September 19, 2007

The 4 Snafus

Over the past 15 years we've had some wonderful camping trips at Muskegon State Park in Michigan. It's a beautiful campground! The campsites are surrounded by trees and are within walking distance of Lake Michigan. Also within walking distance is Muskegon Lake and a large canal that connects the 2 lakes. If you don't feel like sitting around your campsite devouring S'mores, you can fly kites on the beach at Lake Michigan. If you get tired of that you can stroll over to the canal and toss your leftover hot dog buns to the multitudes of swans, ducks, and sea gulls that swim in the canal. Another thing that's fun to do is watch all the boats coming and going along the canal. (The best part of the campground, however, is the fact that it comes complete with actual sinks, toilets, mirrors, and showers!)
Now that I've sold you on the idea of camping at MSP, I'll tell you about our most unforgettable camping trip ever.
After our oldest son had graduated and completed one year of college, we missed him. He'd had a crazy, busy year and hadn't been around much. Our next oldest was busy as well-he was still being homeschooled, but he also had a job and friends etc. It seemed like that entire year had gone by and we'd lost the connection we'd had as a family. We wanted to do something to unite us all again. A camping trip! That was the ticket. I'd prefer a 4 star hotel, but with 4 boys I knew I shouldn't even suggest that. Instead I created a picture in my head of the 6 of us piling into our van, driving and laughing our way to Lake Michigan, connecting with each other, you know?
Early that spring we made reservations at the campground and sent our deposit in. We eagerly planned meals, bought kites and marshmallows and gathered firewood. The first snafu was when our two oldest announced that they would have to work the day we were planning on leaving. That blew the whole idea of riding up there together. They would work and then drive up together that evening. Oh well. There were still 2 boys we could ride with and laugh with and connect with. Plus, we had the whole weekend to spend with all of them.
The morning of the Big Trip came. As we opened our bedroom curtains we noticed that it was drizzly. A quick check of the weather showed us it would be clear and cool in Michigan. Good deal. We loaded the van and started on our way. After a bit the drizzle turned to rain. Not just rain, but pouring rain. No problem. It was clear in Michigan! The closer we got we noticed another snafu. The temperature started dropping.
We arrived at the campground right around dusk. We were hungry and sick of driving was still raining. As we pulled up to our campsite my husband and I looked at each other. What should we do? Set up the tent or wait for the rain to stop? Even as we spoke the rain turned to drizzle, then mere drips. So, we piled out of the van and began setting up camp. Just as we were putting our sleeping bags in the tent it started drizzling again, then pouring rain. Then the temperature dropped a little more. Now we were not only wet, but we were getting chilly. We told the 2 boys to just sit tight in the tent and we'd try and start a fire and get dinner going. After about 10 minutes we gave up on the fire. The wood was sopping. We did manage to get our stove going and heated up some wet slop for the kids. Then, "Hey dad. The tent is leaking right above your sleeping bag."
"It's dripping on my head momma."
"I'm hungry. Can we come out there and eat?"
To make a LONG story shorter, (but not short), we all ate.
After "dinner" we decided that since it was still raining outside and inside the tent maybe we should at least put our sleeping bags and clothes in the van until the rain stopped. All 4 of us, wet and muddy, grabbed stuff and just threw it all pell mell into the back of the van. As my husband closed the doors the rained slowed to a drizzle, then mere drips. We shrugged and looked at the sky. No stars, but with "clear and cool in Michigan" reverberating in our ears we decided to unload the van and organize the tent. Just as we put the finishing touches on our wilderness home it started drizzling again, then pouring. By now we were getting snappy with each other, alternated by bouts of hysterical laughter.
You won't believe we did this, but we did. We quickly pulled everything back out of the tent, this time throwing the kids in the van along with everything else.
"Just sit there until it stops raining!"
We called our older two boys and learned that they were well on their way. They were exhausted from work, and sounded a little testy on the phone, but at least they were coming!

After about 15 minutes the rain slowed to a drizzle, then mere drips. Giving up on the idea of sleeping in the van, sitting up, we set up our stuff in the tent. Again. By now we were good and wet and freezing. The temperature had dropped even lower. We finally got the fire going and after letting the boys warm up a bit, we sent them to bed. Another call to our older 2 revealed snafu #3. They were lost. They had:

  • A map of America
  • A map of Indiana
  • A Michigan State Map
  • A map of the state park
  • A GPS
  • A map they'd printed off the Internet with detailed directions on how to get To Our Campsite and they were lost.

They finally found us after 13 phone calls, and we all went to bed. ( It was about 1:00am when they arrived at the campground.) Then the temperature dropped. By morning I think the temperature had dropped to the 40's. We were damp and freezing all night. Mike and I could hardly talk because our jaws had been so clenched and shivery all night. It never really warmed up that day and Benjamin, our oldest, created snafu #4. He sprained his ankle but good and had to sit at a picnic table by our campsite all weekend. That meant that any bonding we wanted to do with him could not be done by flying kites on the beach nor feeding the swans, nor by watching the boats.

We froze that day and that night. We had on winter hats for crying out loud and this was June!

Just as we finished loading the van to come home the sun finally warmed the place up enough that we were able to take off a couple layers. We pointed our chins to the sky, let the sun warm our cheeks and left.

We haven't had the heart to camp since.


  1. This is hilarious. I wouldn't have lasted past the first attempt. (And probably not even that.) The cold definitely would have done me in. How did you do it?

  2. Oh, and BTW, your boys may have gotten lost, but at least they HAD maps! :-) (Not all US Americans do, you know.)


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