For the second year in a row, our annual family fishing trip to Sandy Beach Lodge in Northwest Ontario was cancelled as Canada’s borders are closed.
The Hubby hadn’t missed an Ontario trip hooking Northern pike and having walleye shore lunches since 1966 — until the last two years. When I married into the Mangas family nearly 32 years ago, it became “our” family vacation, and the legacy has been passed down to our grown daughters and son-in-loves — except Jacob, who wed Phoebe the March of 2020 and hasn’t had the opportunity yet.
So we opted to rent a house on Lake Huron, just 3 1/2 miles east of Mackinaw City. Driving from Greenwood, Speedway, Indianapolis and Cincinnati, we met at the house that had plenty of room for us all. The great room, which had ceiling-to-floor windows looking across the strait at Mackinaw Island, was equipped with a 16-foot playcraft shuffleboard table, air hockey, foosball, PAC-MAN arcade table, popcorn machine, and 8-foot Olhausen pool table.
In addition to the beachfront, it came equipped with kayaks, paddleboards, and the 64 degree water of Lake Huron. A dip in the lake made us appreciate the fire pit that was continuously fed with firewood and surrounded by our seven camp chairs. The six cruiser bicycles came in handy for our ride into town for ice cream. The North Central State Trail, a 62-mile pathway we could hop on right across the street, is a packed crushed limestone trail and open to all non-motorized users including horses year-round (and snowmobiles from December to March). I liked it because it was flat and easy to ride.
Steve, Alex, Chloe and Michael, and Phoebe and Jacob all did what we do on most family vacations. We ate together, prayed, laughed, played games, sat and talked around the campfire, and fell asleep on the couch. We watched four simultaneous Fourth of July firework displays from four different cities on our little beach, until we decided we had donated a liter of blood to the mosquitoes.
Of course, the girls put together a 1,000-piece National Parks and Monuments puzzle. Alex had to leave for work a little early, but the Tillmans headed to Grand Island for the last two days — they were leaving their Jeep and kayaking to the island to camp. They also spent a day Jeeping on Drummond Island and experiencing their off-road-vehicle trails.
Phoebe and Jacob took us to Michigan’s largest state fish hatchery in Oden and they spent the last few days camping in the same area with the Tillmans but were taking their Hummer over on the ferry.
It was definitely different from fishing all day and eating shore lunches in our usual spots in Canada — but it was good. Vacation change is good for the soul.
Or as psychologist and author Anne Wilson Schaef noted, “Vacations mean a change of pace, a gentleness with ourselves, a time of rest and renewal, and a time to stretch ourselves and encounter new people, new lands, new ways and new options.”
Janet Hommel Mangas grew up on the east side of Greenwood. The Center Grove area resident and her husband are the parents of three daughters. Send comments to [email protected].