Vacationing at Home in Michigan’s UP

The actor Hugh Grant once complained about stress after taking 3 years off from acting. “If someone came up to me today and said, ‘Hugh, a law has just been passed that you can’t act anymore,’ I’d be cracking open the champaigne,” he said. The work stress was also complicated by a fiery girl friend. Since both had lightning mood swings they generated a lot of fireworks, a fancy word for stress. I find it hard to be sympathetic. After all, the rich actor could quit acting and get a real job anytime he wished.

Summer is a time to think about vacation. For me, it means relaxing from stress and the everyday cares of life. Some want to live it up, coming home exhausted and stepping right back into the fray of the work world. What does the word vacation conjure up in your imagination? A spending spree, obligation time spent with family, a sentimental journey back to the place where you fell in love with your spouse, an all you can eat foray in some place with exotic cuisine, a stimulating cultural experience in a portion of the country you have not explored before?

God created the earth in six days and then He rested. I would like to ask Him just what He did on that 7th day. I suspect He sat down, relaxing in His rocking chair, and surveyed the marvelous creating He had done. One thing He did was to set a precedent for humans to take some time out every week for de-stressing. The annual vacation is just a longer version of de-stressing to regain your proper perspective on life and work.

We are celebrating a landmark anniversary this year. Most people want to know if we are taking a special trip to celebrate. We thought about it. We did take one trip early in the spring to visit dear friends of ours. Then a while after that we looked at each other and both said, “I like to stay home. It’s comfortable here.”

Dr. Dave works hard at providing a wonderful house with all of the amenities. We have a very nice king-sized bed, a great living room with TV and stereo, our kitchen nearby for snacking, and a lovely yard and front porch where we can sit and watch the busy world go by. It doesn’t get any better than that! We decided that the thing we really wanted to do is get to know our own region which happens to be the uppermost northern part of Michigan. [Note: We no longer live in the U.P. but if you don’t know anything about it, you might enjoy the description. We employ the same principles where we live now. Home is the best place to be to relax and spend time with each other.]

It is a very unique area and charmingly picturesque. The Keweenaw peninsula is lightly populated and surrounded by Lake Superior, the largest fresh water lake in the world. The show of colored leaves in the fall cannot be equaled by any other part of the country. The glistening new fallen snow in the winter makes it look like a fairy land. The pine tree and hardwood forests abound with deer and other wildlife as well as thimbleberries, strawberries, blackberries and delicate wildflowers.

We don’t have those ferret-sized deer that abound in the deep South. Our deer can weigh in at 250 pounds and cause $1500 worth of damage if you hit one with your car! A friend of mine has seen minks near their property. There are wolves, bears and moose if you go to the right places. Our squirrels and chipmunks are full-bodied and robust, too. I’ve seen them in brown, gray, black and even albino. Someday you should ask me about the black ones that were eating our house. One winter we captured them and took them 4 miles away. A week later they were climbing on the side of the house and looking in the windows — laughing at us. They looked so happy to be home that we let them stay. They agreed not to dig at the house anymore.

Sunsets can be spectacular. Since they don’t occur until about 10:00 p.m., there is plenty of time to relax and enjoy the summer. There are wonderful “rock” beaches that our family calls “Rock Skipper’s Paradise.” My guys have gotten skips of 10-15 or more hops with the round stones to be found along the shore. We have no poisonous snakes up here and, unlike the semi-tropical South where we lived before, you don’t need a machete to cut through the woods to take a stroll.

The majority of houses date back to the mining days when the Upper Peninsula produced huge amounts of copper — hence the name Copper Country. There are many beautiful victorian period houses and quaint workers’ houses left from the period when Calumet had, per capita, more millionaires than anywhere else in America at the time. There are no cookie-cutter housing developments up here.

Having spent 20 years in the Air Force, we have seen a great deal of America. Every assignment has been similar to an exotic vacation. There were always new cuisines to sample, interesting sites to see, and historical information to absorb. By taking day trips and an occasional overnighter, we can get to know our own backyard while still enjoying the comfort of our lovely home — the place we like best.

My husband and I are blessed because we share many of the same interests. We love to spend our leisure time together. If you and your spouse do not, it will be more difficult to find a compromise vacation that you will both enjoy. That’s why staying at home is so ideal. A real vacation for me is not cooking. If we stay home, we save a lot of travel money. We can buy some things we might really want. We can eat out a lot which I love to do. It gives me a break. We do some important sharing of ideas and goals over a good meal. We can sleep in or go out, work around the house, or just sit on our front porch and watch the grass grow. There’s no pressure to stick to a rigid holiday schedule.

All of this free and easy relaxation really prepares us for the rest of the work year. We are ready to conquer the world again after sitting back in the easy chair and watching everyone else prepare for a long trip. Do they look forward to being cooped up for hours in the car, sleeping on unfamiliar motel beds where the pillows are as thick as a postage stamp, fighting long lines and crowds in the airports and tourist attractions, and possibly getting ill on unfamiliar food? Surely there are things in your area that you want to do or places to explore. The best place I know is home.

Perhaps it is time to rethink the family vacation. Stay at home but let everyone have their turn at choosing things to do or places to go. The difficulty of coordinating and pleasing a group of people places additional stress on parents when the true purpose of a vacation is to get away from all the haggling. Better yet, send the kids to church camp or Grandma and Grandpa’s house and really enjoy the solitude! Your home should be a refuge, a place of rest and relaxation where the body and soul can be regenerated and prepare for the day-to-day demands of living in 21st century America. Life on planet earth is difficult, but take some time to stop and smell the roses in your own backyard.


Comments are closed.