Lake Michigan Trip (or, Camping Is For People Who Don't Live In A Trailer Park To Get To Vacation In One)
Last week we embarked on a family trip to Lake Michigan. We've been doing a trip there for quite a few years (since before Jonathan was born) and Tara's family all enjoys their Lake fix. In fact, her dad's side of the family owns several "cottages" there. We usually stay in her uncle's place when we visit (but we're usually staying with Tara's parents & her brother & his family - last year it felt empty with only us and her parents), but this time it wasn't available, and we decided to tent camp.
We actually love tent camping.
I was a little wary of camping in the Warren Dunes State Park, because I had the idea that we'd be camping on a moving, active sand dune. Picture (beach). That wasn't the case. The campground was just like every other camp ground. Some shaded spots. Some not-so-shaded spots. (We picked a shaded spot). They had their "modern" campground (meaning it had running water in the bathroom/shower rooms, electric hook-ups, and paved road) and the "semi-modern" campground (with "rustic" sites, pit toilets, one water source, and dirt road). We chose the "semi-modern" since we wouldn't be needing an additional $9-$11 worth of electricity. Or crowding.
The whole park was rather run-down and there was a lot of trash strewn about. I know the idea of not having trash cans in the park is so people will deliver their trash to the dumpster... not so here. It meant that they would throw their trash wherever they could stuff it.
Anyway, this post wasn't meant to be a critique on Warren Dunes.
We got there Sunday night, and after we set up camp, we made a campfire for the boys to enjoy. I have to brag that only once did I need more than one match for starting a campfire. Of course we loved sitting around the fire and roasting marshmallows (Jonathan doesn't think it's so boring anymore).
On Monday we decided to drive down and see if Tara's uncle might be at his place. We were not disappointed: not only were he and his wife there, but Tara's aunt and uncle from Texas and her aunt from Georgia were there as well! Then her cousin & her baby came over from next door. It was wonderful to get to see them all - it had been way too long!
When we got back to the campsite, we had lunch, and then Andrew took a nap. Jonathan and I went for a hike while he was napping. It was so much fun. He loved having the chance to get "Daddy time" for himself. We found one area where you could climb a really steep dune... if you didn't care about burning the soles off your feet! It was way too hot! We were disappointed that we couldn't make it to the top. Then we found that the path was flooded out and we could not pass. So we took another path and climbed another dune. Jonathan was a little wary of the dune: he didn't want to burn his feet (again). But when I got to the top, I knew he just had to see the view. Since he was nervous about the hot sand, I put him on my back and carried him to the top. We were both awed by the view. So awed that we stopped and said prayers, thanking God for making it.
After we returned from the hike, it was time to go to the beach. Jonathan and I determined that we weren't close enough to the beach to walk (disappointing - that is one huge benefit of Tara's uncle's place!), but that was OK. The beach was rather crowded, but nice. The water was choppy and cold! And the sky and the water were beautiful. We had a lot of fun at the beach. After we were done with the water, we just had to try climbing the "mountain" of a dune across from the beach. All but Andrew were successful in the climb. It was so clear that from the top,we could see the tops of the tallest buildings in Chicago!
We went back to camp for dinner, and then it was time for the sunset. We decided to go back to the beach to watch the sun set, and we pretty much had the place to ourselves. Jonathan zoomed all over the beach, and Andrew managed to get soaking wet. It was a lot chillier than we'd planned for - only Tara was really dressed for it. Well, Andrew was until he got his sweatshirt all wet.
As it was, the sunset was absolutely worth it.
On Tuesday after breakfast, we headed down to Union Pier to visit the other side of Tara's family. Her mom, aunt & uncle, 4 cousins (and 3 spouses), 5 nieces, and 2 nephews were all there. Jonathan and Andrew had a blast playing with Sean (and with Sean's toys) all morning. After lunch, everyone went to the beach. Actually, I went running, Andrew took a nap, Tara got a little introvert time, and everyone else went to the beach. When Andy got done napping, we joined them.
Jonathan had a blast, mostly not in the water, but sometimes he'd venture in. The water was too cold for Andrew, who kept saying he was "feezin' cold" - he wanted to cuddle in his beach towel. It was a lot of fun. Then it was time to go back to the camp; we had to make dinner and prepare to leave the next day.
We were so glad that we'd gotten ready in the evening, as early in the morning, the downpour started. It rained really hard! Good thing our tent was watertight! When we got up, we headed for the beach, because there was a shelter house there where we could make breakfast. We ate there (and the kids were delighted to find lots of bird nests full of baby birds all over the shelter house) and went back to camp to take down the tent. Not only had it stopped raining by this time, but the sun was out! It was easy to dry the tent well enough to pack it up!
On the way home, we tried to stop to pick blueberries... no luck :-( We barely missed picking season. So we stopped in Three Oaks (yes, Jenny, that's where Prancer was filmed) and played in the park (and ate lunch). We also stopped in Ft. Wayne and played in their park (and had dinner there).
Overall, though the vacation was short and we did a lot of traveling, it was very relaxing and we had a great time!