Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Our Michigan vacation

A few weeks ago now we went on our second "family of 3" vacation.  We wanted something close-ish to home so we ended up doing 5 nights at a KOA near Traverse City, Michigan and Sleeping Bear Dunes.  It was only about 4 hours from home which was perfect amount to still feel away but not too far that made it hard to keep Luke happy in the car (he took good naps!). 

I grew up camping with my family but never really understood how much work it was until we went to Tennessee last year.  Then we stayed at a Kamping Kabin where we had a bed, electricity, and real walls.  But having to walk to the bathroom and keeping things cool in the cooler was not so much fun.  The cooler part was down right stressful.  So this year we were looking for something a little easier.  That ended up being a Kamping Kottage at a KOA.  It's basically a hotel room at a campground.  We had our own bathroom, air conditioning, beds, and a mini fridge (like a hotel) while still enjoying the best parts of a campground like outdoor space (gas grill, porch glider, patio table), a pool, and playground.  This is definitely our new preferred way to "camp". 

Our favorite part of the trip was visiting Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.  Matt had been before with his family but I never had.  We visited the park almost every day.  We saw the views, did the Dune Climb, watched some demonstrations, and toured some historical parts.

My favorite "activity" was watching the sunset from the main overlook at the park.  It made for a late night but the views were were totally worth it.  It was the one thing I said I really wanted to do on the trip and I'm glad we were able to make it happen.  It was absolutely spectacular.

Luke's favorite part seemed to be doing the Dune Climb.  He climbed the first part just holding our hands, with frequent breaks to stop and play in the sand.  He loved all that sand.  His sand box here just doesn't compare to all that.  We probably could have spent the better part of the day here, just letting Luke play in the sand.  He was so entertained by a stick and the sand.  It was pretty adorable.

When I asked Matt his favorite part of the trip he just said "Sleeping Bear" which was most of the trip so not too helpful.  So here's pictures of us on a beach, collecting rocks (we came home with a lot...).  Luke even got into the rock collecting.  He'd find 2, carry them around, knocking them together, then throw one down if he found a better one.  He has since learned how to say "rock" since many of them have been hanging out on our patio.

Besides exploring the park we spent an afternoon in Traverse City (not counting our 2 Aldi stops, and 1 Target stop).   It was a nice town but one afternoon was enough.  We walked their main street and stopped in some shops.  Saw Grand Traverse Bay and the harbor.  Luke really enjoyed their splash pad and walking around it with Daddy.  It wasn't real warm on our trip  (high 70s/low 80s) so swimming wasn't happening but getting his feet wet and splashing kept him happy enough.

When we go on vacation we plan to eat out a once or twice and cook at camp the rest.  Our favorite eat out meal on this trip (of the two...) was at Grand Traverse Pie Co. in Traverse City.  I had scouted that one out online before we left and we walked an extra few blocks to get there when downtown.  We each got a meal and split a piece of pie for less than $20.  The restaurant had plenty of room to navigate a stroller and the food was delicious.  Especially the pie.  It was a raspberry apple crumb and I was about ready to lick off the plate when we finished.  If we are ever back in the area I would definitely eat there again, even if it's just pie.

Our other activity was going to the Cherry Bowl Drive-In.  You may have picked up on our love of drive-ins; we are big fans but we weren't overly impressed with this one.  First it was $10/each (which I didn't see anywhere on their website on Facebook page despite a lot of looking).  We've been paying $7-8/each for all our drive-in trips the last few years.  Then we weren't supposed to bring in any food, as in it was expressly forbidden (also something I didn't see, predominately at least, on their website or Facebook).  Most drive-ins just discourage it but this one will kick you out if caught.  We finished our pudding quickly but didn't worry about Luke's bottle (they would have seen my rage if they tried to kick us out over that).  And we almost always pick up something from the concessions and did this time as well.  They also had a really long intermission (20 minutes maybe?) which isn't very nice when it's already midnight.  The movies were fine (How to Train Your Dragon 2 and X-Men: Days of Future Past) and Luke actually did really well, falling asleep during the first and staying asleep until we put him back in his seat at the end.   It wasn't a complete bust but probably my least favorite drive-in of the now 5 we've been to.

Overall, despite a few days of rain and a child who didn't like to sleep in his pack n play, it was a really great trip.  Wonderful to get away, spend some time together as a family, and see some sites. And enjoy having our own shower.  We don't usually go camping to have a better bathroom situation than at home!

No comments: