Camping in Michigan (August 9-10)

Sand baby with his shovel and pail

For my birthday this year, I could not figure out what I wanted. So, I decided I wanted to go camping. CAMPING with an almost 1-year-old. Also, I wanted to go to the “beach”. So we did. And it was grand.

We started out right after lunch on a glorious Friday afternoon, prime Landon nap time. We drove around the bottom of Lake Michigan and made it up near Grand Mere State Park in Michigan. We could not quite find the beaches of this state park, but we randomly drove down some roads until we found parking for a public beach. Turns out that most of the beach is actually private and owned by people who have lakefront properties, but there was this little slice of public beach. Not very many people knew about it, so it was not at all crowded and we were able to play in the sand with Landon to his heart’s content. He loved it!

Entering Indiana on our way to…
Pure Michigan!

One of Landon’s favorite things to do in the sand was put the top of his head on the ground and drive forward with his legs, dragging his head on the ground. I think he liked how it felt in the sand. Unfortunately, following our trip, he started doing this on our hard floors and carpet, which made for weird placed scratches and carpet burns on the top of his head. So much for getting hair, he rubbed it off! Landon liked the little waves lapping on his legs when he stood up in the water. It was too cold to go for a complete dip, but perfect wading temperature.

Love this series of pics with mommy pointing, then Landon deciding to follow suit

The triumphant fire-starter!

After spending a few lazy hours enjoying the water and the sand, we made our way to our campsite in Berrien Springs, Michigan. While we did not plan far enough ahead to get a beachfront camping spot on Lake Michigan, we did manage to find a campsite fairly close to the St. Joseph river. The campground had bathrooms, potable water, and firewood, and actual had a lot of RVs and just a few tent camping spots. I am a big fan of showers, especially while camping, so there was no complaining there. We let Landon out of the car to roam while we set up camp. He loved crawling around in the grass and finding sticks and rocks to eat. He also liked to try to climb down near the muddy bank of the river, or play in the cold ashes of the fire pit. He was in little boy heaven!

So… it took us awhile to light our fire. I think we didn’t have enough kindling, or our wood was wet, or something. We brought these amazing pie irons that we really wanted to try out, along the the fixins to make calzones and cherry pies in them. We needed a fire! Austin and I both tried a few times, prayed about it, I got a lot more kindling, and then we tried again. Finally, we had a raging fire going. We put Landon down to bed in the tent and had a great time chatting in the glow of the fire and eating cherry pies and marshmallows. What an awesome way to spend a birthday with my best friend!

Happy boy for first tent experience!

Landon did quite well in his first experience with camping. He woke up when we came in the tent to go to bed, and took about half an hour to go to sleep after that. He likes to be up against something (usually the crib rail) when he sleeps, so he searched for something to rub against all night. I liken him to a little hamster kind of blindly wandering around the tent. He ended up with his head stuck in the corner of the tent right by my feet. Works for me!

Sleepy daddy…

Dirty, dirty boy
Playing in the cold ashes
The campsite was so beautiful and green
My precious boys

St. Joe’s pier

 In the morning, we got all cleaned up and ready to go to town. We decided to check out the town of St. Joseph, which is on Lake Michigan. They just happened to be having Farmer’s Market that morning, and we picked up some REALLY good blackberries and raspberries. Oh how I love fresh berries! We walked all around the quaint shops of the town. There was an olive oil and balsamic vinegar shop that caught Austin’s eye, and we ended up going home with “Smokehouse” flavor balsamic vinegar and an herb infused olive oil. Both are yummy. We also purchased some yummy fudge and, of course, a little T-shirt for Landon.

During our wanderings, we noticed many cars going down to the beach area, so we decided to check it out. The beach down there was so pretty, and we walked all the way out on the piers. The feel of this place was just magical, there really isn’t any other way to describe it. It was the perfect temperature- about 80 degrees- and the vastness of Lake Michigan made it kind of feel like the ocean. It made me miss CA, but it reminded me of CA at the same time. If only it didn’t get so cold in winter, I could totally live there forever!

The strollin’ rugrat

Birthday lighthouse

Our only picture together on the trip….

St. Joe train station, about a block from the pretty beach

BLACKBERRIES!

 After St. Joseph, we drove down through South Bend to spend some time with our dear friends, the Grahams, who just had an adorable little boy. Their 2-year-old and Landon played and we caught up. It was grand. Holding brand new little babies is the best!

All too quickly, it was time to come home. I was not brave enough to try 2 nights of camping with our little dude. Thoughts of last birthday came to mind, being 9 months pregnant, having my parents and Claire in town, walking 3 miles in the forest preserve to try to induce labor, and eating awesome cake. This birthday was better.

 What made it even more awesome was that Austin MADE me a cake. Not just a sheet cake, no he made me a double layer strawberry cake and iced it beautifully. Way to go, sweetie! This year with Landon was the BEST BIRTHDAY EVER!

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