I’ve described what’s on and around Bois Blanc Island, but what do we actually do there?
A typical day starts with my wife and I waking up in the Pines Cottage at 8:30. We sleep that late partially due to a three hour jet lag, but mostly because vacations are created for sleeping in.
In the morning we turn on the space heater in the living room (I’m bad at lighting fires in the fireplace) before doing some activities in no particular order.
We shower, eat breakfast, work on a 1000 piece puzzle of a dragon on a cliff, read, write, and play on my wife’s iPhone with limited internet access.
At the end of the morning we eat lunch before calling my relatives on the West End to figure out dinner plans.
My wife is a vegetarian. If meat is in the main dish we have to make sure she has something else to eat.
After calling ahead we pack up what we need for the day and go over to the West End.
When we arrive at the West End we put away any food we brought that requires refrigeration before starting another group of activities in no particular order.
We read, write, wade in the water, kayak, watch my cousin and his friend from Montana windsurf, go on a walk, bike, work on a 500 piece puzzle of a pile of beach glass, eat snacks, play board and card games, and chat with my relatives.
We don’t do all those things in one day, but we managed to do them all in the week we were on Bois Blanc Island.
Around 5 or 5:30 we go over to the New Cottage for drinks with my grandparents, drinks being anything from vodka to diet soda.
We talk with them or they talk around us about people all my aunts know but I’ve never met.
Half an hour later dinner is served and we gather around a big table or two tables if one isn’t enough.
We eat dinner and dessert if there is any.
After dinner we do a few more of the afternoon activities with the additional options of watching the sunset over Round Island at 9:15, or starting a fire in the fireplace or on the beach.
Then we pack up our stuff and dodge deer on the drive back to the Pines Cottage.
At the Pines we read, write, work on the dragon puzzle, and eat a few snacks before going to bed around 11.
Round Island is just offshore of the West End on Bois Blanc Island.
From my family’s cottages, the national park is only 0.6 miles away.
My wife and I like kayaking over there when we come to Bois Blanc.
There is a current towards the west that will sweep you away if you don’t constantly correct your course on the kayak.
My wife and I capsized our kayak halfway to Round Island once and almost got taken away by the current.
We couldn’t right the kayak, so we ended up kicking with our feet to push the kayak the rest of the way to Round Island.
My grandpa is always in an overwatch position with a telescope on the porch of the New Cottage.
When we capsized my grandpa was ready to call the Coast Guard to rescue us if we went past Round Island into the open part of Lake Huron.
We landed on the westernmost tip of Round Island and saved ourselves a lot of trouble.
Round Island itself is empty and there isn’t much to do there. You can’t go inland because the forest is too deep. There’s an old lighthouse, but it closed when radar became the standard method for preventing ships from running aground.
My family spends our time on Round Island looking for cool rocks, beach glass, or the occasional piece of coal that fell off a freighter and washed ashore.
We do all that stuff, but mostly my wife and I go to Round Island because there is no one else on it.
Bois Blanc is isolated, but there are still happy relatives all around you.
On Round Island there is literally no other person within half a mile of you.
My family owns three cottages on Bois Blanc Island.
The oldest is in the Pointe Aux Pins or Pines neighborhood near the ferry dock. That cottages is called the Pines Cottage by my family.
The Pines Cottage was built when the Island first started being a vacation spot in the late 1800s.
Originally it only had a living room and a porch.
Later on a bedroom was added, then a bathroom and kitchen, and after that a second story with two more bedrooms.
The house is old and a little janky from all the additions. One of the walls in the downstairs bedroom was clearly an exterior wall at one time.
Nearly every board in the house creaks and a few of the walls have knotholes in them that you can peer through.
We suspect that rats, mice, owls, and bats live in the closets of the house. Racoons have gotten in a few times for sure.
My aunts and uncles avoid staying in the Pines Cottage because of all these problems.
My family has a rotating pick order for spots in the cottages between my dad and his five siblings. This year my dad (I used his pick) was fifth in the order and we got stuck with the Pines Cottage.
The other two cottages are the Brown Cottage and the New Cottage, both located on the same plot of land.
These two cottages are located in a “creatively named” neighborhood, the West End.
The Brown and New Cottages feel more like modern houses.
No critters get into them. You can hear, but not understand people’s conversations in the next room. There’s a dishwasher in both cottages! The damp of the lakeshore doesn’t invade the house.
The New Cottage has two bedrooms. One is a master bedroom for my grandparents and the other has two twin beds.
The second bedroom is often avoided to give my grandparents some privacy.
Most of my relatives end up staying in the Brown Cottage which has three bedrooms.
One bedroom is a master bedroom, one has two twin beds, and the third has a bunk bed and a full bed for two people.
The pick order dictates who chooses first for what rooms and when they get them.
My aunts and uncles got all the rooms in the Brown Cottage, but I still wanted to come when they were there. My wife and I stayed in the Pines Cottage and endured the old house so we could see my relatives.
It was a little cold, but blankets and a space heater fixed that.