The Great Northern Adventure 2012, Days One & Two.

ST. IGNACE, Mich. – The Boneblog family has set off yet again on a two-week jaunt.

“That’s two weeks and one day,” corrected Greg.

The Boneblog family has set off yet again on a two-week and one day jaunt. This time, they went north. When asked why, Michelle responded, “Did you see the St. Louis temperatures last summer? Have you been in St. Louis this summer? THAT is why.” It seems our family has gone in search of cooler climes. But did they find them?

On that first day, that most anticipated day of the season to date, our family hopped aboard their truck (the trailer had, of course, already been hitched to it the evening before) and pulled out at precisely 5:17 a.m.

It was rough.

“Egads, we were so exhausted,” Michelle reports. Nobody ever sleeps the night before a big departure like this.

That exhaustion became evident a few hours later, when a lovely gentleman (“asshole,” corrected Greg) cut our family off on the interstate, coming within about two feet of the front of the truck. Frustrated beyond reason, Greg laid on the horn and Michelle gave the fellow the old one-finger salute, which he happily returned.

After that, the family decided it was time to stop for coffee. And so they did. It made the drive through Indiana and Michigan far more pleasant for all, including this reporter.

01 - Indiana Welcome as viewed through a windshield02 - Michigan Welcome as viewed through a windshield

The remainder of the first day’s trip was uneventful, and our travelers pulled into Kalamazoo, Michigan, around 3 in the afternoon – just in time for check-in at Markin Glen County Park. Another interesting tidbit – the girl who checked the family in walked right past the front bumper to the back of the truck to record the license plate, but the rear plate on the truck is a vanity plate. She didn’t bat an eye.

Greg’s response? “Okay, whatever.”

03 - Kalamazoo Kampsite

So did our family find relief from the St. Louis weather? It would appear they had, as evidenced by Laurel’s choice of black knit headwear.

“Uh, no. That’s all I’m going to say about that,” Greg said, then turned his back on this reporter.

Hm.

Well, no matter, the park was pretty, with resident lake swans and wildflowers in full bloom.

04 - kids and swans and cattails05 - wildflower season

 

Michelle and Greg, however, were eager to visit Bell’s Brewery’s Eccentric Café. They had, in fact, been looking forward to this for a very long time. And so off they went in search of downtown Kalamazoo.

“This place is far thuggier than I thought it would be,” Greg observed.

06 - Bell's Sign

They found Bell’s and ventured indoors and were immediately sorry.

Michelle reports: “It had to have been 85 or 90 degrees in there. The outside temperature was 102, and it became clear that Kalamazoo is completely unprepared for these kinds of temperatures. We suffered through the entire meal. It was good food but a terrible, terrible experience. Very noisy and terribly warm, a sure recipe for disaster. Then we rounded the corner to their general store in search of some unusual beers we hadn’t tried. They had all of one that hasn’t made it to Missouri yet. What a disappointment. On the other hand, we did have the privilege of overpaying (as expected because that is how it is everywhere) for some shirts and hats and bottle cozies. So all was not lost.”

Dejected, our travelers returned to camp, happily snapping photos of one of the greatest anomalies of Kalamazoo – the sheer abundance of greenhouses.

“They are everywhere!” Michelle exclaimed. “Really, you know how back home there’s a church on every corner? Up here there are greenhouses all up and down the road. Now that’s a religion I can get behind!”

07 - Greenhouses08 - More Greenhouses09 - Still more greenhouses

Our friends returned to their campsite and sat outdoors, sweltering in the heat, for what felt like a VERY long time – until the sun went down. At 8 p.m. the temperature on their weather apps showed Kalamazoo stubbornly sitting at 100.

“Hell,” said Michelle, “Even friggin’ St. Louis is cooler than this right now.”

And she’s right. ‘Cause she checked.

* * * * *

Day Two dawned with weather as beautiful as Day One. The family dragged themselves out of bed and headed further north, once again in pursuit of cooler temperatures.

“Today’s drive was only five hours – which passed much more quickly than yesterday’s 7.5,” Michelle observed. “It helped significantly that we watched the outside temperature gauge in the truck drop from 84 at 6 a.m. in Kalamazoo down to 74 by lunchtime. We even got to SIT OUTSIDE and eat our lunches at a rest stop! I was so friggin’ excited I couldn’t stop talking about it. Pulled pork sandwiches cooked in the trailer without sweating buckets fixing them? SWEET!”

Ethan chimed in, “This sandwich is GREAT.”

“Yeah, I guess it was so great he felt he had to savor it,” Greg observed, “Because it took him about a friggin’ hour to eat it when we wanted to get back on the road.”

The ride up to the Upper Peninsula toward St. Ignace became prettier and prettier as the family drove.

“Trees everywhere!” Michelle exclaimed. Then she started doing some sort of crazy dance in the truck, changing, “I’m excited, I’m so excited, this trip is awesome, we’re gonna love it!”

On approach to the bridge, our friends tuned the truck radio to the AM dial to pick up information about the bridge. It turns out, the bridge is 28 feet shy of being 5 miles long. “It sure doesn’t look it, though,” said Michelle. “It’s pretty amazing the way you’re fooled by distance. Or maybe it’s just me.”

No comment.

Here are the photos. I would tell you to mouse over them for captions, but you already know to do that because you’re an avid reader of this blog, aren’t you?

Aren’t you?

10 - Crossing the Mackinac Bridge11 - St. Ignace Campsite - Straits State Park12 - Mackinac Bridge View from Campground13 - Family in St. Ignace14 - Playtime15 - Also Playtime

So what did our adventurers think of this campsite?

“It’s a weird site,” said Greg, “because it’s just grass, as you can see above, and it is nearly impossible to level the camper. On the other hand, did you see that view? Can’t beat it. Also, the breeze from the lake combined with temperatures in the mid-seventies is simply divine.”

But as we all know, being on or near the water soon causes one to develop a ravenous appetite. There was nothing for it but to head for the local drive-in, Clyde’s.

“Awwww, Clyde,” Michelle sighed. “If only he hadn’t been such a bad rooster. But I digress.”

015 - Clyde's Drive-In

So. What is so notable about Clyde’s? That’s easy. It’s the Big C.

17 - Clyde's Colossal Sign

Says Michelle: “3/4 lb of ground beef, stuffed and covered with about a half-inch of cheese? That’s Greg’s kind of meal, and I highly recommended he get one.”

Greg, not being an argumentative type, went along with Michelle’s suggestion.

16 - Greg's Big C Burger

So! How was it?

“The burger was really good,” claimed Greg, which is high praise indeed from him. “The mushrooms, however, flat-out sucked. They were awful. Just terrible.”

Hmm, sounds like we need a second, more temperate opinion.

“Temperate?! Have you met me?” asked Michelle. “He’s right, though, they were disgusting. I don’t know how you screw up mushrooms, but it was a good thing Greg got the Big C. He was full after that.”

Aside from the disastrous mushrooms, how did the fare fare?

“Oh look, another comedic genius,” Michelle observed. “Actually, it was very, very good. My cheeseburger was delicious and the kids stopped bickering long enough to eat, so it worked out!”

The family returned to camp with full bellies. Laurel set back to work finishing her chalk drawings she had begun just before dinner. The campground host is sponsoring a contest wherein the children make chalk drawings outside their campsite, with judging to take place at 8 p.m. Here are photos of Laurel’s creations:

18 - the big picture19 - panel 120 - panel 221 - panel 322 - panel 4

So. Did she win?

Stay tuned and find out tomorrow.

“Nice attempt at suspense,” observed Michelle. “Just tell the readers that the real reason is that the judging hasn’t happened yet and I’m tired of this interview.”

And there you have it. Good night!