Camping: Good, Bad, and Weird

It was a mixed bag for our first lengthy camping outing of the summer.  Without any really clever way to organize things, I’ll just take things as they came.

Three nights of driveway camping in one of the most scenic spots in NW Michigan started us off on the right foot. My friend Deb rented a cottage near Torch Lake, and when she offered us a spot in her driveway there, we jumped at the chance.wpid-20150811_085029.jpg Torch Lake = pontoon boats, campfires, great food, and best friends.wpid-20150813_115820.jpg This was during the time of the Perseid meteor shower, so we thought there would be great stargazing from the the cottage shore. Well, almost.

Wednesday was the grand finale as far as the meteor showers were concerned, and we were primed and ready.  All seven of us (plus four dogs) were stretched out in lounging lawn chairs, waiting for total darkness to envelop us, and for the big show to begin.  As stars began to pop, we also noticed that clouds were rolling in. Is that thunder? Jezzy’s behavior said that, yes, indeed, it was. We stalled as long as we could, hoping that we’d catch a few meteor sightings before the rain. All of the sudden, a spiderweb of lightening cracked across the sky and lit everything up. We scattered! Holy cow! What a storm. Thunder and lightening like I haven’t seen in years. Almost worth missing the big sky show for.

We headed off Thursday morning for Lake Michigan Recreation Area, our favorite campground in the state, in preparation for the Night Shift.  This was to be the 3rd Edition of the Night Shift, an overnight 100+ mile bicycle ride over gravel roads, trails, and seasonal two-track roads in W. Michigan. We’re not silly enough to actually ride – but we love being crew for this wacky bunch – just five riders this year. To sum up the night, in brief…..

It was a dark and stormy night. Big time. Lots of laughs.  Lost riders. A flat tire (not our truck – the other one) at 4:30am in the middle of nowhere. Weird conversations with curious locals. Sunrise and sloppy joes.wpid-20150815_070617.jpg Coffee galore. Near miss with a whitetail. FINALLY! Into camp at 9:45am – 13hours, 45minutes after rollout.wpid-20150814_202817.jpg Big breakfast. Zzzzz. This sounds like a crazy ordeal, and it is. But, oh so fun.

A day later, everyone has departed.  We’ve got six days of camping left, and a few considerable issues with which to deal.

First of all, this is a rustic campground – no electric, scattered water pumps throughout, pit toilets.  What we love about this campground are the huge shady sites.  Unfortunately, ours is so shaded that our solar panels are totally ineffective. After the first day, we know that we have to shut off our refrigeration to preserve our battery power. Not the worst thing, but inconvenient.

Worse than this is the fact that we’ve contaminated our fresh water supply with hideous, sulfur-smelling water from the outside faucet at the Torch Lake cottage. We now have no shower, nor any water supply for the camper, other than the one-gallon jugs we fill from the pump. Ugh. When was the last time you went a week without a shower? Horrible, horrible smelling water.

But, as usual, Jezzy provides us with comic relief.  We had an extended conversation with a confused gentleman who insisted that Jezzy was probably part Mastiff. Do you see the resemblance? No? (random mastiff on left/Jezzy on right). Neither do we!

On the bright side, hiking and biking are great – apart from two rainy days. Tent camping friends Cal and Dot joined us for two days and shared laughs, food, and fire. wpid-20150820_185335.jpgLake Michigan is approachable for swimming.  Beautiful azure waters and decent temperatures.wpid-20150820_120458.jpgwpid-20150814_091813.jpg Such a bonus, since it’s our bathtub!

Other good stuff? Folks camping next to us offered us the rest of their firewood for $20, and delivered it! A huge stack! wpid-20150814_085140.jpg We had lots of reading time – amazing what you can do when there’s no internet to distract you (no phone signal, either!) Few bugs. Other than the rain, it was perfect camping weather.

I’ll quit while I’m ahead after showing a few more photos.  Note to self: polish blog skills!

I took a few photos of UFOs (Unidentified Fungal Objects).  Always a curiousity.wpid-20150816_162315.jpgwpid-20150819_133636.jpgwpid-20150819_130108.jpgI really liked the contrast of these two growing side by side.wpid-20150819_103655.jpgI threw away this Jagermeister cap I found after using it for size comparison.wpid-20150819_124344.jpgMore beach shots….wpid-20150814_095203.jpgwpid-20150814_095807.jpgwpid-20150822_142555.jpgJezzy found this mermaid mummy on the beach on a very windy afternoon.wpid-20150818_133541.jpgWe resupplied in nearby Ludington one afternoon, and stopped for a beer at Jamestown Brewing.  Really liked this kid trying to ride the bike rack.  His dad was having a fit!

One lone cardinal flower was growing along the roadside.wpid-20150816_153636.jpgAfter one day at home, we’ve fixed our water problem (bleach/flush/fill/flush/fill), resupplied and are ready to roll out again tomorrow for another three days at a new (to us) spot.