Every other year my extended family (i.e., mom, brother, two sisters, and spouses) takes a vacation together. Last winter I’d organized a fall trip to Yellowstone, but then cancelled all of the reservations because Mammoth and the Lamar Valley, the two park attractions I most wanted to see, remained closed after the June floods. Instead of Wyoming, we decided to spend a week at my sister Diane’s cabin in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The purpose for our biennial vacations is to get everyone together, so the location doesn’t matter much. I’ve never been to Yellowstone and still want to get there, but everyone was happy with the backup plan. 

Manyu and I left La Crosse for the UP last Monday morning and arrived in Iron River, Michigan five hours later. In that period of time, my sister Kathy decided not to come because her cat may have to be put down. My mom and her husband Ron postponed their arrival until Thursday because Ron suddenly needed a minor medical procedure. Manyu and I expected seven people to be waiting for us at the cabin, but the number was four when we arrived. A good thing we hadn’t gone to Yellowstone.

As it turned out, staying at a cabin is more conducive to my style of recreation than visiting a major tourist attraction.  Rather than following a planned agenda and spending the entire day together, each of us found our own small pleasures and came together for meals. I fished with my brother-in-law. I hiked with Manyu and my mom, I paddled with my daughter when she and her boyfriend showed up for the weekend.

I am writing this blog entry before everyone else wakes up. As I look out the window and see the first light of day, the maple just outside the window is a quarter bright yellow and three fourths green. I chose the same week as the aborted Yellowstone trip for our UP outing in hopes of hitting the best fall colors. I was off by a week. 

Steven Simpson