My friend Trish, who makes those adorable pigs in our Handwork Group, shared this story with me recently, and I thought it was so great that I wanted to pass it on to you. With her permission, of course, I've reprinted the email she sent me:
This year we wanted to try something a little more remote than our usual camping in Michigan State Parks, so we went to Beaver Island, the most remote inhabited island in the Great Lakes and a 2-hour ferry ride from Charlevoix.
As we set up camp, black flies attacked my ankles. Uh-oh. “I hadn’t thought about black flies,” I said out loud. “How could you forget the black flies!?” snapped my husband as he swatted at his ankles. Later, we heard there’d been no black flies until our arrival.
The next day, it poured, but we were dry in our kitchen tent, along with lots of black flies.
Later, we went swimming but I was like "Hey, who put the ice cubes in Lake Michigan?!" The kids plunged right in. I hopped back to shore.
The next night, it rained, but we felt snug and dry listening to it drumming on our tent. My husband had done a good job of rustling up cots and air mattresses for the four of us for our first tent camping experience in eight years. However, there wasn't one extra square inch of space in the tent once we were all zipped into our sleeping bags. So if you had to make a midnight bathroom run, you first had to find your shoes which were somewhere underneath our daughter’s air mattress by the door while balancing over her and being careful not to fall on her, then lean over and unzip two zippers inside and then the outside zipper. By the end of the week, we didn’t bother with the shoes.
Meanwhile, our neighbors had all the most modern conveniences in camping equipment– two spacious tents, two shower tents and their own personal boat toilet. What a compound! They even had pitched a screened tent on the beach because as they told me "When you're at Lake Michigan, you can count on black flies, right?" Er, right. But the item I envied most was this huge inner tube which seemed to me the key to swimming in Lake Michigan because it kept you OUT of it.
The next day it rained again. This time, my pillow wicked in the water, and I had a dampish sleeping bag. That night, it was so cold that around 2 a.m., my husband went to the car and got the wool blanket to put over the kids’ sleeping bags. I had to give him credit; I would have kept it! We put our winter hats on to get through the rest of the night; it's amazing how much better you feel with a warm head. The next night, we went to bed with our hats on and had to pull them off in the middle of the night because we were roasting. Cold one night, warm the next.
The next day, the wind died, and the mosquitoes moved in. Was this Beaver Island or Mosquito Island? When we got home, we counted our mosquito bites; we each had fifty a piece! It seemed like we’d dealt with every Old Testament pestilence. Where were the locusts?!
But on the "up" side, we saw an osprey pair on their nest, a beaver swimming back and forth in his pond (they really are "busy"), the tails of two snakes as they slithered away, lots of monarch butterflies drifting about, swans bobbing up and down on Lake Michigan, a male turkey, a female one with her brood, deer and toads. The kids found some great old trees to climb. There was spongy moss everywhere– kind of like you’d find in a Hansel and Gretel woods.
I was so skanky by our fourth day that I finally plunged into Lake Michigan (after tiptoeing through all the ice cubes) and really found it refreshing. The next day, I took another dip and felt completely human again. Why had I waited so long? I wished I'd gotten the hang of swimming in glacial water sooner.
We had a bonfire on the beach the night before we left. As the fire died down, all the stars came into focus. Are there really that many stars? My son saw his first shooting star. He said after he saw his first shooting star, he would go to bed because he was tired. Smart kid. My daughter stayed up with her dad and saw eight more.
As we passed by a restaurant the next day on the way to the ferry, we heard live Irish music on their front deck. A father sat playing music with his four children as they waited for their lunch to be served, his face beaming with pleasure. The other diners were captivated. His daughter danced a jig, sang and played the tin-penny flute. His other three children played the fiddle, guitar and Irish drum. Many of Beaver Island’s 600 year-round inhabitants are of Irish descent. This family had visited the island to perform that week.
On the way home, we stopped at a rest area on I-75 and made macaroni and cheese for dinner. How remarkably easy to be able to walk in the restroom and turn on the water!. Amazing the way the water flowed right out of the faucet!As we passed through the downtown area near our metro Detroit home, my seven-year-old son said "Boy, it's really noisy here! I'm going to have to get used to this!" My children took showers and marveled at how they could just go to the next room to go to the bathroom. So, we returned home with a new appreciation of home.