Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Northern Exposure

A few years ago I wrote a blog about the Michigan phenomena of going "up north". Northern Michigan is beautiful, and people drive hours sometimes every weekend to enjoy it in the summer. I think it's lovely, but it's hard for me to imagine spending hours in the car just to go up north. I appreciate the hypocrisy of my saying this given that I have WVU season football tickets and go to Morgantown regularly all year. That's my biggest issue - if I'm going to drive 3-4 hours, I'm going south to see my family or somewhere different. I don't want to always go to the same place. I need a change of scenery despite northern Michigan's charming ambiance.

In the past many of my northern Michigan trips have been fraught with weather problems. I've been there in the summer when it's been rainy and in the 50s...actually that's generally been my northern Michigan weather experience. I've had a couple of decent weather trips but nothing that has made me want to make going up north a regular thing.

This weekend changed my perception. While if we're looking at a second home I'd still rather do buy in West Virginia, I definitely appreciated the beauty of northern Michigan in a way I never have before.

My husband's cousin got married just outside of Manistee, Michigan, a cute community on Lake Michigan. The wedding and reception were at a pavilion overlooking Lake Michigan, and it was a stunning backdrop for a wedding. It was a lovely ceremony with the most heartfelt delivery of vows I've ever heard. I was crying for most of the gorgeous bride's vows. 

It was our son's first wedding, and I realized quickly why it's less fun to bring kids to weddings. It was great to have family there to play with him and entertain him, but by 7:30 (the wedding was at 2:30)  he was ready for bed. We regrettably left the wedding and headed to the hotel. I was in bed by 10 am on Saturday night. Ah parenthood.
My beautiful family at the wedding

On Sunday we had an entirely free day.  I think it's the first time we've ever been to northern Michigan together for a day without a work agenda. First thing that morning I went for a run through downtown Manistee. I was impressed with its charming downtown, businesses, river walk and particularly the Vogue Theatre. The Vogue is a community based project that revitalized a downtown theatre, and it reopened last year. It's an amazing display of community spirit. We had breakfast and then headed to First Street Beach for Will's first time at the beach. He loved the sand and the water, although it was a little cold for him. We were there for several hours enjoying the sun and sand before nap time called.


Beach bums

Later in the afternoon we had delicious ice cream at House of Flavors. Any ice cream called "ultimate peanut butter brownie" has to be amazing...and it was. We walked around Manistee's quaint downtown loving the local businesses. I could not be more impressed with this community. I know I fall easily, but I must admit I fell pretty hard.

We had a fabulous dinner at Bluefish in downtown Manistee. I had the duck which was delicious. I am a sucker for well-prepared duck. We had several cocktails, enjoyed key lime pie for dessert and had a great experience.

Bluefish's most adorable fan

I don't relax easily, and anyplace where I'm able to unwind earns a special place in my generally agitated heart. I love Manistee, and for the first time I really get why going up north is special. It doesn't mean we'll be changing our flight pattern to give up the southern route anytime soon, but perhaps we could make room in the schedule for the occasional northern excursion.      

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