May 1, 2011

Dreams of Summer

Guppy Lake
M and I are rarely at odds over parenting philosophy.  We agree on almost everything- from discipline to religious concessions.  We decided long before we had children that when it came to family holidays, Christmas trumped Channukah and Passover trumped Easter.  There were no disagreements.

The big problem in our idea of how to raise our kids comes in when we start talking about what we're going to do with them over summer break.  We both have very strong feelings on this matter.

I know, they're not even in pre-school yet.  But that doesn't stop you from having these talks.  Especially when you have no summer vacation of your own to speak up, and you're both feeling nostalgic.

Guppy Lake
Like most people who had really nice childhoods, we want to relive some of our happiest childhood moments with our own kids.  For M, that means that they would spend the summer playing sports, hanging out with their friends, and involved in all sorts of organized activities.  For me, it would involve bringing them to Guppy Lake and letting them play in the woods, with or without any other children, until it was time for school to start again.

As neither me nor M gets summers off from our professions (well, when I go back to work I won't) this is an absolutely impossible plan.  But, there's no reason that we couldn't spend a week as a family, and then leave the girls with Poppa and Grandmommy for another week of wilderness playtime, right?

Guppy Lake is nestled in a very strange corner of the world.  At first glance, you might think that there's nothing to do.  The restaurant scene is nonexistent, there are no neighbors to speak of... just a tiny little town in the middle of nowhere in Michigan and about 100 acres of woodlands and ponds to just play in.  And that certainly has some appeal.  But there's more to spending a summer in the great green norths of Michigan than might meet the eye.

Tawas Beach
First, there's the beaches.  Lots and lots of beaches.  Along Lake Huron, along Cedar Lake, along the river...  And the presence of all these beaches and bodies of water invites a ridiculous amount of options for enjoying nature.  You can spend a day picnicking and swimming along the incredibly desolate 3 mile beach, or you can head to Tawas Beach and feel completely crowded with people, eating soft serve ice cream and chasing off the seagulls.  Or you can have a quiet, relaxed afternoon off of Cedar Lake, again with a picnic but surrounded by trees and much more likely to make friends with other local children.

There's canoeing on the Au Sable river, during which you're likely to spot a heron or eagle.  If you're a bit of a dare devil, the river also has plenty of old bridges going over it, and you can jump into the river.  If that's you're thing.

Mini Golf in Oscoda
There are endless mini-golf courses.  Endless.  You could spend a decade trying to visit every single mini golf course, but I guarantee you'd miss a few.

There are county fairs and craft fairs and all sorts of weekend-long small town outdoor gatherings.  There's barbershop singing and fireworks.  There are half a dozen amazing ice cream shops and they all serve Mackinaw Island Fudge.

But there are two places that really sum up for me the sorts of fun you can only have up in the middle of nowhere.  Or at least, the portion of the middle of nowhere where I spent my idyllic childhood.

Lumberman's Monument
The first is Lumberman's Monument.  At the entrance of the monument, there's a large and lovely picnic area.  Eating first is smart, you need your strength for the rest of the trip.  Shortly past the entrance is a gigantic structure of enormous logs- permanently fitted together in one massive jungle gym.  It's a fantastic place to play, easy to climb and ideal for tag.

Past this is the nature trail.  It's a lovely walk, probably about a mile long, that leads you slowly through the woods, past some prairie, and up to the top of the dunes.  Suddenly, you're looking down probably eighty five feet of steep, sandy incline at a beautiful, blue body of water.  If you just RUN STRAIGHT DOWN AT TOP SPEED, by the time you hit the water there's simply no stopping.  You're going to get totally soaked.  And the speed you can reach when gravity and forward momentum are on your side... it's quite a rush.  The incline continues into the water, so it gets really deep really fast.  Which is ideal, if you're running towards it at about forty miles an hour.

Lumberman's Monument
After playing in the water until you're exhausted, you have two choices.  Float lazily down the river in an inner-tube to the stairs, and climb those for what feels like forever... or climb back up the dunes.  This is the only part that isn't exclusively fun.  But then you get back to the lovely nature trail, you get back to the super-awesome log structure (and are suddenly re-energized to play a few more rounds of tag and see who can climb the highest), and you get back to the gift shop.  Where you can buy lumberman souvenirs.  You would be amazed by the variety in lumberman swag that there is out there.  Coloring books, stuffed bears, brief histories of the Michigan logging industry written for children...

Dinosaur Gardens
But without a doubt, the best, most unique, most bizarre place to take a day trip in the area is Dinosaur Gardens.  This is a huge wooded park, filled with (not always terribly accurate) sculptures of dinosaurs.  There are velociraptors, wooley mammoths, triceratops... all along a peaceful, shady trail.  The old growth forest is virtually undisturbed, with the exception of the dinosaurs, that is.  There are endless goofy photo opportunities, as you can just go right ahead and climb on all those bizarre dinosaurs.

There are also a few very inaccurate scenes involving cave-men and dinosaurs, and a brontosaurus that you can climb inside, and see the heart of Jesus and the wise men.

Yes, you read that right.

It's a fantastic place to bring small children.  Lots of space for them to run around, vaguely educational, and filled with endless ironic fun for the adults.
Dinosaur Gardens

I desperately want to get up there this summer.

We're probably going to make it up for one long weekend in August.  That's a painfully long way from my entire childhood summers.  But it's going to have to do.

And M is, for some macho reason, a little more comfortable with the idea of little girls wasting their summers playing in the woods than he is about little boys skipping sports.  So who knows... I might just win out on this one.

And that, dear readers, is all about spending your summer at Guppy Lake.


  1. Both sound pretty amazing. And the lake sounds heavenly. :)

  2. back home we have something called "Dinosaur World" Sounds like the same thing! If I haven't thanked you yet for stopping by the "Sit & Relax" weekend hop last weekend! Thank you!!! Hope to see you again this weekend. And good luck with your Music CD release.

  3. Guppy Lake looks and sounds like a dream! I love the outdoors and nature. There isn't a lot that's pretty like that in Nebraska. It takes a lot of searching around these parts lol! Thanks for sharing the pics and your memories.

    New follower from the Tuesday blog hop



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Vote for me!

Visit Top Mommy Blogs To Vote For Me!