When you are out in the open waters, anything seems possible. It feels like your floating in an endless sea of opportunities. I love to pretend that I’m in the market for one of the lovely lake homes lining the bay. Every time I’m boating, I point out an estate and ask my husband James to buy it for me. No big deal. His reply is always laced with dry sarcasm “yeah okay”. The Laufty sentiment transforms me back to college when the future was undetermined. The period prior to adulthood when all hopes and dreams lay before me. Not knowing where we would plant our roots, how many rooms we would fill or what occupation would occupy our time.
Happy as a clam we cruised the channel along New Buffalo, MI. The yacht tour with Oselka Marina was the highlight of our family 14thanniversary trip. Lake Michigan is the bluest, cleanest and waviest of the great lakes that we have ever seen. Captain Bill was steering us along the shore and divulging which famous families own the waterfront palaces we saw along the way. One of the rumored to be homeowners is the office supply tycoon who started Staples. Another property had its own wave pool embedded in the cliff overlooking Lake Michigan. Outwitting the government, one guy decided to build a pool and grill cabana on his waterfront channel lot. By opting to live on his yacht, he opted out of a big annual tax bill, talk about high ambitions.
This is our second trip to the West Coast of Michigan. There is something about repeat vacations that I’m digging. I like that it takes some of the research of figuring out the area you are going to. You can spend that time reflecting on what phase of life you were in on your last visit as compared to your current situation. It gives you a chance to reminisce on what has changed, what remains the same. The lake Michigan coastline is sprinkled with several beach towns so while we were repeating the destination, we still uncovered new places.
The first time we visited Michigan we stayed in Saugatauk. During that visit, we rented a condo along the marina. The girls were one and five years old, so our activities were limited. We took a buggy ride through the dunes and learned that they were formed by water levels dropping and the dried-up sand accumulating into mounds. The buggy took us to the top of a cliff, the guide kept us engaged for the forty-minute excursion and the views at the top were scenic.
This time we stayed in Brigman, MI along the Warren Dunes State Park. We got a little more adventurous with our Bernedoodle in tow we hiked into the park. None of us wore a tracker but we covered a good number of miles over and through sandy banks to get to the beach. I recommend wearing water shoes or breathable sports sandals with rubber soles. Although the temperature was only forecast to be in the upper seventies the sun beat down on us in the open hills of sand. Some areas were burning hot on the soles of our feet as the sand slide between our flip flops. There were tears, sweat and panting along the way.
Warren Dunes State Park
Our kids don’t share our enthusiasm for the outdoors. They made it clear they weren’t entertaining hike in again after our first day’s exploration. Our rental was on the edge of the trail. The path started right down the street from our temporary home, it was pet-friendly and there was no entrance fee if you access the park through this gate. Battling the sweat, hot sand and whining threats of giving up, we made it to the smashing waves. The beach was serene, remote and we shared miles of sandy coast with only two other families. If you prefer to go straight to the beach you can bypass the hike and pay $9 for parking. No pets are allowed in the swimming area. The public beach offered restrooms, concessions, chair rentals, and food carts.
The rental: Birds of a feather resort
Our rental “birds of a feather resort” was a renovated double-wide trailer with a screened-in patio that ran the length of the unit (property ID: 1049093). If you read our popular post on how I pimped out the pop-up camper, you know that camping brings nostalgic memories of childhood for both James and I. James’ family always camped in state parks so I thought this was a great way for us to have a glamped-up family vacation to celebrate our love and the family we built from it. We took advantage of the outdoor space dining each of the nights that we stayed in.
We played board games in the evenings and the kids played dolls on a daybed draped in white linens. I was surprised they never begged to sleep out there.
The fenced-in yard provided an easy outlet for our dog Irie to join in on the family fun. At a year and a half old, our pup traveled relatively well. The location of our VRBO was next to the highway so it made it easy to venture out to the neighboring communities.
Although it was a trailer it was a fancy one and with nice high end finishes in the kitchen. A vase of fresh flowers greeted us upon arrival, along with a bunch of moms on a girl’s trip who were renting another trailer on the site. As we pulled up and saw them sunbathing on lounge chairs I started to panic. What was I thinking booking this place?
My worries decimated as we unloaded and walked through the rental. One of the ladies brought me a delicious margarita with big orange slices and jalapeños. Her friends said “she is going to think we are creepy” but I appreciated the gesture and after five hours in the car with kids and a dog, I drank it up.
The two bedrooms, two baths were furnished with poster beds, down linens, a claw tub, and a wired speaker system throughout. I’m a sucker for fancy dishware and the kitchen is well stocked. They provided platters, bowls, and large wine glasses. A fire pit and grill rounded out the outdoor amenities. Room for improvement I would call out that you could hear the cars on the highway, the door handle to the screened-in porch fell off repeatedly and no directions were provided on how to work the sound system. Minor infractions that could easily be fixed to improve the ratings of this unit.
Love and Happiness
Taking the kids along for the anniversary trip was a little less romantic than our usual rendezvous. Still, the girls pack hours of free entertainment and I want them to experience traveling. At this point, it is less of a hassle to take them than to coordinate childcare and pet sitting. The girls got manicures in St. Joseph, and they both brought money and did some shopping.
For our ten-year anniversary, I made a compilation video with pictures from our years of dating, our wedding day, and baby clips of the girls when they were young. I brought it on this trip and played it as we got ready for the official anniversary dinner.
We had a double date with our daughters at 221 Main, a steakhouse in St. Joseph. The food was just alright for me and nothing too impressive was on the wine list but the warm cookie dessert we shared was divine. The girls dressed up and dined like refined young ladies. In our next Michigan post, I will delve into our favorite spots we found on this beachy family trip.