Thursday, August 18, 2016

Camping Trip 2016

We are fresh off of tent camping for the past 4 days.  Fresh might not be the greatest word choice.  Everything, including myself, has a scent concocted of bug spray, sunscreen, dirt, mildew, and campfire smoke.  

This was our only summer vacation trip. Due to spending a lot of our time travelling back and forth between Grand Rapids and Mishawaka, we just didn’t really have much time to squeeze much else in.  And we didn’t leave ourselves much time, school starts for us next week!

We loaded up the van and trailer on Sunday afternoon and headed to Pokagon State Park. (Adam has the boys somewhat convinced that it is pronounced Poh-Kee-Gon – thus sounding a bit like Pokemon….and yes, they managed to play PokemonGo multiple times).

We were rather surprised to find the campground area extremely empty. I mean, we knew we were going mid-week and towards the end of the summer, but it was  s-p-a-r-s-e. Apparently, we are still living in the Michigan culture mindset and consider August a month of summer still….and apparently, people around here don’t think like that. It was almost spooky empty. There was only 1 other site in view of ours that was occupied during our stay.  After going to take a shower late the first night and momentarily thinking that the camp axe murderer had barricaded me into the shower building (only for me to realize I was pushing on the wrong side of the door)(What?! Am I the only one that makes up axe murderer scenarios in my head?!)….I decided that I would only visit the restroom when it was still light. With the campground being so empty and there not being hardly any lights anywhere… was just a bit too creepy dark for me. After walking around some of the other campground loops during the day, we found one that was a little more occupied (plus, had a WAY nicer bathhouse than ours) (Note to self if we go to Pokagon again: Loops 3 and 5 have way better bathrooms).

Everything was going fine into our stay until early Monday afternoon when we started getting poured on while out enjoying the bike trail. We knew more rain was in the forecast thanks to our fancy phones. We hunkered down in our tent, played a few card games, and I even had a slow cooker meal going for dinner. After dinner, we decided we were getting stir crazy. I dropped Adam and the boys off at the Inn that is a part of the park. We knew there were several lobbies and lounges that they could hang out in and watch TV (and they mostly wanted to catch Pokemon). And I hit up the outlet mall that was just a couple of miles away. Every campground should have an outlet mall close by. It was small, but easily entertained me for a bit. By the time I made it back to the guys, it had been raining harder. The TVs were interrupting Olympics broadcasting with weather reports and tornado warnings a couple of hours south of us with the storms heading in our direction. We figured we should at least inquire if there were any rooms at the inn for us to potentially stay in.  There was and we both easily agreed to go ahead and stay the night at the inn. (This is not typical behavior for us. Adam doesn’t give up on things easily. And I don’t like to spend money. One night at the inn was still costing a little more than what we were paying for all 3 nights of camping. We were doubling what we were spending for lodging). By the time we headed back to our site, splashed around in some large puddles and heavy rain to gather overnight items and try to stack and protect things in the tent in the event of flooding, we were finally nestled into our room at around 9:30pm.  We could hardly hear the rain falling outside. Easily the best night of sleep during our trip (apparently, I don’t make up axe murderer scenarios in my head while staying indoors) (And no, I do not watch scary axe murderer movies….this is just how my mind operates). The Inn lost power at some point in the middle of the night for a couple of hours. And something went awry with the park’s water pressure-something-or-other during the storm, which made all water at the park unsafe for drinking and cooking unless boiled. But we enjoyed the pool and hot tub in the morning and by the time we left the inn, the rain had stopped. We felt good about our decision to stay in the inn. I’m not really sure how anyone can deny that a spacious hotel room with a TV, small table, bathroom, coffeemaker and an additional vanity sink is way better to stay in than a tent. Especially during storms.  Pretty thankful that we picked a park that ended up having an "indoor" option. 

I must say that doing life (and in this event, tent camping) with Adam is pretty awesome. He typically handles stress extremely well. He’s a get-it-done, hardworking sort of guy. He rarely ever complains or worries. He does anything that is asked of him. He is knowledgeable and capable of doing so many things. He is selfless and rock steady. Even after we returned home on Wednesday afternoon and unloaded our van and trailer trying to beat a heavy rain that was on our heels, he then left to go help a family that had experienced very significant flooding in their home. This guy. Wow. I hope our little boys are paying attention. 
Photo credit to Landon.
This is me enjoying a peaceful campfire while Adam took all 3 boys for showers.
Having all boys certainly has its perks at times.
I mentioned that the water at the park was affected. They barricaded all drinking fountains and spigots throughout the park. There were signs on every building and bathroom warning of it. They were providing bottled water at the inn, but nothing at the campground that we ever saw. This lasted from Monday morning thru when we left on Wednesday afternoon.  BUT, our campsite happened to be positioned quite close to a trail that led to the Spring Shelter. We had discovered the day before that it was called the Spring Shelter because there was a natural artesian spring at it. So, we had easy access to safe, clean, natural drinking water even though the park was having issues with their water safety! 

We had perfect weather the rest of our time camping. We enjoyed bike riding, hiking, swimming at the lake, visiting the nature center, and in general, doing camping sort of stuff.  Overall, a great trip and the boys are already asking when we are going to go camping again.

Here's a few more pics to satisfy your desire of pictures:
A really cool tree we found while hiking.
I made some pretty good camping food. Here we are enjoying breakfast burritos.
3 year olds are so cute.

Heath and I 'nuggling (snuggling).
Frogs like to take showers also.

The Inn had a gameroom.
Bird watching at the Nature Center.

So….do I LOVE camping?  Love is much, much too strong of language to describe my feelings towards it. 

BUT I do love to watch my boys enjoy the outdoors. I like hiking and biking. I like campfires. I definitely like s’mores (especially when you add some peanut butter). I love taking in God’s creation.  I like vacations that cost less. I love family time.  

I’m sure we will go camping again. In fact, I hope so.