What do you really need

Last year, for perfectly obvious reasons, I missed the annual vacation. And this year time was tight, so the options were limited. Also, none of us wanted to go hang out with the big crowds. Not this year, because the disease isn’t burned out and I really don’t feel like getting seriously ill.

Again. Because I’ve been there before.

So off to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan I went, a few peeps in tow. It’s a fantastic place to go if you don’t want to hang out in crowds, and all you want is the experience of a beach with none of the hassle and astronomical expense.

Yeah, it cost a few centavos, but all in all it can be done on a budget. Probably my biggest complaint is how far it is from anything, but that’s also an attraction. You have to be determined to go to the beaches by Lake Superior. Lemme tell you, though, it’s worth the trip. It does require some careful planning though, as well as a selection of the right time of year.

If you hit it wrong, mosquitoes and biting flies can be pretty bad. And needless to say cold can be an issue as well, even in high summer. If you want to bask in the sun at ninety degrees and people watch, this is not a vacation for you.

But if you’d like to hike and see some spectacular scenery, then give it a look.

I can fully recommend Pictured Rocks National Park.

You’ll see stuff within the park that isn’t anything like a visit to the Outer Banks or Virginia Beach. Almost no crowds. Desolate beaches. Amazing swimming opportunities. Raw nature, seemingly endless expanses of mixed boreal forests. In terms of the Lower 48 east of the Mississippi, this is pretty close to as wild as it gets. The Smoky Mountains don’t really compare, especially not in terms of crowds.

And did I mention Lake Superior? The darn thing is crystal clear and it compares better with the sea than a lake. Excellent swimming, if a tad bit cold.

I went out on a speedboat excursion, it was a great heap of fun. What was better was that when I dried off there wasn’t the sticky film that salt water gives you. Same with kayaking the local lakes and rivers. I had the pleasure of doing a seven mile stretch with a family member, and it was a hoot.

Over and over again I marveled at how the kayak would navigate a few centimeters of water, and then how it handled rapids and deep pools with aplomb, even fallen trees. There was very little trash in evidence, and tons of wildlife. I saw various sorts of fish, cranes, turtles and even a mink as it attacked a duck.

The kayak trip, on the Au Train River, was a real highlight. Even if it revealed what terrible shape I’m in, really. Nothing like the occupational condition I was in during my military heyday.

But still, I was in good enough shape to get it done. And the excursion was a lot of fun. I highly recommend it to anyone who passes by.

Even though “just passing by” isn’t something you do on the Upper Peninsula. You have to really go out of your way to go there.

But it’s worth it.

And it got me thinking. What, exactly, do I really need? Not a whole lot. I’m pretty satisfied with my small following, and my internet peeps. A trip to the wild places, a short journey down a river. Good food. Uninterrupted sleep. Reliable vehicles. A lush garden.

Recharged, I am back to regular life.

I need to buy a kayak.

That was fun.

One thought on “What do you really need

  1. Getting out and about into nature is always something of a balm. Glad you enjoyed it.
    The U.S. did well with setting up its National Parks. Had a quick look at a list of trails and the variety of options from short trips to the epic walks says something about the need for people to get outside. I read Bill Bryson’s ‘A Walk In The Woods’ a few years ago which summed it up quite well.


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