Every few years we go camping with our two daughters and their families. It is a wonderful time.
It all began back in 2009. We decided we would start a family tradition of taking a camping trip with the whole family. Mary and I were camping in a popup trailer at that time. The daughters and families were in tents. We went to Fort Wilkins State Park in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. This park is located in the northern most point of Michigan on the shore of Lake Superior. It is just outside Copper Harbor. It is a restored 1844 Army Fort and the site of one of the first light houses on Lake Superior. It is a beautiful area and I highly recommend it. There are 159 campsites. I think all have electric some are 30amp($25) and some are 50amp($29). There are modern shower houses. There is also a small cabin which sleeps four($74).
We live in south-east Michigan but it is quite a haul up to Fort Wilkins it is ten-hour drive without a trailer. But we made the journey just fine and got a great campsite. We were off to a good start. Just let me say that sunsets over Lake Superior are spectacular! But the flies were terrible. Not just any flies, these were man eating flies. It was like the old movie “The Naked Jungle” with flies instead of ants. In addition my bicycle broke down while we were there. Fortunately Copper Harbor has a small bike shop where I was able to find the necessary part. The curse wasn’t quite evident but it would become clear as family camping trips continued.
Our next trip was 2011 and we decided Kentucky would be our destination. Mary and I had met at Campbellsville College (University now) in central Kentucky and both of our daughters were born in Kentucky. We thought it would be nice to return and see some of our friends from the two churches we had pastored there.
We made a reservation at Nolin State Park. It seemed to have plenty for the kids to do and would be close enough to the two areas we wanted to visit. But the park became flooded and was going to be closed so we had to find another campground. Did someone say curse? We decided on My Old Kentucky Home State Park. This is a beautiful park with spacious sites which is situated around My Old Kentucky Home, the subject of Kentucky’s State Song written by Stephen Foster. There wasn’t really much for kids to do there. Almost every day we were there the temperature was 100+ degrees. There is no pool, no lake, no river, no creek, no nothing when it comes to aquatic recreation. We were still camping in the popup with no AC and our daughters were still in tents. One night when we went to bed the temperature was 98 degrees. I was pretty sure this pastor was in hell. That kind of heat can produce strong thunderstorms. And the storms they did come. The curse was becoming a little more clear.
It took three years for us to get up the courage to give the Family Camping Trip another try. In 2014 we decide to go to Lakeport State Park on the shores of Lake Huron just north of Port Huron, Michigan. This is a great state park. We had great campsites just feet from the beach. The perfect camping experience was in the making. Mary and I had sold the popup and borrowed her sister’s Road Trek and the kids were still in tents. Then it happened, historic rains came. There was some of the worst flooding in history all around us. While the campground did not flood one of our daughter’s tents certainly did. The curse continued.
It took us another three years to get the nerve to give it another try. I had listened to a RV Family Travel Atlas podcast about the Platt River Campground in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and was certain this would be a perfect place for us to gather for our next Family Camping Trip. Reservations are hard to get at Platt River so exactly six months before we were to go my daughter and I simultaneously got online and reserved two sights together. We were successful! Things were looking up! We were all going to arrive on Saturday. We now were camping in Pete(our 5th wheel). This would be our first big trip with him. Mary and I decide to leave on Friday after work and get a head start on the journey. We drove to Midland, MI and had our first Wal-docking (overnighting in a Walmart parking lot) experience. We could not get in through the main entrance because of FLOODING! Hmmm… could this be an omen?
We all safely arrived on Saturday. The campground was perfect. Everything was going great. As is our practice we went to church on Sunday. We went to Traverse City for church, went out for lunch and explored Mission Point before returning to the campground. I had not been feeling quite right that day and was experiencing some pain in my left leg. Back at the campground I was changing into a pair of shorts and noticed my leg was swollen and was quite warm to the touch. That night I wound up in the hospital with a severe infection in the leg and spent the rest of the week in the hospital. This curse is getting out of hand!
We are not quitters. This Saturday 6/22/19 we are going to give it another try. We will all meet at Fisherman’s Corner Army Corps of Engineers Campground situated in Illinois along the Mississippi River near the Quad Cities. We are expecting a wonderful week full of great experiences. But somewhere floating around in the back of my mind is the curse. Will it be broken? Or is there something sinister awaiting us? We will see.
Truthfully, I don’t believe in curses. Yes there have been some unfortunate experiences with each of our camping adventures. But all along the way we have had some great times and built some wonderful memories. Nothing that is really great comes without challenges. It is the challenge that makes the great times so great. The challenges give us a greater appreciation for the good times. Challenges helps build resilience and character. No one wants to face difficulty but we are made better through it. So we will keep camping. We will embrace the difficulty and meet it head on. And we will cherish the good times and the memories, some even made in the hard times.
So I say keep camping!