I picked the kids up from their mom's house around noon on Thursday & we headed to Stacey's dad's cottage (which is really not a cottage at all... as Aiden kept reminding me: "I thought it wouldn't be so nice; cottages are usually small & run down.") I don't know where he got this info about cottages, but small & run down it isn't. He even has a sweet, sweet shuffle board table! It's nicer & longer than the one at the Tap Room Annex. The next morning, we made the drive up M 115 to Empire for the festival. Seeing as we got there 1st, & because I'm such a nice fucking guy, I set up Dawn's & Warren & Georgina's tents for them so we could all be together in a nice little hippie compound. We could hear the music from our tents, but Solstice wouldn't accept that. She needed to be able to see. Particularly for the headliners, she demanded to go & dance. She loved Particle & Dark Star Orchestra. In fact, when Dark Star played a 45 minute "Dark Star">"Other One" w/ crazy feedback & space, she kept saying how weird it was & how much she was loving it!!! Maybe is was my daughter's energy or maybe it was the crazy jams, but either way, this was my favorite DSO show. Other than that, i loved particle & The David Grisman Quintet. I'd never seen them before... holy shit can they play! Aside from the music, the festival also had a free shuttle to the beach, so we went swimming a bunch in sight of the dunes & we went tubing down the Platte River on Sat. morning. My kids told me that was their favorite part of the trip.
Viewing the dunes from the beach
Climbing the Dunes
Sun. morning, before making the drive to Petoskey, we climbed the Dunes. I hadn't been there in over 20 years. The climb wasn't quite as easy as it used to be. Some of you will claim that it's because I'm older & fatter, but I'm going to say it's because the dunes have grown about 40 feet & become much steeper. The last time I climbed the dunes was w/ a soccer team from Woking, England who were in town to play some games w/ the Petoskey high school team. I suppose I may actually be older & fatter than I was then. I'm not sure though. After an ice cream break, we drove to Petoskey via The Ironton Ferry. In order to take the ferry, one needs to go about a half hour out of one's way, but the kids loved the idea of driving onto a boat, & so did I. This is something else I hadn't done since I was a kid. This began our sojourn into Hemingway country. In fact, some of the Nick Adams stories take place right by here the ferry is. The other Hemingway connection this weekend came on Mon. when we went w/ Elizabeth & Dan to Walloon Lake. Hemingway's childhood home was on the lake... as was mine (from 2-4 years old). I showed the kids the house I lived in & we swam for a while in the absolutely beautiful lake. Elizabeth kept saying how shocked she was that it was so beautiful. She even went so far as to claim it looked like the Smokey Mountains. And she's kind of right. Considering how often people claim they hate the mid-West, I have to say that over the last couple weeks, we've seen some cool shit w/in 4 hours of Ypsi.
While in Petoskey, we also drove around the old hood, went to Pirate's Cove, & ate at La Senorita. Again, my kids had a great time. They also had a great time on Tuesday when we went to the fish hatchery in Oden, about 10 minutes north of Petoskey. It is a really cool place w/ an nice educational bent. The got to learn all about fish populations, woodland habitats, & pollution. After lunch at The Big Buck Brewery in Gaylord, where the wait staff knew nothing about the beer (the extent of their knowledge seemed to be that the lager was like Budweiser & the red ale was like Guinness... ridiculous), the educational tour continued w/ a stop at Hartwick Pines State Park in Grayling. It's based around an old growth forest so we got to learn more about conservation & the environmental effects of poor land use. We then ended the day back at Stacey's dad's place where we went out in the pontoon boat and cruised around the lake for a while before we all crashed pretty early. All in all, an exhausting vacation, but a great time was had by all.
At the hatchery