Last weekend we went camping with Brandi’s mom and one of her aunts to the lovely Warren Dunes State Park in Michigan. The park features modern and rustic camping, Lake Michigan, dunes for climbing, etc. It’s a nice place and I’d been there once before to go to the beach, but never for camping. My mother-in-law and her family usually go every year and most years, one or both of her sisters come with their spouse and/or children. And at only about 90 miles away, it doesn’t take long to get there.
We were looking forward to it, and Brandi got into going out and getting the supplies we needed. We had a tent and a few other things, but we had to get cooking implements, a lantern, sleeping bags, etc., etc. All of last week Brandi had been making lists and inventorying what we would need, and then Friday night most everything was packed into the car. There was so much stuff in the car that I couldn’t see out the back as we drove. We did end up using pretty much all of it, although there was a lot of food left over.
The plan was for everyone to meet at our house, as we’re closest to the park, and then the caravan would leave from there. Everyone was supposed to get to our place at 10:00 on Saturday. At around 9:00 or so on Saturday morning we get a call from Brandi’s mom; they won’t be getting to our house until 10:30. *grumble grumble* That’s typical and I should have expected it, but really, a half hour is no big deal. This left us a little more breathing room to get Logan ready, get myself ready, and get the car packed. Guess what, 10:30 rolls around and no mother-in-law. I take Logan for a walk around the block, and by the time we get back, everyone else has arrived. Now, we’re ready to go, and everyone else is packed, but at this point there is much shuffling around for bathroom breaks and Brandi’s step dad had to hook up the electronics in their van so the kids could watch whatever on their laptops. When I was a kid and going on a long car ride, I would have a book, and maybe a CD player. When I was old enough to buy my own, I also had a GameBoy, but I think by that point, I didn’t take any more long car trips with the family. I never had a DVD player or laptop or anything like that.
So anyway, finally we hit the road. The caravan goes as follows, in-laws, Brandi’s Aunt and Uncle, us. The in-laws have been there the most, so they knew the best route to take, even though we all had GPS. Progress to Michigan was easy, but slow. The lead vehicle, a big old van, only does 80 tops and we did considerably less than that, even when the posted speed was 70 mph. Logan was calm and the day was nice. Eventually he fell asleep. When we were 15 miles from the park, Brandi’s mom called to see if we wanted to stop at the rest area. We said no, cause if we stopped Logan would wake up and we’re only 15 minutes or so from the park anyway. Then she must have called Brandi’s aunt, because she called back a few minutes later to say they needed to stop to use the bathroom. Fine, we’ll stop. *grumble grumble* We needed to stay in a group because we were going to get three adjoining camp sites. Sure enough, as soon as we stop, Logan wakes up and he’s cranky from only having the short nap. After what seems like far too long everyone’s been to the bathroom that needed to go (only the women-folk) and we’re ready to go.
At the state park we have to wait a while because there’s a line of people that want to come in and get a camp site, and the way it’s set up is they only accommodate one person/group at a time. Finally the representatives of our party make it into the room where they tell you what spots are available and there are only two sets of three left. Instead of going to look at the two areas, they just pick one.
We get to our sites and being to unpack. Logan has fun wandering around and looking at stuff and Brandi’s sister helped out a lot to keep an eye on him while I put up the tent and Brandi pulls out the other stuff. It didn’t take too long to get the tent set up and most everything out. We had lunch and then were ready to go to the beach. There was an incident involving a spilled cup of peaches and the bees that came to investigate afterward, in which I was blamed for both, but in my defense, I was setting up the tent while Brandi and her mom watched over Logan. Oh well.
The beach was nice. The sky was clear, the sand was on the cool side. Small waves were coming in. And it wasn’t too crowded. Logan wasn’t too impressed with the beach, and I thought the whole experience was going to be ruined when a bee stung him on his cheek. I was carrying him and all of a sudden he started crying and pulled the bee off of his face. Fortunately, the stinger didn’t get in very far and came right out. After a while Logan calmed down.
We tried bringing him to the water, but he didn’t like the waves, so after a while I took him over to this little stream and tide pool, which he liked playing in a lot. He splashed and explored and played with the sand. Brandi came by with her brand new camera to take some pictures and slipped and almost went right into the water, camera in hand, but she righted herself and the camera didn’t get wet. Logan was not happy when it was time to go, but we had to get back to the site to make dinner.
On the way from the beach back to our site, we stopped at the tiny general store and bought some wood to burn for cooking and what not. The price wasn’t too bad, but when we got to camp and I tried starting the fire it didn’t go so well. The wood they sold us was pretty wet still and didn’t want to start. Luckily, Brandi’s uncle had brought “Boy Scout Water” and we were able to use that to get things going. Logan had grilled cheese and we had some of those precooked smoked salmon filet things. Dinner was good. Logan played around while we cooked and cleaned up.
Back at the campsite we got Logan ready for bed and I laid down with him so that he’d fall asleep. This took a very long time as everyone had set up at the middle campsite fire pit to sit around and talk, and that kept Logan up for a couple hours. At some point I took my glasses off as I was laying next to him on the air mattress and at some point after that, I lost track of my glasses and rolled on top of them. I still haven’t fixed them yet. Eventually, Logan fell asleep and I got up, but by then I had missed smores, sparklers, and I was feeling pretty ticked that everyone had been talking so loud, knowing that I was trying to get Logan to go to sleep, and I didn’t want to sit by them anyway. We stayed up for a while longer, and it was starting to rain when we turned in.
I couldn’t sleep. I stayed up listening to the rain and worrying that it might come in the tent. We have a ten-year-old tent that has never been re-waterproofed. At first it was just a drizzle, but eventually it poured, and for a half hour at least. I don’t think I got to sleep until some time after 3. I kept checking my watch and I pulled Logan onto the air mattress with us (from his little mattress) because I was worried that he might get too cold, even though we had a space heater. We did get a little water. The first clue that we were going to get some water in the tent was when I would get hit by a drip on my shoulder every couple minutes. In the morning there were some little puddles around the edge of the tent, and the only thing that got totally wrecked was a board book of Logan’s that shouldn’t be too hard to replace.
Brandi did the breakfast cooking while I watched Logan. She had decided to go with the meat trio combo of corned beef hash, sausage links and bacon. Brandi’s mom made pancakes and offered us some too. We had a bunch extra and I think Brandi’s step dad and sister ended up finishing the bacon and left over sausage for us.
Logan played and wandered around as we clean up the pans and started getting ready to pack up. The car was not packed as neatly as when we left for Michigan, but it didn’t really matter. Somehow we ended up coming home with more than we left with. A beach chair that Brandi’s mom brought was actually Brandi’s that she had never bothered to take when she moved out, is now back in our possession.
We left the camp at about 1 Michigan time, so we’d been there for just under 24 hours. Much of Michigan is such a picturesque state and it’s nice to drive through. We were happy but tired. Logan fell asleep after a little while and didn’t wake up until we hit Chicago traffic in the Loop area.
So Logan’s first camping trip went well, and I’m sure it will go even better next year.