You are seriously taking your eight month old camping?!?! This was the question Molly and I received from nearly everyone as we were planning our last getaway of the summer. We were both in need of some time to disconnect from the real world after a busy summer and hadn’t been to Michigan since our first camping trip together back in 2009. This time, we decided to venture a bit further north and booked a campsite in the Manistee National Forest for Sunday and Monday.
Once underway, the trip began to look rather dubious. We had planned on driving half way and finding a hotel so we could start our camping excursion fresh. However, there were no hotel rooms available at reputable establishments for less than $150 per night which our limited budget did not allow for (college tuition due soon – need I say more?). Undaunted, we booked a campsite at Muskegon State Park and rolled with it. With everything under wraps (or so we thought), we stopped for lunch at New Holland Brewing Company. While enjoying a solid burger and some great beers, Molly noticed Crosby’s left eye was a little puffy and mattery. “You have got to be fucking kidding me, I bet we are all going to come home with pink eye!” was our reaction. We decided to monitor it closely, camp Saturday night as planned, and make a decision whether to continue or abort mission first thing Sunday morning.
Saturday night was spent at the Channel Campground in Muskegon State Park. The campground was ok, but the sites had a good mixture of garbage in the sand and the nearby boat channel was quite busy and loud. Additionally, it was a significant walk on a fairly busy campground road to get to the beach. We made the most of it and enjoyed the sunset anyway. After putting Crosby down in the pack-and-play in the tent, Molly and I stayed up and enjoyed some adult beverages by the fire.
Sunday morning we awoke to find Crosby in a much better state. His eye was not puffy and was no longer watering. Go time! We broke camp and hauled ass north. After a quick pit stop in Ludington for provisions, we arrived in Manistee National Forest. Our site was in the Orchid Loop and we were impressed to find large, shaded, relatively secluded campsites throughout the park. After pitching camp, we packed a cooler full of milk and beer and headed to the beach. We had a great time sunning, swimming, and relaxing on the beautiful Michigan beach and dunes.
The next morning was a little dreary with some light rain so we jumped in the truck and decided to do some exploring. Crosby got his morning nap somehow as we plied the 4WD roads of Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area and discovered an unknown (to us) backpacking destination. Before heading back to camp, we also took a small journey a little further north to the actual town of Manistee. It boasted a great riverfront walk and some nice parks. The weather broke in the early afternoon so we headed back to camp to hit the beach, make dinner, and sit by the fire.
Tuesday morning was a crisp, absolutely spectacular morning and we took our time breaking camp and eating breakfast. We reluctantly packed up the car and began our journey back to reality. The plan was to make it as far as we could and then stop for lunch when Crosby started to fuss for food or to stretch his little legs.
Being a true road warrior, he made it all the way to Saugatuk before getting restless. We decided to stop at the Saugatuck State Park for a picnic lunch, but turned around at the gate reluctant to pay the $9 admission just to sit at a picnic table for half an hour. I had noticed another road that seemed to lead toward the beach nearby so we decided to check it out. What we found was a nice disc golf course, free parking, and a trail to an absolutely gorgeous beach. Our planned half hour stop quickly elongated as we enjoyed our stroll through the woods and on the Carribean-like beach. It was a perfect way to close out our first little camping adventure with Crosby and in true Cade and Molly form, we started planning our next excursion on the way home.