The “Vacation”

Oct 5, 2009 | Uncategorized | 10 comments

I will attempt to not write a book…and there is a slideshow down at the bottom if you don’t have time to read about our adventure! The song is just a favorite of Joel’s and mine right now.

We left with high hopes Monday morning of relaxation, nature and specifically to grow closer as a family and closer to God.
I had been cooking like a MADWOMAN to save money on the trip, Joel had been working 15 hour days – the Jeep was (as you will see) LOADED down. We looked like the Beverly Hillbillies but we were ready for a good time.
The ride turned stressful as winds whipped across the highway and Joel struggled to drive, our kids refused to fall asleep and the closer we got to “The Door” the worse the weather became.
Thankfully Joel, at the last minute had suggested I throw in the bathing suits just in case we ended up at a hotel. Genius. Because we did. It was so horrible and blustery and raining when we pulled into Fish Creek there was no way we could pitch a tent a mere 200 yards from Lake Michigan (bayside). So, we checked in to a modest hotel in town and then went to inform the park that we would be there tomorrow, weather permitting. They allowed us to drive thru to see our campsite and we went straight back to the hotel to go swimming. Upon entering the room something seemed fishy and when the bathroom light would not go on we looked at each other – the power was out!!!
Thankfully the pool had skylights. Our hotel was frantically trying to get their generators working – night was coming. We swam for a good hour and then, stomachs growling decided to go to my favorite restaurant. J.J.’s La Puerta. I love that place so much it’s ridiculous. We mentioned this to a hotel employee and she mentioned that J.J.’s was closed because it had BURNED! WHAT??? I almost cried. No camping, no kids napped, no sunshine, no J.J.’s. No electricity.
Not good.
We thought we had better venture out to find a place to eat, I had made food but it was to be heated over a firepit, not eaten cold in a hotel room. Fish Creek was without power so we drove to Sister Bay, the closest town with juice. With horrible blowing, weather and rain and waves smashing into the shore we went from restaurant to restaurant looking for a place to eat. The entire county had been “invaded” by the surf and turf crowd – honestly, we were the YOUNGEST people for miles and every place I ran into had at least a 40 minute wait. We ventured on. Only to find a road closed with emergency vehiciles, we turned down another county road, starving and frustrated and I shouted out to Joel, “There’s a deer!” – He kept driving. I said in again as deer number two began to cross the road, “There’s a deer!!!” – He kept driving! Finally I YELLED, “Joel there are THREE DEER!!! ARE YOU GOING TO STOP!!!!” Thankfully, he did. He said he did not even see them.
Finally, we decided that we went through all that just to end up going to the Piggly Wiggly for a bag of chips. It would be salsa and cold beans in the dark hotel room for dinner. When we got back to the hotel a huge tree was down in the parking lot and we wondered how we would ever manage bedtime without Amélie’s beloved white noise machine and with such wound up children. Not to mention Aidan was responding to the stress by being a sassy, bratty, unbelievable little thing.
I rigged a sheet hanging from the cupboard and a towel bar to give her a little privacy when she was in her crib and we drug the table and chairs into the hallway which had emergency lights and “enjoyed” our dinner out there! The hotel had given us candles for our room.
We ate and amused those who walked by at our ingenuity and decided to all go to bed in the pitch black at 8pm. The kids were so good and went down without any problems – which they usually do but I did not know what to expect all in the same room with everything that had happened. Around 8:20 I rolled over to see the clock radio flashing.
Thank goodness.
The next morning we went to the campgrounds, the winds had slowed from 30 mph to 24 so we thought we might brave it. When I checked us in the counter girl announced that the park was still without power. A bummer for hanging our Christmas lights and it would be more than a bummer that night when the temps hit 32 degrees. We were really counting on using our little space heater.
We checked in and went for breakfast at Al Johnson’s – came back and set up camp. Joel stepped in a pile of what really appeared to be human…ca ca and I thought he was finally going to have a breakdown. For over 24 hours NOTHING had gone right and Aidan’s behavior on top of it was bringing everyone to their breaking point.
And then… the sun broke through the trees and everything began to work out. By late afternoon the wind slowed down to a manageable speed. We threw rocks (Aidan’s main priority for the entire trip), we made fires (after many rounds of soggy, expensive firewood), we window shopped (Amélie got a purse!), cooked out, walked in the woods, enjoyed nature and did, in fact grow closer to each other and I hope closer to God by learning to show patience in all situations.
It began utterly horrible and ended, not perfect but, as a good time for the four of us. We learned a few things (like, we NEED a Suberban) and made some good memories. I don’t think Aidan will forget this vacation – reading his beloved “Little House on the Prairie” around our campfire…all in all it was a cozy time and did end up being what we needed even if Mom and Dad found no “rest.”
Wednesday morning we woke cool but warm enough to survive in our tent. Aidan’s brand new air matress had sank to the ground in the middle of the night so he was cozy warm in between Joel and I. Amélie was the first to awaken and I rolled over to see her standing in the crib requesting “MeeMee’s” – I brought her into bed with us and she snuggled in. Her sparkling eyes looked up at me and you could see it all coming together for her in her mind as she said, smiling,


  1. Old Centennial Farmhouse

    Oh, what a bunch of BEAUTIFUL pictures…and what a memorable trip…the first few days of which will be sure to go down in infamy in your family’s history stories in the years to come! LOL! I actually think I’d rather camp when it’s chilly than when it’s too hot so I think you did alright! GORGEOUS place and I want to tell you that I especially love the pics with the C-9’s glowing in the background…those are great! (As you know, I have a thing for those lights…) Thanks for sharing, hope you’re feeling well in this stage of your pregnancy…did you hear I’m going to be a grandma!?! Yup…next June!

  2. Tracey

    Oh my! Vacationing with little ones is never easy…but when the “elements” don’t cooperate, that can really cause a problem! You guys were troopers though. I enjoyed your slide show!!

    🙂 T

  3. Bonjour Madame

    What a great story! You always remember the vacations like these. And through it all, what I am most impressed by, is that you were able to manage terrific looking hair! 🙂


  4. Parisienne Farmgirl

    My secret weapon for the hair is my homemade shampoo. I styled my hair before we left Sunday morning and did not touch it besides a light brushing or throwing it in a knot til we got home Thursday evening!!!

  5. Rebecca of Sunny Morning Farm

    Really looked like a lot of fun. If you didn’t tell the horror stories we wouldn’t have known from the great pictures!!

    We always seem to have horror stories when we go camping too!

    ps. that is my favorite song now too!!

  6. Homemaker Ang

    yes thats the tin house! help, i need ideas and oh yes MORE MONEY! i will now read about vacation

  7. Selina

    So glad you shared!! You have a real gift with writing, I luv reading your blog. Can you give us the recipe for the home-made shampoo? I have wanted to know how to make it for years.


    What an absolutely touching post! The song, which I had not heard before, was beautiful! God Bless your family!

    The bottom fell out of my life when I lost my family…..enjoy each second with yours!

  9. Faith

    Wow, great pictures and a trip you’ll never forget for sure. Sorry it didn’t go a little smoother for you but memorable non the less. You are so blessed to have eachother!!! Love you!!!

  10. Victoria

    Some of my favorite memories from childhood are of camping. Building fires, snuggling into sleeping bags with siblings, the lapping of the lake. Cold air on your face while you eat pancakes off a griddle. Crunching leaves and generally just slowing down.

    Yes… “camping.”


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