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This Isn't Quite a Lake Michigan Circle Tour, But It's a Good Excuse to Visit Family

I dropped my family off in Rhinelander for a few days. I haven't been without them since Meadow was two.

 I had a car to pick up over in Lower Michigan. Lowell to be exact. And a sister and mom to go visit. So, we rented a car in Rhinelander after staying the weekend at the cottage in Three Lakes.

I was planning on making it to the UP border before eating, but we were already hungry in Crandon, just southwest of Three Lakes. So we stopped at Eats and Treats.


We all shared a strawberry milkshake while waited for our food.

I got Meadow mini corn dogs and Theo a corn dog, but all they wanted was more shake.

Then we drove and drove. Took a wrong turn thanks to Google Maps and a closed bridge. Then drove some more.

At some point we passed into the UP and drove some more.

We finally stopped to get some cash and treats so we could camp. Except this gas station didn't have an ATM.

So, we just got treats.




We made it all the way to Lake Michigan Campground in Hiawatha National Forest. It's dark and I had some trouble getting the tent up, but eventually we got to bed.

Before Meadow could get dressed she peed all over her sleeping bag. Ugh. At least it didn't get on the tent floor.  A few minutes later all was fine.

It was super buggy. Meadow helped us get the tent all packed.

We were hoping to play on the dunes and beach for a while, but we had woke up a bit later than we had hoped.



We only got to spend a good 15 minutes exploring the pristine beach. Thankfully the bugs did not follow us down there.

Next stop was the Mackinac Bridge. 

That bridge is long and the metal road in places is not reassuring.

We drove and drove some more until we reached Indian River, Michigan in the lower peninsula. We found Christopher's Cafe on the main street and stopped to eat.

These kids love their breakfast food.

Before we knew it we were down in Grand Rapids. First we stopped at my mom's place.

And the kids showed off their yoga posses.

Nana was happy to see her little grandchildren.

Last time she had seen Theo he was little more than a newborn. She later told me that seeing him melted her heart. He can do that.

My mom suggested we go to IHOP for dinner. I knew the kids would love that. They wouldn't say no to two breakfasts in one day.

After dinner we dropped my mom off and met my sister at the airport. There we dropped off the rental car. Meadow and Theo really liked the Camry.

But Theo was even more excited to be in my brother-in-law's big truck.

As soon as we arrived at Katie and Dennis's place in Lowell the kids all played together.

Well, Theo just wanted to explore their big yard. Their house used to be the farmhouse for the surrounding corn fields.

Meadow quickly showed Cameron and Simone how to use her fashion designer kit.

The next morning we woke up and played around the house for a bit.

The kids actually played on the wrap around porch. That seems to be Simone and Cameron's favorite place.

It would be mine too.

Then we met up with my sisters friend, her kids and a few other kiddos she was watching.


Theo tried to make friends, but mostly played on his own.

Group picture time. Theo wasn't having any of it.

We walked over to the neighboring grocery store and all had lunch.


We had met up with my sisters friend to go strawberry picking. That was our next stop.






Theo couldn't wait.



Theo didn't eat much for lunch, but filled up on fallen berries.


All the kids picked their share of berries.

Well, most of them.






We got a boat load of berries.

I wasn't kidding.

Then we went over to the farm store and had some strawberry treats. We got a milkshake for the three of us.


Theo once again didn't want to sit by the big kids.

But he didn't mind the horsey.


Later that day we went back to my mom's place to grill out and go swimming.

Cameron, Simone and Meadow didn't want to get out the water.

Katrina had picked up some sausages and hot dogs from a local butcher. And of course, we brought the strawberries.

I tried bringing in Theo, but he wouldn't have it. I was looking forward to swimming.


Back in for the night, we stayed over for a while longer with nana after Katie, Dennis and the kids had left. Meadow read a few books to my mom while Theo played with my old matchbox cars.


Meadow and Cameron both share a love for Legos. Before breakfast they built together.

For breakfast we had some wicked french toast. My sister's secret is using heavy cream. How decadent.

I thought we'd leave for Chicago after breakfast, but my sister wanted to have a quick manicure hour with the girls.

Meanwhile Cameron showed Theo and I the woods in their big backyard.


My sister and brother-in-law sure have a special place for their kiddos to grow up at.



Next time we come around I think Cameron will play a lot more with Theo. I'm sure Theo will look up to his big boy cousin.

When I came back to the bathroom  my sister was cutting Meadow's hair. Sure, why not? We packed everything into my dad's old car and started the journey back home.

Then we drove on through Indiana and on to Chicago. My brother was working, so we spent the night with Aunt Jen. Meadow and Jen played with little princess toy's Meadow had gotten from Simone for hours. Jen sure is patient.

Theo and I mostly watched them and chilled until my brother came home. When he finally did arrive, Theo went to bed. Meadow, Colin, Jen and I watched The Land Before Time before hitting the hay.

Morning meant bananas and...

Another movie. This time we watched Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. Colin was pulling out all the classics from our childhood.

Colin took us to his favorite breakfast haunt for brunch.

Colin was trying to be a cool uncle, but Meadow was to busy drawing.


We drove over to Hoosier Mama Pies before we had to head back home.

Mmmm...

This was my sister's favorite place for desserts in Chicago. She even had their pie's at her wedding.

I guess all the Tuska's love pie. Just like their daddy. We would've stayed a day or two longer, but Colin and Jen had to head out of town.

After a bunch of driving, a few stops, including a Chinese buffet to fill our bellies, we arrived back in Minneapolis at sunset. We were glad to be back in the cities with my dad's old car and some new insights on the landscapes of the Upper Midwest.

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