A week of rest and relaxation is exactly what the doctor ordered. I spent last week with my wife on vacation driving up the coast of Western Michigan and making our way to Mackinac Island. And I must say if you ever get the chance, DO IT! In living our frugal existence we have opted to go on stay/nearby vacations, so with less than $1,000 budget, we headed up the coast and loved every minute of it. We stopped in beautiful, picturesque, serene lake city towns along the way. We took in great wine, ate awesome fudge, and implemented our flexatarianism and ate some great steaks and seafood dinners. The best part of it all: In going on this trip following Labor Day, rates for lodging and car rentals were at their lowest, plus, in venturing to Michigan everything was affordable. We offset dining out meals by bringing along a cooler filled with water, pop, fresh fruit and sandwiches. Some of my favorite stops along the way up north: Petoskey, Traverse City, Ludington and Holland. Each are quaint, picturesque lake towns that look like screen savers. The people are nice and exhibit the exact kind of places I want to live in when having children.
Mackinac Island though takes the cake. Access to the island is limited to boat or ferry and once on, your mode of transportation is horse and buggy or bicycle, that’s it. No cars or anything with a motor can be found on the island. Round trip hugging the coast is a very easy 8 miles with gorgeous hiking trails all along the way. I can’t believe I have lived in Chicago for four years and never made this trip before. The most memorable moment came when my wife and I hopped off for lunch by the lakefront, and with our feet in the water experienced a silent euphoria. The point when water washes onto shore and just before it pulls back to the lake, there is dead silence. Even now my soul is stirring remembering that moment and wanting to relive it over and over.
But clearly, what made the trip even more amazing was the time spent with my wife. Getting re-acquainted with each other outside of our daily rat race in the windy city. I’m always amazed at how beautiful, amazing and special my wife is and how I love having her in my life. We have so much fun together, and getting to spend an entire week together, being on the same page and not having the physical separation of work, well it reminds me of how great things are in the present day. Too often I do boggle myself with looking and forecasting the future, that this vacation was just what I needed to be re-assured that things are great currently, and that we are working as hard as we are now to make moments like the one on Mackinac Island happen a lot more often.
Now some quick tips that I learned on this trip:
· If your wife is better than you at being frugal, let her plan the itinerary
· On Mackinac Island go to dinner at The Woods, order the duck dinner, you’re welcome
· Michigan wine tasting, budget for it and you’ll come under on cost every time
· Go in off-peak seasons, we stayed at The Murray hotel for less than half of their peak season rates
· Bring a cooler, picnics on the lake are perfect and utilize the ice machines wherever you stay
· Don’t be a snob: budget hotels are heavenly as long as the hot tubs work