So, we made reservations. The group consisted of the following:
Dave (and our surprise visitor Uncle Vince from Texas!!!)
Me, Ry and the boys
Lori and the girls (and a short sighting of Don)
Tommy, Allison and their crew of 4 (Devin, Jacob, Isaiah and Sophie)
Mary Helen, Mike and Jordan
Uncle Tom and Dea
Mike's parents Super-Dave and Carol
aaaannnd... yes, that's the crew.
I will be honest... I wasn't thrilled about this trip. I knew it was out in the sticks, and I prefer to camp near Lake Michigan and little lake-t0wns. I was even less convinced as we arrived after dark and found our GPS leading us on dirt roads through corn fields. At one point I was pretty convinced we were going to have a reenactment of Chainsaw Massacre or something like that. We were traveling down dirt roads in the woods in the middle of the Manistee National Forest. The only landmarks we kept seeing were random rickety old trailers and abandoned buildings. And then we lost signal on the cell phone. Lovely. We uneventfully made it to the campground only to find the lodge was closed. After circling a few times we found Uncle Tom and Dea and were able to set up our camper in the dark.
Dave, Uncle Vince, Lori and the girls didn't have it so easy. Let's back up.... Lori and Dave were supposed to meet in Portland at 9am. Lori and the girls were there.... however, Dave and Uncle Vince (who was supposed to be a surprise for later in the day) ended up in the middle of US127 N.... camper with 4-wheelers flipped over, the bed of the truck jacked down, the front up in the air. Thank God no one was hurt, however the camper is totalled and so were the 4-wheelers. The day started of extremely delayed and they ended up leaving later in the afternoon when we left.
To add to their distress, they got lost on the way to the campground. This does not surprise me one bit. Dave was leading the way, obviously. And then when they stopped for directions from a guy who was out walking on the deserted dirt road near his home in the woods, Dave ended up driving into Lori's van and denting up her drivers side door.
Despite the crummy start, the weekend was actually quite nice. It was refreshing to just be "stranded" with no outside communication, no cell phones no email no internet no texting. We had a lot of time to bond and get to know our extended family which I loved. These people are great and I hope that we can make a trip together every year and I can't believe we don't get together with Ry's cousins more often throughout the year. This is something I hope we can change in the upcoming year.
The boys and I ended up with head colds.... stuffy sinuses, sore throats and coughs. I loaded the 3 of us up with Sudafed (yes, despite my kids being under 6. I don't care.... I felt like shit and I wasn't about to deny them anything that might possibly help them feel better).
The weekend went by too fast and I really do look forward to next year! Ryan is hope hope hoping we have a camper (we really like the Aerolite Cub hybrid campers) and a real 4-wheeler for Porter to drive (we saw lots of little kids driving 50cc 4-wheelers and little dirt bikes... so cute!) by next year. We'll see if either of those happen.
Some of the highlights of our camping trip worth remembering:
- How the hell did Uncle Mike get up here? I don't see any wheelchair marks anywhere!!
- Marshmallow fights by the fire (adults, at that!)
- A scavenger hunt for the kids
- Finding a Massasauga Rattlesnake (MI's only venomous snake) on that scavenger hunt
- Riding Mike's 4-wheeler
- Porter following Devin and Jacob around like their little shadow
- Devin and Jacob being so sweet, patient and humoring little Porter
- The kids playing in the sandbox... aka dirt road
- Ryan and Dave trying to trap Tommy in the port-a-potty. Tommy: You tried that shit on my dad last year!!
- Letting the kids be kids on the beach... splashing in the water in their clothes
- Watching the sun set on the beach in Ludington
- Making donuts in the morning
- Big yummy dinners
- Napping with Porter on a quilt in the shade beneath a tree
- Hiking in the woods
- Bocce ball tournaments between the men
- An attempt at a sucky group picture
- Smores by the campfire while the kids ran and played tag way past dark
- The relaxing sound of guitars by the campfire (Aren't we lucky to have numerous family members who are musically talented?)
- The kids riding bikes here there and everywhere