Bois Blanc Island (Upper Peninsula, MI)

After much drafting and redrafting travel options and details, we managed to pull off a trip this summer to the Upper Peninsula and Chicago! Two of my favorite places on earth. I planned to within an inch of my life, so we packed it in, plus the family were able to coordinate a reunion of 3 uncles, 4 cousins, my parents, Jack and I and the sweetest golden retriever for nearly 3 days together – hailing from Michigan, North Carolina, Atlanta, Texas, Oregon, and the UK. That is some damned coordination.

Here’s that beautiful family for you!

We arrived in Chicago to have our first night with Liz and Al before the long, ugly highway drive from northern Chicago through Illinois, Indiana and Michigan turnpikes. After Michigan, we were returning for a longer visit to Chicago, but the first night was pretty great.

When we arrived, Liz and Al were just getting off work so we went right out with them for deep dish pizza at one of the 1,000,000 Giordanos that Chicago has now and from there to a terrific bar called Hopleaf, which has tons of nice beers (and mussels – fair enough). I was pretty exhausted, so some pretty priceless, hysterical thoughts were happening in my mind. At one point Liz was recounting a YouTube video of sommeliers trying shitty wines like Arbor Mist and in my delirium my brain heard “Somalians” and the story just got weirder and weirder in my brain as I pictured rural Africans gently swirling the wine to open the aromatic esters and was like – wait – what the hell video are you talking about.

The next morning we shot straight out of Chicago to make our way to northern Michigan! We had a ferry to catch, so the tight schedule led to a stressful/boring 7-hour road trip without enough time to stop to have an actual meal or see a single site off the back of a trans-Atlantic trip. I don’t recommend it. I did, however, feel pretty smug that I coordinated borrowing a GPS in advance and sorted all my fine print insurance detail so saved a serious buck.

Island boo meets the island.

The first few nights we stayed in a cabin that literally only had twin beds (and in unusual places like: next to the kitchen) and smelled like a moth ball bomb had gone off and been hermetically sealed to sour for a decade. But the family reunion was great! Lots of long hikes, endless snacks, bonfires, swimming in the icy waters (that somehow become the perfect temperature after you force your body to acclimate) of Lake Huron, throwing rocks to *plink* in the lake for the puppy to chase in confusion, heavenly saunas, and lots of nice beers.

Minty beach prunella.

First time s’morer!

Dad & Jack

Look at those familial beauties.

Ghost pines

Full blue moon

Jack and ole Justin Blåbær

Everyone then started to leave, so we moved into the cabin for five days. Jack loved it all – all the rest of the trip. He loved the kayaking, meteor shower-watching, the sleazy ‘tavern’ bar which is really a 70s time capsule built literally in a double-wide trailer, the ‘baby’ ice cream servings which we decided were the actual weight of a baby, everything! It was fairly laid back overall and a definite contrast to the rest of the trip in Chicago.

New friends!

All the nice beers

I spent time out a few clear nights trying to capture part of the annual Perseids Meteor shower (which is terrific since the sky is so clear) and managed to get one meteor, albeit unfocused.

Mackinac Bridge – the longest suspension bridge in the world!

Playing with light writing (using the flashlight on my iPhone and a shutter open for 30 seconds!).

After our wonderful week in Michigan, it was back to Chicago! Again, because of time constraints (the earliest ferry on one end of the bookend and the latest return time for Enterprise on the other), we didn’t have much spare time to play with.

We did manage a quick trip to Founders in Grand Rapids, but mostly to gape and go to the gift shop for beers and dork clothes.

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