Michigan: Double Rainbow

It’s a sort of summer rite of passage now–a quiet drive through hidden back roads of northern Michigan.  Last year, I drove it alone; this year, with three sleeping babies in the back seat.  I had forgotten the cord to connect my phone to the car radio, so instead I frustratingly dialed through too many stations of static to find one that finally came through–the strangest hodge podge of tunes appealing to a range of music tastes.  Willy Nelson.  Lionel Ritchie.  Celine Dion. 

I made three attempts to conquer the one measly bar of service on my phone, dialing Brett over and over until finally, the call went through. 

“The kids are all sleeping, I’m driving and it’s gorgeous.  Blue skies, winding roads, tall trees and not a car in sight,” I shared. Because sharing is what I do when good flows like river currents.  I want to take pictures of it, describe it, store it, scoop it up in community cups and pass them along to anyone else who might like a sip.

The sky is blue.  Blue, I tell you.  Beautiful freaking blue.  Drink it up. 

Here’s what I’m learning:  If I offer a cup of Holy Beautiful Sky to someone and they smile and turn it down?  Be thou not shocked and offended.  It’s okay.  You’re good.  They’re good. 

Oh Metaphor, how I love thee.

I will stop now before I spin uncontrollably down a rabbit hole of confusing metaphor.  For the record, it was going to involve color blindness, the beauty of gray walls and something about that big stack of paint chips Sherwin Williams sometimes lets you borrow.  But it was pushing Double Rainbow.  See, that’s the danger for us color-loving sharin’ folks.  Sometimes, we just sound crazy.  Or maybe we are.  If so, I’ll take crazy for $500, Alex.

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If you’re still reading, what’s not crazy is planning a visit to the Great Lakes State whose true gems lie outside of the Motor City.  Go North.  Find a lake–you’ll have no trouble.  Gather family. 


The Last of our Michigan Summer Adventure:

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My brother helped Lainey find two large Petoskey stones hidden along the edge of the lake.  We had looked for them several times on last year’s trip and resorted to buying a few polished ones from a Traverse City rock shop.  So this year, imagine my double rainbow excitement when we scoured two ourselves–a true Michigan treasure.

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Thus began the rock adventures, my brother and Lainey side by side, rifling through heaps of worthless pebbles in search of the rare Petoskey.  She told me Petoskeys were her favorite rock “in the whole wide world” and was determined to find more which never happened, making our two even more special.

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Apparently a heat wave has swept into Michigan this week, but while we were there, it was mild and cool and a nice change from our current humid swelter.  We wore everything from bathing suits and flip-flops during hot slivers of warm afternoons to thick sweatshirts and crocheted hats on chilly morning walks outside.

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I flipped my kayak one night getting in. Went neck deep in cold mosquito-covered water but chose to climb back in and paddle out, ignoring my shivers because the sky was so pretty, the moon just right and I didn’t want to miss that perfect window of time when the sun and the moon changed shift.  Out on the water, it was still and magical.  Later I returned to a warm shower and our evening bonfire ritual.  Stories. Laughing. S’mores.

Another night, we took our bonfire stories to the middle of the dirt road where we laid all lined up, looking up at the sky, scanning for shooting stars.  Someone suggested we’d see them clearer out by the lake, so we walked down to the dock, lining up again along the skinny wood platform, holding hands for security and sshhh-ing each other lest we disturb the other cottages.  Lake, sky, stars, cousins.  It felt like summer camp right down to the ghost stories and the giggling and the worrying that we’d get in trouble.

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We gradually said good-bye to uncle and aunts, cousins and second cousins until it was just me and the kids and my dad ready to make the three hour drive from the cottage back to his home.  With plans to follow him, I packed up the suitcases, buckled the kids in the car and waited while he did the final run-through and locked things up. 

“You ready?” he finally asked.

“I guess.”  I hesitated.  I hate when good things come to an end.

I could tell he was on the verge of tears–we are Crydermans after all–and so I hurried along the closure we were avoiding.  “Let’s go.  Kids are happy.  Don’t know how long that will last.  It’s been real.”

We pulled away with two honks, and I returned to the hodge podge music station to find Billy Joel.  Followed by Mariah Carey. 

At the halfway point, we had dinner at Cracker Barrel.  Because a vacation without Cracker Barrel just isn’t right.


Our last day Michigan adventures included Rochester and Romeo, Michigan–the Paint Creek Trail and downtown Main Street in Rochester (along with their public library–amazing!) and Blake Farms and antique shopping in Romeo.

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I knew I wanted the girls to do some sort of Michigan picking while we were there–peas, blueberries, strawberries, trash in the I-75 median. I kid.

The strawberry fields at Blake Farms had just opened for U-Pick a few days prior–perfect timing–and the girls loved the low easy access rows of plants, a bit different from the oranges that hang higher in our Florida groves.

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Nella maneuvered through plant rows like a professional, bending over and brushing broad leaves aside to find whatever berries revealed themselves. She wasted no time to transfer them to our cardboard flat but rather directed them straight to her mouth.

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Lainey found a ladybug which–if I recall–happened last time we were at this same farm four years ago.

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I loved the cool weather and didn’t mind at all the fact that my thighs were aching from squatting to pluck berries or that the wood soles of my clogs were stained with red juice. I was sidetracked by a summer bucketlist being fulfilled.

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Fifteen quarts of strawberries later, we left the farm and ended the evening downtown Romeo where we found a complete gem of an antique mall in an old bank. Three stories high and so generously stocked with such an array of treasures, I could have spent days perusing the goods. All tucked away and displayed in various rooms and hidden hallways were linens, dishes, furniture, books, jewelry, records, postcards, clothes, hats–so many hats! Pillbox, cloche, fancy floppy hats with flowers and feathers and bows.  After searching several other shops for the perfect gift for her friend Aleena, Lainey decided she wanted to bring her home some dress-up gloves and a fancy hat. 

She settled on powder blue with a veil for herself and a pillbox hat with red silk roses for her friend. The sweet grandmas who rang up our purchase made big over the hats as we left. “Oh honey!” they excaimed to Lainey, “you’re going to be the talk of the town!”

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On the last day of our trip, Lainey asked, “You mean you used to live here before you lived in Florida?”

“Yes,” I answered. “Before you were born. Before I even met Daddy.”

“Why did you move to Florida?” she continued.

Hmmm–an opportunity to instill adventure, fearlessness, determination, I thought, even though “because I was depressed and had no other options” was more likely the answer.  Instead, I came back with an impressive “because I wanted to be a teacher and I found a job in Florida. And I thought it would be a fun adventure living by the beach and meeting new people and learning new things.”

Lainey took only a moment of processing that before she sweetly offered, “Mom, if you never moved to Florida, you could have just waited for us to come to you.”

And that, my friends, is what I like to call a Double Rainbow.

Four days now back in Florida, it is hot, it is humid, and it is our home.  I am steadfast on searching out some more wonder this summer for fear that Michigan was so good, I might have used up some reserves for the rest of this season.

There is more fun to be had, more people to enjoy.  I am sure of it.  Sometimes, rainbows come in twos.

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…and a little Michigan phone dump favorites before I finally, reluctantly, move on.

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Monday. Clean Slate. Summer Bucketlist ready.


Leave a Comment
  1. I’ve never had the desire to go to Michigan until looking at these amazing pictures :)

  2. Love what Lainey said about them coming to you. 😉 so glad you had that Michigan family time. I’m meeting up with all 5 of my siblings at a lake on the 4th!! Can’t wait. And I’m sure there’s lots more loveliness in store for your family this summer. xoxo

  3. You have the best vacations. Love Laineys thoughts.

  4. I rarely comment, but reading your blog makes me see things in a whole new perspective :)

  5. Don’t forget – Florida has strawberry picking, too!

  6. We just got back late last night from our vacation to Petoskey, MI. I’m suffering from a terrible case of post vacation blues and loved this post. Michigan was pure magic and we can’t wait to go back again.

  7. happy, happy, HAPPY!…love your posts, presh pics from the picking field…enjoy EVERY moment…you’ll NEVER regret documenting it…I miss those ‘little’ days. mine turned 21 and i’m having to find a new way to enjoy life…love getting to peek in on yours! thanks for sharing 😉

  8. I grew up in Michigan (metro Detroit baby!). Two sets of grandparents had cabins on the AuSable River. The memories – the cousins – the campfires…tubing with freezing bottoms down the AuSable…building stick forts….wearing fern ‘hats’ to ward off mosquitos…walking down dirt roads with cicadas buzzing in our ears…I can close my eyes and be there in a minute.

    I’ve lived in Australia for 7 years. Next year, our family – myself, my Australian husband, and our two Australican little boys – are moving back to Michigan. It’s like some kind of dream! I cannot wait to create Michigan memories with my little boys.

    Thanks for sharing your beautiful trip!

  9. Absolutely flipping LOVE the pictures! Those girls are going to have such wonderful memories of summer Michigan vacations! They are growing like crazy! Lainey – such a great big sister; Nella – getting cuter every time I see a picture of her! And Dash – doesn’t look like a “baby” anymore – heading into toddler-dom! Enjoy your summer! We are here in Naples enjoying a few weeks at the beach before we return to NE Ohio!

  10. Beautiful photos Kelle, those strawberries look so fresh and delicious!

  11. Ahhh! I wish I saw you in my home town of Rochester. I have three children that are similar in ages only my youngest has DS. I came to see you at a garden center last year but for some reason I became all emotional and couldn’t wait in line to say “hi.” Glad you had a good time! Our library is the best. :)

  12. You are giving your children the most magical childhood. Something most only dream about. You have taken all of us along with you on your Michigan adventure through your words and beautiful photos…thank you for that.

    P.S. Poppa is a treasure..how lucky the kids are to have him in their life!

  13. my family used to vacation ‘up north’ in michigan when i was a kid so these pictures make my soul feel home. my dad and i used to hunt and hunt and hunt for petosky stones in the water and oh the sweet thrill when we found one and didn’t have to go to town defeated to buy one :-)

  14. I will be the first to say that your metaphor comes across like there is problems in your marriage.

    While I respect your right to share with the world wide web, why throw random hints? Spill it, becomes it seems you obviously want to tell.

  15. Boston just had a double rainbow last week! All the way across the sky : ) It really was incredible. Everybody was out on the street with their phones snapping pics and smiling at each other. I loved it!

  16. Is everything okay? You don’t seem your usual cheerful upbeat self. We haven’t seen Brett lately. Maybe a break from the blog would help. Go hang with Heidi and chill for a couple of weeks!

  17. ♥ the pics!

  18. Kelle….
    I am currently fighting a head cold right now, and cannot work on my Life Story, so…. I’m commenting on Blogs!! 😉
    “On the last day of our trip, Lainey asked, ‘You mean you used to live here before you lived in Florida?’ ‘Yes,’ I answered. ‘Before you were born. Before I even met Daddy.’ ‘Why did you move to Florida?’ she continued. Hmmm–an opportunity to instill adventure, fearlessness, determination, I thought, even though ‘because I was depressed and had no other options’ was more likely the answer. Instead, I came back with an impressive ‘because I wanted to be a teacher and I found a job in Florida. And I thought it would be a fun adventure living by the beach and meeting new people and learning new things.’ Lainey took only a moment of processing that before she sweetly offered, ‘Mom, if you never moved to Florida, you could have just waited for us to come to you.’.” I love, love, love that story!! ;-D

  19. Taking the girls up there soon. Hope to experience that same Michigan magic;)

  20. I wasn’t even there with you, and yet, here I sit, in tears that it has ended. I have loved all the pictures and the bucketlisting and the memories you’ve been making with family.
    I, too, live away from family, and it feels as if the moments I am “home” (back here, with them) fly by faster than all the other moments the whole rest of the year.
    Before I know it, August will be here, and I will get on a plane (four planes, actually) with my three kids & husband and venture off, back to rural Alaska, packing with us all the memories of yet another awesome Washington summer. The lake, camping, the beach… So much fun, so many memories… and yet also not enough.
    Hugs as you return to daily life at “home” in Florida. I know it’s tough.

  21. We live In Rochester! 5 min north of downtown, across from the paint creek cider mill. Too funny!

  22. The metaphor…confusing :((. The pictures…lovely :)).

  23. beautiful pictures of your trip, makes me miss the midwest!

  24. I don’t like the days when I have to start work this early (6 am.), I could even say i hate these days.
    BUT, starting with a double rainbow has already kind of made my day pretty awesome. And it is still 6 am-ish. :)
    Thank you for this post :)

  25. As a native Michigander now living in the Northeast, I love reading your posts about your love for our beautiful home state. They make me want to walk around in a MichiganAwesome t-shirt all day (http://www.michiganawesome.org). Glad you enjoyed your trip!

  26. Headed “up north” to Frankfort, MI today and the car thermometer read 90 balmy degrees…Summer has officially arrived up north! Wishing you safe travels back to Florida ~ :)

  27. Michigan sounds like a gem. You and your children have so many deep memories of this place, this part of your life. We feel the same about Martha’s Vineyard.

    Dorothy said it the best “There’s no place like home.” Savor on, sister.

  28. It looks so peaceful! And I went strawberry picking last week too :)


  29. WOW! What a dream of a vacation.

  30. I love that Lainey knows that you belong together, and that she would have come to you if you had just waited in Michigan. : ) What love!!

  31. too bad you saw our library during the ugly renovation stage! Rochester is my town, would have been fun to ‘spot’ you. Glad you enjoyed your trip, I love Michigan too and can’t imagine leaving. Altho maybe someday I will follow my siblings out West so we can be together. We’ll see! Love your zest for life.

  32. Jealous! I now want a lake house! We had been thinking beach house, but I think lake house would be waaaaay more fun for all the seasons!

    Lucky you!!

  33. After spending time in the U.P. a few summers ago our family can’t wait to return! You have beautiful children and are creating amazing memories! Enjoy the rest of your summer and your remaining bucket list adventures!

  34. Major strawberries cravings right now!

  35. “Bliss Cottage” sounds like something I could really get into. And that first pic of Nella with the strawberries is too good.

    It’s been said a hundred times, but I’ll say it again – I never wanted to visit Michigan until now. Their tourism department owes you. 😉

  36. It certainly seems as though you wish to move back to Michigan and you definitely make a point of showing how happy you are without your husband around. Isn’t he quite ill? I hope someone was there to help him in your absence. I also hope he at least got to speak with the kids on the phone on Father’s Day. I guess I don’t understand the timing of your trip.

    Regardless, I wish you all the best. Looks like a lovely vacation.

  37. “I want to take pictures of it, describe it, store it, scoop it up in community cups and pass them along to anyone else who might like a sip.”

    Kelle, this reminded me of one of my all-time favorite passages by C.S. Lewis from ‘The Weight of Glory’. I think you will appreciate it because of what you said (above).

    “We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words—to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.”

  38. Oh, Kelle, thank you so much. I just loved this post. Your generosity is so inspiring. Happy, happy summer. Phyl

  39. Love your post about the last parts of your trip.

    We spent Thursday at Blake’s, too – my 3 year old and I had so much fun picking strawberries. And we were in Rochester on Friday for a playdate at a park with new friends…I recognized the sign on the bike in your photo from Catching Fireflies. One of my favorite shops :)

    I just wrote about our trip to Blake’s (and Lansing, too!)and shared some pictures if you’re interested…Michigan really IS a beautiful state.


  40. I just love this. We leave next week for our annual Michigan vacation. We don’t go past mid-Michigan, where my dad lives, but I’ve always wanted to go north for the week.

  41. ok…wow!
    yay for double rainbows!

  42. I thought you were a Southeastern MI girl. You can just tell. :) And yes, we have heat and humidity this week and it’s wonderful! After the cold of the winter, it’s finally summer! I saw my first firefly and my 2 year old played in the sprinkler last night. Love those memories. Glad you had a nice visit with your family.

  43. I LOVE hearing about your MI vacations!!! It’s fun to be able to relate….My family just spent our first weekend camping in Petoskey! LOVE livin’ in MI!! :)

  44. Your Michigan pictures were AMAZING on Instagram!!! Beautiful!

  45. I finally finished reading your entire blog yesterday :-) You are such a wonderful and inspirational person. I hope I can be as wonderful a mama as you some day. I feel I grow and learn so much just from reading your blog. Thank you <3 Melissa

  46. It looks fabulous, and you make it sound so. I love Lainey’s comment.

  47. Double rainbow indeed! That Lainey girl sure is insightful. Thank you for sharing your wonderful vacation.

  48. I love your Michigan posts! I am one day hoping to run into you :) I live in Bloomfield Hills and have a condo in Bonita Bay that we spend a lot of time at in the winter. It is so nice for the kids to be able to experience such different yet beautiful places. And I am in complete agreement that there is nothing like Northern Michigan, or really anywhere along Lake Michigan. True Beauty. I’m glad you enjoyed your trip! And I love love love all of the beautiful pictures :)

  49. Beautiful reflection & as always lovely pics:)

    Thanks for sharing with us all.


  50. I am from Michigan as well. Born in Lansing, raised in Olivet. We moved to the state of Wyoming last summer (Michiganders know why I had to specify the STATE of Wyoming lol). We’ve been back to Michigan twice since then. I miss it SO much. This post just made me so homesick. But thank you. I love to see photos of my state =)

  51. Sigh. Thank you for posting all the pictures and adventures you had in Michigan. While the military has pulled my family and I to Japan for a few years, Michigan is where I grew up for 22 years and will always hold such a special place in my heart. I was home sick while reading your posts and seeing pictures on Instagram but at the same time, proud to be from such an amazing place. Thank you for bringing back s many wonderful memories.


  52. My husband and I are born in raised in MI and are originally from the west side but have been transplanted to Detroit after graduating from college. We are headed up north next week for the 4th. It’s truly my favorite place on earth. So magical and gorgeous. I have so many friends from the Detroit area who have never been and I can never understand how people who live in MI have never discovered that beautiful part of our state! Seeing your pictures makes me so excited to share my favorite spots with our little baby, Zoe :)

  53. You seem so unhappy. Unplug. Completely. Your daughters will have these memories whether you document them or not. I don’t think opening up your entire family to the world is helping it thrive! Not snarking, just a concerned reader.

  54. I am so happy that you are sharing the great lakes and your family with your kiddos. The landscape is candy for the eyes and family is fuel for their little souls! I absolutely love the photo of Nella sucking on the strawberry. I hope you choose that one to frame. It is so “sweet” on many different levels. I’m so happy that you had a safe trip home! Many blessings…

  55. beautiful pictures! It looks like a beautiful vacation!

  56. You should send this to michigan.org. It could be a Pure Michigan commercial! Lovely!

  57. That quote about sharing the good stuff? Ohmygosh, I love it. I feel that way as well. My husband gets those calls, then gets pulled to the computer to see the pictures, then looks at my phone for the video. Happened this week when my son learned to peel a hard boiled egg. GOOD STUFF. Being shared.

    I’m quoting you in my blog (hope that’s ok) and adding a link. And considering a tattoo. Kidding. maybe.

    Thanks! MI looks incredible.

  58. Love love love this post…it made me wax nostalgic for Michigan and I freakin’ live here 😉 We’re heading to our cottage in the UP next week and you just upped my excitement level even more!

  59. This post both made me smile and made me homesick. People often turn up their nose when I say I’m from Michigan. What good can possible come from there? I always tell them, “Oh get outside of the city and it’s the most beautiful place!” A truth you would never know by visiting the heartbreak that is Detroit.
    Last year I visited in September and the trees were right on the verge of bursting out the color show. This year I hope to go back in October, with just my oldest in tow, to see Michigan dressed up for fall. We live in Idaho, which is stunning in its own right, but in the fall, I miss Michigan’s color.

  60. I have lots of family that lives in Romeo! I have fond memories of vacations there in the summer. It’s where I learned how to drive a car–must flatter and straighter than my home area of Western PA!

  61. This post brings long lost memories back so close I can smell the warm berries in the u-pick fields, feel the breezes coming off the lake, and hear my brothers, sister, cousins voices calling me into the waves. My heart breaks a little as the blurred photos in my mind sharpen. These were some of the best years of my childhood, the farms, little towns, water everywhere, and even more family than water. Reading your Michigan trip posts reminds me how much of who I am, and what I do today is shaped by the first 10 years of my life growing up in small lake town Michigan. Thank you!

  62. I am so so blessed to live in this wonderful state. We have had some hard times, this state of mine but its turning around :)

  63. I moved to Michigan from California 7 years ago…and there is nothing quite as magical as “up north”…


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