Monthly Archives: July 2015

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around the campsite

This was the first year that I didn’t take a picture of the Mackinac Bridge. No idea why. I took this one (above) out the window as we were crossing. Look at the color of that water. Our Great Lakes are so gorgeous. This is the Straits of Mackinac that connect Lake Michigan to Lake Huron.

OUR CAMPSITE. Here’s our campsite once we got it all set up. Jen owns all the camping supplies because she camps a lot more than I do. After ten summers of camping together, I pretty much know everything she’s got and where she keeps it. She’s super organized and always thinks of everything. The screened in tent was something she bought a few years ago and it’s been great to be able to sit under there to eat, to protect our food from the bugs (Except this year! We were killing flies left and right!), and to keep us dry if it rains, which it did.

OUR CAMPFIRE. In the background, you can see our neighbors under their screened tent. You can also see the fence and the little electric box, where I charged my phone. If you read the tales I shared the other day about our trip, this is the spot where the line of baby raccoons came parading out to their mama, who was under the neighbor’s tent. Eeeek!

Love me some burnt marshmallows. Mmmmm.

OUR RESTROOMS. These are the lovely temporary restrooms that were set up in the campsite next to ours in place of the modern bath facilities, which had been demolished and were in the process of being rebuilt. I actually just received an email the other day from the DNR informing me that there was construction happening on the bathroom building and about the temporary restrooms, but it said “for your upcoming camping trip on July 16th” and I received the email a week after that. Duh! We had to laugh at the title “Royal Restrooms”. They might be perfect for a wedding or smaller event, but when you’ve got so many campers using them daily, week after week, and often overflowing the toilets (gross!), well, it’s far from a regal experience.

OUR MEALS. I didn’t photograph all of our meals. Gasp. We always bring along marinated chicken, veggies, and Jen added salmon into the mix the past couple years that her parents caught fishing. We cook the meat/fish and veggies in a tin foil packet over the fire. So good. Jen also has a small Coleman grill that we use to heat water for coffee/tea. This year, she invested in a griddle for the grill, so she cooked up some pancakes and sausage, which was so yummy. If you follow me on instagram, you will have seen that our sausage had a mind of its own. See that HERE. When we are out and about for the day, we make sandwiches and take a small cooler with us. And hobo pies are a favorite. We had pizza hobos the first night and hobos with pie filling the last night (I had apple! Yum!).

On the last night, we had a bit of a rain storm blow through. We sat under the screen tent while it passed. We ended up playing Uno by flashlight. And we might have taken pictures of Jen making scary faces with the flashlight pointed under her chin, which made me laugh hysterically, but I won’t share those here. ;)

More pictures to come of all the sights and the beautiful sunsets we saw.

camping in the Porkies

Peace and quiet. I was in dire need of time away from my computer. The days were flying by in a blur of book marketing with the tiniest bit of writing thrown in. :( I needed to clear my mind and regroup and renew and come back rested and ready to tackle this book.

The moment we crossed the Mackinac Bridge into the Upper Peninsula felt almost like instant calm and peacefulness. There’s something about the U.P. Like stepping back in time to a slower pace. The towns are smaller. There’s so much green up there. The air seems cleaner. Jen and I both took a deep breath and sighed, like “Aaah. We’re back.”

Jen and I have known each other since we were six. We met in first grade and have been friends ever since. This is our 11th summer of going on a girls getaway together and our 10th summer camping. We’ve got it down to a science by now. We set up camp in record time, both knowing which camp duties are ours, and we just get it done.

I’ve never been much of an outdoorsy girl, but I’m thankful every year for our camping trip. It gets me outside in the woods, hiking, enjoying the beautiful world God created. Michigan is a gorgeous state and I’m very happy its home.

This year, we chose Porcupine Mountain State Park, the Porkies as they are called. I’ll share pictures over the next week or so as I go through them all, but today I wanted to share a few stories and tips from our trip.

This was the closest sight to our campground (Union Bay) and was something people online highly recommended. It was gorgeous there. We visited in the morning when it was overcast and hazy and the clouds were hanging low over the hills. Just beautiful. We decided to go back again the next day when it was bright and sunny and we were so glad we did. Everything was so lush and green. I actually used my big camera and had fun playing around with it after not having shot with it for a while. Here’s the side by side of both of our visits to the lake.

We read that there were black bears in the Porkies, so we were a little concerned about that. The woman at the visitor center told us not to worry about them. Jen was like, “OK. But say we are walking along and we come across one. What should we do?” We wanted to make sure we didn’t do the wrong thing in that situation. She said just to make noise and they would run away, and she advised us never to run. We came across people with bells on their backpacks. I said I was just gonna start whooping and hollering if we saw one, but I didn’t have to make a fool of myself ’cause we never encountered a bear.

We did, however, encounter these funny little squirrels that look almost like a chipmunk but with a long body. Someone said they were red squirrels. Never saw that kind before.

We also had to deal with some annoying rascals at our campsite. Our neighbors informed us that they had seen a couple raccoons by the fence that ran along the back of our campsites earlier that day. While sitting by the fire that night, Jen spotted movement out of the corner of her eye and turned the flashlight on it. Then the next day, while it was still light out, a coon just came out and walked along the fence. We scared it back into the bushes. Then a little later, I thought I spotted some movement under the picnic table in the neighbors’ screened in tent. I assumed it was their dog, but then I noticed their dog was lying on the ground by their camper. The raccoon was under there, scrounging around for food. Just as we told the neighbors, about 5 or 6 baby raccoons came out of the brush toward their mama. It was creepy. The neighbor guys scared them back into the bushes. So weird seeing this long line of raccoon babies parade across the yard. I only wish I’d had my phone on me so I could video it, but my phone was actually sitting on top of the electric box right next to the neighbors screen tent, so the baby raccoons would have had to pick up my phone and take a selfie for me to capture it.

And how can I mention “wildlife” and not mention the mosquitos. They were thick this year. And we also had to deal with these nasty little biting flies, which were the most annoying thing ever. I hate bugs. So much. But we kept a constant spray of Deep Woods Off going and did our best to kill the mosquitos and flies that got inside the tent. In the end, I came home with several bites – a few on my legs, and several on my right arm. Why the right arm? Who knows. I think we came out of it OK for the amount of bugs we encountered.

The U.P. is the best place to see the stars. Like all of them. There are no big nearby cities lighting the sky. It’s dark dark dark, which makes it possible to see so many stars and the Milky Way and satellites and shooting stars so clearly. Jen saw a couple shooting stars on the first night and I was so bummed I missed them. But on the last night, as we were about to hit the hay, I looked up and said, “OK, God, give us a big shooting star,” and just as the word “star” left my lips, a big one shot across the sky and we both saw it. It was so awesome. Thanks, God!

Another sight we hit was Summit Peak. This one was about 20 minutes from camp. The path was woodsy and on quite a bit of an incline at times. We were happy to reach the overlook, which sits at the bottom of the long flight of stairs leading to the top. We took a break there and caught our breath (Must get my butt out and run. I’m so out of shape right now. ugh!), then headed up the stairs. I don’t know how many steps there were. Hundreds, I think. Once you make it to the top, there is a large wooden tower with four flights of stairs that lead you to the highest point in the park. The view up there is beautiful. You can see out to Lake Superior and all around.

Jen is not a fan of heights. At all. But she braved the tower and I was so proud of her for that. For whatever reason, we always end up doing things that involve heights and she always pushes through her fear. She’s awesome.

Had to see all the waterfalls. Love waterfalls, and Michigan has so many in the U.P. The weather was beautiful, but muggy the day we went here, and there are a lot of steps and trails to get you to the falls.

While I was sweating my butt of, my leg muscles throbbing, my chest burning, I kept thinking about how much it hurt, but how it would be worth it in the end to reach our goal. So true in so many areas of life. Hard work and determination will be rewarded in the end. And you will get through all the pain and struggles and look back and see everything it took to get to your reward. :)

If you are staying at Union Bay this summer, be prepared to wait in line for the bathroom. The modern bath facilities were demolished this year and there are two port-o-potty trailers, “royal restrooms” as the name plastered across the side of them says, set up in its place. We were “lucky” enough to get campsite #74, which just happened to be right next to these restrooms with their lovely aroma. One of the trailers contains 3 restrooms, each with a toilet, sink, and shower. The other has 2 restrooms/showers, which are handicap accessible. FIVE restrooms total for the entire campground! Considering just how many tent campers there were when we were there, five restrooms is not enough. Especially since they all have showers in them and often they would be filled with people getting cleaned up, so those people who just had to use the restroom had to wait a while or walk to the far end of the campground to the disgusting vault toilets – those lovely toilet seats over a hole in the ground. One more trailer with just toilets would have helped so much. Anyway … just thought I’d share that if anyone is headed to the Porkies this summer. ;)

By the end of the trip, I was tired and ready to go home, but my soul felt peaceful. We talked about the trip on our drive home, what our favorite part was. I really loved Lake of the Clouds, but I felt that it was a great trip overall. I loved everything we saw and, while it wasn’t my favorite campground of all the ones we’ve stayed at, it was quiet with good neighbors. Another successful year.

hello, monday

This week, I started reading Goodbye, Magnolia again. It’s been weeks since I last touched it, and I find that each time I read through it, I’m further away from the editing mindset and more able to enjoy the story itself. As I’m about to get back into editing the new book, I felt I should read through Magnolia again to make sure that all of the things that happen in Maggie’s story fit with the timeline of the new book. So far so good. Just a couple small things so far that I want to incorporate into Michelle’s story. So excited about this one.

Last night, I was thinking about the young adult novel I want to write next. The story is in my mind and in a very large text file filled with notes about characters and story. I have finally settled on names for the two main characters and I LOVE them! Not sharing yet, but very excited to work on this one, too.

So many stories, so little time. ;)

If you have yet to read either of MY BOOKS, this week would be a great time to pick them up at $1.99 each. Available on Amazon, B&N and iTunes. Click HERE or the “books” tab above if you’re reading from my blog.

thinking about you

It’s a miracle. I wrote on my blog. ;) My weekend was filled with many happy moments. Lots of laughing with my mom, Aunt Pat and Tonya on our Girls Days trip. Good meals. Catching up. Shopping. Playing Nutsy every night. Being silly. Enjoying the beautiful weather.

On the 4th, I joined up with Jake and the kids, who were already at Heather + Jeff’s. We sat outside on their deck and watched several of their neighbors shoot off fireworks. It was a pretty impressive display. Sunday was Scarlett’s 5th birthday party. One of the sweetest moments was when she saw me curling Chloe’s hair and she asked if I would curl hers, too. My heart melted into a puddle. ;) She sat so patiently while I made little loose ringlets all around her head. So sweet. I love being an aunt.

While I was sitting here thinking about the fun weekend we just had, I started thinking about all of you. I wondered what your holiday looked like, what stories you would tell if we got together for coffee this morning.

Did you have to work the whole weekend? Were you under the weather and in bed the whole time or at the hospital with a sick loved one? Did you just go through the worst breakup of your life and cried your night away while the fireworks boomed loud outside? Or maybe you just got engaged? Or celebrated a birthday or an anniversary? Were you annoyed by your neighbors shooting off fireworks late into the night? Were you happy? Were you sad? Were you grieving? Were you falling in love?

Last night, I jumped back into writing on the new novel. I tried to put myself in Michelle’s shoes and write all of her emotions during a very tough scene. I think that’s why I’m thinking about you guys so much today. I’m trying to think about other people and how they deal with things. And I feel very strongly right now that some of you out there might just need prayer or need to vent or want to share something exciting. If that’s you, then feel free to comment below or email me if you have a prayer request. I’m thinking about ya’.

AJAXed with AWP