We go camping a few times each summer, and take two week long trips per summer. This has been the third season of our camping adventures since we purchased our travel trailer.
One of our trips each summer has been to Ludington State Park on Lake Michigan on the west side of our great state of Michigan. The park is one of the most popular parks in the state, as it is big, has two great beaches, is in a great tourist area, and has some great sites. You can book six months in advance, and making reservations is like getting tickets to a Taylor Swift concert, if you're a few minutes past when the sites become available, you're not getting one.
Until this year, the park has been somewhat of a bittersweet travel. In 2012, it was our first big camping trip. I was still very raw in dealing with the camper, so when a big thunderstorm blew in off the lake and damaged my awning, I was almost ready to sell the camper and find something else to do (it was made worse by the fact that for the two days that the awning was unusable, it was over 100 degrees and we had no shade). Last year, the weather was cold for a good portion of the trip, and we were on what had to be the two sandiest sites in the park (last year, my in-laws joined us as they also purchased a camping trailer).
Even with all that, we've had fun, but this year when we booked we wondered what would come our way this year. Turns out, it was nothing but awesomeness!
We arrived on Saturday, 8/22 and left on Sunday, 8/31. Initially, the weather forecast had us thinking we might get a day or two at the beach as well as hopefully a trip down the river (more on that). As it turns out, we did much better!
Saturday – It was hot and humid when we were setting up. We were in a part of the park that had no trees, so it was definitely not fun setting up, but I prefer hot over cold so I just drank water and took breaks while getting things setup. The biggest obstacle, and it was more of a laugh than anything else, is that the path that leads to the bathrooms was no longer where it was listed on the map…it'd been right between our site and my in-laws site. Still, we got to say hi to lots of people throughout the trip, so it worked out just fine. As soon as we were finished, the sun went over the trees and it cooled off, making things perfect for a great evening.
Sunday – It was forecast to be warm and sunny, and it did not disappoint. We took the kids down to Lake Michigan and were there all day. The kids had a blast in the water and sand, and you couldn't ask for a better day at Lake Michigan.
Monday – Early last summer, we all bought tubes to go down the river that sort of connects the two lakes (there's an inland lake with the river that runs for a mile or so into Lake Michigan). Last year was too cold for us to all go, but this year was just fine, and the kids had a blast riding along with us.
Tuesday – The morning started off nice and sunny, so we figured we'd hit the beach on Lake Michigan again. By the time we got down there, it got a little chilly. While we all had fun, the time was cut short when it started getting breezy.
Wednesday – It was a little cooler (low 70's) but bright and sunny, so we went over to the inland lake, which has a great beach with very little walking to get there. On cooler days, this beach is better since there's not as much breeze, little waves, and the water is a bit warmer. The kids played until they dropped.
Thursday – It was a repeat of Wednesday so we tried it again and it worked. We'd now doubled our number of expected beach days!
Friday – The day was cool and cloudy, so we drove into a nearby town. We all found some fun t-shirts and had a great meal at a restaurant I'd previously been down on, but that we decided to give a second chance to. Well worth the try as they redeemed themselves….for now!
Saturday – It was my 40th birthday and it was a great day. My parents drove up to surprise me, which was truly awesome and completely made my day. The weather was not cooperative, as the big winds blowing off the lake that day meant that while we tried the beach, it did not last for more than 10 minutes before we reversed course. My parents had booked a room at a nearby hotel, and offered that we could take the kids to use the pool. They loved the idea and I spent about two hours in the water with them, and they had a great time. Later we had Mexican food for dinner, and my favorite cake for dessert. It could not have been a better birthday.
Sunday – It was time to leave. Packing up saw no problems and we got home in just over five hours, which is a good drive time for the 260 miles or so. The kids both crashed within five minutes of being put down at bedtime…and so did we!
In between all that, we got in some campfires, some great bike rides, walks, a sunset or two, and just about everything else you could wish for. If anybody ever questioned why I liked camping, I would point to this trip as it contained just about every reason of what makes a camping trip special.