Taquamenon Falls Camping Trip

It seems like it has been AGES since I last posted.  I have been super busy working overtime, getting ready for our camping trip, taking the camping trip, unpacking from the camping trip, opening the pool, and now working more overtime.  Whew! I’m tired typing that out! 😉

Memorial Day weekend was my holiday off from work, so we planned a camping trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with some of hubby’s family.  We went up on Thursday, and we came back on Tuesday.  I have mixed feelings about the trip; we definitely had fun, but there were also some negatives.

We stayed at the Taquamenon Falls State Park lower falls campground.  There was electric hookup, but no water or sewer hookup.  My only previous camping trip in our camper had full hookups, so this was a learning experience for me (more about how quickly I learned later).  For this trip, we didn’t take the dogs because hubby had heard there was some issues with wolves attacking dogs in the U.P.  I didn’t want to ride in the car for 8 hours with a whining, panting dog either.  We dropped the dogs off at grandma’s on the way, and we were off.  The only snag we had on the way up was the RV refrigerator not running on propane.  We stopped at the RV dealer, thinking the tank was empty, only to find that we had to play around with something or other to get it to work (hubby I’m sure knows what the “something or other” is, but I have no clue!).  I slept almost the ENTIRE car ride!

When we got to our campsite, setup went rather smoothly.  We had a really nice site, but we didn’t use it much because we were always at one of the central family sites.

campsite collage

 

The only snag we had while setting up is when Scott asked me to run the hot water to prime the hot water tank.  I went in, turned on the faucet, and then I went back outside to put tablecloths on the table.  About 15-20 minutes later, I asked Scott if I could turn the water off.  He looked at me with a horrified expression; I emptied about a third of our fresh water tank, and filled our grey tank about 2/3.  Fortunately a family member had a tow-able portable holding tank they let us borrow on the second day so we didn’t have to pack everything up, empty at the sanitation station, and then unpack and set up again!

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It was pretty chilly the first two days.  (We would later find out we preferred the chilly weather over the warm or wet weather)  The lower falls were a short bike ride from the campsite.  We could actually hear them at our campsite, that is how close we were.

 

 

lower falls collage

 

 

Day 2 we went to Crisp Point to see Lake Superior and the lighthouse.  The drive seemed to take forever!  To get there, we had to take a county road that turned into a sandy road.  It was so narrow it was almost a two-track.  I fortunately slept on that car ride too, or I am sure I would have been extremely car sick from all of the curves!  Savannah was super cranky once we got to the point, so it wasn’t the most enjoyable visit.  A highlight for me was climbing to the top of the lighthouse.  To get up there, you had to climb a winding staircase that got narrower towards the top.  To get to the very top, you had to climb a ladder.  Before working out and losing weight, there is no way I would have climbed to the top.  It was still tiring despite being in decent shape.  I am so glad I went to the top!

Savannah & Scott climbing up the lighthouse behind me

Savannah & Scott climbing up the lighthouse behind me

crisp point collage

 

The third day, the weather started warming up.  We went to Oswald’s Bear Ranch in Newberry.  Here is their website: http://www.oswaldsbearranch.com/.  Savannah really enjoyed seeing all of the bears.  She can actually say “bear” now after visiting!  We took a family picture with a cub while some of her cousins fed the bear.  She wasn’t sure what to think about that!

bear ranch collage

 

 

Later that same day we went to the upper falls, where we saw some more gorgeous scenery.  To get to one of the viewing areas, there are 94 steps going down.  When we camped there in 2011, I remember going down those same steps.  On the way back up, I had to stop multiple times for a break.  This time I had to climb slowly, but I am proud to say I didn’t have to stop once on the way up!

upper falls collage

 

 

Overall, we had a good time on this camping trip.  By the third evening, the mosquitoes hatched, and they were brutal!  The fourth day we just hung around the campground.  The fifth day it rained all day long, so we hung out in campers, played games, and took a nap.  The sixth morning we pack up and headed home.  There is quite a bit to do in the Upper Peninsula, but everything is VERY spread out.  A lot of driving is required to see different places, and since we have a toddler who throws a fit when riding in the car, we were limited on the amount of time we could spend driving to different places.

taquamenon fun collage

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Our First Camping Trip

When my husband and I were still dating, we went camping in a tent a few times.  Most often it was rustic camping, and I would have to drive myself to the bathroom (I have never been able to pee outside!)  There were no showers, and we spent most of our time canoeing and drinking.

This past winter, we bought a camper.  It is a 24 foot Coachmen.  It has no slides, 1 bedroom, a set of bunks, a bathroom with a tub, a kitchen and a dinette.  Here are some pictures of the camper.

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Kitchen area

Kitchen area

Dinette

Dinette

Bedroom

Bedroom

More of the bedroom

More of the bedroom

Bathroom

Bathroom

Bunks

Bunks

While we would love to have a little bit more space with a bigger camper, this one is just big enough.  If it were any longer, we would have to pay for storage.  I made the divider curtain for the bedroom, the curtains for the bunks, and the sheets for the bunks.

For our first trip, we went to a private camping resort.  When we bought our camper, we received free nights of camping at the resort.  They of course attempted to sell us a membership which is required to camp there, but it comes with a big price tag!

We left on Friday morning.  We brought the dogs with us and had to figure out how we were all going to fit in the truck.  The plan was to have one in the back seat and one in the front seat.  We didn’t even make it off of our street before we realized that wouldn’t work.  Neither dog was willing to lay down when they were in front which meant my husband couldn’t see the trailer in the mirrors.  We stopped and squeezed them both in the back.  It looked like it would be tight but it ended up working out.  We had given our white dog Maverick an anti-anxiety medication from the vet before we left because he has so much anxiety with car rides.  It was the first time we had given it to him and they said to start with one.  It did not help at all.  (We ended up giving him 2 on the way home which worked much better!)  We had some trouble during the drive.  We had a guy pull up in a trunk and honk.  When we rolled down the window, he told us our bike was dragging!  Hubby pulled over and said the bike rack was broke (it was the first time we had even used it, and we only had 2 bikes on it).  Hubby put one bike in the bed of the truck, and the other inside the camper.  Fortunately, my bike was okay despite dragging on the freeway!

wpid-20150501_095334.jpgAt this campground, you pick your site when you get there.  There weren’t many people there when we arrived, so we had almost too many sites to choose from.  I saw a couple of young kids running around near a few campers, so I suggested picking a site near them.  We also needed a site with the one next to it available for my husband’s cousin and her husband.  For our first time setting up, it went rather smoothly.  After we thought we were hooked up to power for an hour, we realized the fridge wasn’t working.  It turned out the breaker we were hooked to didn’t work.  I then realized that hubby had plugged in to the wrong site’s power.  We switched it to the one that was for our site and the power worked.  I had to use my critical thinking skills to hook up the awning tie-downs since we couldn’t find the directions.  Hubby was proud of me for figuring that out! 🙂  We brought a big screened in tent to put the picnic table under.  After setting it all up, we realized it wouldn’t fit well anywhere on the site.  It was also pretty windy, so we were getting frustrated.  Hubby decided that we just weren’t going to use it, and he took it down.

Surprisingly, we only forgot a few things (hubby’s deodorant, baby sunscreen which we actually did have but hubby couldn’t find, and second stake for the dog tie outs).  Fortunately for us, my mother-in-law doesn’t live far from the campsite and she was coming to visit anyway, so she offered to stop at the store for the things we forgot.  We also had to have her pick up bigger trash bags because the ones we had didn’t fit our outdoor trash.

Once we were all set up, we had a great weekend!  The weather was incredible: sunny and warm with a light breeze!  We had friends and family come visit, we went on walks and bike rides, went fishing (we didn’t catch anything), played tennis, ladderball, and euchre, went on a paddleboat, and went swimming in the indoor pool.  We also spent each night around the campfire. Here are some pictures from the weekend:

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Savannah got to meet a state trooper.  He gave her a sticker and coloring book!

Savannah got to meet a state trooper. He gave her a sticker and coloring book!

Savannah trying her first s'more.

Savannah trying her first s’more.

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I gained a pound and a half after the weekend.  I am not super upset about it because I know I didn’t follow the program 100%.  Overall I did well, but I wish I had done a little better for the sake of the competition.

I learned a few things from this first camping trip:

  • A toddler is always going to be dirty while camping.  We just made her use some hand sanitizer before she ate.
  • Use the least amount of dishes possible.  Washing dishes in that teeny tiny sink isn’t fun.
  • If the bathhouse is nice, plan to shower there.  The shower in the camper is super tiny.  And it is impossible to shave your legs in it!
  • We need to get something to make our bed more comfortable.  The mattress is awful!  My back hurt so bad from sleeping on it!

I can’t wait for our next camping trip!  We plan to bring a little bit less stuff this time though!

What are some tips you can share that you have learned from camping?