Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Our Timeout: West Branch, Michigan

Sometime about August Chris and I started talking seriously about getting away together, just the two of us. We've been wanting to do something tropical forever, and we started looking at deals for the end of August/beginning of September. After that we had back to school and Lucy's birthday to think about, and beginning in October it will be a lot harder for him to get away due to work obligations. But it quickly became clear to us that the kind of vacation we want to do is best done in a country which requires a passport. My passport expired years ago, so this was a problem. I was resigned to the fact that we wouldn't be able to throw together a last minute getaway after all, and that we'd better plan on waiting until next year.

However, considering that the timing was right for us to get away for at least a couple days, and my mother-in-law very graciously offered to stay at our house with the kids and dog for a few days, we ultimately decided to seize the day and head north for two nights while we had the chance.

Our first stop, Friday night, was Midland, Michigan; which I've already written about extensively here and here. Saturday afternoon we traveled to our next destination: my father-in-law's hunting cabin in West Branch. The last time we were there was Easter. We have this place at our disposal, to pretty much use as much as we'd like (with the exception of hunting season, duh), and somehow we typically only manage to get up there once a year. Since this is our second trip so far this year, we're already ahead of the game. Maybe we'll go for a 10-year record and try to make a trip this fall too?

West Branch is easy. Chris has been going there his whole life, and I've been going there with him since 1992. Sadly I still couldn't tell you how to get to the cabin, but Chris knows where everything is up there. It's relaxing and low key. The appeal is that there is nothing to do. We went out to dinner Saturday night and went to Walmart to get a few things. While we were there we picked up some movies from Red Box. Then we went back to the cabin, ate junk food, and watched two movies before crashing for the night: The Sitter (more vulgar and less funny rip-off of Adventures in Babysitting, starring Jonah Hill; most definitely NOT for kids) and Bernie, a true story about a small town mortician, starring Jack Black.

Sunday we went to a hunting lodge/resort called Lost Arrow for brunch, a place Chris has been going to since he was a wee tot. The brunch is fairly priced and has a made-to-order omelet and crepe station. The rest of the food didn't impress me, but the service was good and the setting is nice. Going to Lost Arrow is a tradition, and I'm sure we'll still be going there as long as it's still in business.

I feel like a theme of this summer has been "Perfect Weather", and Sunday was no exception. After eating, we decided to take a walk through the woods on some state property. It was so quiet and peaceful and green. We scoped out a camping spot for future reference, although I have my doubts about whether we'll ever actually use it.

near West Branch, Michigan

We left the cabin feeling relaxed, refreshed, and recharged. Another night would have been nice, but with back to school looming, we had to get home.

As much as I love traveling and getting out of Dodge regularly, I tend to forget how much I enjoy getting away with Chris sometimes, and just being a couple. Traveling with the kids is magical somehow, showing them new things and experiencing life through the eyes of youth. But traveling as a childless adult is pretty great too. Late dinners, choosing any movies we want, swimming in the middle of the night, moving at our own pace and not that of four kids who need to eat and use the bathroom more often than one might think. As tricky and (let's be honest) inconvenient as it can be to squeeze it in, alone time as a couple is important and needs to be a top priority for us. We generally fail in this department, but the older the kids get, the easier it is for us to leave them, be it for a few hours or a few nights.

Do you ever travel without your children? Do you feel guilty about it? Sometimes I do, because I see things that I know the kids would love. Are you good about having regular date nights?

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