A Mixed Bag of Camping

It’s late summer, and the camping bug is biting.  The Fireball sits in the driveway, begging to be hooked up and towed out of the city.  We surrender to the call, and hit the road.

It’s always a temptation to head to our favorite spot, but we resist, grabbing our worn copy of Michigan’s Best Campgrounds (Jim DuFresne, out of print), and pointing the truck north.  We land at Lake Dubonnet State Forest Campground, west of Traverse City.  What a great choice that turned out to be.20140808_155226 Our large campsite let us put the Fireball in the afternoon shade, while keeping our Zamp Solar panel out in full sunshine all day. 20140809_16343420140809_16393320140809_164343 20140807_163719Clean vault toilets, distant neighbors, trails to hike.  Perfect.

We were close to Interlochen Center for the Arts, so we pedaled over to explore one afternoon.  Interlochen students study music, fine arts, film making, and other arts in a gorgeous campus.  The campus is a varied collection of practice rooms, dorms, and open-air performance venues, all enhanced by music drifting through from various locations.  It’s a popular site for summer band camps, and percussion groups were practicing in earnest everywhere.  Naturally, I forgot my camera that day, so I have just one photo to share, which I shot with John’s iphone.  Bummer. photo 1(1) We cruised through Interlochen State Park, with its two enormous campgrounds.  They were jam-packed – not an empty site to be found.  Campers piled on top of each other, vying for a bit of space.  Yikes!  Get me outta here.  Controlled chaos.

Happy Anniversary to us!  We celebrated with ice cream at Moomers.  Cow Tracks/Key Lime for me – Butter Pecan/Orange Dark Chocolate for John.  A great stop on a hot day, and fun way to mark our six years together.  We befriended Chas, a big St. Bernard, who seemed to love us more for the possibility of getting a lick of our ice cream, than for getting an ear rub.wpid-20140808_133556.jpg

Time to move on.  We consulted a map, and decided to head for Fisherman’s Island SP, just south of Charlevoix, on Lake Michigan.  Score!  Bingo!  Rustic camping means fewer campers.  Again, we lucked out and found a huge shady site. We could hear the waves lapping on the shore, although the water wasn’t visible from our site.  Peaceful.  Wonderful.20140813_083148 In my view, this is one of the best places EVER to camp.  We had miles of shoreline to wander – tons of Petoskey stones and granite of every color begging to be picked up. 20140811_103644 I remember, as a kid, always having a jar of beautiful stones in water to admire.  Must be I’m reverting back to my childhood, as looking at this collection makes me happy.wpid-20140817_091524.jpgA day of rain posed no problem.20140811_143634One bad thing did happen here – our refrigerator crapped out.  Somehow, the door had swung open during our trip over a very bumpy gravel road.  Although the light was on, it no longer cooled.  We turned it off, thinking that it just needed to rest/reset.  Nope.  After three days, we still had nothing. John’s research and phone calls seemed to offer us two options – a $400 compressor and three hours of RV dealer labor ($110/hr), or a replacement refrigerator for about $700.  Hmmmmm, let’s think about that for about a minute.  He ordered a new Norcold fridge – shipped to the house in three days.

We did head out to dinner with some Grand Rapids friends who had been tandem mountain bike racing in the Upper Penninsula.  They are fearless on the trail, and did well in the 50 mile Oar to Shore race.  At dinner, John ordered a mac & cheese SANDWICH.  Of course, when offered the option of adding bacon to the stack, he said yes.  Oh, and throw in some avocado as well.  Heart attack on a plate!wpid-20140810_191136.jpgLots of beautiful sightseeing in the Charlevoix area.  It’s a treat.20140810_18313820140810_18253520140810_204205We packed up and headed toward Torch Lake, where a friend had rented a cottage for the week.  Driveway camping!  A real shower!  Beer!  Detroit Tiger baseball on TV!  Life suddenly looks good again.  It’s unseasonably cold, with big winds.  Too windy for a campfire, and too cold for a pontoon boat ride.  We settle in, like only good old friends can do, with beer, wine, brats, and conversation.  Ahhhhh.  Morning brings a long walk with Jezzy, corned beef hash and eggs, gallons of coffee, and bloody marys.  It also brings the startling discovery that our refrigerator has rumbled to life.  Crap!  Yea?  We’ve already got a new one in transit.

We head home.  I want to return new fridge, John wants to install.  It arrives, and (as anticipated), it’s a different interior configuration.  To me, the new design is stupid.  It’s got a huge shelf in the door, which juts into the interior space.wpid-20140817_102259.jpg A useless freezer takes up a full third of the interior space. The temperature control is located in the back of the unit, so to see or change the setting, one needs to unload the top shelf. wpid-20140817_100919.jpg wpid-20140817_100754.jpgThere’s an annoying blue interior light.  The whole design is just lame.  But, John’s already got it installed, so it appears that I’ve lost this battle. Bonus is that it’s extremely quiet, and supposed to be more energy efficient.  Less draw on the solar, which we like.  We were happy to have thought of taking the old broken one to Goodwill for recycling.  Now that it’s still functional, it will probably wind up in the garage with all our other crap.  Arrrggh!

One more thing…..my garden hasn’t done well at all this summer.  Cool days and a less than optimum spot for my tomatoes make for a sad crop.  However, I had high hopes for two big tomatoes, which were beginning to ripen as we left.  First thing when we got home, I rushed to check their progress, sighting their ruby globes from a distance.  Dang!  Here’s the entire crop from six tomato plants.20140814_19515520140814_195144 They’ll be going to the plant dump tomorrow.

Hopefully, by the time another blog post is due, I’ll be over this.  Maybe I’ll just spend more time gazing at my stone jar, absorbing the good vibes that emanate from that.  ;-)

End of rant.