Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Adventures in Higginsland

On Jan. 22nd, we packed up the family and headed to Higgins Lake for a fun-filled weekend with my sister-in-law, Kelley; brother-in-law Kyle; and nephew Parker at their family cabin. And when I say "cabin", I mean beautiful abode that knocked our socks off. Just beautiful! (In hindsight, I really should've taken photos of the cabin itself. Darn!)

Marc's mom & dad, Ron & Carol, met us there on Friday so we could celebrate a whole "grouping" of recent birthdays. We had a really nice meal, played cards, had a lot of laughs, and called it a night.

The next morning, when Marc woke up at the crack of dawn (I really need to explain this whole "vacation" thing to him...), he hurried back in the bedroom and told me if I wanted a cool sunrise photo, I'd better go and look out the window.

Well, that was enough to rouse my curiousity, so I peeled myself out from beneath the warm blankets to see what the fuss was all about.

The cabin sits right on Higgins Lake, so you can literally walk out the door and set your foot on the frozen lake. It's a big hot spot for ice fisherman, just as Houghton Lake is. When I looked out the window and witnessed the most beautiful sunrise reflecting on this seemingly endless frozen body of water, I knew immediately what Marc was talking about.

I think in order to appreciate just how fast the sun actually rises and sets, you have to try to photograph it. Because once the sun starts to rise up or fall, you really only have a few minutes to get what you need. Knowing this, I quickly slid on my big 'ol winter boots and coat, grabbed my camera, and shot outside with my hair sticking up in every possible direction.

Had I known I was going to get this opportunity, I would've brought my tripod. But alas, the sledding gear, birthday gifts, etc. took precedence over my photography gear, so I had to do the best with what I had, which was my 50mm 1.8 and the two hands God gave me.

You know... it's really QUITE cold when you're standing at the edge of a lake before sunrise in January. Imagine that! So, my shivering got in the way of what could've been some great shots. But I did end up with this semi-decent photo

and even sucked it up and stayed out for a few more captures.

I know this place must be really wonderful in the warmer months, but even in the winter it's just so peaceful and absolutely breathtaking. Although I was freezing my biscuits off... it was well worth the view.

After everyone was awake and received a bellyful of Kyle's delicious pancakes, we decided it might be fun to take the kids sledding. So we bundled everyone up, unbundled some to use the bathroom, then rebundled them, and headed out to what Kyle jokingly (or so I THOUGHT...) referred to as "Suicide Hill".

"Suicide Hill" is comprised of a very wide, long, sloping hill that leads into a patch of forest. Below is not the greatest photo and doesn't do it justice,

but I shot it as I was sliding slowly down the icy slope on my backside. The hill was pretty slippery, but we didn't think much of it and were looking forward to some nice rides.

Being the good daddy he is, Marc borrowed Parker's inflatable sled and prepared to take Liz for her first REAL sled ride. As Marc settled onto the big raft and turned to grab Liz, the sled began to take off on its own. Marc quickly threw Liz onto his lap, and I managed to fire off this one shot before they took off like a bolt of lightening.

I kid you not, they may have broken some speed limits plummeting down Suicide Hill. Every time we thought they were going to stop...they just, you know... kept on going! Which sent Kelley and me into uproarious fits of laughter.

Little did I know, Marc was beginning to get worried, as the sled wasn't slowing down much and they were getting close to the forest. He later told me he was mentally preparing himself to toss Liz off the sled before they hit a tree! Luckily, they came to a stop before someone was injured.

It was then my turn to take Miss Princess for a ride. I decided I'd rather not end up in the next county as Marc did, so we started about halfway down on the other side of the hill. Parker was ready to have his sled back, but since I'm his favorite Aunt :) and he loves "Lizzy", he let it slide. Pun intended.

I sank myself into the big round sled, and before I could get into a good position, Marc plunked Liz on top of me so that we were sort of belly-to-belly and her little rosy-cheeked face was looking up at me.

Before I knew it, we were zipping down that hill at a rate of speed much higher than my comfort level. It didn't take long to me to bust into absolute panic mode. You see, I'm not a "speed" person. I don't like roller coasters, and I'm not much for water slides. In fact, sometimes I even get a little scared sliding down the curly slide at the playground with Liz on my lap. Indeed, I am a wimp.

As I said, I started to panic. With me sunk into the middle of the sled and Liz on top of me, I couldn't see a thing! For all I knew, we were going to hit a tree. So I tried to shift my weight ever-so-slightly to put me in a better position. Well, that back fired and made us zing down the hill at record speed... completely backward. All I could think of is... "We're going to DIIIIIIIIIIIIIIE!" No, really... my life flashed before my eyes and I had the same thought as Marc, of tossing Liz aside so she wouldn't face greater injury. When you're in one of those innertube-like inflatable sleds, you can't even reach your feet down to slow your pace. You're completely at the mercy of the never-ending hill and ice as slick as motor oil.

Finally, just as I was ready to say my final goodbyes to Liz, we ended up in a patch of thorny sticks that stopped us in our tracks. As I lay there, panting, thanking God for saving my sorry rear, I looked down at Liz and was surprised to see her little SMILING face looking back at me. "WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW, Mama!" she beamed, "You did that right! I didn't get snow in my face!" Apparently she was virtually clueless as to our near-death experience, and I wasn't about to fill her in.

To add insult to near-injury, now I had a 1/2 mile trek uphill with a three foot tall person in tow. By the time we neared the top, Liz was on my back and I was hurting from earlobe to toe. I handed Parker back his sled, which had suffered a lashing when we landed in the sticks. It was now dangling from my arm like a wet noodle and flopping in the wind. I felt pretty sheepish and, without looking him in the eye, told Parker Uncle Marc would patch it for him. So much for "favorite Aunt".

As I was still struggling to catch my breath, I was also wondering why I hadn't had any help getting the deflated raft and tired three-year-old up the hill. At that point, I turned to find Marc helping a teary-eyed Logan up the hill. Apparently he'd done some Olympic Trick Sledding himself and had been tossed off and hit his head on a rock! We decided then to call it a day... and keep an eye on him for a concussion.

Later, Kelley relayed to me that Kyle had asked her, "Didn't they see the kids' hill on the other side?" Ummmmmmmmmmmmm no. Nope. We didn't. But thanks for the fun! :) ha ha

By the time we arrived back to the cabin, Logan was still consious and feeling better, so Kelley, Liz, Logan and I thought we'd check out the frozen lake. Liz especially thought it was pretty sweet to be standing on ice.

Mom thought it was pretty sweet to try to bounce flash off of the snow-covered ice. :)

After that, it was hot cocoa time.

Later, we had a wonderful dinner, drank some wine, played cards again, shared many more laughs, and retired for the evening.

The next day it was time to head home (BOOOOO!), even though we were having such a blast. We decided before we ended our fun weekend, we should take the kids bowling first. What a great time we all had there! Here are a few photos from the day.

I can't thank Kyle, Kelley, and Parker enough for the GREAT weekend. We really had the best time and have so many great memories. I am hoping we'll make it a habit of meeting up there over the course of the year. In fact, Kelley and I are planning a girls' retreat in approx. twelve days! (Who's counting?) :)

"Those that say you can't take it with you never saw a car packed for a vacation trip." ~Author Unknown


Deb said...

Sounds like a great time!!! ♥ the sunrise photos

kelleykeeley said...

My sister-in-law is THE BEST. Thank you for the beautiful blog and the exquisite photos. Our sincere gratitude for all you and Marc did to make the weekend a success and so much fun! Cocoa Lattes rock! Here's to creating many more cabin memories! TWO MORE WEEKS UNTIL "GIRLS' RETREAT"!!

~ dswv ~ said...

What a great time! I enjoyed reading this.
Glad you didn't get killed. lol