We just got back from a fun trip to Lake Michigan. As much as I enjoy getting away every once in awhile, a "vacation" for me is a lot of planning and a lot of work before, during and after the trip.
For starters, there's the trip planning. Where to go and what to do? I'm not the kind of person who can wing it on vacation. I need some sort of plan. I'm not naive enough to think my plan will go off without a hitch (it never has) but at least I have an outline of things to do and see. For our trip this summer we decided to go to Michigan's Adventure, bike riding and the beach in Grand Haven and the Great Lakes Naval Memorial and Museum.
After the trip planning (make hotel reservations, buy discount tickets to Michigan's Adventure at Meijer, gather list of things to do in Grand Haven, verify museum admission prices and hours) there's the packing part. We decided to take our bikes since Christopher is now riding a two-wheeler so I had to remember to pack the bike helmets. Also, since we were going to the beach I had to remember to pack our bathing suits, beach towels, goggles, the beloved shovel, sunglasses, sunscreen and hats. Of course this is in addition to our regularly needed items like clothes, underwear, socks, toothbrushes, combs, etc.
I knew there was a state park in Grand Haven and I happened to see that the library was offering a free one-day state park pass for any state park in Michigan, so I put that on my list of things to do before we left (the park pass is only valid for one week). We decided to pack lunches for the trip so I made PB&J sandwiches, grabbed some apples and veggie sticks and threw in some granola bars (Blueberry for Nicholas, Strawberry for Christopher). I also remembered to pack the DVD player for the car (don't forget Fox &Hound DVD!) and grab the blankets from the boys' beds so they could get all cozy and comfortable while watching their movies in the car.
What am I forgetting? I am constantly asking myself, what am I forgetting?
Once on the road I feel like I can breath a sigh of relief. We are on the way! When we get to our hotel, the first thing I hear is "so, what's on the agenda? What are we going to do?" I feel like Julie McCoy, the cruise director on The Love Boat, who sole purpose in life was to make sure everyone was having a good time. I have my handy-dandy list of things to do, so I suggest we go into town and grab a bite to eat, maybe walk around a little. But, all the boys want to do is swim in the hotel swimming pool. We have a multitude of choices and they want to swim in the hotel swimming pool. We compromise by saying we will go out for a bit and come back later to swim.
The rest of the weekend went pretty well. We managed to do and see everything we set out to do and see amid constant questions of "what are we going to do now?" and "what time does this open or close?" or "where are we going to eat?" The entertainment coordinator job is a never-ending one!
We had a blast at Michigan's Adventure, although I won't go back until Christopher is tall enough to ride everything. I really don't want to spend any more time with Christopher in the water park wading pool while Mark and Nicholas go on the water slides. Mark and I switched kids after awhile and I managed to talk Nicholas into riding the Funnel of Fear with me which is shocking since it was listed on a scale of 1-to-5 as a 5 which means, "Agressive Thrill" ride. Neither of my boys has an affinity for roller coasters or any ride with any kind of large drop. So, I give him kudos for riding with me. He was scared, but he did it. In the future if my boys don't outgrow their fear of roller coasters or heights I may need to rent some kids to go on rides with me at the amusement parks because my husband doesn't like roller coasters either.
Riding bikes along the boardwalk in Grand Haven was great. Christopher kept up like champ. Lake Michigan was awesome and we had a fun-filled day at the beach . I spent my summers swimming in the ocean in Cape May, New Jersey but I gotta say the waves on the lake could definitely compete with the waves in the ocean. Plus, we didn't have to worry about stinging saltwater, jellyfish or sharks! The boys spent the entire day in the water. We were pooped by the time we got back to our hotel.
"Have you seen my sunglasses?" my husband asked. "Mom, where's my Power Ranger?" UGH! How is it that I'm responsible for everyone's stuff? After awhile I just said, "I'm not in charge of the sunglasses or water bottles or toys." If they get lost, they get lost. I can't keep track of everything!
The naval museum was incredible. We got to tour a real WWII submarine, the USS Silversides, which sank 23 ships and damaged 14 during her service. She ranks third highest among all World War II U.S. submarines in ships sunk, totaling 90,080 tons. The Silversides is the nation's most famous surviving submarine. The museum itself was an amazing collection of WWII exhibits. I would love to go back again.
I was definitely tired after our trip. We accomplished a lot and had a great time, but after getting home and unpacking everything I packed, putting everything back in its place, getting the car cleaned out and doing laundry, I feel like I need a vacation from my vacation!
Anyone who has ever traveled with kids knows that it's challenging. And frustrating. And tiring. But, I will do it all again and again and again because this is what my kids' memories are made of. When they say, "mom, remember when we were on vacation and we walked on that pier and saw that cool lighthouse?" or "remember when I ate perch for the first time at that restaurant on the marina?" I won't remember the frustrations. I will remember, like they do, the great time we had together as a family.