In what has become an annual trip once school lets out for the summer, this past weekend we camped with several dozen relatives at Seven Lakes State Park in Holly, Michigan.
In a nutshell, we had the good, the bad and the downright rude.
The good: Great times and great food — the recipe for Bacon Explosion! is below — with about a couple dozen family members.
The bad: Friday night we were treated to a spectacular thunder and lightning storm, and the park wasn't equal to the high standards set by other state parks.
The downright rude: Our camping neighbors, whom we dubbed Elvis and Ozzy, were the rudest we have ever come across. You can read about Elvis and Ozzy in Technicolor detail at the companion blog.
Seven Lakes State Park is an enormous park, with the campground occupying just a small portion of it. The campground, which has just 73 sites, and the small swim/fish lake next to it are both located at the bottom of a bowl-shaped valley. The sites are relatively level — we used one set of risers — but the real problem was our electrical hookup. Our box was more than 65 feet away from our pad (despite the online information saying it was 44 feet). In fact, we needed an additional two 25-foot extension cords to make the connection.
We also have complaints regarding the park's trails. Twice we got lost while hiking due to unmarked trails, but the major problem was when my wife and youngest son went on the bike trails. Nowhere did it say, either in the park literature or on trail markers, that the bike trails were for advanced users due to the steep hills and sand.
The facilities were pretty much standard for a Michigan State Park: mostly clean bathroom/showers; dump station; recycling and trash; canoe and paddle boat rental; etc. The sandy beach and smooth-bottom lake were a hit with the kids.
Watching the Friday night storm barrel down on us was both impressive and scary at the same time. I don't mind saying that I couldn't help but think of the recent Arkansas tragedy as I watched this storm come at us. The dark clouds were rolling as if they were boiling, and the lightning flashes lit up the sky with impressive results. For the most part, it was calm right up until fierce winds battered the trees and RVs for 15-20 minutes. After that, it was a steady rain through the night. The next morning, the only damage was a large tree that had come down on the other side of the lake.
The best part of the trip was being with family, who came from all over Indiana and Michigan. It's always good to catch up with aunts, uncles and cousins, and between the six sites we had 20 people and five dogs staying in one fifth-wheel, three travel trailers, one hybrid (ours), and one tent.
Of course, having so many people together means large amounts of good food. And this is where we talk about my cousin Matt's recipe for "Bacon Explosion."
Step 1. Weave an entire package of bacon into a blanket.
Step 2. Put a pound of ground sausage into a gallon-sized Ziploc bag and roll it flat. Cut the edges of the baggie so the sausage layer can be put on top of the bacon layer.
Step 3. This is where you can get creative. Matt put a layer of raspberry chipotle barbecue sauce on top of the sausage layer, then assorted spices. My other cousin, Jill, put on a layer of regular barbecue sauce, plus spices.
Step 4. Put a layer of hash brown potatoes on one half of the sauce/spice layer.
Step 5. Put a layer of cheddar cheese on the hash brown potatoes.
Step 6. Sprinkle cooked bacon pieces along the cheese.
Step 7. Carefully roll the whole thing into a log.
Step 5. Rub olive oil on the top and sides.
Step 6. Rub brown sugar on the top and side.
Step 7. Carefully set into a smoker grill and cook at a low temperature for 3 hours.
Step 8. Slice and enjoy!
Obviously, this is a cardiologist's nightmare. But it tasted great and I can imagine this will be a fixture at future gatherings.
Next trip: Cincinnati and Mammoth Cave, Kentucky.