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Intentional Memory Making

We all love to adventure outside to make memories, but how often to we extend that invitation to our family?

By: Holly Mandarich + Save to a List

On a Friday morning my family and I set out to South Manitou island.

Being a Traverse City native, spending the first 20 years of my life here growing up, I fell in LOVE with the northwest coast.

I spent endless hours, days, and nights exploring its shoreline.

I always would admire the islands from a far. Wondering when my time would come to explore them.

10 years later, after leaving home, I found myself exploring South Manitou with a group of people I’m not sure I ever thought would. My family.

As it tends to happen in many family dynamics, especially when growing up, we can - from time to time, become self consumed, oriented in our own needs, wants and desires.

Sometimes we forget to make collective memories, sometimes we forget to share mindful experiences with others that are near and dear to us.

Sometimes, we just have to set an intention - and let people meet us there for the memory.

Which is exactly how this trip happened.

My mom and I were out in Leland enjoying a pretzel bread sandwich, as any good Michigander does, when we stopped in to see about tickets on the transit to South Manitou.

My mom suggested making it a family endeavor. With seven tickets left, for the upcoming Friday: just enough for myself, my mom, step-dad, uncle, aunt and two cousins. It seemed all too serendipitous. I think not.

My dream of running around and playing out on South Manitou island, became something more than just playing on an island. It became about everyone in my family meeting together to form a memory.

Sometimes we think that spending time together - or physically seeing someone is “enough.”

But have you ever experienced something “entirely new” with people you love?

Participating and forming a shared experience, levels consciousness, between all parties involved. It becomes about building a bond, especially when setting out on a journey that might be considered vulnerable.

Our day out to South Manitou started with picking up sandwiches from the Cheese Shanty, loading up on the Manitou Transit and heading west.

The transit took a little longer than an hour, but was full of adventure, the good and the bad.

There was some sea sickness, bow riding splashes, and lots of rocking, smiles and maybe some emotions of frustration.

But what adventure wouldn’t encompass the full range of emotions.

Upon arrival, at the Island we took a break to eat lunch before hopping on a tour to learn more about the history of the occupants of the island, the schoolhouse and the farms.

To say the least, you could say we had fun!

There is SO much more to do on the island than what we experienced. There are over 150 shipwrecks off of the coastline, several you can see and explore. Not to mention there’s a WHOLE nother island just north! With several camping opportunities and miles worth of hiking trails, you’re sure to have a renewing time. 

And that’s what landed for us, was a restored sense of what was already there. Family. Our ride out on the transit was smooth sailing, sunshine deck top smiles- and memories to be shared, for as cheesy as it is, a lifetime.

You’ll want to plan accordingly and do your research based on the activities and locations you choose to explore when visiting South or North Manitou island. You can learn all the information you need to know through the Manitou Transit’s website here, or through the National Park Service’s website here.

I encourage you to grab those who are closest to you, and set out for a remote, uncharted adventure on the Manitou islands. You won’t regret your endeavor, whatever adventure you may choose.

And I invite you to jump in - with the intention, to make lasting memories with those you love.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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