Notes on Grown-Up Camp and the End of Summer (more or less)

We have returned from just shy of a week at “The Inn” at “The Homestead,” which is up in Glen Arbor, Michigan.  Here’s a link to a Flickr set of pictures.  Some thoughts more or less as they occurred on the trip/occur in the photos:

  • We stayed at The Homestead, where Annette made a reservation back in May or June in a fit of “Argh! I need a vacation!” It is a huge property of condos, cottages, time-shares, private homes, and a couple small hotels which is part real estate scheme/part resort, a place where many things are named with a pretentious “The” (e.g., “The Homestead,” which includes a few shops and such in “The Village,” an area of rentals called “The Cottages,” and the small hotel where we stayed called “The Inn.”) I was sort of prepared to not like it because it’s too expensive and a lot of the reviews online are mixed at best.  But just about anyplace in this area of northern Michigan “in season” is too expensive, and since we wanted a comfy room with Internet access and close proximity to the beach (maybe 200 yards away from one of the best in Michigan) and a pool, this worked out great.  We had a room with a gas fireplace, a nice sitting area, plenty roomy, and it also included a great patio.  It was quirky though– for example, none of the doors quite opened or closed right.
  • This was designed to be a “vacation,” as opposed to a “trip” like the one we took to California and Oregon in June.  Will was away at Camp Lookout just down the road, so the idea was to mostly do nothing– sleeping in, hanging around the beach and the pool and the patio, reading, going out for nice dinners and drinking cocktails.  You know, camp for grown-ups.
  • We did go on a hike that was about seven miles long one day along the Bay View trail.  It was quite nice because it was beautiful views and because it gave us a chance to try out our new picnic/wine backpack (we bought at “the store” or whatever it was called at The Homestead– a good deal, too).  But that was the hottest day up there, so not necessarily the best timed trip.
  • That night we met with a friend from our PhD program who teaches up at Northwestern Michigan College, John, and his wife and all-around groovy person, Karen.  We also ended up out there with John’s parents, who were visiting, and some local-yokel friends of theirs too.  Low-key up-north fun:  sit around, drink a little wine or beer, light a fire, and wait for the stars to come out.  And we saw lots of stars, including the Milky Way pretty clearly.  It’s nights like that which make me think that the ancient’s belief that the sky was a roof high above the earth was logical under the circumstances.
  • But there was work on this trip.  For starters, I was (and am!) still teaching two classes online and Annette, despite her best efforts, just couldn’t stay completely away.  We had ethernet connectivity in the room, but no wifi (note to self:  next time I go on an extended trip like this, bring one of my Airport Express modems).  But there was wifi in the lobby area, which was probably better because we pretty much had the place to ourselves, room to spread out, and a tremendous view.  Older vacationers would look at us scornfully and mumble how we were “wasting” such a pleasant time.  Younger vacationers asked questions about how they too could get good wifi in this place.
  • We had a couple of hours of “drama” on Thursday when I thought I had lost my keys to the car, the only set of keys we had.  We turned the room upside down, looked through every stitch of clothing, walked on the beach and searched under chairs by the pool.  I had called a lock guy with the theory that I could get to a valet key in the glove box, though we were dreading that key not being there and having to get towed to Traverse City and spending lots of time and hundreds of dollars to get back on the road.  And then I picked up a bluetooth keyboard that was on the desk area, a keyboard that I am certain that both Annette and I had moved in the course of the last two hours, and there they were.  We both gasped as if I had just pulled off the greatest magic trick of the century.
  • We ate well on this trip:  two times at a place at The Homestead called Nonna’s, mainly because it was close, very good, and reasonably priced for this quality of food.  And then the last night we went to a place in Glen Arbor called Blu that was really really good, certainly as good as any really good restaurant I’ve been to just about anywhere.  Don’t tell Will, but that even includes Bouchon.
  • We picked up Will on Friday a little early, and then made a stop at Cherry Republic for him (and us too) before getting back on the road.

And then as soon as I got back to town and was running errands, I sensed the end of summer.  The grocery store had fall plants for sale out front.  A pile of end of the term grading awaits.  Fall term will start soon….

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