ROGERS CITY – As October rolls around and the summer heat eases, die-hard camping enthusiasts pack their sleeping bags and marshmallow sticks and head out into the woods.
Despite nighttime temperatures in the 1940s, friendly campers dot the sparsely populated campgrounds of northeast Michigan. Crowded and bustling campgrounds during the summer months now offer peaceful days, quiet nights, and a gentle respite where time is measured in logs added to the fire.
On Monday, at a game table in Lot 57 at Hoeft State Park, Debbie Altman of Gaylord organized a game of hand and foot in front of opponent and parent Sylvia Altman of Rogers City.
Watching the game quietly from his folding chair, Gaylord’s Noel Altman said he spent many summer days at the park while growing up in the area. He remembers camping among fishing rods and salmon, his friends sleeping on a boat offshore at night.
Up North Campgrounds offer beauty and peace just a short drive from resident backyards, he said.
“You haven’t told anyone, you take a picture, and they’re like, ‘Holy man, where are you camping? “”, did he declare. “You just feel like you’re 1,000 miles away, in a lot of ways.”
A few campsites away, Hawks resident Sylvia Basel stirred chili outside her campervan as her husband, Steve, relaxed by a well-built fire, pumpkin carving tools on a table nearby.
The couple and a few other campers were planning to stay the week, completing their outdoor adventure with the park’s annual harvest festival this weekend.
The night before, Sylvia Basel had fed a group of enthusiastic young people fresh out of their participation in a suicide awareness march in Rogers City.
Some of the kids had never camped before, judging by the excitement on their faces as they roasted hot dogs, said Steve Basel.
The planned menu the next night included pulled pork sandwiches, an upgrade from a dog’s camping staple on a stick.
The five-to-a-pound hot dogs in her cooler may not be gourmet cuisine, admitted Sylvia Basel.
“Oh, but they’re so good,” said the cheerful chef.
On a sand dune overlooking Lake Huron elsewhere in the park, two sisters salivated over the fancy feast planned that evening, consisting of mesquite-grilled chicken breasts and vegetable strips, wrapped in flatbread with cheese. gouda cheese and a homemade ranch dressing.
“I mean, we’re living well,” said Angelique Dustte-Dottery, describing the inflated cargo trailer with built-in bunk beds and hardwood floors that she and her sister use for their biannual sisters’ camping trips.
The Lansing resident got excited about the bike path that runs through the state park, while her sister, Nora Cooper, from the Kalamazoo area, reveled in the charm of the nearby town.
The sisters savor their annual outdoor breaks after a busy life and heaps of grandchildren, escapades they spend talking for hours over a blazing fire or hooking up with strangers in the room. peace of a campground, they said,
“It just heals the brain for a hot minute,” Dustte-Dottery said.
They’ve camped at other locations, but they fell in love with northeast Michigan this summer, enough that Cooper returned to the campsite four times.
In the campsite, chipmunks chirped among the oaks as acorns hit the roofs of the campers. After two days of intermittent rain, the sun made seductive paths through the woods and, on the blue horizon, a freighter passed by.
“Heaven is here,” Dustte-Dottery said, thumping the arms of his folding chair from his perch on top of a sandy hill. “It is fabulous.”
Julie Riddle can be reached at 989-358-5693, [email protected] or on Twitter @jriddleX.