For those of you who read this blog and haven’t been to Michigan before–the state itself is not a cesspool of urban decay (although, urban decay is awfully trendy now–in an “emo” kind of way). North of Ann Arbor and Detroit is a beautiful area of the state–of the country–that is a joy to visit and is completely accessible for a nice long weekend trip to just “get away”. Heightened by an awfully stressful start to 2012 and the need to do a family vacation with our little family unit….Lars, Bjorn and I set our sights on Glen Arbor, Michigan–a town off famous M-22 in the Leelanau Peninsula. It is a favorite of ours in all seasons, and since winter is relatively “off” season, we were able to get a really nice hotel room at the Homestead Resort for not much more than a song.
Preparing for the trip had both Lars and I vocalizing concerns that we would all be bored out of our minds. That Bjorn wouldn’t cooperate on any winter activities and we’d just be stuck in our hotel room watching “Rio” or “Cars 2” for the umpteenth time. Two days into the trip and I can fully confirm that Bjorn is his father’s son and has taken to winter activities in Northern Michigan just like a child named Bjorn SHOULD take to winter activities in Northern Michigan.
We started out trip on Friday–a day, might I add, that they were predicting we get 5 to 8 inches of snow in Ann Arbor and that the entire state would be covered in blue on the weather.com map. This only partially came to fruition–we did get snow, but then it got up to 38 degrees and all melted. It was very slushy and not excellent driving conditions–but it was nothing the 4-runner and Lars couldn’t handle with panache (….because what doesn’t Lars handle with panache? Oh. Everything. You’re right to be dubious there). We made it up to Glen Arbor around 6ish and checked into our lovely room with a lovely fireplace. Lovely–expectations were met.
On Saturday when the sun rose, we realized we were steps from the ski-lift. Truly–if your gauge is a toddler’s patience and you realize that Bjorn can walk to the ski lift in his ski boots from the door of our lovely fireplace wielding room–then you will know how close we were. Our plan of attack was to try a hike in the morning, let Bjorn nap, and then try skiing in the afternoon. Ambitious? Perhaps. But we are the Jensens! And this is winter! And we are Up North! …. and maybe we’re a little crackers.
Empire Bluffs was our first stop. A decent one mile hike through the snow covered woods to a beautiful view of Lake Michigan and the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes. We were armed with a sled, an applesauce packet, and some perserverence of the highest level. It was a little tenuous at first–Bjorn doesn’t always like riding in the sled (and would prefer if mom ride in the sled with him while daddy pulls….sorry, Lars!). He also does not like to walk in the snow all the time. Some of the time-just not ALL the time. So we negotiated and bargained our way through the ups and downs of the Empire Bluff Trail–Bjorn’s favorite part was when he could slide down an icy portion on his butt. We did finally make it to the end–and it was a beautiful stormy day with waves in Lake Michigan and steely gray sky contrasted with the white of Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes. Why describe it when you can see for yourself.
Bjorn's Personal Sherpa (aka, Dad)
The return trip seemed a lot shorter. Isn’t that always the case, no matter where you’re hiking? Bjorn was a champion. No, really. Lars and I were so proud of him for finishing his winter hike in the woods. He won’t be voted off the island any time soon.
Skiing was up next. Now THIS we truly had no idea how Bjorn would do but had let ourselves make our expectations truly small. At one point, we rationalized that even just getting him in his skis would be a small victory. Oh, that kid sure showed us what’s up. With Lars holding Bjorn in between his own skis they have gone down almost every single run at the resort (to be fair–it is a small resort–but it is PERFECT for the beginning skiier. Not crowded at all and some nice little green runs with beautiful views of Lake Michigan). You guys–he did two runs on the bunny hill and then was ready to go with daddy up the chairlift. His first time on the chairlift his ski fell off about five seconds in–and then his second ski fell off somewhere in the middle. Lars had to ski (while holding my thirty pound scando-baby-chubba-chunk) down the blue run and locate both skis before they could try in earnest. The next run was a much better success. I can’t tell you how proud of a mama I was watching my little guy bravely tackle something so new and foreign to him. Just watching him come down the mountain with such a big smile on his face—dare I say it was “precious”? Lars has gotten him skiing by himself a little bit. He is a natural–but anyone who’s seen Lars ski before will know that it had to be that way. Its in the genes.
Bjorn Conquers the Bunny Hill
We all had a well deserved burger and macaroni & cheese at Art’s Tavern that night and it was amazing. A-MAZING. There’s something about good food after a long day out and about in the snow. So gratifying.
On Sunday we just kept up with the skiing and Bjorn was as enthusiastic as ever. About two hours checked off in the morning and another two in the afternoon. It is safe to say he is his father’s son.
All photos of our trip can be found here.
We left back for Ann Arbor on Monday morning (not before we ate again at Art’s the night before. Sweet, delicious, burgers). Bjorn had seemed fine all morning–although he was a little bit whiny over the fact that we were leaving “Bjorn’s Cabin”. Somewhere in between Leland and Glen Arbor he threw up all over himself. Wut? Well–I guess we can say thanks for not doing it at the beginning of the trip–but we did have an awfully long car ride back to the southeast portion of the state with a car that semi-smelled like vomit. Lovely. We also ended up passing Santorum’s bus as we were traveling the day before the Michigan Republican Primary and Romney and Santorum were barnstorming in the state. Ugh. Evil.
Bjorn has since been diagnosed with pneumonia. To assuage our guilt, Lars and I did a thorough Google search on if we could have possibly harmed him by letting him ski in Glen Arbor and we came up with nothing ….We’re not doctors but we hope were not the cause of his illness via our parenting methods. If there’s anything I’ve learned about the immune systems of toddlers, its their their vulnerability is a moving target.
Now we’re just getting ready for Nonni’s big trip out to Michigan next Wednesday! Bjorn is so excited that Nonni is visiting from San Diego. He is especially excited that she gets to travel on a plane to get here.