Royal Blue

Thoughts of a writer, wife, mother, PhD, sister, crafty chick, program coordinator, homeowner, culture vulture, bibliophile, and blogger.
Thursday, September 05, 2002
What I did on my summer vacation

Okay, it's still hot out, but that carefree, summertime feeling is slowly fading.

Things are busy at work again (a good thing), the days are definitely shorter, and Molly's growing out of her summer sandals.

How to sum up summer?

Things I'm glad I did this summer:

took several days off of work just for myself
rearranged the files in my office
had a yard sale
went up north to the in-laws beach house twice
took Molly swimming
finally started getting past that "we just moved in" feeling
spent time with family and friends
hosted several dinner parties
enjoyed our back yard a lot and grilled out more than last summer
worked on my garden (until about July and then I just quit--it looks terrible now)
bought and wore some super-cheap but super-trendy black flip flops from Target
got central a/c installed in our house and a new roof
bought fresh produce at a farmer's roadside stand

Things I wished I had done:

organized a short post-dinner walk with Molly and Ed to the local ice cream store
did more organizing chores around the house
sat outside and enjoyed the sun more
sent off my dissertation chapters for publication
made a plan for painting the garage

Buy, hey, now fall is just around the corner so I must start my to-do list. Oh, yeah, what was I saying in the last post about relaxing more and not focusing on a "to do" list? I must put *that* on my list...

Tuesday, September 03, 2002
A Happy Camper

I surprised myself this weekend. I had fun and I learned a lot about myself on our camping trip.

I didn't really know how much I needed to do something like that (get out of town, take a break from being a mom, try something totally new) until after we got back last night. Yes, I was exhausted, but it was a good kind of tired.

After a long drive on Friday, we got to the Leelanau Peninsula. After an evening with Ed's parents at their beach house, we headed out on the morning ferry to South Manitou Island, leaving Molly with her grandparents and their two golden retrievers who Molly absolutely adores, of course. Her dog obsession has not abated.

South Manitou is fascinating in many ways. It is a somewhat isolated island that is part of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park that has an incredible growth (in the same league as California Redwoods) of old growth cedars, several shipwreck sites that can be viewed above and under water, an historic lighthouse, and a social history of human inhabitants that is poignant and fascinating. And, it is absolutely beautiful.

One wonderful thing is that the island has been carefully preserved naturally, hard to get to, and all the camping must be "low impact." Therefore, you won't find lots of loud, garbage-strewing, invasive people who don't respect the environment or other campers.

After arriving and registering with the rangers, we backpacked to one of the campsites that is located along the bay, carrying our water supply that we got from a communal spigot about 1/2 mile into our hike.

We chose a campsite about 100 yards from the beach that was well secluded from other sites and had some privacy from the beach itself.

We spent a lot of time hiking different areas of the island, which was absolutely wonderful--quiet and beautiful. I actually found myself at points, pausing to think "Where are my car keys? Where is my purse?" and then realizing all I needed to carry was my water bottle. I *really* needed to get away from the daily grind, I told myself.

Lying on the beach, looking up at the dozens of stars that I never get to see in my city life, I felt peaceful. I realized how addicted I had become on my "to do" list and realized I really need to cut loose more from my obsession with getting things done.

Sometimes we need to experience life in one of its purest forms: living in the moment, communing with nature, not looking at the clock. We need to look at the stars, instead.

This weekend was also a big accomplishment for me since I've always thought of myself as "too high maintenance" to really do any backpacking and serious camping. No showers? Pitch darkness and creepy silence at night? Carry my own water supply? No phone? No thanks.

But I found out that I really do love to camp--the simplicity, the quiet, the art of packing just the basics for one's essential needs. Granted, we were only gone for a day and a half, but I could see myself doing it for a week or longer.

And, we'll take Molly with her when she gets older and teach her to love and appreciate nature.

I was also fortunate that I was camping with Ed and his sister, who grew up camping all the time and "roughing it" in far more remote conditions that we had this weekend. I learned a lot by following their lead. (related note: on the ferry over to the island, the guy next to me was reading Consumers Report and I was thinking to myself how I had wished I had a magazine, too. It was a 90-minute boat ride. Later, Ed and Margaret were kind of making fun of this guy for being in a beautiful setting on a picture-perfect day and choosing to put his face into a magazine instead of enjoying the scenery. They didn't know what I had been thinking and I didn't tell them. They were right, of course.)

A lasting memory of the weekend: I woke up in the middle of the night and heard a strange sound. I was half sleep and trying to identify the sound of "whoosh, whoosh." It was unfamiliar and in my "urban paranoia," my first thought was that someone was in our campsite and up to no good. Then, several moments later, I realized it was the sound of the waves hitting the shore. A soothing sound I used to try to recreate in my head when I had insomnia. When I then got out of the tent briefly (to visit "the bathroom,") a perfect crescent moon was my only nightlight.

Gee, I could really learn to love this, I thought. Then, I realized, I already do.


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