Sleeping Bear Dunes

We went to Sleeping Bear Dunes and everything they said about it was true!  It was absolutely beautiful.  The key word for this trip, however, was “pee,” since Zach peed the bed the first two nights in a row.  We had to initiate the “Pull-Up Protocol,” unfortunately.  Zach was not a fan but it saved the sheets.  Now we have to keep him from peeing the bed at home, and pull-ups are not part of the plan (incentive chart!)

Platte River Campground was our staging area, a place so popular Sam arose at 4am our first morning to wait in line to secure a site.  There were others there, I’m told, men and women disfigured by their time in line.  One poor soul had been waiting since 9pm the previous night, standing in the cold.  I imagine he had only a space blanket and a single “hot hands” for warmth.  Sam did not elaborate.  She only returned victorious around 8:30.  Lamia were slain, diabolical deals were dealt, but she had the permit in hand.

The challenging bit was backing the new camper up with our power steering cutting out.  Back up we did and seventeen hours later camp was set up!  (the camper really cut the time down!)  Staying a pop-up camper is an experience I will always love.  It involves not sleeping on a deflating air mattress, which I like.  Everything was made easier, except the dishes, because dishes are a mental hurdle not a physical one.  With all the extra room we were sure to fill it up with too much stuff.

That morning, after Sam came with the news, but before we moved, I was able to ride my bike around the campground.  Quiet hours are strictly enforced which means people go to bed at a decent hour and the night before had been still and quiet as only the woods allow.  Quiet still prevailed that morning with the only sound my bike’s wheels whipping the air.  Smells of maple syrup and woodsmoke and breakfast meats filled my nose.  It was a moment of contentment.

Full though the grounds were, we could not tell.  Thick stands of trees separate each site so your neighbors can stay to themselves if they choose.  We had a lovely time and learned lessons aplenty about our new shelter.  Camping with my family is a wonderful time.

From rise to sleep we kept busy on the business of relaxation.  That first day we spent a long time tubing the Platte River, an excursion a bit too long for Lucy to handle.  Twenty minutes from the end she had reached her limit and made sure we all knew.  Deciding against bringing beer was a good move.  Sam and I both spent a bit of time towing tubes.  Next time, we hope to canoe.

The next day Zachary worked through a National Parks booklet to become a “junior Ranger.”  It is a fun program and he was filled with pride when he took his oath and earned his patch and badge.  Sam will be making him a sash.  Most of his tasks were performed on the Scenic Drive which took longer than we thought and was well worth it.  Many people seemed to drive through haphazardly and missed many cool items such as a Basswood tree with the base of its root structure exposed.  Zach and I had fun with that.  Lucy slept.

Another day we tackled the Dune Climb which quickly turned Sisyphean.  Each hill we climbed we thought to be the last until exhaustion had gripped Zachary so firmly he almost fell asleep on his feet.  This does not happen.  Compelled by this case, we turned around and headed to Glen Arbor for cherry soda and terrible pizza.

During the trip I was happy to visit several independent bookstores.  There is something about the independent bookstores – I have bought many a book in them.  Small in size there is always a book I wish to read within their walls and I am always sad to leave them.  Each small town seemed in possession of one and we sadly did not purchase many books.  There was a rather expensive t-shirt, but it looks cute on Lucy, so we will live.

During the trip we were also ignored at a candy store, watched Zachary ride his bike, roasted marshmallows and hot dogs, ate sandwiches, learned many new facts, drove a bit too much, watched a movie, ate candy, had delicious ice cream, bought ice, saw other campgrounds, visited the blacksmith, flew kites, tried fudge, laughed, got wet in Lake Michigan, and had many other adventures.  The kids loved it and so did we.  Zachary did not want to go the morning we left so we left close to the right time.  He wants to go back – the kid loves camping!

We fought with the woods over our technology.  The area has a great signal so we weren’t compelled to leave our smartphones alone – but that many I could take a lot of pictures, which I love.  It’s a double edged sword.  Geocaching was also easy, so I was happy.

One thing I truly missed was the hiss of the old gas lantern.  We can’t find it.  I loved writing in my journal by its light last year, but no such luck this year.  I even have the same journal.  We had a great time.

This was my first visit to a National Park as well, news which will shock many.  State Parks have been my outdoor home most of the time.  I have to say I really enjoyed it – Zach and Lucy have the little passports now so we will try to make it to many more.  The summer is far from over and there is more camping to be done.

Author: Matthew

A father, son, husband, and fairly rad dude.

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