No technology, no pre-planned activities, and a lot of time to make memories make for the best vacation. The night before our trip, we were tired from packing, excited, and hungry. We decided to go out for an early dinner and go to bed by 9 pm. The next day would be the start of the best vacation ever.
For the last few years, we’ve planned a yearly family vacation up north. In the spring, we decide where to go and circle the dates on the calendar. I’m as excited as a kid since I didn’t grow up going on family vacations. Not that I feel like I missed out, as I had a great childhood. I’m just glad to have the opportunity to get away from a fast paced lifestyle and spend quality time with my family.
On the day of our trip, we finished packing the car and ate breakfast. I made individual lunches, packed the wet wipes and napkins, and arranged it all neatly in the car. It would be a six hour drive with three kids. They picked out a couple of favorite toys while we double checked their car seats. The oil in the car was changed and the tires were rotated the week before; we were ready to go!
As I walked in the house to get my purse, I noticed my husband frantically searching. He couldn’t find his wallet. It had to be around somewhere. So we searched the house, the shop, and the shed. We took the kids out of the car and searched there. We needed that wallet since we planned to use my husband’s credit card for the trip. He also had our fishing license and other important items in there. I called the restaurant we had dinner at the night before. My husband thought it might have slipped out of his hand while reaching down to carry our son. If it was there overnight, surely it would still be there. It was not.
We stopped by the restaurant to double check. It was not there. By the time we were done cancelling cards, transferring money and purchasing a new fishing license, we were four hours behind schedule. We were all a bit cranky. This was supposed to be fun! After a stressful start, we decided to turn it around and make it fun. We broke out the packed lunches and off we went. Our first stop was Duluth. We had never been there before so we were excited.
After some iced coffees and chocolate milks, we were back on track to the best vacation ever. We walked the pier and visited the lighthouse. The kids loved the seagulls; they couldn’t believe how close they got to us. After dinner, we drove by the pier. The kids rolled down the windows and yelled, “bye, seagulls,” as loud as they could. They still sometimes yell “bye seagulls” and laugh.
The next morning we were on our way to a Powwow in Grand Marais. It was a long, messy drive. Before going to the Powwow, we cleaned the car and freshened up. We spent the afternoon immersed in native American culture. We tried new foods and enjoyed the music and dancing. My daughter picked out a feathered hair clip and I bought a necklace to remember our visit by.
We finally reached our cabin in the early evening. Before unpacking, we ran to the dock and looked out at the vast, pristine lake. This was it, the view we’d been waiting for. The shoreline across the way was lined with lush, vibrant pine trees. The sun was warm and the air felt crisp. Each deep breath felt intentional. While we unpacked, the kids took off their shoes and soaked their feet in the water. Everything was simple here. There was no TV or wifi and we didn’t look at our cell phones for days.
In the mornings, we had our coffee out on the dock as we listened to the loons. We spent the days fishing, hiking, cooking, and swimming. When we had some downtime we read, talked, and napped. My son and I went on a long canoe ride where I realized he was stronger than me!
On our last day at the cabin, we piled up on the queen sized bed and talked about everything. We answered questions about animals and laughed about things that had happened on our trip. As we all held each other, it felt like this moment was the most perfect one we’ve experienced. I loved having this time to slow down and really get to know each other. It reminded me that even the most simple destinations can be the ones that connect us the most. Despite a rocky start this really was the best vacation ever.