Bad Blogger! Bad!

Going away and not even saying goodbye. For shame! I had good intentions, but you know how it goes m'peeps.

One thing I am happy to announce is that I am not, I repeat, not addicted to the computer as previously feared. We went camping. We took Aaron's laptop in case he had to do anything for work, and we had a WIFI connection and although we cracked it open a couple of times to find directions, that was it. No email checking, no quick blog post. I realize this makes me a sub-par blogger but I am strangely at peace with that.

We Had The Best Time. It was a perfect. Well as perfect as camping in a world where mosquitoes exist can be. (Incidentally I am fully convinced that mosquitoes were not created by God. They are the work of Satan or perhaps Voldemort).

*click on any photo to enlarge (highly recommended ;)

When I was a kid we would make pretty regular pilgramages to the coast. Long (long) hot (un-airconditioned) car drives to Cape Town where with every mile (or kilometre) we became more and more crazed with excitement to get that first glimpse of glittering ocean, to smell the sea air, to get our feet into the sand. It has been a great sadness to me that my children have not experienced the same magic. Our formal vacations have been few and far between, and very much lacking in coastal experiences. When we visited South Africa several years ago they were entranced with the beach but most of them don't even remember that now. When we lived in California I found the beaches to be a great disappointment. The water was so cold, the wind was so strong, the sand was not the fine soft sugary stuff I was used to. Now before all you Californians have a full on fit, I am sure there are perfectly lovely beaches in California (the place is, after all legendary for them) I just never had a truly idyllic beach experience there. I'm not sure why. The planets did not align. And I mourned my childhood experiences of lying on an endless stretch of warm sand under a cloudless blue sky, cultivating skin cancer, listening to crashing waves and kids shrieking with excitement as the ocean licked their toes. I told my husband on many occasions that I just wanted to have a long, carefree day at the beach, reading magazines, watching my kids make sand castles and ending it all with a soft serve ice cream cone. Just as it had been when I grew up.

And then we moved to Ohio. And the chance of that happening went from slim to none. Or so I thought. I knew of course that we lived in close proximity to the Great Lakes but within a year of moving here, we tried out one of the beaches about an hour away and a less pleasant beach experience I have yet to have. The lake was murky and nasty. The shore was made of treacherously sharp smashed mussel shells. The wind blew. The newborn baby cried. The whole thing was hideous. So I wrote off The Great Lakes as not All That Great, and made plans to visit Myrtle Beach.

When it became apparent that our budget and time would not allow for that to happen this year after all, I went in search of alternative options. My fellow South African friend had mentioned that Michigan had some nice little beach towns and so I went looking, without much hope I'll add.

Imagine my astonishment and indignation when I discovered that all these years I had missed out on the fact that Michigan has a SPECTACULAR coast line of endless sugar-sand beaches and pristine lake, complete with waves, but not tsunami type waves that will whirl you up into a salty blended sea drink and then grind your face into the ocean floor when it is not dragging your children out to sea. It was the beach without all the hazards No jelly-fish, crabs or sharks.

Now, now let's keep our heads about us. To to be sure, the ocean and specifically the South African coastlines will always have my undying love and affection and there is simply nothing to match the magic of a beach in Cape Town, or a beach in Durban for that matter, but if you are a tired mom with four little-ish kids who you don't want to have to stress over and supervise constantly...this is nirvana. My long time fantasy of reliving my child and teen years of lying in the hot soft sand reading a magazine came to pass.

And on the very last day at the very last hour, I looked up to see my husband triumphantly bearing drippy soft serve ice cream cones. He remembered. I had never loved him more.

I can't tell you the deep sense of satisfaction it gave me to watch my kids digging in the sand for hours with each other, just as I did with my siblings..heaven. Five hours in the fresh air going by in the blink of an eye. It's just the best.

As for the camping. I really do love sleeping in a tent. Particularly if I can be comfy. And I was, thanks to the kind loan of a queen sized cot and air mattress from our generous friends. It was practically the Hilton folks. Look at our palatial tent! For under $70 luvvies. The bargain queen reigns.

This is getting epic, as it always does, so, as I always do, I now present you with my faithful bullet list of the highlights.

Things I love about camping:

  • The total focus on each other with no distractions. No TV, phone , computer, activities, chores, work, other people. It's all family all the time. Which is my idea of heaven. I dream of living on a deserted island with just my family all the time and camping is a little taste of that. Does that sound anti-social of me? I guess it is. It's just the simplicity of it all that appeals to me I guess. I do love my friends.Nobody cry now.
  • Again, the simplicity of everything. If you don't have it, you have to do without it. I love figuring out ways to make do with what you have, the challenge of being creative, finding your inner pioneer at a KOA campground (complete with pool and hot-tub). I love the sense of all your worldly possessions fitting into one small space. Decorating with the precious finds of the day
  • Sitting with my family by the campfire, playing truth or dare, singing silly songs, discussing the Harry Potter book we are all fighting over to re-read.
  • Sleeping with just a bit of mesh separating me from nature (and mosquitoes)
  • All my chickens in one little space
  • Falling in love with my children all over again, with the way they are together-such easy
and fast friends, feeling impossibly blessed.

Things that make me happy to be home (can you tell the car was a little crowded?)
  • Flip-flop free showering
  • Not digging blindly for clothing, toiletries and other sundries
  • No sand in my bed or in my food or sticking to my face.
  • Not limiting my fluid intake in the evening for fear of having to walk to the bathrooms past our nightly visitors of the raccoon variety.
  • My house is SO much less filthy then I thought it was when I left
  • My own, clean toilet. Say no more. Say. No. More
  • It is far easier to keep a house clean and organized then it is to keep a tent with 6 people inside of it half way habitable.
  • My sink, forget about the dishwasher. Hot running water mere steps away from the kitchen table-what a luxury!
  • Fluffy, fragrant clothes, towels and bedding coming out of my dryer. All the live long day. I think I'll have done about 12 loads when all is said and done. Maybe 15. I'm not one who thrives on the smell of stale wood-smoke, doing laundry all day(as I did today) is a far preferable option.
(forgive the plethora of pictures, although to be honest this is just a tiny and somewhat random sampling of all that I took, this is the closest I come to having a scrapbook and I wanted to remember as much of it as possible)

I love how the colour of his shirt is echoed in the colour of the sail behind him. You may have to enlarge. It thrills me, the matching, it does.

Our fearless tent pegger.

The unveiling of the tent. (No, we had not removed it from the box to check it as good little campers should, and shockingly, all was well)


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Becky said...

You are a lot more poetic than I am at describing the wonders of camping - and the joys of being home again as well. What a wonderful vacation!

Janet said...

Wow! It looks like an absolutely magical getaway. Who knew such a gorgeous beach existed in Michigan. I'm so glad you found such a wonderful place to getaway and enjoy the warmth, sun and sand with your family. Welcome home.

Devon said...

I agree with Janet...I didn't know there were beaches like that in Michigan! Beautiful pics!

LOLOL salty blended drink...

Aaron B. said...

Thanks for a wonderful vacation! You are the best, most fun person ever! You are also the best mommy to our wonderful kids.

Thanks for another pile of fun memories - Love you!

your adoring hubbie.

Jen Lynn said...

I'm here to shed light on your California beach experience. It's really quite simple... No. Cal. beaches S.U.C.K. suck! So. Cal. beaches R.O.C.K. rock!

This post made me miss my summer camping trips in Santa Barbara that we did every summer with my family. I love the beach.

Kirsty said...

But! Jen Lynn! I have been to beaches in San Diego too..and yet...

I believe you though. I think I just did not hit them on the right days..or something..

trish said...

Kirsty!!! Way to go making me homesick for the beaches of South Africa...Knysna, East London, Port Elizabeth, Durban and of course, Cape Town (more specifically The Strand, which according to my brother is now filthy and disgusting, sigh!!)anyway, thanks for bringing up those marvelous memories of days in the sun (all day Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year's day). And let's not forget Buffelsbaai, Amanzimtoti, Winkelspruit.....Ahhh! have a lovely recovery week.

Jen said...

I love this post. Another blog friend just did a big post about camping and I tell you, you guys are making me want to go! All of those pictures are fabulous - and I'm happy you found a beach you can live with :)

Anonymous said...

How delightful! Made me think of our times at Merry Pebbles sans beach, or Fishhoek with beach. SO happy for you that you have found a beach to be happy on!!! You are a wonderful mommy.
Lots of love,
Your mommy.

Claudia@DipityRoad said...

Roughing it to me is calling for room service :) (really!! i mean sorta)

But you certainly all look like your are so in love with one another and you are having a wonderful time.

Thanks sooo for sharing.

TTFN~~ Claudia ♥ ♥

Becky K. said...

How wonderful that you found a fun beach area! You shared it in a very fun way. I can tell you love your husband and children so much...very sweet.

Beautiful photos.

Becky K.
Hospitality Lane

Aisling said...

I'm a life long "Great Lakes" resident... so I knew the secret of Michigan's beaches... but nevertheless loved your camping story. Your photos capture the moments perfectly. We haven't tent camped as a family in years, but you brought back wonderful memories!

Megan Gery said...

you almost make camping look and sound like something i'd enjoy. almost. ;)