Michigan Summers: camping in Petoskey

Just days before I left my Ontarionian (read: "of Ontario, Canada") home for college I took an early morning walk in a park on the shores of Lake Ontario. The walk wasn't a purposed leisurely stroll but a by-way I took to from my car to a destination up ahead where I had an appointment. Nevertheless I enjoyed the short journey beside the big lake turned pinkish under the rising sun. I remember thinking why have I not enjoyed this park, this view, this lake more? I had grown up just minutes from its vast beauty but only truly enjoyed it maybe a dozen times. I was about to say goodbye and I was just realizing that in eighteen years I had barely noticed where I lived.

There is something about leaving that wakes a person up to the pleasures of place and presence.

John and I are not leaving our state of Michigan any time soon, but as a ministry family we know the day will come. In our denomination it is common for a pastor to move to a new church within a 5-10 year window. While we have no plans to leave, the knowledge that we won't always live here has given the two of us a special sense of purpose when it comes to enjoying our place and being present in it.

Sometimes it's hard. And by "sometimes" I mean in February and March. In February it just feels like the winter will never, ever, ever end. And then in March it feels like spring should be arriving, but instead you just get more snow.

In those times John often jokes with me that God will call us next to a church in a very warm and sunny state where cold and snow is just a concept people hardly think about. I'm kidding he says... kind of. 

But then just when we think the winter is truly going to drive us crazy (or maybe juuuust shortly after) the winter breaks, spring arrives, and we find ourselves falling into another Michigan summer.

Michigan summers.

They're a thing.

They're a really, really good thing.

Michigan summers are lush in a particularly Michigan way. For me that word lush conjures up a jungle or a tropical scene, but truly it applies to Michigan summers as well. Our greens are thick forests of maple, cedar, and oak trees, our blues are both the vast Great Lakes and the thousand smaller water bodies littered over the state, and our white-golds are the miles and miles of breathtaking coastline.

We live close to the shores of Lake Michigan. I'm surprised by how frequently John and I will hear someone who was born-and-raised (and will probably die) here say, "I don't really get to the beach too much."

I mean not to judge but... you're crazy and we can't be friends.

(Really though, I can't judge. See my opening paragraph.)

A few weeks ago we had the opportunity to meet the Michigan shoreline from a new place when we went camping in Petoskey.  John had been hoping to run the Chicago Marathon in the fall (I know. He's crazy and awesome.) but alas entrance into the Marathon is by lottery and his name wasn't drawn. The Charlevoix Marathon was his back-up Marathon so he picked up his training speed and by late June we found ourselves camping in what is likely one of the most beautiful parts of our state.

I'm not a camper by nature but I am a camper by financial necessity because it truly is the cheapest way to vacation. You will see me blow drying my hair in the van via extension cord and car mirrors, but besides that I think I'm actually okay at it. And you know, camping is pretty fun!

No one judges you on your outfit even if you wear stripes and bright orange and a cool-dad sweatshirt all at once...

AND you can take a five minute walk from your campsite to this:

I'll blow-dry my hair in the van for that.

We enjoyed afternoons at the beach, evenings by the campfire, and early mornings being awoken by the birds. (Truthfully being awoken by the birds is kind of magical on the first day, but after that I had a few fantasies involving shot guns. They start singing really early.)

John ran his Marathon like the champion that he is and finished in under four hours at 3:52:17. So proud of this guy!
Can you find John?

Arie and I got up with the early birds at 5am to watch him run. Arie was slightly grumpy from lack of sleep. He wanted to yell, "YOU'RE MY SUPER HERO!" to John as John ran by. He "practiced" on a dozen runners who came before, but then froze when he saw his dad. Ha! Hopefully it was at least encouraging to those dozen strangers!
Even grouchy he's cute. :-)
We enjoyed some beautiful views as we cheered our superhero on.

Michigan is truly an incredible state to enjoy.

Have you ever been to Michigan? Do you like camping? What do you love about your place?

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