It's that time of year again when the Smith Family heads north... passed the Mighty Mac, passed Pictured Rocks, passed Tahquamenon Falls, passed Northern Michigan University... and straight on till morning... about 8 hours in the car from Grand Rapids. 

Since before I can remember my family has spent a week each summer in our states great Upper Peninsula just outside Ontonagon. We stay in the family cabin which is very rustic (without running water or electricity - yup, there's an outhouse!), cook with a propane stove, drink beer (lots of it) chilled in a cooler of ice and wash our hair in the river. Our phones are off, computers left at home and there's no need to look in a mirror because no one cares what you look like. 

And with the cabin comes great traditions. My favorite (and I think it's Jeff's favorite too because we love all activities) is kayaking the Ontonagon River. The river is a stones throw from the cabin's front porch which makes for easy logistics and also a great view while drinking coffee in the morning.

This year we 'put-in' in front of the cabin and paddled to Victoria Dam - about a 6 hour run. It's about 1/3 rapids and heavy paddling, 1/3 lazy river and 1/3 paddling across Lake Victoria. Along the way we make multiple stops to refill beverages, reapply bug spray/sunscreen and take in the scenery that very few people get to enjoy. 

After kayaking we joined the rest of our group (Natalie stayed with my Mom and Dad and a few other friends during the day) at Henry's for the all you can eat buffet. It was a well deserved reward after our 6 hours of paddling. I usually go light on the main dishes and heavy on the desserts. Momma's got a sweet tooth! 

This year we also spent a day on Lake Superior at Sally's beach house; Sally is an old friend of my Dads - one of many he's made on his trips over the years. This year the lake was warm and the day was beautiful! We barbecued ribs, kayaked the sunset, played bags and caught up with old friends. 

On Thursday night we hosted the locals for the annual Low-Country-Boil - a tradition my Dad started after his long work assignment in Savannah, GA where he learned all about how to best cook fresh seafood. Ever since, we've cooked up Costco sized boxes of crab legs and shrimp to share with friends. It's an evening where everyone leaves happy and full! 

Other activities over the week include four-wheeling day trips for sightseeing, working on the new camp together as a family (it's getting so close!) and we always make time for a drink Stubbs Bar. This year we got out the selfie stick and were thoroughly made fun of by the Yoopers. I think everyone had a good time! 

Read more about our family trips to Ontonagon here: