I have just yesterday returned from a camping trip with my family and extended family, as I call our Russian friends here in America since we basically have become a huge family over the past 15 years or so. My dad picked me and another family friend up from sunny Ann Arbor and we headed to the north of Michigan to the AuSable river, only about a three hour drive.
It started raining halfway through our drive. Thankfully it had stopped when we got to our pick up location. Here are my dad's friends waiting for us.
The smoke you see rising on the next picture is from the cooking already going on at our campsite...mmmmmm ribs! My mom and my brothers and some others had already gotten there the day before and have been waiting for us.
I cannot remember which English author said this but it went something like "Only the English and the Russians can love nature not because (...insert reason...) but simply just." My dad was saying this just as I was taking this picture.
Here is a tour of the campsite:
The kitchen and dining room
And other bedrooms
The living room
Friday night it did not rain anymore but everything was wet and the sky overcast. That night with tea and whiskey and a guitar we sang old Russian songs around a blazing fire.
Despite rain at night and in the morning the sky did clear up in the afternoon of Saturday and gave us a few glorious hours of dryness and warmth. The kids even went for a swim. But that was about all we got as the heavy gray clouds rolled in again and the rain smashed down. The kids hid out in the tent with a deck of cards while the older people huddled under the tarp and ate Pringles and tea made on the tiny gas tank with the dog that had gotten sprayed by a skunk two days ago. Everyone became a meteorologist that weekend trying to figure out wish way the clods were moving an if that bright spot in the horizon would be coming over us or not. It never really seemed to. The sun, that tease, would peek through the clouds once in a while but once we stuck our noses out to see if it would stay the rain shooed us back inside. Half of the camp, the men, would go out fishing early in the morning, in the boat with ample supply of bait and beer and stay out until basically dinnertime. The rest of us entertained ourselves on the site. The highlight must have been after a certain very torrential downpour on Saturday afternoon, we needed to start the fire for dinner. The rain let up for a few hours with only occasional sprinkles and my mom dragged in some birch logs and as dry was not an option, we used sketch paper from the kids to start some birch bark to start some twigs to start some branches and so on. It took about an hour of fanning, lighting and relighting the carefully and strategically built pile to get the flame going. The whole process was quite comical/entertaining/energizing/heartwarming for everyone. But we did get the coals going. Then the men came back and poured some gasoline on it. We made dinner ate it as it started raining and the fire was in danger of dying again. Fashioned from a plastic table cloth and a few sticks we tried to protect the fire, at least the coals. After about half an hour of rain the fire was resurrected an the day was finished in some degree of warmth. The next day was our last. We left by about two in the afternoon as the sun smiled down on us from clear blue skies. I learned a new word that weekend "volgliy" or волглый, which means not wet or damp but not really dry either, which describes the state or basically everything that weekend. Two things would have made this weekend more perfect, either separately or in combination: the sun or someone to snuggle with. I still choose to remember the time with fondness because it was the respite and change of scenery I needed and the air was pure and the surroundings were glorious.