Despite two toddlers on completely opposite nap schedules and many miles and hours driving, not to mention a very special wedding, I think our family did pretty darn good to hit three out of the five Great Lakes over the course of our week in Michigan. Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, and Lake Superior are no longer on our bucket list – all we have left for another time is Lake Eerie and Lake Ontario.
Lake Michigan – We spent a night in Traverse City on our way out to the Sleeping Bear Dunes , and decided to take advantage of our almost lake front hotel by spending an afternoon on the beach. I’d anticipated that the water would be cold, and that C would get his chilly fill by just sticking his toes in, and that we’d spend the rest of the day on the beach playground apparatus. But I should have known that chilly temperatures wouldn’t be enough to stop C from having some wet and wild fun! He was a little hesitant at first, but step by step kept walking out deeper and deeper while holding tight to my hand. It was a very windy day, so there were actual waves breaking on him, but it didn’t seem to phase him one bit. Just when he had turned around, presumably to head back to shore, he decided to plop down butt-first in the water…At that point keeping the clothes dry was a lost cause, so we just splashed in the water until it was time for dinner, at which point we brought out some new dry clothes/diapers.
Lake Huron – Throwing rocks in the water with C on the pebbly shores of Lake Huron had to be one of the highlights of our time on Mackinac Island. The sailboats and barges passing by half a mile from shore provided the perfect picturesque backdrop for our afternoon dip. This time I knew better than to take Cragbaby out there with his clothes on…instead he sported his swimmie trunks and beach bod for everyone on the Hotel Iroquois lawn to see. Since the lake bed was filled with rocks rather than sand, it was a lot harder to get around, so C kept his Crocs on. However, all the pebbles made for great entertainment – we stacked them, threw them, and Daddy even gave us both a lesson in skipping stones.
Lake Superior – This was the northern-most lake that we visited, and by far the most frigid. Though we saw several folks swimming pretty far from shore, I couldn’t imagine submerging my head in water that cold. Cragbaby, however, purposefully plopped his head in the water numerous times, and once accidentally dunked himself, getting an unplanned baptism that I’m sure left him feeling more than revitalized! Our beach spot right outside of downtown Marquette was by far the most peaceful setting of all the lakes – a wide, sandy shore with water as calm and clear as glass, with an outcropping of volcanic boulders at a distance away that would have been tempting to explore had it not been for the threat of hypothermia…We kept our dip short, but by the end a happy, smiling C was still shivering with goosebumps, wondering why us grown-ups didn’t want to go back in the water.
Impression #3 – Lakes make for fantastic Green Hours – water play in a pristine, natural setting with no riptides, jellyfish, or crashing waves to worry about. Obviously the kiddos still needed to be supervised very closely of course, but it was great fun seeing C’s eyes light up at the chance to play in what he must have presumed to be a giant bathtub! It might be worth exploring some of the many local lakes we’ve got in our neck of the woods down South – where no Polar Bear Swim Club membership is required!