store to reopen and then waiting for the manufacturers to reopen and get caught up with their back orders. I LOVE IT though and it is so nice to have seating options. You don’t really appreciate something until you have to go without it for so long. Kinda like your favorite brand of toilet paper (which I am finally able to find in stores again!)

Next month we are going on a vacation with several other families. We do this each summer and it’s our time to catch up with each other and just get away from the rest of the world. We have cabins booked at a small lake right here in Michigan. Luckily we aren’t planning any major excursions as we have no idea what restrictions we may be facing come next month. Mostly we sit around visiting with each other, take naps, swim, have potluck dinners and end every night with a group bonfire. It’s the only time of the year my hubby doesn’t answer texts or calls after hours or on his days off. He is literally counting down the days.

One of our empty nest goals was to visit one new place every year. We didn’t get to go anywhere this spring. This fall we talked about Key West or San Diego. Given the current state of Covid we decided to hold off until we could travel and enjoy things normally. I hate to go somewhere new only to find most of the amenities are closed. I am really hoping by next spring the world is a more familiar place. I guess we are ALL hoping for that!

The rest of our summer will be filled with small groups of friends, plenty of beach days, day trips up the coast, quiet evenings on the balcony and taking care of our garden plots. Which are looking AMAZING by the way! I think we are starting to get the hang of this!

I was saving the BEST update for the last section. My grandson is ADORABLE! Probably the cutest, sweetest baby ever! He is 4 months old now and smiling and cooing. We’ve been able to see him 3 or 4 times now and I am headed to that side of the state to visit again tomorrow. The good news is that each visit has been multiple days since 4 hours each way is a bit much for a day trip. So we usually spend the night and get extra time with him, and his parents too 😉 ! My hubby and I love being “Gram and Gramps”. I highly recommend it.

So that’s what’s new with me. As always, I appreciate your support and thank you for taking the time to read this. I’m keeping all of you in my prayers and hoping we can just keep hanging in there with grace and compassion in our hearts. Things WILL get better again, I know it.

  Making s’mores on our balcony

   Oscoda 4th of July fireworks

  AuSable Harbor

  Lake Huron

   Sunset over the AuSable River

  River Road Scenic Byway