Woke up to a quiet camp this morning. It is interesting to see the sites, just a few hours prior so full of activity now looking deserted. Took Mable for a walk, she does great in the camper but the bulk of her day is confined so exercise for both of us is welcome. There was a difference to this camp, I didn’t feel the need to mingle with other guests and stayed more to myself. But the people were pleasant, a nod at Mabel or the “tiny trailer” as they walked by.
Today was the day for swimming in Lake Michigan and even if just a quick dunk, I was going in. The morning was cool so no need for concern with Mabel in the car, it was just going to be a quick dip anyway. I took off my shoes as I wasn’t going to be that guy, the one who enters the beach with socks and shoes. Actually, my shoes still had sand in them from the night before when I was that guy. I soon realized that I had lost my “beach feet”, and the last time I had beach feet was probably the summer of 1985. Beach Feet are tough feet; allowing you to make your way over hot parking lot asphalt or a baking sand on the way to a chip candy crunch. My feet are now soft and I felt it as I crossed the parking lot.
Today’s adventure would relate to two Seinfeld episodes. A Walmart beach towel was spread out like a veteran and I jaunted my non-beach body down to the water realizing, as my feet grew numb, the Lake was cold. I exited and entered a few times, the apprehension full of paranoia that all fifteen beach goers were watching my antics. I wasn’t doing a walk of shame, dry suit and towel over the shoulder, I was going in. Finally, I dove; knees, waist, chest, and head submerged. It took two seconds max and I was up on the beach thinking this pertained to a Seinfeld episode. I took another dive and then exited towards the pavilion.
It was a nice pavilion, changing areas with a central foot bath and a small shop to buy ice cream and the forgotten tube of sun tan lotion. A young girl was behind the counter and was friendly with my questions about the beach and area. She confirmed the area was a summer resort and the beach was busy during weekends and the summer holidays. There was a tip jar on the counter covered with local college logos and she was studying nursing at one nearby. I exited but with a craving for a chip candy crunch and the bold idea that the dollar bills dropped into the tip jar would make her day. Void of cash I made my way back to the car, sensitive feet on the parking lot, and returned for Ice Cream. I ended up with a $5.50 gourmet ice cream bar (I didn’t have my glasses and this looked the best) which was tasty but not for that price. I am not sure if my tip jar donation was instead witnessed by the teenage boy who processed my sale and for a second I thought about resubmitting the donation; another Seinfeld episode. After packing up we stopped at a dog park so Mabel could get some much-needed exercise and we had the whole place to ourselves, for a bit anyway. Two people with larger dogs, boisterous in nature, showed up causing Mabel to seek the shelter of my lap. They stayed on their side, we on ours, so no troubles. I did meet a nice lady who reminded me of a friend in Sag Harbor. Very dog oriented and so much optimism for my trip. We talked a while and I left her with a Steel Toe IPA which she showed much appreciation for. It’s funny how beer makes friends.
Mabel and I headed East towards Grand Rapids with the intention of seeing Flint and Pontiac. Steinbeck mentions both in his book as cities he passed and I was not yet considering trip deviations. I am still trying to get the rhythm of the road figured out. How long should I drive and stop? How long do I stay in the campgrounds? Am I on the road early or get work done before I break camp? These are pressing questions when your new occupation is one of Traveler. I made the command decision to turn Arabella South at Owosso and head to where my camper was built in Sugarcreek Ohio. There was nothing of interest in Flint and I promised myself no water jokes or pictures holding a clear glass of water to my lips. When you think of the situation it isn’t one to laugh at; how many of us take for granted what comes out of our taps?
I like the backroads over the interstates where everyone seems to be racing towards a destination. I feel like I too am racing, not fully shedding the work schedule or routine I have been used to for almost forever. “Slow down and enjoy” battles with the urge to gobble up asphalt. This is God country and I see reference to Him on many mailboxes. I am hoping God is my copilot as people sing, keeping me on the path I am supposed to take. Radio stations aren’t the best and I find myself choosing the station rather than the song, putting up with hearing a specific 80’s classic for the 5th time because the reception is strong and a better song may come next. Lots of time to think as Mabel doesn’t appreciate my singing. As I drive through the small towns I want to wave or beep to the people I pass, feel like I am part of the community but I know I am not. It is even more evident to me that I am now a traveler, far from my home.
Highway 52 South was taking me into Ohio and I knew Sugarcreek will be the next day. More small towns and corn led us to Adrian where Mabel and I, like typical tourists, sat on the grass and tried to find a place to camp. BAM, we are in luck. A KOA, in the same direction we are heading, had an opening; off to Petersburg for the night. The town of Blissfield caused me to consider how much Bliss the residents actually experience. But not enough to divert attention from our destination. This KOA was considered a resort, so a little more money to stay but we were tired and proceeded to our site. There were a lot of open spots so no audience to watch my backing in. I did it this time but to be fair, it was straight back. The resort portion consisted of a swimming hole, not bad really, clearer than some lakes I have seen, a big water slide and some other attractions. Day passes are available if you don’t need to camp. My wristband allowed for pancakes in the morning, the thought of a hot breakfast was inviting. We hit a very nice dog area, Mabel loved it, and seemed like her old Hopkins self, zipping around like a barrel racer. This was a social camp, kids and families enjoying fires and s'mores outside travel trailers or the numerous cabins scattered on the property. The day ended and we had another good night sleep.