Sunday, April 8, 2012

Off The Grid - Easter 2011: West Branch, MI

This post was originally published last year, just after Easter.

Chris and I decided it would be fun to spend Easter up north this year, at his dad's hunting cabin. I am embarrassed to say it was the first time we have been there in almost 5 (!) years. 

(If you're not a Michigander, and you are by chance wondering what going "up north" means, well it just means going...up...north. We live in southeast Michigan, and the cabin is about 2 and a half hours north up I-75. The term up north is kind of vague, but as far as I'm concerned just means anything about an hour or more north of here.)

Last time we were at the cabin, I was pregnant with Lucy. Bethany was almost 5 and Connor was 3. All these years we've been saying to each other periodically, "we really should get up to the cabin this summer," or let's try to take the kids to the cabin more often," but also sort of in the back of my mind was the thought that there is really nothing to do there. My kids are pretty good at amusing themselves, but somehow the thought of sitting there in a cabin in the woods fighting the stir crazies sounded a little daunting. We had a great time last time we were there, so I'm not sure why I would have these thoughts. Chris and I used to go quite often before we had kids, and always enjoyed ourselves. Sometimes I forget the allure of doing nothing.

So anyway, everyone had a long weekend for the holiday, so we finally made the decision to just go. We can bring our dog, which is awesome because she pretty much loses her mind when she is separated from me, and I hate asking people to come over and take care of her when we're away. The cabin is actually a 2 bedroom mobile home, and it is clean and comfortable and has heat, air conditioning, and a washer and dryer. What it does not have is a television signal, cell phone coverage, or internet access. Good practice for this summer when I plan on banning our kids from t.v. and internet for the whole month of July. Depending on how it goes, maybe I'll throw in August too.

Going to the cabin with big kids turned out to be a wholly different experience. They barely wanted to come inside the entire time we were there. They played Frisbee, took the dog for walks down the dirt road, shot BB guns, and spent lots and lots of time down at the creek (more like a muddy trickle of water), something that Chris and I have never done in the 15 or so years we've been going there. Huh. Go figure, leave it to a couple of (unplugged) kids to discover the most fun thing to do up there. The creek is at the bottom of a rather steep ravine just a few yards from the cabin. The road runs over it, dividing it. So there is a tunnel under the road, going from one side of the creek to the other. Well,Bethany & Connor decided it was just about the best thing ever to climb through that tunnel repeatedly, from one side to the other. That washer and dryer sure came in handy, and I'm happy to report that the only muddy things we brought home with us are Crocs.

There was a rather...ummmm...interesting family staying just across the road from us who tried hard to keep us from sleeping all weekend by running their generator nonstop. (One of them told Chris that the city actually requires them to get a permit in order to put up an electrical pole...I mean, I can't imagine why??) But what they didn't know is that I can sleep through anything, so the joke was on them. And Chris. (sorry Chris) They also had a bunch of kids with them who saw us coming and stuck to us like glue literally until the moment we left. Aside from the fact that Chris told them over and over to go home because we were trying to have some family time darn it and they 100% ignored him, they were mostly pretty nice. There was a little boy about 5 who we later found out had "something wrong with his brain, can't remember what ya call it" (this according to his grandfather) and who knew some very interesting phrases for a child of his age (fingers crossed that one in particular went WAY over our kids' heads). Chris always manages to talk to basically everyone, so he also found out lot of other things, like they come and take water from the pump on his dad's property "all the time" and that they plan on spending the entire summer up there. Big sigh. However, the kids had fun together and that made the weekend all the more great for them. They were so filthy by the time we left, which oddly made me very happy. I was especially proud of Connor's adventurous streak making an appearance, because he tends to be extremely cautious and fearful.

Mathilda was sick, which seems to be the norm every time we go anywhere lately. This time she was up most of the night before Easter, delirious with a fever that felt scary high. She was burning up, but of course I had no thermometer or medicine. I really feared we were going to wind up in the E.R., and I worried all night about whether they are allowed to close hospitals on holidays in podunk towns. After the kids found their Easter baskets in the morning, Chris drove into town and picked up some Tylenol. After Mathilda had some medicine she started to get a bit of an appetite and seemed to be feeling much better, but nonetheless she and I spent most of the day in the cabin cuddling while everyone else played outside. She watched a few DVDs and I read The Help. Which, by the way, was fantastic.

It was a good idea we had, getting out of town and celebrating Easter up north. I think we'll do it again. The kids were even asking if we could spend Christmas there. We'll see. The Christmas tree is already there, all decorated. I'm pretty sure it never comes down.

About to enter the tunnel

We stopped at Bronner's on the way home

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