For the last time this summer, I'm headed to the UP. This is my annual UP trip. I'm delighted to be able to do this so easily this year, and to have been in the UP so much this summer. I'm looking forward to spending my birthday with people I love, in the woods.
I've been thinking a lot about my parents. My mom seems to be watching over my shoulder all the time these days, and I'm dreaming of her often. I've had to make some hard decisions lately, ones that require moving across country, to Nevada, and selling my condo. It's all been a little easier when I think about the support that my parents always gave during times like these. I'll be celebrating and thanking them on my birthday, in the woods.
Every summer our family vacation was spent camping in the UP. We had a favorite campground that had a lot of trees and dunes and was right on Lake Michigan. On the drive up we would watch for hawks and eagles, and my dad was always so quick to spot them, leaning over the steering wheel, looking up instead of at the road. We'd always stop and eat at the Pizza Hut in St. Ignace, and then we'd swim where the highway runs along the lake. At some point in the trip we'd head up to Seney, to see more birds. I can remember exploring the woods and dunes with my sister, eating steak and onions (pre-vegetarian days, obviously) that my dad had made over the fire, and swimming longer than my sister because she always got cold. Just so I could stay in, my mom would stay in the water, floating on a tube, reading. The waves always seemed so big.
After my parents died, we siblings talked a lot about where this campground was. None of us could remember exactly where it was, though Stefan was almost right (there, I said it). It was special to all of us, mostly because my parents took us there, but also because it's a special place.
On my trip in July, Dan was kind enough to explore the various beaches along route 2 on our way to the Lower Peninsula. We explored a few that just weren't right. I remembered what the road into the campground looked like, I remembered what the campsites were like (even though it was car camping, there was a lot of privacy because of the trees and dunes), and I remembered the beach exactly. I was sure we'd missed it, that we were too close to the bridge, but Dan suggested we try one last spot. I cried the moment we pulled in to the park. My heart just knew it was the place we'd lost.
This is the beach where we used to go as a family.