A Weekend Away in Michigan

After what amounted to a very long week, we set out with some friends (Don and Sara Jones) for a weekend of camping in the great state of Michigan. After munching down on Portillo's beef sandwiches, the four of us drove two hours around the bottom of Lake Michigan, passing through Indiana, and came around to the Michigan side of the lake. Our campsite was Warren Dunes State Park. Having left around 5 o'clock we did not arrive at our site until 8:30pm EST, which meant that we set up our tents by the lovely light of our Element. After a sweet little campfire and some s'mores, we all went to bed. Or so we thought. That night just happened to be blusteringly windy. So when we woke up the next morning, we were all running off of two hours of sleep. And we loved it.

Seeing that we got no sleep, we needed to keep as active as possible...which wasn't very hard. It is Michigan. So after a quick breakfast the four of us hopped in our car and drove down to the lake for an early morning surf session. Brian would like to think that the women looked on in awe as Don and Brian valiantly battled the choppy waves, but in the end it probably looked more like bath toys bobbing in a tide pool at your local water park. Even without any waves, everyone still had a good time.

The rest of the day was a whirlwind. After a quick lunch, we headed down to the Third Coast Surfshop, the mecca of Midwest surfing. Then, having paid our tithes, we headed forty miles north to a down-home, fresh-from-the-tree Apple Orchard. The scenery was gorgeous, but the apple pie a-la-mode, as well as the cold cider and cider donuts, were a taste that won't soon be forgotten. Finally, we headed back down south to our campsite. In an attempt to not fall asleep, we decided to go for a hike on the dunes. One hundred feet into our hike, the girls saw an enormous hill and decided, "hey, we should climb this!" So up we went. And we climbed, and we climbed, and we climbed some more. Let's just say that we won't be climbing fifty degree hills that have sand as their ground for a loooooong time. Everyone made it to the top, and the view of the lake and the dunes as well as the fall colored trees that could be seen for fifty miles all around were worth the trek. Having caught our breath, we leapt down the hill (now that was fun!) and headed back to camp to start dinner. Monica cooked a great lemon-seasoned turkey kielbasa with potatoes and carrots. It was rather comical to watch the boys trying to balance the foil wrapped meal above a blazing firepit with nothing but two cement bricks and an aluminum container. We broke out the s'mores one more time, but Don and Brian decided to add another ingredient to the s'mores mix: cider donuts. They claimed it was great, but the girls were really skeptical (you know men and their desire to save face). With the sun down and our stomachs full, we chattered around the campfire for a couple hours and then turned in.

The next morning we awoke much better rested and set out for a low-key day. That is...until we started on a five mile hike through dunes, beach and forest. But it was worth every minute. The colors in the trees were phenomenal, the pattern in the sand was intricate and the neighboring deer were friendly (seriously, if you have never seen true midwestern fall color, you really need to find a way to come out in mid-October...it's amazing). Once we got back to camp, we started tearing our site down and headed off to a place called St. Joe to see if some surf could be found. Surfing is odd in Michigan (and in Illinois for that matter), so you still tend to get stares from passer-byes...which Brian loves. When we got to St. Joe, the winds were roaring and the lake was turbulent. Good conditions, right? Not so much...you really should have been here yesterday. So we turned our car around and grabbed our last lunch of the trip at a fun little place called Shu's. After filling our bellies, we made the hour and a half trek back through Indiana and into Chicago. Overall we loved our times up in Michigan, and we really enjoyed our time with our friends.

Here are some pics from our mini-vacation...

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