Borrowing grandchildren, meeting a boa constrictor, and playing in a giant sandbox

Posted on August 28, 2008

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Last week I got to borrow some grandchildren. Their grandfather (Ed) and mother (Nancy) brought Ben and Nick to Barnes Park on a camping adventure, and were kind enough to share them with me. The boys learned to catch minnows in a towel, swam in Torch Lake—Nick insisted it had to be a pool because it was so blue and so clean—cooked breakfast over a campfire, watched the sun set over the Bay, played fetch on the beach with Miss Sadie and the Cowboy, hunted for Petoskey stones, fed a giant tortoise, petted a boa constrictor, climbed the dunes, and wore out three adults and two dogs. All that, and I think the part they liked best was learning to play marbles with their grandfather. If you have grandchildren or can arrange to borrow some, I recommend these Ben-and-Nick-certified day trips.  And marbles.

Raven Hill Discovery Center

Raven Hill often hosts large groups of children, but the day we were there we had a lot of personal attention from founder and director Cheri Leach. She showed us the accessible treehouse and the energy house and the schoolhouse and the hands-on exhibits, but the biggest hit was the animal room.

Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore

Ben and Nick were bored with the spectacular views and wanted action. OK, off to the Dune Climb! Nancy is a triathlete, and climbed with them all the way to the very top-three times. I made it as far as the first level, and marveled that I managed that much.

Don’s Drive-In

On the way home from Sleeping Bear we stopped at Don’s Drive-In, a Traverse City burger-and-a-malt institution where it’s easy to imagine it’s 1958. Ed and Nancy and I thought the boys would be fascinated by carhop service. Nope. They wanted to go inside. They loved the real cherry Cokes.

And now they’ve gone home. I can hardly wait until they visit again.