Last week we took the family “tent-camping” at Warren Dunes State Campground, just over the south-western border into Michigan. I grew up visiting those dunes, and frequently took trips even in college. It was a special trip I’d been wanting to make with our girls for quite sometime. Here are a few highlights:
1. Conquered the Rain-Fly. Seriously, we all know the number one pain of all tent-camping is getting the tent to fit back in the bag. The number two pain? Figuring out the rain fly. I patted myself on the back every time I looked at our tent those 3 days. Even hung some Christmas lights.
2. I let my wife plan meals. That means, instead of eating Pop-tarts for breakfast and raw Ramen for dinner…we had “hobo dinners” and scrambled eggs/sausage. Sure, it meant bringing quite a few more supplies than I would’ve packed. But my mouth and stomach weren’t complaining. You’ve had S’mores; but have you had a roasted banana filled with peanut butter, chocolate, marshmallow, and sprinkled with crushed Golden Grahams? Also, if you’ve done the “meat/cheese/potato/onion/carrot” thing for hobo dinners…next time try “polish sausage/sauerkraut/carrots/potatoes”. It was crazy good.
3. Sunscreen works, everywhere you apply it. We spent most of Friday at the beach, with me in the water. You could see visibly where my hands couldn’t reach on my back….bright red. My 5 year old said, “Dad, next time I’ll put it on your back.” And on Labor Day….she did. Gently…daddy still hurts. Thankfully our girls have mommy’s skin.
4. Disney Movies happen every day. I climbed a giant sand dune with my two oldest daughters. When we reached the top and looked back, mommy was staying with Ruby about halfway up. At 4 years old (daughter, not mom), she was struggling hard..naturally. They were going to turn back and wait for us at the bottom, but I wanted the family to enjoy the top together. So I ran halfway down, put our daughter on my sunburned back, and hiked her up the rest of the dune on my hands and knees. The cross-country team gathered at the top began applauding, and I heard inspirational music in the background as I carried her all the way up. I’m pretty sure I injured something, and completely sure the picture was worth it.
5. Sleeping outside can surprise you. There were definitely raccoons that waited for our site to get dark each night. We heard them explore our picnic table after we went to bed. We took turns having knee-jerk reactions to what we thought was an animal in our tent at 2am…both times smiling at how silly we were reacting to a clingy little girl sleeping next to us. It’s great being “alone” with my wife in a world of little people camping. So many things that brought smiles to our faces…I love sharing life with this woman!! 🙂
6. God’s Creation sure is good. We sat on a blanket as the sun began to lower, reading a kids book on sand and how it’s made. We climbed giant dunes, and looked out over miles of forest one direction, and miles of lake the other. We hiked through thick woods to use the restroom, each time stumbling as a daughter would pause the world to appreciate the beauty of a fallen leaf’s colors. I held a giant inflated tube as it coasted over small lake waves, as my 4 year old daughter soaked up the sun, falling asleep far away from shore – simply because she trusted her father. Our girls oooh’d and ahhhh’d over hundreds of rocks, as we searched for petoskey stones, reminding me that God’s beauty is in so much more than we’re looking for…
Oh yeah, and this happened on our way home…