first camping trip

We did it! We survived our first family camping trip. And there were moments we all actually thrived–not just survived–in the great outdoors. Phew. I knew we would have a great time when we were greeted by a walking stick as soon as we got to the DH Day campground. I hadn’t seen one in years – so cool!

I had forgotten how much I love camping and don’t really care about being a bit dirty. It sure helps to be so close to Lake Michigan for an easy dip to clean off the layer of marshmallow, sunscreen and grime. Who am I kidding? I usually live like I’m just a step away from camping so real camping is not really much of a stretch for me… No make-up, hair in a messy pony tail, coffee stains on my shorts and a smile on my face. The life!

I feel so unexpectedly refreshed after a few days of being completely unplugged and miles away from the chores of day-to-day life. I was a bit stressed getting ready for the trip and truth be told, I think we just about spent more time preparing and packing (and repacking after the birdies took everything out) and then unpacking when we got home… than actually camping, but sometimes that’s the case the first time. Next time it will be easier and faster, right? Ha.

What is it about a kid when they cross their legs? They look about five years older. Gulp.

We went with another family with two girls so there was a lot of girl power and girl drama, including tears over a prized Dora chair and princess cups, hair pulling and an all-out sandy brawl over a PILE OF SAND on Sand Mountain, but thankfully these moments were balanced out with lots of squeals of joy, giggle fits and squishy toddler hugs and super wet kisses. Girls, oh my!

Just a hop, skip and a jump down to Sleeping Bear Bay from the DH Day campground for a refreshing dip. Refreshing=chilly. What happened to our summer water? Regardless, we spent a lot of time in and around the water.

We got into hunting for “cool” rocks too. I’m hooked! I found a nice little Petoskey stone that will be my souvenir from our trip. Please don’t tell anyone from the NPS that I kept it, shhhhh.

When we were getting packed up to leave, there was a lot of screaming and crying about not wanting to leave. I didn’t want to leave either, but it’s best to leave before you’ve overdone it and eaten your weight in s’mores, right? Plus we’ve got a beautiful fall ahead of us and hopefully another camping trip before Old Man Winter comes…

business meets pleasure

I just love it when I get some new work that involves a bit of everything I enjoy: spending time with my family, exploring something new in northern Michigan, photography, writing and design. Bonus: riding bikes!

I was hired recently to create a brochure for the new Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail and I wanted to share some of our family’s first afternoon on the trail and at the Glen Haven beach. We spent some time in Glen Haven this past spring flying kites, but it’s also one of our favorite beaches. Far enough away (25+ miles) to feel like we’re on vacation for the day, but close enough to remind ourselves that this IS really home. And to be trite (because someone’s got to excel at it), there’s no place like it.

We spent most of the early afternoon at Glen Haven’s rocky beach, beating the heat in Sleeping Bear Bay and collecting rocks for Wren’s growing “cool rock” collection. When we thought we had enjoyed enough of the sun and collected enough sand in the little birdie’s swim diaper, we embarked on the second leg of our afternoon adventure. We (well, Chris) got the bikes and Chariot set up for our exploration of the new paved trail.

And off we rode! It was a beautiful late afternoon to explore the trail. First we headed north out of Glen Haven toward Glen Arbor. This section is mostly shady and forested and goes through the DH Day Campground, which we hope will be the spot for our first family camping trip later this month (eeeek!). Ahem.

It felt so great to be back on bikes. It was our first real family-of-four bike ride now that I think of it!

After we hit the northern end of the trail, we headed back south out of Glen Arbor. I enjoyed the southern piece of this leg even more. The trail meandered through forest, an open meadow-meets-dunes area and ended at the Dune Climb, aka Sand Mountain.Then we turned around and headed back to Glen Haven. The trail is about five miles, but with our traveling style it was more like a ten mile ride. Plus a bit more with me yelling, “stop there so I can get a shot,” or “turn around and come back toward me.”

My favorite part? Chris repeating, “I’m so inspired! This is so cool!” Indeed.

When completed, the trail will be 27 miles long and will go from south of Empire to the Port Oneida area of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Can’t wait? Me neither. Help support the expansion of the trail by contributing to the community-supported campaign here.

I know you think I might be cursing us by saying this, but I can’t wait to ski it this winter…

How ’bout you, northern Michigan lovelies? Have you explored the trail yet? What did you think?

spontaneity on Sleeping Bear Bay

I’m not really much of a planner and yet I’m not always up for a last minute, spontaneous evening outing with the birdies either. But Chris came home early Friday night and suggested we grab some hot dogs, s’mores fixings, gin & tonics (you know, the basics…) and swim suits and drive out to Good Harbor Bay for the evening. Alright, let’s do it! So we rushed around to pack up beach, dinner, and bedtime stuff, which easily turns into a car full of about half the house. So. We eventually got out to Good Harbor and were immediately attacked by biting flies. Arrghh. On to spontaneous plan two.

At this point Wren is very hungry and annoyed that she has to get back in the car so I throw her an open package of graham crackers and we’re on our way. We head south down M-22 and I remember that there’s a great beach on Sleeping Bear Bay that I know as Thoreson Beach, although I really have no idea if it even has a name. So we got to “Thoreson Beach” and were greeted with wind, dark clouds and a looming storm in the distance, but no biting flies. After some discussion about how much time we had before the storm hit, we hauled the stuff down to the beach. As we were setting up, the storm clouds began to dissipate. And a magical evening was had.

Say yes to last minute ideas, lovelies. But don’t let your cell phone spontaneously swim. That, I learned, is really not a great idea.