Thursday 20th July – Napping at the Great Lakes

I was up before 6am, just happy that the night was over and it was light. I didn’t want to stick around so didn’t waste any time in getting out of bed and driving away. After last night, I was keen to get the hell out and so I did. The storm clouds from the night before lingered, but I was heading north where the weather looked clearer. After an hour or two, I reached Lake Winnebago and drove up its east bank. Contrary to what the name suggests, the lake is lined with fancy houses, each with their own small deck out into the water and associated water play things.

Fortunately, I found a county park that provided public access to the lake. Not that I was interested in a swim since it was a cool morning, I just wanted somewhere to park and do my morning ritual with breakfast and a shower. At the park, I found a campground full of RVs but nothing to say I couldn’t park in the empty carpark by the grassy area. I used the bathroom then wandered around the park, noticing that the water was brown thanks to being stirred up by the rain of last night. When I saw the tower that provided a good lookout over the lake and back towards a windfarm, I saw an opportunity to get my heart racing. After climbing it once and enjoying the views, I went back to the car and donned my shoes.

I did a couple of stretches, then started running up and down the stairs. It definitely got the blood rushing through me and my lungs were expanding and deflating at an alarming rate. I went up and down over five times before I was satisfied that I was proper buggered. It felt so good. Now keen for a shower, I set up at the back of the car and washed the sweat off me. It was hard to get myself completely dry thanks to the humidity but I felt refreshed anyway and the morning was heating up.

Before making breakfast, I decided I was fed up with how dirty the kitchen had become. Thanks to the recent dirt roads, everything had been covered in a thin layer of dust. Combine that with the oil splatter from the stove, my trim was looking pretty second hand. Nothing a decent wipe down couldn’t fix! It was satisfying to get it clean again before heating up some oats for something different. I practiced Spanish while I ate then cleaned the inside of the van after leaving it in a disarray when I drove off that morning.

By the time I left, I felt renewed with a clean van and a good bit of exercise under my belt. It was another day when I didn’t have any points of interest lined up but I was wary I’d be needing a nap at some point to recover from last night’s shit show. I got a couple of hours driving in, getting over to the coast of Lake Michigan (one of the greats), before I was started to tire. I found Little River recreation area right on the banks of the lake and picked that as my rest stop. Another campground full of RVers paying $25 a night (WTF), I parked in the shade, lay a towel out on the grass and put my head on a pillow. Of course there were ants on the ground, but they didn’t bite, just tickled me as I napped. They were the most polite bugs I’d come across yet.

A half hour later, I was groggy but awake and ready for lunch. I was enjoying the day’s slow pace so I made myself a burger, grilling some onions and bacon to go with my beef patty with melted cheese on top. Yum. Ready to carry on, I consulted my map and navigated myself into Michigan while started a new audiobook called “Indestructable” which was a true story of a hero whoe changed the face of WWII thanks to his determination on a rescue mission. It only took a couple of chapters to get me hooked.

Before long, I’d crossed in to yet another state, the mighty Michigan. I was about as far from Detroit as I could be and happy about it. I’d read that this northern part of the state was sparsely populated compared to the east peninsula and this was right. I can’t imagine the place covered in snow because it looked so picturesque and green in the summer. I hugged the shore of Lake Michigan as I drove north, headed for some National Forest and the scenic shores of the northside of the state.

The book kept me entertained as I traced my way along straight highways until I came to the National Forest turn off. The road here was narrow, crowded by trees and completely unpopulated. I passed a number of campgrounds but resisted the temptation to check them out, wanting to go deeped into the forest until I reached the site advertised on freecampsites.net.

I was thoroughly rewarded when I got to Honey Lake. It was a small camping area with only four sites. Three of them were next to each other with another off on its own. I was happy to find that the isolated site was the last one free so I took it as mine. It was a beautiful spot, made even more special relative to last night’s experience. There were a few bits of fire wood by the pit and I had my own lake access. The evening temperature was perfectly cool but not hot enough to swim.

I collected some more firewood and after playing around taking photos of me doing handstands against the van, I got a fire going. After heating up some left over gnocchi for dinner, I sat by the fire the rest of the evening, listening to music and blogging. I was grateful to the mozzies for waiting until sunset to show themselves and start their onslaught.

The fire was hard work since all the wood was wet, but I had fun playing with it. When I got sick of that and the mozzies became unbearable, I retreated to the van. It wasn’t a hot night so I closed myself up inside it not having to use the fly net.

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