Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Our Camping Disaster: Part I

I really jinxed myself on that one. Really, I asked for it.

This weekend was, hands down, the largest camping disaster I have ever encountered.

Our story begins...

Joe and I had originally wanted to camp in Traverse City, Michigan for the long weekend and go to the cherry festival. Turns out, so did everyone else.

In the world.

We could not find a single campsite with an open space--they literally do not have grass area for a two-person tent and a s'more-sized fire. Finally we gave up and decided to change our plans and looked for camping in southwest Michigan, which is much closer to Chicago and much further from that g.d. cherry festival (good riddance.) OH BUT GUESS WHAT?! Nope. You, your brother, and your dog also decided to go camping in Michigan for the 4th of July. So thank you. Joe and I used our extreme Googling skills and finally--finally, we found a campsite that had one open space left. The man assured us that if we didn't take it in the next half hour, someone else would. So we jumped at it.

The place seemed lovely. Canoeing. Kayaking. Picnic tables. Hot showers. Electric hook ups.

We were sold.

Joe and I get to the site, voicing our trepidations that the place might not be all that great. We drive in, and our worst fears are realized. We actually drove past the park the first time because we couldn't believe that that was it. The campsite, as we could see it, was a large field filled with RVs, and a simple metal-sided grey building. "It must go back further," I muttered as we drove up. Joe and I walked to the door of the building so we could check in. A little girl, about 10 years old, opens the door. She is wearing the dirtiest pair of sweatpants I have ever seen not on a homeless person.

"Y'all need help with something?" (Don't ask my why rural Michigonians have southern accents...but they do.)
"Yeah, we're just looking to check in. Do we do that here?"
"See that man in the grey shirt?" We turn to our left and see a man a few yards away, hitching up his jeans more comfortably under his potbelly. "That's my daddy. He'll let you know what you need to do."

Immediately, Joe and I swooped onto this girl, kidnapped her, cleaned her, and got her a proper education. *sigh*

We turned and followed the man, who had walked away from us and to the area that we soon learned was the "office." It was also the location of a beagle and roughly 80 life jackets, all of which I assume used to be red but were now a nice salmon color.

"Hello, we'd like to check in."
"Okay," the man said. He pulled an 8.5x11 off the pile on his desk and began filling it out. "How many adults?"
We paused. We'd already given this information. "We have a reservation...?"
"Oh right, yeah. I forgot to ask that. So the two adults then?" He said.
He continued to fill out the form as if we'd never even called in the first place. "And you want to camp in the Primitive area?"
"No, we'd like the electrical hook up." (We have cell phones, dude. We aren't animals.)
"Alrighty. I'll show you to your spot."

We jumped in the car and followed him as he drove his golf cart down the dirt road and around the corner. He stopped next to an R.V. where a woman with a scrunchie was blasting "Born in The USA". The man leaned out his golf cart. "How's this?"

Oh. You only get electricity if you have an RV. Got it. "Uh...where are the primitive spots?" we asked.
He pointed down the road, toward the trees where other tents are set up. "You just drive on down there, til you find a good spot."
"It isn't sectioned?"
"Nope, just find something dry."
"Okay, and what about bathrooms and showers?"
He gestured a few meters to the right. "Right over there. They've just been renovated. State-of-the-art facilities now. Hot showers."
Joe and I shot each other mirrored looks that said, we'll see. "Great. Oh, what about fire pits?"
"Don't have too many of those. Just set something up on the grass, that's fine. And there's only a few picnic tables, so if you find one, go ahead and scoop it on up."

And that, my friends, was our introduction to Paw Paw River Campgrounds.

(To be continued...)

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