Life has a way of weaving the past together with the present. Growing up in northern New Jersey, we routinely took Route 23, a main roadway in a bucolic, semi-rural part of the Garden State. This road would carry us from the stores with bats and baseballs to the playing fields, where we practiced, engaged and learned valuable lessons.
We couldn’t wait to play with the cousins our age and some older cousins and friends who would inevitably “school us.” We have the older cousins and teenage neighbor boys to thank for their tough words, and for not making us all winners. If we lost the game it was because we weren’t good enough…on that day. There were no participation parties or plaques at the end of the sandlot season. Just a bunch of boys—who emerged wiser, more skilled, and in shape after each summer.
Route 23—another Route 23—continues to be part of my life.
As I drove recently to my in-laws’ family cottage along Route 23 in Tawas, Michigan, I said a silent prayer of gratitude for the time with my extended family. For two weeks I’m comforted by the notion that our kids will be mostly outside with their cousins, parents and grandparents.
Whether it is body surfing or tubing, we enjoy quality family time as the youngsters play on the luminous—and voluminous—waters of Lake Huron. We cheer on the wake boarders and the daredevil tubers. It is summer, and as in my youth, it’s great to see the kids outside enjoying the scenery and water sports. It’s especially enjoyable to witness their time together making memories, and occasionally, schooling each other on surfing or tubing.
This annual pilgrimage is indeed worth the long nine-hour drive to Michigan’s Route 23.