August 25, 2014
Everyone says to “live in the moment” as if it’s just that easy. Especially if you are as “Type A” as me and with a million things going on—Full time job managing an ICU, full time mother, and full time student obtaining my doctorate—it’s hard to remember to breath at times. But here I am in one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen, certainly the most beautiful place in Michigan, Tahquamenon Falls, and I’m reminded of this phrase “living in the moment”, just one week before I begin my last year of school and maybe my most challenging. I’ve been in school full time for five years straight, without a summer off, and I’m SO over it. This year will challenge my skills, my time management, and more importantly my family as I will be worn thinner than I have in the past; and my motivation is far from elevated.
So here I sit around the campfire reflecting on what has been, what is about to be, and what I’m going to do over the next several days to be “in the moment.” The most powerful thought is the realization that tomorrow may never come, so worrying so much about the future, something Americans are so fraught upon, is nonsense. And for me especially, I’ve spent the past five years worrying about the end of each semester and the completion of my degree. Too little do I worry that my children have missed me, have gotten used to my lack of participation, and accustomed to me and my computer. At least I know that they are learning the importance of a good education and the meaning of a good work ethic, something that most people don’t know a thing about these days.
So tomorrow we are taking the 5 mile walk from the lower falls to the higher falls and I’m not going to rush. I’m going to live in the moment because my body and soul needs to reenergize for the long year ahead, and my family needs to remember what it’s like to have ME, full body and spirit. But, I’m scared I can’t do it. It’s not as easy as it sounds. I can’t make my head stop thinking, planning, worrying. I can’t pull my head in the moment and focus because that’s usually the problem. It only takes a millisecond to wander off and start thinking, planning—was that a squirrel? Wait! Did I lock the door? What are we doing for dinner? Should I reapply the kids’ sunblock? STOP! Be in the moment Dammit! We’ll see how this goes….
August 26, 2014
Success! I will say I lived in the moment to the fullest today and enjoyed every moment (even while complaining). First, Jamie and I woke up early to drink coffee by the river. The water was very calm and soothing. We watched the fish jump and even watched two large fish create a wake along the drop off—pike, muskie? Either way, I ran back to the camper to get Brendon and he was down by the water, fishing pole in hand, within 10 minutes. No success.
The little guys and I hung out all morning while the big guys rented a row boat and went fishing. Without worries of the “real world” I appreciated their cute shenanigans. The two have become quite the pair, two years apart and a perfect complement of each other. Cameron, the middle child, has grown to be the worry wart and protector, ensuring his baby brother goes unharmed by others; however first to swing and lose his temper if things do not go HIS way. Ryan has no fear. He will go all the way, no boundaries. Scary, I know.
After lunch we all headed out for the so-called 4 mile hike from the lower falls to the upper falls. I don’t know who did the measuring but that was the longest 4 miles I ever walked in my life! Anyways, the boys made it with very little complaining, considering how hungry they were and how long they walked and in a difficult terrain. Jamie and I are certain we heard a bear (there’s no question I was in the moment then, that’s for sure). After I heard it the second time I asked Jamie to confirm it. He heard it too, which is why he had picked up the pace. After the third time we were pretty much jogging up the hill.
Brendon spent much of his time tripping over tree roots, so I stayed behind him to ensure I stayed amused as much as possible. Didn’t see the “meese” (moose plural in the Reynolds’ dictionary) even though our brains played tricks on us (Jamie) several times. It still amazes me that this scenery is in Michigan, just a mere weekend away, and so many Michiganders spend their time either working their entire lives and missing out on these little pieces of Heaven, or spend thousands of dollars on vacations to exotic beach resorts and never come here. My kids would enjoy this much more and have already begged to come back, nominating this their new favorite campground experience.
After breezing through the upper falls and heading straight to the restaurant for a comfortable seat, refreshments, and nourishment, we hitched a ride for $24 back to the campground. After my nap, I was dragged back to the lower falls with the family so the big boys could fish and the little guys could walk the falls. Ok so I may not have been in the moment for a minute, but after falling in the water and almost losing a shoe, I was taken by the beauty of it all and quickly brought back to the present. We took quite the journey from one fall to the next and I will admit was quite nervous at one point letting them climb the falls, hand in hand.
Cameron was on a mission. He knew there was an area he could go behind the falls and he was determined to find it. So off we went, hiking through the forest to the other side of the falls and sure enough he remembered the blue towel hanging on the ledge and knew we were in the right place. I will never forget the enjoyment on their faces as they crossed under the falls, looking through. Cameron just held his arms out and screamed with the biggest grin on his face that he could hear an echo. He begged his brother to come with him a second time. Ryan was afraid for a minute (usually it’s the other way around), but the two of them went together and boy was it a sight because they had so much fun together! I took it in, that moment, thinking to myself, no matter what happens, DON’T FORGET THIS MOMENT. I looked up at the Heavens, looked around at THIS “Heaven” and thought, in this moment, Jennifer, no matter how busy or how challenging life gets, look back on this moment and remember that life is about these moments. This place is a little Heaven on Earth and if you haven’t experienced it at least once, you haven’t experienced a little piece of Heaven and it’s only a car ride away.
For people like me, it’s a miracle that we can take our mind off of life long enough to enjoy these moments.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Today we slept in listening to the rain. I love listening to the rain drizzle on the camper…the dogs, not so much. But, that just makes them want to cuddle that much more. Nothing is better than a bed full of kids and dogs in the morning, especially on a cold, rainy day.
Today we went on a boat tour to Pictured Rocks—breathtaking doesn’t even begin to describe what we saw. Who knew this place existed in our corner of the Earth, just a few hours from home? Along the shoreline of Lake Superior we explored some of the most beautiful rock walls changed by centuries of nature’s “touch” forever changing the view. Jamie was speechless many times, he’s a true kid at heart, awe struck by the natural beauty our land has preserved over the centuries—this place is proof. Again, if you are one who insists on travelling to the tropics and Vegas, you need to come here for a long weekend. Your senses will not be disappointed. The water is as clear and colorful as the ocean. The smell of fresh air keeps you repeatedly deep breathing for more, and you will find yourself smiling in disbelief that, as a Michigander, you MUST live in the most beautiful of all the fifty states.
August 31, 2014
Bitter sweet. That’s how I feel today as we pack up to head home after a long, relaxing nine day camping trip; bitter sweet because this will be our last camping trip at Alcona park. We’ve been camping here since Cameron was just a few months old. We have so many memories here. I remember one of our first camping trips here we broke the awning and nearly killed Theresa in the process. Many memories include Theresa and Tony. They were such suckers for the kids. We still have the hillbilly golf game the Tony made me for my birthday probably 8 or 9 years ago.
And how the dynamics of our trips have changed, too. Where we used to love staying up all night partying with friends, praying the kids would sleep until a decent hour (often we had midnight feedings). We used to make deals every night as to who would get the kids to bed, who would get up in the middle of the night with the baby, and who would get up in the morning with them. It definitely made a difference as to how much partying you would do. Back then I used to spend much of my day pushing kids around in strollers, walking through the woods. Now they are much older and do their own thing mostly. And we are in bed early, even set the alarm early so we can get up before the kids to enjoy a peaceful cup of coffee in the morning. We didn’t even drink coffee until the past couple of years.
Some of the highlights: Frog catching at the cove. Midnight walks with Jamie. Watching the stars in the field. Tony getting in the play pen with Cameron. Theresa and I playing “Shot Checkers” and our brilliant idea to take the rowboat out for a spin in the pitch black around 3am…getting lost in the middle of the water (we actually never left shore unbeknownst to us)…but boy did we laugh for a long time after we almost cried. Brendon getting a staph infection in his ear. Cameron breaking his collar bone.
Getting lost on the river with Kristy and Ronnie and having to be rescued (where is that newspaper article anyway). Our first camping trip with Julie and Chad that started a lifelong friendship (I hope)…two tracks are not meant for campers and you should never buy a power converter from creepy old men (CHAD). Raccoons CAN chew through coolers if the food smells right (Ronnie and Kristy) and a family of raccoons alone with a weekend of food will result in an expensive weekend because it will be gone when you get back (Tony and Theresa).