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Camping Michigan, 2012

Although we are still on vacation, enjoying beautiful Northern Michigan away from the heat at home, we have come to the end of our first real camping trip, and enthused enough to label the trip with a year, because we are already planning an even longer trip for next summer.

This year's trip was three night's long, spent with friends in Wilderness State Park in a camp site that was nestled between the lake and the pine forest. It was beautiful and peaceful, and even had pretty clean bathrooms and showers, and the weekend was practically charmed. We slept in tents, we cooked over a propane stove and over a fire, we listened to the waves at night, or the wind in the trees, and we swam in the lake at almost every free moment.

We also took the boat to Mackinac Island for a day. We brought our bikes with us and biked the eight miles around the Island, stopping many times to explore and play, and half way around to eat lunch with the sea gulls. We visited the Grand Hotel (from the outside, of course), the Governor's residence (also from the outside), and Historic Fort Makcinac (also, outside), and we hiked the Island's hills to see the traditional geographic sites, like Arch Rock and Skull Cave. We took a horse-drawn taxi, we enjoyed a seafood dinner, and we brought home a box of Island fudge. We came home on almost the last boat, and watched the sun setting behind the Mackinac Bridge.

And who can go camping without a little hiking? Wilderness State Park has some beautiful hiking trails, and, armed with camera, binoculars, bug spray, and nature books, we spent an afternoon exploring one of them. One of the great things about our weekend was that the afternoons were warm, and the evenings were cool, but it never really got too hot or too cold. Of course, woods hiking requires long pants, socks, and shoes, and it left us sweaty and tired, but we were rewarded with some exhilerating wildlife sightings: Green Frogs, butterflies aplenty, moss and wildflowers, towering trees, chipmunks, squirrels, deer tracks, a Yellow-Bellied Sap Sucker, and a family of Belted Kingfishers playing together over the pond. Awesome.

We marked our final night with popcorn over the campfire, and our final morning with eggs on the campstove. After packing everything back up we took one last dip in Big Stone Bay and headed south to our favorite stop in Harbor Springs, and that is where you will find us still, hiding away from the heat wave smothering our own city back home. And so the vacation story is to be continued.

Tenting with a view of Big Stone Bay.

Pouring over nature books and taking notes.

Hiding from the few sprinkles that fell just after we set up camp.

But it doesn't say 'no seagulls'.

Splashing around in the bay.

Art we found on the beach.

Roasting our first dinner over an open fire.

Roasting our first dessert over an open fire.

Watching the sun set over Big Stone Bay.

On our way to Mackinac Island.

On the boat to Mackinac Island.

Island fudge!

Setting out on our bike trip around the island.

Mile one, we stopped to explore the stoney beach.

Nearing mile 2, we stopped to enjoy Arch Rock from the bike route.

Around mile 3.

Nearing mile 4.

Mile 4, half way around, we stopped at British Landing for lunch.

Actually an 'unposed' picture.

Back in town, outside the Grand Hotel.

Playing in the sprinkler at the Governor's Island residence.

Outside Fort Mackinac.

At Skull Cave.

Above Arch Rock.

Above Arch Rock.

Marquette with a seagull on his head.

The main street on the island.

Taking a horse drawn taxi.

Watching the sun set behind the Mackinac Bridge on the boat ride home.

Hiking Wilderness State Park: Green Frog,

Monarch Butterfly on Swamp Milkweed,


Belted Kingfisher,

Identifying wildflowers,

strange, strange, birch tree,

Kingfishers playing,

and a chipmunk.

Cooling off in Big Stone Bay.

A game borrowed from the camp office 'book nook'.

Watching one last sunset over Big Stone Bay.

Morning on the bay.

Eggs for breakfast.

Heading out, looking a little scruffier than when we arrived.

Polo match in Bliss.

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