On Friday Matt and I and my friend Tina loaded up the car with all of our camping gear and ample foodstuffs and headed to Southwestern Michigan.
We arrived at Warren Dunes State Park just before sundown and raced to erect our tents while we could still see them. Our friend Daniel rolled up an hour later, after having battled the stress of heavy traffic on his drive from Minneapolis.
As the sun set, Matt and I tried to hone our fire-building skills but just confirmed the fact that we really have no fire-building skills (we’ve had this problem before). It didn’t help that, by this point, it was too dark out to search the woods for kindling. It took the burning of nearly an entire Weekend Edition newspaper before finally getting some logs alight and I’m convinced that everyone uses lighter fluid or some sort of fire starter to get their fire going.
Daniel works to get a fire going.
We managed to get a respectable fire going on Friday night and a better one on Saturday night (when we actually used a fire starter kit). I’m still trying to wash the smoke smell out of my hair but I’ll admit that I’m secretly hoping it lasts a little longer.
Surprisingly, Lake Michigan has really good surfing and we (or at least I) was itching to try it while we were there. I’ve never gone surfing before so I booked a lesson for the 4 of us but, naturally, there were absolutely no winds this weekend so we never got a chance to try it.
Me, Daniel, Matt, Tina, and two old fisherman who photobombed us.
Instead we went Stand-Up Paddleboarding on Saturday morning. This was my second time doing it (the first time being a SUP Yoga class during my yoga teacher training) and it was my favourite part of the weekend. I find it really relaxing, even when I’m trying to row fast. Because you can put more of your body into it, it doesn’t feel as tiring for the arms and back as canoeing and kayaking do.
Plus I love to stand, so there’s that.
Hiking the Dunes
Daniel, Matt, and Tina at the sand dunes
There are impressive sand dunes all along the west coast of Michigan and, though I’ve been to different parts of western Michigan on several occasions, I’ve never been to any of the dunes. Warren Dunes State Park is made up of a number of massive sand dunes dotting the coastline of Lake Michigan.
I’ll be honest and say I don’t like sand dunes. We climbed a few of them, one really steep one in particular, and while I loved the challenge of the climb— ie. the extreme incline coupled with the ground sinking beneath your feet so a single step is more like half a step— I mostly hate sand which is, of course, is the essence of the dunes. It’s a nuisance.
This dune was even steeper than it looked. Especially near the top. . .
. . . here’s the same dune from the top. It’s so steep Matt’s on all fours.
There are trails in the park that wind through the woods where the ground is firm but it seems like, ultimately, all paths lead to dunes.
They are quite impressive to see and I’m glad we got a chance to hike them, but it wasn’t my favourite thing.
We spent Saturday afternoon at the beautiful beach on Lake Michigan. The sky was clear, the sand was soft, and the water was blue. It felt a lot like a Caribbean beach with fresh water.
Unfortunately we were ill-equipped for an afternoon at the beach. Having brought no umbrellas or cabanas we were left baking in the sun which, I understand, some people actually enjoy but for me it feels a lot like torture.
I kept my clothes on most of the time to avoid getting burned which just made me hot and cranky. Luckily the water was cold and refreshing to give me some respite.
I have a philosophy of eating well while camping and I’d say we ate very well.
I made mushroom hand pies, lentil fatayer, and roasted corn for dinner one night and pan bagnat on homemade baguette the next lunch.
Tina came ready with banana pancakes, pb&j french toast, and mini quiches for our breakfasts.
Daniel provided us with a picnic of very spicy chili and sweet cornbread to refuel after our paddleboarding adventure.
We also had ample fruit like clementines, peaches, and . . . ummm. . . brandy?
Of course we didn’t forgo the campfire classic, roasted marshmallows, this weekend. On Saturday night we made s’mores and I surprised myself by only eating two even though Tina had the genius idea of using Reese peanut butter cups instead of milk chocolate.
Two s’mores is still more sugar than necessary, but I’ve been known to eat an unreasonable number at bonfire outings so I consider it an improvement.
All signs point to s’mores
My restraint may have been due to the fact that I was sitting next to a dietitian, Mrs. Prevention RD herself(!), whom I finally got to meet in real life. And I must say she is just as fun and bubbly as she is on her blog.
Overall I had an awesome weekend and I’m so glad that I got to go camping with good friends this summer.