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A Week With Family

Posted on 10th July, 2005 at 5:04pm by joel

headline image for “A Week With Family”A sailboat enjoys a fantastic day on Lake Avalon, Michigan

In an effort to relax, unwind, and refresh myself before starting my new job, I did some traveling with my mom and brother.

As far as I am concerned, there isn’t a place on earth nicer than my mom’s parents’ cottage on Lake Avalon in the northern part of the Lower Peninsula in Michigan. Grammy and Papa bought the little log cabin almost 30 years ago and they, their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren have been enjoying it ever since. I hadn’t been there in two years, and a visit was long overdue.

photo gallery thumbnailSee my photo gallery
movie thumbnailWatch a short movie of the cottage

Mom got to my place in the evening on June 30th. We then headed south to Albert Lea to pick up my brother at Dad’s parents’ farm. The next morning (which happened to be Mom and Dad’s 26th anniversary), we left for Iowa City. My cousin Matt, his wife Erin, and their daughter Grace live north of Iowa City as Matt does his pediatric residency at the hospital there. None of us had gotten a chance to meet Grace (she’s two) and Andy and I hadn’t seen Matt and Erin in something like five years. We had a very pleasant stay that afternoon, evening, and next morning before moving on to stop number two.

Early Saturday morning, the three of us headed east to Ann Arbor. My Aunt Karen (Mom’s sister) and Uncle Bob live just east of town in a nice country-like area. Andy and I hadn’t seen them in two and a half years. Some awful traffic and construction on I-80 through Chicago caused us to miss the Saturday evening church service we wanted to attend, but we had a very nice visit regardless.

Finally, on to the lake. We headed north midway through the day on Sunday and got to the cottage about three in the afternoon. The weather was hot and sunny and the cool, clear water begged for attention. The whole family got in on the action, as Andy, Mom, Aunt Jenean (Mom’s sister) and Uncle Jack, Uncle Kurt (Mom’s brother), Ben, Sam, Tony and his girlfriend Katie, Grammy, Papa, and I all went for a swim. I’m not much of a swimmer or much of a water person, but this lake is the one place where I want nothing more than to go swimming.

Lake Avalon is not a big lake, but it is over 70 feet deep in places and as it is spring fed, the water is amazingly clear. The clarity was measured this spring and it rated as one of only two lakes in Michigan with a visibility of 50 feet or more. The cold spring water also keeps the water too cool for much plant life, so weeds, reeds, and algae are virtually non-existent. Simply put, it’s aquatic heaven.

Tony, Andy, and I also went water-skiing that evening, and Tony showed us his wake-boarding skills. I’m not a great water-skiier, but I’m learning again after an eight year or so hiatus. My brother is quite good and Tony makes us all look foolish. After the sun went down, we celebrated America’s birthday with fireworks, as did numerous other residents around the water. It was a fine, fine way to start the visit to the cottage.

Aunt Jenean, Uncle Jack, Tony, and Katie all had to leave the next day after Uncle Kurt had left the day before. Uncle Kurt’s boys Ben and Sam got to stay behind with us, and they were absolutely thrilled. The weather cooled a bit, but we all found a way to have fun.

We woke up on the 5th to thunderstorms and ugly clouds and cool temps. We wouldn’t be going in the water for sure and our tee time looked to be in jeopardy. Papa, Andy, and I went to the golf course regardless and hoped the drizzle would stop. It did. Unfortunately, the course ate us alive anyway. I’d golfed the front nine before and it was manageable. However, the back nine was new to me, much more difficult, and made us all look ridiculous. We decided to donate the score card to the kindling pile. The rest of the day was spent wishing for the weather to clear (it didn’t) and reading. Ben and Sam were quite restless, but we kept them entertained.

The 6th’s weather wasn’t much better. Fortunately, the rain went away quickly and it was merely cool and windy. Again, Andy, Papa, and I headed to the golf course (a different one this time) to knock balls around. The sun stayed out the entire 18 and it steadily warmed up through the day. When we got back to the cottage, Andy and I talked Ben into swimming, but none of us stayed out long in the cold breeze.

After eating that evening, the wind died down, the sun kept shining, the lake calmed down, and we went water-skiing again. Gliding over the crystal-clear water behind a boat was a glorious way to wrap up the day. Aunt Roxanne, Ben and Sam’s mom, came up to get her boys that evening. She’s due to have her third son within the month, so she rested for the night and left the next morning.

Andy and I decided we were going to leave the evening of the 7th and drive through the night to maximize our time on the lake. The weather was incredible, so we water-skiied both before and after lunch. A fast-improving two-planker, I decided I’d try dropping a ski and learn to slalom. Three failed attempts early in the day and two more later in the day had me quite frustrated. I decided to just do one more trip around the lake on two skis and call it a day.

Not being one to back down from a challenge, I decided to try dropping a ski one last time. It worked! I was skiing on one ski! Unfortunately, by this point my arms, legs, and back were worn out and I only made it about a third of the way around the lake before sending the boat for home. It was well worth it and I’d been sufficiently bitten by the water-skiing bug. I need to ski more���much more. Good thing I live in the state of 10,000 lakes.

We left after a fantastic steak and potatoes dinner. Mom is going to stay in Michigan with her family through the end of July, so we had to say our goodbyes. Twelve hours later, Andy and I were safe and sound in St. Cloud at my apartment. It was a fantastic trip of which I enjoyed every last minute. I got to see all sorts of family for the first time in years, I got to spend several days at my own personal heaven on earth, and I’m rested, refreshed, sunburned and ready for my first day at a new job tomorrow. Ahhh….

Filed under: ramblings

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3 Responses to “A Week With Family”

  1. 1max sayeth:

    26th October, 2005 at 8:19pm

    High time for an update, don’t you think?

  2. 2max sayeth:

    27th January, 2006 at 11:01pm

    Seriously, man. July? Even I have updated since then, and my site’s not even up right now.

  3. 3Roger Pautz sayeth:

    13th February, 2006 at 9:40pm

    Hi Joel,
    I looked at your paintings and like them very much. There’s another artist that you might like to meet from ECLC — Lynn Bollman — who teaches at Augsburg. He does large, detailed silver point drawings of tree trunks, bark, driftwood etc. They remind me of your fingerprint series.
    Keep painting! Roger