Camping at Muskegon State Park

Our sandy campsite at Muskegon State Park.
A couple of weekends ago we camped at Muskegon State Park. It was an adventure, to say the least.

The campground was beautiful, but there were some problems that closed the bathrooms and showers on occasion.
Our RV (a 2000 Trail Lite Bantam hybrid) also had some issues, but they were of my own doing.

Lastly, I tried a new campfire pie recipe that ... well, let's just say it didn't live up the to pregame hype.

Okay, enough with the teaser introduction to this post. Here's the nuts and bolts.

We camped at Muskegon State Park, arriving on a Saturday and leaving on a Monday. My parents camped with us in their Outback travel trailer. Actually, we were fortunate in that respect. When we reserved our sites a few months ago, there were only two left and they were back to back with each other. A short little trail connected the two, so it was nice little setup for camping together.

Muskegon State Park is one of Michigan's more popular campgrounds for good reason. It sits on the shore of Lake Michigan and its massive beach features smooth, fine sand free of debris, rocks and other feet-killers. The lake was about as perfect for swimming as a Great Lake can get. Its bottom was smooth sand, and it was shallow, maybe only getting to 4 feet deep a good 100 yards off shore. On the days we swam we enjoyed 2-3 foot waves before a storm rolling in from the distance chased us out of the water.

There are actually two separate campgrounds in the park. We stayed in the Channel Campground (139 sites); the other is the Lake Michigan Campground (105 sites). The only thing I can tell you about the Lake Michigan Campground is that when we drove past it on the way to the Channel Campground, we noticed it's tucked into old-growth trees with plenty of hills and valleys. We saw no big rigs, and because of the number of tents and pop-ups we figured the campsites must have been pretty compact.

A view from atop a sand dune at the smallest loop of the
three in the Channel Campground. Muskegon Lake is in the
distance, with the channel leading to Lake Michigan on the right.
Our campground, the Channel Campground, actually bordered the channel leading from Lake Michigan into Muskegon Lake. Unlike the forest campground, our campground sat on sandy soil and various scrub brush and bushy trees. We had some shade, but if you go you'd better make sure your awning works. There also were paved pads, but don't forget your outdoor carpet/rug/mat.

Again, the state park was beautiful and we enjoyed it, but the problems with the bathrooms/showers were a major bummer. Apparently, the "lift station" was broken. Whatever. It was not fun. We used our RV bathroom so it was not big deal, but it was an inconvenience you certainly don't expect from a Michigan State Park.

As for the issues with my camper, they were the bookends for our weekend trip. When we first arrived Saturday afternoon and began to set up camp, I noticed the plug was a bit loose from the power cord that connects the RV to our tow vehicle (a V-8 Trailblazer EXT). How did I notice it was loose? Well, the sparks, smell of singed metal and plastic were one giveaway, and when the plug basically came off in my hand, well, that was another sign.

A good RVer is ready for these things. I (extremely quickly) unplugged the RV from the campground power post and spent a good amount of time reconnecting the colored wires to the color-coded terminals on the plug receptacle. A million hours later and it was good to go. Oh, thank goodness I had the foresight to include a Leatherman-type pocket tool because it had a screwdriver small enough to remove the plug cover from the terminal receptacle.

The other RV problem happened Monday morning when it was time to go home. My wife was in the shower (she actually had the last shower before they closed the showers for that morning), and the kids were still asleep. We were in a bit of a time crunch, so I started taking down camp outside the RV. I had done about everything I could, so decided to hitch up.

To make a long story short, I didn't raise the camper up high enough, so when I backed into it the ball knocked the camper off the block of wood under my tongue jack (like an idiot, I had already removed and stored the wheel blocks). The tongue jack hit the paved pad with a thud. On the bright side, it woke up the kids (who were fine). On the dark side, the tongue jack bent enough that it was inoperable.

Charles "Pa" Ingalls (aka Michael Landon), the
original RVer. Just remember: "What would Pa do?"
Again, us RVers are resourceful. I like to think of it this way. Every time we go anywhere with the camper, I'm like Charles "Pa" Ingalls from Little House on the Prairie and we were in the wagon headed to Walnut Grove. If we were to break down, then I would have to make whatever repairs were necessary so my family can continue on their way. Kind of like I was wearing a "What Would Pa Do?" bracelet.

Well, my Pa and I tried to straighten the tongue jack with the jack from the Trailblazer. Didn't work. Actually, it broke the gears in the tongue jack. Great. Now "What Would Pa Do?" Well, this "Pa" said a few choice words, then raised the camper high enough to pull the bent jack shaft out from under the rest of the mechanism. It was enough to get us home where I can replace the tongue jack as soon as I find the time.

As for the final fiasco, the campfire pie (or hobo pie or camper pie or whatever people call them) was supposed to be a dessert. Chocolate pudding and a little bit of cherries between two buttered pieces of bread, cooked to perfection over the campfire. Well, it was quite a bit messy, not all that tasty and ... well ... I guess the best way to say it is it was not a good thing the campground's bathrooms were broken.

So that was it, the good, the bad and the ugly of our trip to Muskegon State Park. Would we ever go back? Absolutely! But I'll get a spotter to help me hitch up from here on out.