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Entries in biking (2)


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.


A bicycle built for two

In the wake of my sudden fear induced paralysis of the planning mind (too much guidance? Too little?) I've decided to try a modified workbox system. To be fair, I'm fully aware that some person has produced a how-to book on workboxing and that she is the definitive voice on the subject, so when I say "we're trying the workbox system" I can't really mean it because I've never read said book. The idea is simple enough, though—one box or drawer each for a variety of subjects or projects so that the child has a choice of what to work on at any given moment, and also has a space to keep work that was begun but is not yet finished. We already do this to some extent by keeping our current thematic study materials in a Wonder File so that we can easily tote them to the library when we go, but the workbox system will allow us to have multiple projects going at once, and will allow me to give suggestions of things to do or to plan certain activities in advance.

For this week I filled the boxes with a multitude of choices in each subject, many of them being variations on something to do with Antarctica, his most recent love, others being completely off that topic. Some of the choices are worksheets, others are books to read, still others are notecards suggesting that we play a game or go outside. This morning Calvin pulled out the science box, selected a book of experiments with the page of glacier experiments already marked, and beat me to the kitchen even before I had finished my crossword and coffee. So today we melted ice, we refroze the water, did some all around discussing of the states of matter, and there are two miniature glaciers hanging out in the freezer right now that will be a lot of fun if it doesn't rain tomorrow.

As projects are completed they are taken out of the drawers and placed in a folder on top of the unit. So far I think the system is working, but this being only day two I'll reserve judgement just yet. We didn't do science or Antarctica for all of the day, though. He did some math sheets at one point, and practiced the piano, and he read his book out loud to me while we were in the car running an errand.

And that special errand was another big part of our day. Calvin loves to ride his bike. He rides it to the mailbox, to the park, around the cul de sac. It's such a healthy activity, and lately I'd been wondering about getting back into our habit of biking into town for the library or other events (like ice cream!) instead of driving, or of hitting the paved paths in nearby parks, only he's too big for the trailer and too little to ride his own bike the whole way. I did a little research and found some great options for turning a standard adult bike into a tandem with child, only they were expensive, so I put a request out on Freecycle just on the off-chance...

I know I've mentioned how much I love our local Freecycle chapter, but this really takes the cake. Within a couple of days of submitting a "wanted" post asking if a family happened to have one of these bike attachments that maybe their children had outgrown and they had no use for anymore, I was driving the half hour to a nearby city to pick one up. And tonight we tried it out with a child who was nervous and apprehensive until the second time around the block, and by the third was impossible to pry off it.