Camping: The Anti-Vacation

Last week found us in Door County, Wisconsin, camping at Peninsula State Park. Door County is on the peninsula that makes that cute pointy thumb shape on the east side of a map of the state, bounded by Lake Michigan on one side and Green Bay on the other. The surprisingly rocky coastline is punctuated by formerly rustic little towns now become faux-quaint nautical-themed tourist traps. But this only added to the ambience and the romance of the lingering memories of a proud seafaring culture that once thrived right here, somewhat incongruously, far inland in the American Midwest. We honeymooned here many years ago. Now, I wanted my children to see it. It’s in their blood, after all. Their grandfather and great-grandfather were once boatwrights on the shores of this great lake. 

The special treat for us this summer is that my mom (Grammers), who lives in Alaska, is staying with us. She is quite the adventure-woman and was willing to camp with us. So it was a lovely week, even if a little wet and chilly. 

Okay, very wet and chilly, actually. I’m not a born camper. It’s not really a vacation without room service and a concierge, is it? But being between jobs, a “camping vacation” seemed like a good idea, although the term is inherently oxymoronic, I now realize. What with the torrential downpours, the mud, the kids slapping each other while mosquitoes the size of  humming birds feasted on our flesh, it often felt more like “camping” than “vacation”.

Not that we didn’t have plenty of vacation moments, though. We shared some lovely family moments all together. Evenings with the whole family around the fire reading classic children’s stories aloud. Watching from Sunset Park in Fish Creek as the sun sank into the bay. Going out for ice cream. Hiking the trails and climbing bluffs. Going out for more ice cream. Treasure hunting in the surprisingly good little resale boutiques. Gathering wildflowers. Making s’mores over the campfire. Playing in the sand on the beach. Sleeping all together in our cozy little tent while the rain drummed on the fabric.

I’d rather recall these moments than I would that first morning when we woke up to find Miss Margot mysteriously vanished out of her sleeping bag. She had crept out at the crack of dawn and gotten lost in the maze of campsites that all look alike to a groggy 8-year old. We were reunited only through the kindness of strangers.

With time, I may forget those unforcasted cloudbursts that drenched our firewood and soaked our shoes. But I may even choose to recall fondly the seagull that stole our big soft pretzel right off our table as we sat there. 

Or Miles’ tween sense of humor, which has it's plusses and minuses, but when I see this picture, I can only think how much I love this guy.

At Wilson's famous cafe

We were together, very together, for eight days and seven nights. And you know what? We actually enjoyed it.


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