Vacation Home vs. Vacationing

Every year, my parents take my family and my siblings’ families to northern Michigan for a week of swimming, eating and cousins playing on the grass between the cottages. It’s a vacation we look forward to all year long, an experience my children cherish and talk about constantly.

This year, Dan and I thought we might go up a few days early and spend a little bit of time in some of our favorite hideaways of northern Michigan. Except almost every hotel is booked solid and the ones that have vacancies start at a pricey $360 a night plus tax – and that’s for the cheap hotels that I would never usually stay in.

Ok, so it’s late June and we are behind in our scheduling. There’s no opportunity for spontaneity when it comes to a vacation hotspot peak season. I get it. We need to plan ahead, think in advance.

One of the ideas we’ve batted around over the last four years is buying a cottage somewhere to become our family getaway. Would it be all the way Up North, or might we explore the west side of the state?

It’s been a back-burner idea until yesterday, when the thought of spending $700-800 for two nights at a motel just didn’t excite me.

And then there’s the idea that, if we buy a vacation home, that’s where we are vacationing pretty much all the time. If we invest that much in a getaway, we need to spend time there, right?

Over the last year and a half, I’ve been traveling a lot more than usual, and I’m loving it. I went to Bali with a client in March of 2012 and I’ve been to Colorado, California, New York (four times), Chicago, southern Illinois, Arizona and more and this amount of travel just inspires a wanderlust in me that needs feeding.

In the coming year, I’ll be spending time in Hamilton, Ontario; Madison, Wisconsin; Petoskey, Michigan; San Diego (twice!); northern India and a whole host of places I haven’t even begun to book on my national speaking tour for The Flavors of Faith: Holy Breads and for my talks on relationships and storytelling to build business.

If we buy a vacation home, will that globe-trotting halt? Will my wanderlust wander off unfulfilled?

It’s really a dilemma because part of the thrill of life is exploring and discovering and seeing the world. And part of building a life is establishing roots and knowing your corner of the globe so well, you can walk it eyes-closed.

Last fall, we drove from Detroit to Washington, D.C., for Thanksgiving with my husband’s family. As we careened past cute towns in Pennsylvania, I yearned to stop and explore, discover the nuances of living there, make the journey the destination.

Usually, there is no time to stop along the drive from Point A to Point B. There is just the fervent desire to get there already and stop only for fuel as needed.

I have a friend who moved so much as a child that he loves to stay put. He’s got a home in the suburbs and a vacation home in Colorado and he likes nothing more than to arrive somewhere where his toothbrush and robe are waiting for him.

(Vacation home in Colorado! Let’s explore that option. And actually, I’ve already pondered this – on our honeymoon, Dan and I met a Chicago woman who spent summers in Steamboat in a condo she owns there. The rest of the year she rents it out. Doable, definitely.)

Roots vs. wandering – what is the answer?

Of course, there isn’t one. But I’m remembering last summer’s journey Up North and the poetry and song on the beach of the Leelanau School for the opening night of the Beach Bards and the late-night pizza we picked up along the drive back from Glen Arbor to Shanty Creek in Bellaire, Michigan.

And I’m remembering the quiet of the trees rustling in the wind and the waves on Lake Michigan. And the kids jumping into waves in Grand Traverse Bay. Visiting the Wet Mitten in Traverse City and wishing I were brave enough to surf. Riding the waves on a tall sailboat and snapping picture after picture under the gray clouds.

Friends are posting pictures of their wine glasses at sunset on the beach and I’m wanting to be everywhere.

And yet, at the same time, I am keenly aware of the desire to stay home – to open the doorwall and step into the yard and listen to the creak of the children swinging on the old rusted swingset we received as a gift when Shaya was born seven years ago.

There is no answer. There is only exploration, discovery, the journey of life in which we take familiar roads and those we’ve never driven down, surprised at the places we come to along the way.

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