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My family vacations in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and not just in the UP, but at the tippie top on the shore of Lake Superior, the biggest of the Great Lakes. We drive most of the day to get there and every year I say we’re crazy, but we do it anyway because the WHOLE family camps there the same time every year—aunts, uncles, cousins. That annual vacation has helped cement a very close family and kept us all close even as the family expands.

Michigan is full of lakes. Lakes people can actually swim in. We vacation on Lake Superior which, as of today, was a whopping 65 degrees. Not really swimming temperature unless you’re covered in whale blubber or some kind of arctic seal. But Lake Superior has these great beaches made of sand formed from crushed rocks. In addition to being freezing cold, Lake Superior’s bottom is covered in rocks. No algae (too cold), but very rocky. This makes the beach a kid (and some adult) heaven. I cannot tell you how many buckets of “the most beautiful rocks” we’ve hauled home. Much of my childhood vacation time was spent trying to find the much-lauded agate, a rocket that has some kind of stripe. I can’t really tell you, because I never found one and I pretended to see what it was when other people showed them to me.

Here’s the win. While on the beach for the entire day, we all got in the water at some point. Bragging rights for swimming in Lake Superior. We all found “pretty” stones, the four year old more than the rest of us. Biggest win. My four-year-old daughter sat and made dribble castles with my aunt. Her great aunt. And she does that kind of thing with her every year. That kind of stuff makes you a close family. That’s why, when my grandfather died two years ago, nearly all of his grandchildren were in the room with him and why we were all touching each other and, through each other, grandpa, as he drew his last breath. It’s why his great-grandsons were his pallbearers.

I hope, as my children grow up and start families of their own, they’ll be drawn to make the ridiculous drive to the ridiculously cold lake with the ridiculously rough rock bottom so they can play on the beach with their cousins, their great aunts and uncles, and their grandparents.

Maybe by then the wireless will be reliable. And that would be a shame. Just like the day the campground offered cable television. But that’s another post.

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