On July 20th, we left for the annual trip to Michigan, just in time to escape a day when it would go up to 100 in Richmond. Normally, we drive up to the Detroit area, but this time we would bypass that altogether for three lake houses.
Fourteen hours later, we arrived in Cadillac, Michigan. There we were staying with Matt and Kristen Mahoney at the new Mahoney lake house on Lake Mitchell.
The morning after our arrival, the temperature was in the low 60’s, which meant it was perfect for…
The Mahoneys had several jet skis, and McKenna was eager to try them out. First, she went out with Kristen and her son Will, and Kristen gave McKenna a chance to drive the jet ski.
When they got back, I took McKenna out.
There was a learning curve involved in learning how to drive a jet ski. Accelerating smoothly is tricky, which meant that most or the time we either lurched from 0 to 20 mph or accidentally jerked from 20 to 35 mph. Back at the house, Laura saw known of this, and, encouraged by the apparent success of these excursions, Laura decided to join us the next time out.
The happy face that you see on Laura lasted only until we left the weedy area and could accelerate. It seems that to Laura, the speed of a vehicle named a “jet” ski was something of a surprise.
To stop all of the screaming, I slowed down for a while, which led Laura to comment, “I like this speed. What is it?” We were going eight miles per hour. Eight. At that speed, the jet ski was moving slightly faster than the Ice Age glacier that had carved out the lake in the first place. Somehow, it fits and spurts, we returned Laura to the safety of land.
From our safely stationary positions, we could enjoy the sunset over the lake.
On our second day in Cadillac, Monday, it was almost chilly in the morning.
While it warmed up, Matt, McKenna, and I decided to drive to Manistee, which was about an hour away on the coast of Lake Michigan. There were some beaches there, and we thought McKenna might like to swim. We arrived to find the winds had basically transformed Lake Michigan into an ocean.
There was a walkway out to the lighthouse that we chose to explore instead of swimming in the lake-sized washing machine.
The walk enabled us to confirm that it was, in fact, windy.
We made it to the lighthouse after only absorbing a few light splashes from water coming over the edges.
When we got back to the beach, there was a guy combing the beach with some kind of tractor who notified us that there was a beach on the other side of the lighthouse walkway and harbor wall that was shielded from the wind and was consequently much calmer. A quick investigation revealed that beach-comber guy was correct.
The water was surprisingly warm at about 70 degrees. That made the water temperature higher than the air temperature when we were there.
When we got back to the house, we faced a different kind of challenge than wind gusts and rough lakes – cooking with the smoker that Matt’s dad had bought for the lake house. Our plan for lunch was to use the smoker to “grill” burgers.
The smoker has a “grilling” function which makes it act more like an oven, and, after successfully heating the smoker to 350 degrees or so, we threw the burgers on. Normally when I grill, I use visible char on food as a barometer of how cooked the food is. Since these burgers were essentially baking rather than grilling, there was no char or, for most of the burgers, visible grill lines. Every so often, someone would come by and ask how the grilling was going. I had to be honest.
Fortunately, the internet did provide some guidelines on how long to bake a burger, so the finished burgers were mostly cooked, and, as of this writing, no one has contracted E Coli. After consuming these delicious partially cooked burgers, it was back to the water. This time, Laura chose the safety of a watercraft where she would be guaranteed of sub-8 mph speeds.
Soon after Laura started kayaking, Kristen and McKenna returned from jet skiing. Then, Kristen inexplicably attempted to destroy her lifelong friendship with Laura by suggesting that McKenna shatter Laura’s peaceful kayaking by grabbing the other kayak.
McKenna had seen kayaks in action before, but she had never actually kayaked herself. This led to her doing about twenty doughnuts in the dock area, which was frustrating for McKenna for sure. And then things went downhill when she inadvertently paddled into the weeds, the same weeds that we saw a small water snake swim into that morning.
As all good parents do when their child becomes hysterically afraid of some imagined danger, we laughed and laughed. After we stopped laughing (and I reluctantly stopped videoing), Laura extricated McKenna from the weeds. The trauma of the weeds was at least as great for McKenna as going over eight miles per hour on a jet ski was for Laura, and McKenna ended her kayaking experiment. Then Laura could enjoy the relaxing kayaking experience that she was hoping for before McKenna joined her.
Our stay in Cadillac also exposed us to new forms of cultural appropriation. During our recent trip to Venice, we took a ride on a gondola. In Cadillac, we discovered the Michigan-style gondola.
For our last night in Cadillac, we went to a local Mexican restaurant that was featured on a list of the ten best Mexican restaurants in Michigan.
One last time, we took in the sunset at Cadillac.
Next up – Canadian Lakes, Michigan.