Christmas Camping

We might have finally mastered this camping thing.  After a few hurried and not so great camping experiences we decided to make a real effort to not arrive at camp really late and really hungry.  Turns out that’s a good strategy. We headed out of St. Ignace after a few days and headed toward Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (America’s first NLS).  The National Park campsites were full, but that was not unexpected.  We got a few recommendations, and off we went, down the road to Christmas.

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Christmas is a small town in Michigan, with a population of about 400. We saw a number of “jolly” sites.

1) Christmas themed street names like this intersection (other intersections included Christmas Ave and St. Nicholas Ave; or Mrs. Claus Lane);

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2. This fun shop, which we stopped into for souvenirs and postcards (they can even cancel your stamps for you with the Christmas postage cancellation);

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3. This inexplicable Hulk reference (ok – that has nothing to do with Christmas, but it’s hilarious, no?).

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After getting the lay of the land in town, we headed down to the Hiawatha National Forest camp ground.

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It was a “first-come-first-serve” place. Spots were marked with their availability. If you liked the spot, you put up your stuff and laid claim. Then you filled out an envelope with how long you were staying, dropped the money envelope into the lock box, and done. After choosing our spot (the waterfront spots were all taken), we went about setting up camp. We had traded out our tent stakes for a second time. The first exchange was wooden stakes for metal. On our last shopping trip we picked up heavy duty plastic. It was a great upgrade and really held the tent taut. We also set up our camp kitchen and our fireside chairs.

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It was a stress free set-up, and with plenty of daylight left we walked through the campground to Lake Superior. It was too cold for swimming, but we collected some rocks. We thought it appropriate that we selected some Christmas colored rocks.

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We also dipped our feet in the cold water, and simply enjoyed the view.

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In the evening we returned to camp, cooked up some dinner, had some wine and cheese for dessert, and then sat by the fire for a while before retiring after a successful camp day.

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So, tell me – what makes for a stress-free camping experience for you?

Please feel free to leave comments or ask questions. We love getting feedback on the trip.

Night at the Roxy’s Campground

Roxy’s Gas, Variety, Cabins & Tent Sites – scene of our second night of camping. May seem like an odd place to set up shop, but Roxy’s turned out to be a pretty great campground. We knew the campsites in the National Park in Tobermory were full for the night, but Roxy’s was only a short drive from our final destination, and they had tent spots available (their cabins were all sold out).

The owner Craig, and the store employee Alex, were super friendly and helpful. While Sriram picked out a site with Craig, Alex set me up with some firewood and kindling. Once the firewood was loaded in the car, I headed into the store for basic groceries and camping needs. I picked up a few supplies, and headed down to our spot.

Unlike our spot at Glimmerglass, Roxy’s wasn’t gravel, so that was certainly a plus for my feet. However, the sandy quality of the ground there made our tent not hold as taut, so that was a bit of a downside (the one problem with the style of our tent is the stakes aren’t just to keep the tent from blowing away, but are also key in the structural integrity). Still, we got the tent up, and then set out our camp chairs and began work on the fire.

One problem at Roxy’s (if you can consider natural things in nature a problem), while setting up I did notice an unusual number of spiders (well, daddy long legs, actually, which I realize aren’t technically spiders). Enough to be creepy. I found myself hearing Rupert Grint’s voice in my head as I worked. “Why spiders? Why couldn’t it be ‘follow the butterflies’?”

Once camp was set up we pulled out our camp stove to make dinner. Our dinner was pretty basic – a can of beans, a chopped onion, and a diced up potato, all made up in one pot. For seasoning we used Ms. Peppa’s Jerk Sauce, which is a crazy-authentic sauce that a friend of mine makes. She’s from Barbados. It’s legit. So, thank you Ms. Peppa for a great dinner.

Rather than dirtying up dishes just for dinner, we put the pot on a makeshift table between us in front of the fire and ate right out of the pot. Later, we sat by the “fire” for a while, but neither Sriram nor I have truly mastered the art of making a fire, so we eventually retreated out of the wind and into the tent. It was another chilly night under the stars, so we bundled up.

Our morning started rather abruptly the next day. We’d planned to reheat our leftovers from camp dinner as breakfast and spend some time reorganizing our camp stuff. Incoming thunderstorms put a quick stop to those plans and we broke camp as quickly as we could, finishing the last few items and packing up any way we could just before the rain set in.

Before heading out, we took advantage of the camp’s showers. I haven’t been to a ton of campgrounds, but enough to know that hot water is not usually an option. In my experience, it’s a good day when you have water bordering on luke warm. The showers at Roxy’s were hot, fairly clean, and had a really good set up (in fact, the National Park campgrounds don’t have showers, and send people down to Roxy’s – we only just beat the rush). The only downside was 2 minutes would cost you a Twooney. But, even though it was quick, it was a well spent $4.

If you’re ever in the area and need a place to stay, I’d definitely recommend Roxy’s.