2010 Camping & Canoeing Extravaganza Part I

Short of an accident or injury, is there anything worse for a camping trip than an all-day rain storm?

Our most recent camping trip – the 2010 Canoeing & Camping Extravaganza in Wellston, Michigan – was nearly a wash out.

A bit of background: nearly every summer for the last eight years we have gone on a camping/canoeing trip with my brother-in-law, Craig, and his son, Andrew. We always stay at a different campground and canoe on a different river, or at least a new portion of the same river.

This year Craig's wife, Melissa, was joining us. We were excited about this because it had been several years since the last time Melissa went on the trip. That year a borrowed pop-up camper made for rough weekend of camping. It had not been used in some time, so the funky smell and lack of power had Melissa rethinking this whole camping thing.

So when Melissa said she would try camping again, we all were hopeful that this experience would be much better. And, at least in the beginning, it was better. She was able to get Friday off of work (a rarity!) so they were able to get to the campground several hours earlier than first expected.

On the way, and about four hours apart, both of us passed through a scattered downpour that summers are famous for.

But our campground was high and dry, so nothing to be concerned about, we all agreed.

A quick aside: our campground was Twin Oaks Campground in Wellston, Michigan. Very nice owners, spacious campsites (we were on sites #45 and #46) and comfortable (if somewhat cramped) shower/restroom facilities. What I really liked, though, was the group tent camping sites (i.e. rowdy canoers) were separate from us RVers. Actually, set under mature pine trees and with very level ground, the group sites were pretty nice, so if you're planning a large party to go camping and canoeing, I would highly recommend Twin Oaks Campground.

It was about 7 p.m. Friday and we had just started the fire (Twin Oaks sells real firewood, not thin pieces of bark) when Craig, Melissa and Andrew, and Andrew's friend Chris, arrived. After setting up their tent, they joined us around the campfire, cracked open a few cold ones and settled in for a great night of stories and laughter. We also introduced them to Pizza Pies (a big hit, of course).

About midnight we called it a night and went to bed, eagerly anticipating kayaking the Big Manistee River the next day. Sleeping accommodations were thus: Andrew, Chris and our two boys Luke and Ben would be sleeping in one tent; our daughter Hannah and her friend Tara would be sleeping in a second tent; and Craig and Melissa would be sleeping in the camper with me and Mrs. Gr8LakesCamper.

We woke the next morning and, aside from a mole completely freaking out Hannah and Tara (it was scurrying under their tent all night long), there was nothing to be worried about. The skies were cloudy, but the forecast only called for a slight chance of scattered showers.

After a huge breakfast (coffee, orange juice, French toast with cinnamon and Texas Toast, bacon, sausage patties, fresh fruit, scrambled eggs with all the fixings), we made our way to Mesick, Michigan and the Wilderness Canoe Trips livery, about 27 miles away.

As we drove, a slight drizzle began to come down.

Nothing to be concerned about, we all agreed.

We couldn't have been any more wrong.

Stay tuned for Part II...
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My family (wife and three kids, sometimes the dog) and I have been RV campers since 2007. We own a 2000 Trail-Lite B22 Bantam hybrid, our tow vehicle is a 2006 Trailblazer LT EXT (5.3 V8 with 3.73 Rear Axle Ratio), and our setup includes the Equalizer sway controller. Looking to upgrade the camper in the near future, but until then we get out 2-3 times a month in season.