Saturday, August 24th
We had to be out of the house by 10 a.m. on Saturday morning so the cleaning crew could get in before the next week's visitors came to stay. We knew tidying up, finalizing the packing, and getting the kids ready and everyone out the door by 10 would be a task in and of itself, so we decided early in the week that breakfast on our last morning would be had in town. Our plan was to all go together, but by 8:30'ish our car was packed and the boys were ready and we figured it might be better for us to get out the door than to bog Em and Drew down while they were trying to finish packing. And what I mean by this is, we were scared to death the children would get into something/break something/create a mess if they were left with free time on their hands. So, sadly, we hugged Em and Drew and the girls goodbye - even now, a month later, it makes me sad that this vacation had to come to an end - and we headed into Mackinaw City for breakfast at the Pancake Chef.
The boys gobbled up their pancakes and slurped down their humongous chocolate milks in no time - more than once someone walked up to our table to say "that's a busy family you have there!" When we were done with breakfast we walked out onto the strip in search of the Sesame Street Fire Engine. The kids had played on it the first day we had come into town and all week long Hutton had been asking to "ride the fire engine" one last time before going home. So we dug out our quarters and everyone got a turn.
They all wanted to go for a second round but we knew that would turn into a third, a fourth, etc. so instead we turned their sights to the ice cream truck.
Which didn't end up working, but they still had a ball playing around in it and pretending to take our orders and serve us ice cream. When they were finally done we made one last stop for fudge and a coffee (for Mama!) and then we piled into the car. After a quick stop for gas we hit the road, traveling back over the bridge and into the U.P. to make our way home.
Our drive to the house had been extremely chaotic with lots of requests for mom to help with bingo cards and crayons and books out of their backpacks, numerous bathroom stops, and waaaaay to much money spent on gas station food/snacks. While packing the car the night before, this time we made sure we had snack cups and waters for everyone and with our bellies full of pancakes our goal was to not stop again until lunch, unless we had a bathroom request. I didn't get out the backpacks this time around and instead the boys played "hunting" in the back seat. They spotted wolves, bear, and moose - they have quite the imagination - and this kept them busy for a significant amount of time. Of course, we did have a bathroom request but thankfully it was a quick in and out with only Gatorade's purchased. The only thing that didn't go as planned is our lunch at Big Boy.
Nolan was sleeping as we passed the restaurant and if there is one rule in parenting it is this: don't wake a sleeping child. And so much to Collin's disappointment, we continued on. And to his even Greater disappointment, Nolan woke up about 20 miles down the road. I told him he could turn around, that we could go back, but we quickly calculated 40 lost minutes and decided it wasn't worth it. We stopped for lunch a little further down the road and by this time everyone was hungry and they all ate really well. After piling back into the car the two youngest fell asleep for almost three hours and Keaton sat quietly for awhile before needing an activity or two from his backpack. Before we knew it we had entered back into Wisconsin and began seeing familiar sights. All in all the drive home went really smooth and was about 100x better than the drive there. We pulled into our driveway in the early evening and the kids quickly made their way to the swing set as Collin and I unloaded and began to unpack. When Keaton walked into the house he took a look around and quickly declared "it's good to be home!"
And he was right, it was good to be home. It's amazing how a week in the sun and sand, a week listening to the waves and exploring new places can take such a weight off of your shoulders. I think we all walked in those doors as completely different people than when we walked out just eight short days before. Home once again felt peaceful and serene because we felt peaceful and serene.
We are now a month back into "life" and those vacation feelings have, sadly, started to dissipate. The hurried schedules, the stress of work, the to-do list, it can be overwhelming; but when I think about vacation, when I mentally put myself back there it still has the ability to slow my heart rate and steady my breathing. While the days at the beach house have come to an end, this vacation still lives vividly in our hearts.
Until next time, Mackinac...