Thursday, August 30, 2012

Wind, Waves and Camping on a Dock

In my last post, I mentioned that we were camped on a dock at Tim's vacation home in Au Train, MI.   The night we got there, it was warm and calm and also very late - so the dock seemed like the best (easiest) place to pitch our tent.    The following day was a gorgeous one; perfect for taking the kayaks a short 1/4 mile down the Au Train River to the beach - which I'm quite sure is the largest on the Great Lakes.

The following day we awoke to rain.  Badly needed rain, so we dared not complain.  It was a slow steady rain with an occasional crack of thunder, and the men decided to hike to Chapel Rock.   Since I'd been there a couple times before, and wasn't as eager to do a 7 mile hike in the rain, I hung out at the Falling Rock Cafe in Munising.  Later, when the skies started to clear, I took the girls down to Bayfront Park.  That's where Tim and Dan found us about 4:00.  The skies were brightening by that time (or at least we convinced ourselves they were) so we decided to drive an hour to the eastern side of the Pictured Rocks National Seashore, check out the beach at Hurricane River, and have dinner in Grand Marais.   When we got to the Hurricane River, the waves were huge.   I mean, huge.  This is one of my favorite spots in the U.P. and it did not disappoint.   We enjoyed a leisurely stroll along the beach while the dogs allowed the waves to intermittently swallow them up and spit them out as they played with a stick in the water.

After a time, we went into Grand Marais.   The waves there were equally formidable and by now the skies had grown dark, with heavy rain off on the horizon.   We had a brief discussion about the state of our 'campsite' but there was nothing that could be done about it at that point, so we enjoyed dinner and headed back.    My car was in Munising, and I had the guys drop me off there so I could go to a gas station to wash up while they went back to Au Train.   I honestly thought that the tent would have blown into the river (along with all the stuff that was in it) - in which case it would be somewhere along the beach by now.   So when I pulled into the driveway and saw shadows of two men, carrying a tent in the dark, it was actually good news.

The tent had blown into a tree - which is a decidedly better place to end up than in a river.   At that point we weren't sure how badly it was damaged, if at all - but at least all the stuff in it was safe - and relatively dry.   Turns out, the tent wasn't damaged at all!   I've been camping for over 50 years and never had a tent blow down before - until this year.   And now it's happened twice, in nearly identical circumstances, 1200 miles apart.

We were left with just one  problem - where to sleep?    There weren't a lot of options.  And so we climbed over tool boxes and plywood, rolled out our sleeping bags and had an innaugural 'sleepover' in the new cabin.    The wind was howling and it was black as pitch but we were happy to be safe and dry.  We look forward to many more sleepovers there - in more comfortable accomodations - in the years to come.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

UP in the U.P.

My brothers and I are enjoying a few days up in the UP (Upper Peninsula) of Michigan, after a week of hard work, sorting through family pictures and memerobilia.   Tim is building a vacation home on the Au Train River, but it's not finished yet, so we've been camping on his dock!  The weather hasn't been great, but we're managing to make our own fun.
On the way up here on Tuesday, we shot some pictures of the dogs at Mackinac Island.   Whenever we take a picture of the three together, Princess has to be in the middle, because the other two fight.   She IS smaller than Elvis and Dee Dee, but not as much smaller as she appears in this photo.   She tends to slouch for pictures, while the other two totally ham it up.   Corgis smile rather naturally, but we get them to all look at the camera by saying, "Do you want to go to the PARK?"   And then, of course, after the photo shoot is over - we have to actually take them to the park.    I have a low tolerance for deceit - even for dogs!

Our next stop was Kitch-iti-kipi (Big Spring) at Palm Book State Park, which is a really cool place.   You take a barge across the lake, which is so clear you'd swear you were looking through glass.  You can see the springs bubbling up off the floor - which is 40 feet down!   It was fascinating.   It was getting dark by the time we left, and we wanted to get to Tim's place with a bit of twilight left to put up the tent.   So my brothers found a shortcut on a map.    It was a decent gravel road at first - but I could tell from the map, that it was going to deteriorate into something less navigable.   Turns out I was right.   Suddenly the road came to an abrupt end in a field of thick, muddy clay in somone's dumpy yard.   A pack of dogs (at least two of them pit bulls) charged our car, barking furiously while we attempted to back out of our predicament.   I wish I'd gotten my camera out because it felt like we were part of a movie script at that moment.   Fortunately, the owners chased off the dogs, we were able to back up and went back around via the main road.   And no, we did not have any twilight left to put up the tent.  Not even close.