As though our taller-than-average, more obnoxious-than-average family does not have enough going on, we used to try to squeeze in a family trip on our 2 and a half bedroom boat each year… exploring the coast of Lake Michigan along the way. The summer of 2010 was no different as we took a quick jaunt to South Haven, Michigan for a long weekend trip.
(If interested for some reason, click here for tales of the first boat trip I posted about).
So after the speedy trip across the lake and over to the tiny beach town of South Haven, we plopped our boat in the marine for a few nights of fun. The first day began with sunbathing on the local beach where some harmless banter turned into a full-fledged wrestling match in the sand. It was truly outrageous yet somehow entertaining. We washed off in the waves and took turns flipping on the beach. I impressed with my one-handed cartwheel while not spilling the beer in my other hand. My sister Ashley soon repeated the trick must to my dismay.
I drowned my sorrows in a gluttonous amount of BBQ ribs before finishing the night with strong long island iced teas at The Idler, the ship-turned-bar… and some raging karaoke.
The next day was the annual dog show – and as my family and I are self-proclaimed creepy canine lovers, we joined right in. After a biased vote, we decided our dogs Lucy and Ethel were much cuter than any other dogs so we left and got ice cream in town. We spent the next 20 hours of our lives playing Trivial Pursuit. I prevailed as the smartest of the Szofers.
(Dad must not have been participating).
We dolled up that evening to enjoy a fancy dinner in celebration of my brother Zach’s twentieth birthday in town complete with smoky steaks and tasty red wine. The next day was another lazy one spent lounging on the beach.
This was followed by a beautiful sunset with even more beautiful alcohol at The Idler. The End.
For Photos from this trip, see Michigan in the Photos page or click here.
The six hour drive is not stopping us… me, my sister Ashley, brother Zach, and mom Diane piled into a spacious SUV on our journey to the familiar Boyne City, at the northern tip of Michigan, to ski Boyne Mountain –
arguably the best skiing without having to board a plane. Boyne Mountain is like a hidden gem to my family and I. The large amount of long ski runs, consistently
ridiculous amount of fresh snow, off-roading tree runs, icy Black Diamonds, and tasty white bean chili have us coming back for more year after year. Our trip there was not without some drama as Diane forgot a key aspect of a roadtrip…. Gas. The fuel tank soon went from “E” to zero, leaving our foursome stranded on a desolate road in 3 feet of snow. Zach tried to emulate a“man’s man” by
trekking to a local gas station and filling up a gallon, only to realize his lack in car expertise as he could not figure out how to dispense the fuel into our thirsty tank. Thank goodness for a friendly lumberjack who towed our car and helped get us back in business.
A few hours later we had arrived at the adorable ski town. We wasted no time in strapping on some rental boots and hitting the slopes for our first nighttime ski. We skied in between beers at the bar “Eagle’s Nest” perched
atop the slopes, and later thawed out by the fire with a
cozy game of Scrabble.
The next day was all about the skiing! We found some amazing trails hidden in the back slopes behind the chair lifts… the snow was untouched and the trees whipped by as we cut in between obstacles left and right. After some quick hot cocoa and white bean chili at our favorite pub in town, we were off again until the sun slipped away. Diane, the good sport she is, was challenged to some steep icy edges in the pitch black (clearly we weren’t skiing where anyone could find us), and our spills kept on coming. Eventually we tired and turned to the comfort of pizzas, pitchers of brew, and an intense game of Monopoly. We were having so much fun we failed to nightski, knowing we had another long day on the slopes ahead.
Our last day was spent conquering new runs and enjoying laugh after laugh. Our gang can get pretty silly, especially when purposely avoiding the rules of the road. Sometimes we think we are expert skiers that can handle
towering moguls on Black Diamond runs, only to make our way down having a contest of who will fall the least. Were we exhausted and soaked in melted snow?
But our stomachs were as sore as our legs after a weekend of laughs.
Travel can range from fabulous jet-setting to faraway lands, all the way to measly adventures easy on the pocketbooks. My boyfriend Tom and I couldn’t quite afford any fancy vacations just a few months out of college, (not even a quaint bed and breakfast was within budget), so the Fall and Winter of 2009 brought some drivable getaways rewarding us with some unexpected adventure.
First came the next best thing to a hotel or hostel… a tent. After a stop at Costco to fill up on hotdogs and beer, we drove over 2 hours east into Buchana, Michigan to an adorable camping resort, Fuller’s. The sizeable camp grounds have been around since 1887, giving them a vibe of simpler times and small pleasures. Tom and I set up camp at the top of a hill, hidden beneath some of the tallest trees I’ve seen. We were the only ones on the hilltop that night which brought absolute serenity. After unloading our massive tent and food, we made our way down to the beach where we napped and swam away the afternoon.
We cozied up by a fire, roasted hotdogs, burgers, and
marshmallows, and sipped champagne out of red Solo cups. Our slumber was peaceful until we were unpredictably disturbed in the middle of the night.
Knowing we were the only humans on the hill that night and fighting the pitch black surroundings, we pondered at what could be causing the ruckus just a few feet from our tent. Was it a bear? A deer? A lioness? Frozen in fear, I sent Tom out with a flashlight to investigate. Sure enough, a mischievous raccoon had found our bag of marshmallows accidentally left outside by yours truly.
The next morning we awoke to a beautiful sunny day and an empty bag of marshmallows. We set out for the beach again and met up with a co-worker of Tom’s and his charming girlfriend. The foursome enjoyed some beach volleyball
and swimming – and just as a rainstorm began to set in, I noticed something out in the distance along the shore… a giant blob! Of course the next move was to sneak over to the three-story wooden platform leading to the giant, air-filled
mat calling our names. One by one, we flung our bodies onto the weight of the blob, catapulting the next person high into the air only to splash face-first into the water. This was GREAT fun.
Thank goodness for our two non-amateur campers who kept us dry in the tents they set up to prevent rain, well-fed, and occupied with games. The rain finally subsided in time for some games of bags and lots of drinking around
a bonfire into the wee hours of the night. To avoid a soggy floor beneath a haggard tent, Tom and I opted to sleep comfortably in the car.
A dirty shower in the public restrooms later, Tom and I bid adieu to Fuller’s Campgrounds and made our way to the nearby sand dunes in perfect weather.
We spent the day traversing the dunes, jumping cliffs, climbing trees, and playing like kids. A gorgeous sunset and couple of beers later, we hit up Blue Chip casino for some ill-advised gambling. Later that night we were happy with the trip we had made on less than $100. We were also happy, however, to be reunited with our beds.
For Photos of this trip, see Buchanan on the Photos Page, or CLICK HERE.
My family and I have been on many-a boat trip in our years as amateur mariners navigating our beloved schooner, (fittingly dubbed “Szo Far Szo Good”). The 50 foot vessel is home to our summer days, cruising Lake Michigan and enjoying some sun and H2O to rid our minds of frigid winters in Chicago. We had journeyed with organized boat trips before, (sometimes with 20+ other boats), courtesy of B & E Marine - and even once thought it was a great idea to bring along friends… a laughable nine people aboard the tight quarters. The summer of 2009 brought one of these excursions – this time to South Haven, Michigan, with just the family and my boyfriend Tom, and my brother’s friend Mike.
We crossed the lake into Michigan City, Indiana and set out for South Haven from there early in the morning the following sunrise. Tom and I occupied ourselves with intense Play Doh shaping contests during the wavy five hour ride. (The contest was dominated by yours truly). It wasn’t long before we were docked, changed, and hitting the beaches of South Haven. We basked in the hot sun all day, and capped it off with a pleasant barbeque dinner on the boat dock followed by long island ice teas atop a ship turned bar.
The next day’s wind brought choppy waters, which Tom and I embarrassingly thought our two person kayak rental could withstand. We continuously flipped into the water before giving up and settling for beach paddle ball and“skid boarding” – a dangerous hobby of attempting to surf on land where the waves hit the beach.
That night was the main event – the “Luau” B & E Marine threw on the dock…
We dressed in the most obnoxious tiki patterns we could find, got “laid”, and were serenaded by live music as we ate a delicious meal. We attempted but failed to silly string Zach as it was his birthday, and had a fun
night of karaoke in the South Haven beach town that evening.
The next day was the annual Dog Show/Festival along the water – where locals bring every kind of canine imaginable, enjoying the doggy stands and German Shepherd trick shows. The best laugh of the entire trip came soon after with a failed “Dog Dancing” performance by a crazy lady dressed in Indian garb. Despite a music malfunction, she performed embarrassing dance movements while her mischievous partner refused to follow along, ultimately running into the street mid-performance and almost becoming road kill.
Tom and I later rented bikes, cruising the cute shops and neighborhoods in town, and getting drunk on the beach. Our trip concluded the next day as we sailed back across the lake to Chicago. We floated on tubes in the Chicago harbor sipping frozen margaritas.