June 7, 2009

The One where the Eccles Set up Camp

Before you get too far into this post, I would like to inform you that, though written in my usual style, the majority of this account is for posterity, so that Kevin and I have an account of the wonderful way we spent our first anniversary. Now, if you don't mind length, feel free to join me as I unfold this weekend.

It was wonderful for Kevin to be able to take Friday off of work giving us ample time to arrive at Ludington State Park, a 4 hour trek west across the state of Michigan. I woke up bright and early at 6am and had completed my JM workout and showered by 8am when I got Kevin up from his slumber. We had a delicious oatmeal pancake breakfast and, despite our lack of time crunch, were on the road by 9:45am. (What in the world?! How we accomplished all we did and packed the car full of camping gear in that amount of time, I'll never know.)

After a fairly uneventful ride complete with a Wendy's stop and much enjoyment found in my new Real Simple subscription (thanks to Britt for the coolest matron of honor gift ever!), we arrived in the Ludington, MI area. You drive through this adorable down town and just when you think you're going to drive straight into Lake Michigan you hang a right and pretty soon the scenery changes from "traditional grassy suburb" to gorgeous white sand dunes along the Lake shores. Quite random, I must say, but totally awesome nonetheless. We checked in to our campsite at 2:30pm and were thrilled the absolutely ideal camping weather--70 and sunny. Our site was by far the best! There were no campers on either side of us, we were surrounded by nature, the ground was more dirt than sand (helpful for staking down a tent), and the restrooms were an ideal distance from us.

Camp set up took about an hour and after resting on our inflated air mattress and partaking of our free candy bars we went in search of firewood. Kevin got a lovely fire going before dinner time and we enjoyed roasting our sausages over the open flame. (There is something about a campfire that automatically makes food taste 10 times better, I think!) We also ate some of my version of my Grandma's potato salad (which got a thumbs up from Kevin...yay!) and roasted plenty (read: "way too many") of marshmallows to perfection. (Seriously, people, if you think you can roast a marshmallow you are most likely mistaken. Kevin and myself can take that sugary fluff to places it never dreamed of.)

::our site and our lovely civic.
how we fit all our camping gear in that car I'll never know::
::yes, that is one long piece of downed tree.
the perfect addition to the fire::
::one of many perfect marshmallows::
We headed in to bed a bit earlier than we had hoped thanks to a bit of rain, but luckily I had thought ahead and had us each bring a few of our favorites movies to watch on his laptop if the circumstances necessitated indoor activity. We made it part way through The DaVinci Code (which, by the way, I have seen about 10 times as well as read the novel and still am surprised at certain occurances. I find my lack of retention skills to be a blessing at times--keeps things fresh! lol)

At some point during the night, I woke up and noticed Kevin's half of the air mattress to be deflating. (The king sized mattress is made up of two twins zipped together.) I tried to awaken him, but to no avail, so I feel back to sleep. A while later, I was awakened to hear Kevin saying, "Mel, I'm sleeping on the ground." He was adorably sleepy and I couldn't help but giggle at him before saying, "Here, come share my half. There's plenty of room." And there we spent the rest of the night--snuggled up on the only twin sized mattress remaining inflated. Though it was rather cramped to say the least, the weather dipped down into the 40s so the closeness was enjoyed (in addition to my long underwear, sweatpants, tshirt and sweatshirt!)

I was wide awake at 6am, but stayed in bed dozing and reading my book until Kevin was ready to get up--around 7:30. We showered, ate a hearty bowl of Cheerios, and headed out for a lakeside hike. Our walk took us on a well traveled sandy path until we decided to take the road less traveled and ventured right down the beach to the lighthouse. It was around 4 miles round trip and though the weather was brisk and lacking in sun, we had an absolutely fabulous time. We were the only people around and took our time--enjoying every rock or piece of driftwood. I savored that gift of quality time, let me tell you.

::deciding to veer off the main trail::
::Kevin eyeing up the perfect piece of driftwood::
::our feet on the cold sand::
I had taken off my shoes, but decided it was too chilly
::sweet piece of driftwood::
Two hours after venturing out, we returned to our campsite and decided to explore the small town nearby. It just so happened that there was a car show going on and the main street was closed down. This was a perfect coincidence as we got to enjoy the small town charm as well as some awesome classic cars. We hunted and hunted for the perfect "Ludington" sweatshirt for me to claim as my souvenir but ended up buying a pound and a half of the most amazing fudge instead! lol. We had lunch at one of the local favorites and were totally thankful when the owner of a sporting goods store gave me a free water bottle with Kevin's purchase (after mentioned that mine had broken and how my water bottle is basically a 5th appendage!) How cool is that?

::the hot Corvette-Kevin's favorite::
We headed for camp at the same time that the rain decided to start once again--around 2:30 Saturday afternoon. Feeling lazy and in need of a break, we settled in to enjoy a bit more of our movie as well as a much needed nap. (I'll admit, my normally pleasant self was not all that pleasant at times. very lame of me.) When we finally prodded ourselves outside, Kevin started the greatest camp fire of all time! The wood was perfect and we had some glorious coals in no time. The warmth was radiant--a great thing on another cold evening. I put together one of our favorite camp meals--packets of potatoes, green peppers, and onions--and we roasted them over the fire to perfection. We argued with the rain for a while and managed to cook many more amazing marshmallows before heading inside. (By the way, not being able to eat the graham cracker part of the s'more makes it a bit difficult, but I found that stuffing one tiny square of chocolate into the marshmallow's hole left by the roasting stick is delish!)

Though most of the rain had been in the form of sprinkles up to Saturday night, we could not have anticipated the downpour we were in for. From 10pm that night until 5am the next morning, the rains came and the winds beat and blew against our tent. There were a few moments of nervousness as the sides of the shelter were sucked back and forth by the winds and I kept praying that our tent would remain dry. Thankfully we made it through the night safe and dry but quite ready to pack up. Thought tearing down camp in damp weather is pretty much the worst part of camping, we plowed through and were driving away at 9:45am. (We must have a thing for 9:45...)

Our ride home went safely though somewhat frustrating as we could not seem to find the Panera we were craving for lunch. Two hours after our intial desire, we sat down to a wonderful meal (I love me a fuji apple chicken salad!) and were soon back on the road. Most of our equipment and belongings were unpacked within a half hour of arriving home at 3pm and Kevin set up the tent in the garage to dry. He's going to be a pro at that!

Exhausted, we were thankful to have an entire evening of unwinding ahead of us. It was quite to blessing to be able to take such a great trip in celebration of our first year of marriage. We really did have a wonderful time--rain and all! Thanks for the memories, Darling. I love you.

::Ludington State Park. Pines Campground. Site 27::


  1. Hey . . . we probably passed you guys! :)

  2. I love camping there!! The beach is so close to the campground and is perfect for sunsets!

  3. Dear Melvin,
    I haven't even read the blog yet but I have to tell you how much I love your new picture!!!!

  4. ok after reading it all, all I have to say is I'm so excited Kevin liked the potato salad!!

  5. Mel, Your camping trip sounded awesome, and almost makes me want to do some more camping. I love those campfires, and great s'mores. Love, Mom


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