Journal - Bay City

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Bay City, Michigan

Bay City State Recreation Area

July 31st through August 2nd, 2009

Friday, July 31st - 77/55°, Partly Cloudy

    I hustled home from work today so that we could hook up the truck and get going as soon as possible. Tara and the kids had worked on loading the camper this afternoon, so very little was left to be done when I got there. We added the bikes and a few odds and ends, then hooked up and hit the road around ten minutes after 4:00pm.

    Of course, no trip would be complete without forgetting something, right? I realized that we had left behind our cell phone charger (Tara & I share at home). Since Tara was behind me in the van and we weren’t too far out (still on North Holly Road), I sent her back to get it. Unfortunately that meant that we weren’t driving together for the vast majority of the trip. We did manage to reconnect shortly before our exit, though.

    We arrived at the campground sometime before 5:30pm. The long line at check in meant that Jeff & Becky had their camper situated already by the time we got to our site (they had left a little before us, so they were ahead of our schedule anyway). The line to get in to the park and at the water fill station was fairly long, so I opted to drive to the site and see how far from a spigot we were. Good news! It was right next to our site. I could just fill up from there! We got the camper situated and leveled before we attempted to fill the water tank. Bad news! There are no threads on the end of the spigot! Can’t fill that way… thankfully Jeff & Becky have a portable fresh water tank to fill with that we were able to borrow, so we didn’t have to go without all weekend (I really wasn’t too excited about putting things away and hooking back up to fill the water tank on the camper).

    With the campers set up (finally), we went about cooking dinner. As you can imagine, since they hadn’t eaten in at least a whole hour, the kids were starving. It was getting close to 7:00pm, so I guess I can’t blame them. We cooked hamburgers and hot dogs over the campfire, and also had a variety of chips to go with them.

    After dinner the kids went about exploring the campground on their bikes and scooters. All of the kids, with the exception of Jayden, was able to go out on the ride (much to her consternation, Jay just can’t keep up with them yet – I bet next year she will be able to). The adults cleaned up dinner (of course!) and relaxed around the campfire for a while this evening. As it began to get a little darker out, it was time to get the kids cleaned up for the night. Samantha was the first to head to the showers; going by herself (we could see directly to the bathhouse from our site). Once Sam returned, Tyler and Drew headed down to get their showers. I did go down to check on them once – I could just picture two boys making a mess in the shower with the shampoo or something. They did OK, however. While this was going on, Tara gave Jayden a shower in our camper.

    Around 10:00pm we put the kids to bed for the night, since we were planning on going out on the bay fishing in the morning. Jeff, Becky, Tara, & I all stayed outside enjoying the warmth of the fire and the relative peace and quiet after what had been a long day. We too decided to call it a night around midnight.

Saturday, August 1st - 79/55°, PM Light Rain/Wind

    I set the alarm for 7:10am today so that we could get up and go fishing before the winds moved in. Things were all set for Jeff and I to take Tyler, Samantha, and Drew with us this morning, but Drew decided he didn’t want to go (I think it was just too early for him to make that kind of decision). Thomas went in his place, however. We left the campground around 8:10am, leaving Tara and Becky behind to watch Drew, Jayden, and Andrew and to run some errands to Pinconning for cheese.

    It was a little windy and chilly when we first got out on Saginaw Bay, but it warmed up once the sun came out and we eventually got used to the boat rocking in the waves – no seasickness for us! We pulled in a couple of walleye right off the bat, but 15” is the minimum size you can keep so we had to throw several fish back during the day. All of the kids got to reel in at least one fish, and Tyler and Sam had their turn at more than one. I attempted to reel in a sheep-head fish and a catfish, neither of which was successful. We did end up keeping three decent size walleye today, so all was not lost. Fish dinner, here we come!

    While we were on the boat fishing, Tara and Becky drove with the kids to Pinconning to pick up some squeaky cheese for Jeff and some super sharp cheddar for me (yummy, assuming I can eat it without it bothering me…). They also made a stop at Frank’s, an outdoor supply store, to try to buy the airhorn accessories to fit a bottle we had bought the last time we were nearby (many moons ago, when we camped here with Jeff & Becky and we went to Deer Acres). Unfortunately you couldn’t buy just the top, we had to buy a whole kit. Guess who gets to wake up the kids now? They also made a pit stop in a small grocery store to pick up some last minute supplies for the weekend.

    We returned to the campground around 1:00pm, and the girls had already returned and had a fire going. Jeff worked on cleaning the fish while we cooked the pie iron pizzas for lunch (one of my all-time camping favorites, assuming I can cook them without burning them).

    After lunch we were planning on going across the road to the playground, but on and off drizzle pretty much ended those plans. I don’t know what it is about us and rain while we camp, but if you want a dry time don’t invite us! Maybe we should camp at home – it looks like our lawn could use some. Since it was raining, the kids convinced us to get out the water balloons. They got their bathing suits on and commenced fire. I don’t know if anybody actually got hit by a balloon being thrown, but they had a good time doing it.

    Once the kids had used up their allotted munitions for the day, they put their clothes back on, as it had rapidly cooled close to 10 degrees once the rain started to fall. Drew got out the barns from the camper (the ones with the army guys and the construction stuff in them), and he, Thomas, and Andrew played with them for the loooooooooooooongest time. While they did so, the adults worked on dinner. Jeff cooked French fries and the fresh fish (along with some extra walleye that they had brought and some perch that we brought) in his deep fryer. By this time the rain seemed to have more or less stopped, but the skies were still looking ominous so we decided to eat inside. Everybody ended up inside Jeff & Becky’s camper, thanks to the little picnic table that we have for the littlest three kids to sit at. The rest of us sat at the table and on the couch (or the bed, in Jeff’s case). This situation worked out fine, and the fish was fantastic.

    As I said, the rain had stopped while we were cooking, but we didn’t trust it to eat outside (just what we need – set up the table, fix our plates, and then a massive downpour). It was good enough for a campfire, however. We managed to squeeze in a fire and s’mores for the kids tonight. Once again, the kids took their showers in the bath house just like last night, and Jay got another bath inside the camper (which she was definitely not happy with, judging by the screams emanating from the trailer). The adults stuck it out a little longer, enjoying peaceful conversation around the campfire until 11:30pm, when it began sprinkling once again. This time it turned into a much heavier rainfall, which brings with it a hard time falling asleep for me, and it took well over an hour before I finally managed to do so. Not good when another early morning is planned for tomorrow!

Sunday, August 2nd - 73/59°, Partly Cloudy/Wind

    Same alarm time for today as yesterday, and let me tell you that beeping noise came way too early for a weekend. Tyler, Samantha, and Drew were all going today, although it was touch and go with Sam for a while there. Drew, Sam, Tyler, Jeff, & I managed to leave the campground around 8:00am today. As we were climbing onto the boat this morning, Jeff noticed a boat in the marina directly across from us that was in the water on its side. I don’t know what happened, but all I can say is that would totally suck.

    We had a slow start to the day, going well over and hour without a catch or as much as a bite. Finally, shortly before we needed to be leaving, the action picked up. I caught the first fish by default, because none of the kids wanted to do it yet. Once that fish was in, their desire to do some fishing must have really picked up, because they all wanted turns after that. Drew seemed to think that we could reel in a fish any time he wanted – he didn’t seem to comprehend that it is up to the fish and not us. He did end up reeling in a walleye and a catfish, which Tyler made Jeff keep. Sam got a walleye and a perch, and Tyler got a walleye too. We ended up bringing home three walleye, 1 perch, and 1 catfish. This was after we were concerned about being skunked for the day! We also ended up throwing a couple more fish back and we also lost a couple of fish before we could get them on the boat. Poor Tyler was reeling in a big walleye with the last pole we had out, but it got off the hook just before Jeff could get it into the net (he was close with it, probably touching the fish, but just not quite close enough). Jeff estimated that particular fish at 22-24”, which would have dwarfed any of the other fish we caught this weekend.

    When we got back to the marina, the boat that was tipped over was being righted by the marina staff and some outside help. It looked like the owners were able to get some of their stuff off, but what a crappy way to end your weekend. We didn’t stick around to watch, as we had to get back and packed up to go home once again (boo!).

    While we were gone, Andrew, Jayden, Thomas, Becky, and Tara went to the playground across the road to play for a while. Once again they beat us back to the campsite and were working on lunch. Jeff, Becky, and their kids had sandwiches while our kids ate hot dogs and mac-n-cheese. I reheated some leftover pizza while Tara also had a sandwich. We went about packing up the camper after finishing lunch, without much assistance from the kids (“put away your sweatshirt” resulted in them being left on the couch, “fold up the tablecloth” turned into “wad up the tablecloth” somewhere in their brain’s translator).

    Jeff & Becky managed to leave first, but they had to go to the marina to clean the boat. They were taking it home with them so that it would be ready for their camping trip to Ludington. We weren’t too far behind them, pulling out of the campground around 2:00pm. We did end up stopping at the McDonald’s on the corner to change Jay’s diaper, but the rest of the drive home was uneventful.

    We got home around 3:30pm Dad & Mom were there to bring up the car and to help park the camper (I still am not really brave enough to back it into our driveway off of the road in front of our house – I would have been fine turning it around in the yard, however). We unloaded only the necessary items before heading inside to get back to our regular life.

Trip Summary

    This was a really fun trip (aside from the early mornings, anyway). The kids really enjoyed going fishing with Jeff, and they now think that we should have a boat too. I too had a good time fishing, although I don’t see it turning into a weekly thing for me. We were also able to enjoy some relaxing time around the campfire, although I am sure that the fact that it was between 10:00pm and midnight when we were actually able to do so contributed to my desire to not get up in the morning). The rain was disappointing, but that does seem to be our special luck this summer. The thing that I liked most is that the kids really were well behaved this time, and they were still able to have fun. What a novel concept!

    We have been here a few times, so the campground is pretty much what we expected. We stayed on site #10, which was nice and dry. It was also close to the bathrooms and a water spigot (even if that didn’t work out exactly how I had planned!). The site was a little on the dirty side, as there wasn’t much grass near the area where the camper was parked. It was plenty shaded, though, as there were so many trees that I had to drive down the road backwards just to get the trailer in where we wanted it (I could have gotten it in the right way if the camper across from us wasn’t so close to the road).

    I can’t speak for everyone, but I certainly enjoyed myself this weekend. I certainly hope that we are able to do this again soon.


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