Chicago family learns to appreciate what’s right in front of them

A couple times a year we take a family road trip to upper Michigan. Some people may wonder, “Why Michigan?”

Well, as Tim Allen in the Pure Michigan radio ads states, it is something unique. We love our 6-8 hour road trips up North. The view, the scenery, the way of life, a.k.a. M-22. Some of you may have seen those bumper stickers with M-22 on them. It is like saying I94. Yup, the actual interstate road. So, a couple geniuses back in 2003 used the road symbol M-22 on a t-shirt and the rest is history.

An excerpt from their website:

M-22 is not just a road; it is a way of life.

Founded by kiteboarders in search of epic wind and waves, M-22 was created to express a common passion for Northern Michigan. However, M-22 shares this passion beyond Michigan’s borders. It is marked by the simplicity and appreciation for natural wonders such as bays, beaches and bonfires, dunes and vineyards, cottages, friends and family everywhere.

Yeah, that’s one of our little ones last summer in his M-22 gear waiting for daddy to finish up the M-22 challenge.

Anyhoo, luckily we fell in love with this “way of life” long before 2003, when the hype of M-22 began. We make the voyage up every year. Sometimes, a couple of  times a year. But, for the first time, we headed up North during the middle of summer for July 4th. Besides more crowds than what we are use to, we spent time with our friends (a.k.a. townies), grabbed some Tandem Cider (every night at Arts), enjoyed the Dunes with the kids, had killer sandwiches at Market 22, and basically ended up just laying out on the shoreline beaches with our three rugrats.

There is something amazingly breathtaking, relaxing and serene about being on the beaches of Upper Michigan. Maybe it’s the clean lake water, the hill top views, the sand between your toes or watching the kids jump off the pier. We wonder what it is that draws us back year after year, but, it was this past week that we came to a great realization.

As the kids were saying goodbye to the beach on our last day, my husband and I looked at each other, and realized, ‘Wait, our home town of Wilmette, IL is a beach town.’ We live in a beach town. Now, granted, the water and the scenery is not comparable and there is chance that the water might be closed due to high e-coli levels (eek!). But, we need to take advantage of what is in our backyard.

Now, I am a mom that takes my three kiddos to the pool or beach everyday after camp, schedules permitting, but we always make the beach an ordeal. You know what I mean — beach chairs, toys and a car load of stuff. Why not be the way we were in Michigan when we headed to the beach everyday and all we had was our swim shorts and towel. Simply just sit yourself down and leave the rest to the imagination!!

So, all you Chicagoans, guess what?! We live in a beach town. You know, like those people in California, Florida or upper Michigan. So grab your kid, grab a towel and make it a promise to head on over to the shore 2-4 times a week. It’s cheaper than flying to Florida.

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