Only Two Weeks of Winter Left!

A Light Dusting of Family Fun in Northern Michigan

Fresh off of a snow day, we planned a quick getaway to scratch all our winter itches before the snowy season melts away.  Our big guy has taken a liking to snowboarding.  (A hobby not as conducive to NWI living…unless we just haven’t figured it out yet!)  Since we knew we would have some traveling to do to get to a lodge, we reached out to some outdoorsy buddies and planned to make a weekend out of it.  To our delight, these particular buddies just bought a home in Boyne City, the ideal city in Michigan for skiboarding. (Skiboarding = one kid that skis + one kid that snowboards.) 

Mission: Snowy paradise. Accomplished!

With the promise of “wow” slopes, warm friends and winter wonder ahead – we began our 6 hour journey from Northwest Indiana.  We left in the aftermath of one snowstorm and, in true “planned adventure” form, the snow storm joined us on the very remote and very rural unknown roads about an hour or so away from our destination.  We had a nice stop at a cozy little Mediterranean joint. 

When available, we try to introduce the kiddos to new foods and immerse ourselves in culturally diverse experiences as often as possible.  The smiling group of dark bearded gentlemen sipping from ornate shiny silver teacups with their feet drawn up immersed in their afternoon siesta was the right welcome for our #dinnergoals.  Nawal’s Mediterranean Grille, Trip Advisors #1 choice was for both our palettes and our bellies. 

Chicken on a stick + rice? Okay!

With full bellies, we headed back into the snow scaries to visually “warp speed” ourselves…at a very slow and safe pace…to our destination.  It’s not enough to have complete lack of vision, this quasi-fatalistic mom person had to keep it together while bypassing “Deadman’s Hill” without knowing where the road was…or when we’d encounter said hill…and in what living state we would all be in after we did.  Not exactly what we had in mind when we said “adventure.”

We wanted snow….

We arrived at the “Hilltop Hideaway” about 20 minutes before our friends.  Not surprisingly, the home was indeed both on a hill…and hiding.  With a thick dump of snow covering the drive we hoped was leading to our weekend abode, we put the car in “deep snow mode” and attempted our way up.  Our buddies may or may not have warned us that it was probably best to park at the bottom and sled drag the belongings up.  Feeling lazy, we gave it an unsuccessful try then white-knuckle slid backwards down to the place where we should have just parked in the first place…d’oh! 

I sure hope we are at the right spot!

The Hairy One mentioned the home was only quasi-furnished and a work in progress so I had my expectations set for card tables and air mattresses.  Boy, was I wrong.  And, happy to be so!  This spacious home consisted of three furnished bedrooms and 2 baths on the top floor, an oh so charming woodsy cabin open-concept living area with 360° views of trees, the nature preserve and the lake. 

Plenty of secret spots to sneak in some yoga…or nap, whatever works for you!

For added awesomeness, there was a bottom floor with an enormous playspace, bunk room and plenty more bathrooms throughout.  It is a wooded, wilderness wonder for families! 


I would have slept like a baby on night one if the conversations before bed weren’t so enjoyable and if my excitement for the day ahead of skiing would have waned…alas, I didn’t sleep.  It didn’t matter.  The morning was slow.  The slopes were near and our crew eventually made it out the door like stuffed sacks of snow zombies covered head to toe and sweating hard before any actual physical activity began.  Even though Boyne Mountain was only a handful of minutes away – we ventured a bit further north to Nub’s Nob Ski Area & Resort

Planning a trip on a “holiday” weekend (President’s Day) allowed us added time for travel…which was needed because everyone and their mother, brother and neighbor decided to go skiing.  The line appeared daunting but actually moved pretty quickly.  Once we were suited up, we headed straight for the bunny hills to get our ski legs before attempting anything remotely brave or athletic.  

My little buddy and I heading up the “magic carpet.” Which is a delightful addition to the ski slope for those of us used to the mitten ripping ropes!

The rest of the day somehow moved so slow and so fast at the same time.  The runs were long.  Even though the place was full, it felt like you had it all to yourself when you took a turn onto the seemingly isolated wooded paths.  As soon as we “conquered” a hill – we (by “we” – the kids) were ready for the next challenge.  “Steep hills?”  Sure.  “Long runs?”  Why not!  “Stunt hills?”  Ah! (God, no!)  Let’s do it!

We don’t mess around with the cold!

 Pretty sure the tiny ones only had tiny crashes.  This mama on the other hand followed the impulsive, feisty one on skis onto the icey hill of death and fought her best through the long, wide “s” formations until she tumbled feet overhead then slid nearly to the bottom of the hill. 

As luck would have it, all 3 family members of mine happened to check in on my progress and were able to witness my colossal mess.  Bonus?…  I am up for most things.  Will I be attempting that hill again anytime soon?  No. No I will not.  Okay, fine I will.  But ONLY if the ice is melted.  We found our friends amongst the throngs of people as we toasted our numb toes and fed our grumbling bellies before heading home. 

This is what “smile” looks like when your toes are frozen!

 We played in the snow and could have rested by the fire if we had any ambition left after our day of full throttle fun…but we didn’t.  We did, however, kick our feet up and enjoy the finest things there are to enjoy – quality time with new friends and our little family. Sleeping was not a problem on night two. 

This smile = happy to be out of ski boots and back into our cozy winter boots. Ahhh!

Sunday is for sanctuary at the Avalanche Preserve.  Neighboring families greased up their sleds and hit the mammoth hill.  The sun was out, our pants were still thick.  The hike to the top of the hill was much longer without the lift but the place where adventure meets rest.

  That place was on point.  The big guy grabbed his plastic snowboard, the little guy grabbed his new buddy and a sled and we all marched against the slick until we found a steady campout near the trees not totally up the hill…but far enough from the bottom where all rides were consistently super speedy.  So much so that this mom caught significant air on the snow-camouflaged man-made mogul as she attempted to show her sons how it’s done.  Does anyone else see a pattern here?

Not featured: the man made ramps providing an abundance of humor from this vantage point.

With tailbones bruised from sledding and thighs tight from skiing, we hiked up the back of the hill to the tippity top to take in the views.  When awe is available, we aim to find it!  This journey was not without encouragement and clever footing as the sun and cold combo was forming some unforeseen obstacles (ice slopes instead where the stairs should be) throughout our quest. 

Does anyone else see stairs here? I didn’t think so!

It was worth it.  We “awed,” and rested…then did the unthinkable and slid from the tippity top with utmost trepidation.  Because we have our wits about it.  And our wits were saying…this might be unwise.  We did it anyway. 

It worked and it was worth it! The Avalanche Preserve was a perfect stop for winter recreation all in one.  Sledding, snowshoeing…even ice skating.  Don’t worry if you don’t have all these things in your car, they offer free rentals for a tip. 

Our pals left on Sunday evening and we hit the town.  Chocolate shops, ice sculptures, breweries. One night of town hitting is all we desired but the plan was to go big then go home.  We had some dessert before dinner…then some dessert after dinner. 

This fountain is frozen each winter which make for a spectacular and very slippery piece of art.

Saw the sights.  Walked the walks and headed back to our cozy little hilltop well-stuffed and ready for cozy pj’s and a family movie.  Some cozy home traditions really travel well. We saved up our energy for all the plane gawking and flying we knew was ahead.

Dessert before dinner & a ROOT beer menu… Don’t worry, they fell asleep…eventually!

The Air Zoo is one of those places that is just far enough away to not want to travel from home…but to hit up if you happen to be near.  It was on our path and our big guy LOVES airplanes…and history, it was a must do.  The museum has many things you would expect. And, a plethora of things we didn’t.

Iron Man…for instance.

Unfortunately, the flight simulators were a temporary Covid casualty.  The rides were up and running.  The exhibits were vast and so much more than just airplanes.

Carnival rides anyone? Yes…my kids are okay with staying young…and so am I!

We may have purchased a membership for $100.  Not because we plan on driving 3 hours there and back to spend the day…even though we might.  It was quite a steal for the plethora of ASTC (Association of Science and Technology Centers) museums we aim to visit this year. 

We finished with a bite to eat.   Invigorated from learning and not wanting to get out of the car because our audiobook was riveting…  We traveled our last three hours then found our way back to the comfort of our own home with some new skills and new knowledge under our belt.

And, with a new toy from the gift shop. Special times allow special splurges.

As to be expected, it was a little bit of a bummer having to return to work and school after our lovely adventurous weekend with friends & family, but I suppose we wouldn’t enjoy these little weekend getaways as much without the work to balance out the play…I suppose…

Our vote is all day, everyday PLAY! (And, go ladies!)

Published by dirtonkids

Let's play!

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