Camping On Lake Erie At Sterling State Park

H.O.M.E.S. Summer/Lake Erie

Are you a someone who thinks you might like to go camping but, your just not a “woodsy” person? If you would rather camp in a  more open space, Sterling State Park is the park for you. It is neat, clean, and spacious.dscn6347

Sterling State Park, which opened in 1920, is in Monroe, Mi. on Lake Erie. It has marshes and wetlands with a wide variety of wildlife. There are big public use areas with a great playground, picnic areas, and shelters.dscn6353

There are really nice walking and hiking trails. They are in an area that, surprisingly, wasn’t even open to the public since  early in the 1900s. Why? Pollution!lake-erie

 Today,  Lake Erie is monitored for levels of toxins but, for years the coastline was polluted to the point that not only was swimming not recommended, it was often illegal.

The Ford Co. dredged the River Raisin in 1997 to remove approximately 25,000 cubic yards of  sediment that was contaminated with toxic PCB.

PCB or polychlorinated biphenyls are industrial chemicals that were banned in the U.S. in 1979. It is a probable human carcinogen, and was targeted by 122 nations in 2000, to be phased out worldwide.

With the improvement of the water  quality, Sterling State Park was closed for renovations in 2003, and is now a modern campground with 250 campsites, and a beautiful, clean beach.

Lake Erie is the fourth smallest of the 5 Great Lakes by surface area and, the smallest of the Great Lakes in volume.

Bordered by Ontario, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and  Michigan, it is 241 miles long and 57 miles wide. The average depth is 62 feet with a maximum depth of 210 feet, making Lake Erie the shallowest  of the Great Lakes.basinMap2

There is some confusion about how Lake Erie got its name. Was the Erie tribe named after the lake or was the lake named after the Erie people? There was also a tribe of Iroquois people named Erielhonan or “long-tailed.” The French explorers were said  to refer to the lake as Erige, which means “cat” in reference to how unpredictable and violent the lake could be.

We had the opportunity to experience the “cat” for ourselves this summer while camping at Sterling State Park.

 I felt fortunate that after changing my reservation, I had still been able to get a site close to the water.  I love hearing the waves lapping the shore during the night.

On that night, however, I was awakened  by winds that seemed to be thrashing the walls of my tent from all directions at once. The wind was blowing my rain fly straight up and I could feel the rain coming in before the rain fly seemed to be sucked back into place.

My first thought was that there might be  a tornado!

I saw and photographed tornado in 2013.


I  had a horrible vision of my family being blown out into the lake while trapped in our tent.


I watched the radar of the storm on my phone. The storm over the lake was huge and severe but, there were no tornado warnings.

My 16′ x 16′ and 7′ tall tent was an easy target for the winds. It seemed to expand and compress at the same time. We were taking such a thrashing that I was afraid that the tent was  going to come down around us at any moment.

I have camped on all 5 Great Lakes and have camped in many storms but, I have never experienced anything like  that night on Lake Erie.

Fortunately, we got through the night  without being blown away but, I had to re-stake some of my guy wires twice during the night.  I know how to properly stake a guy wire. I have never had one come loose before.


 The winds and storm clouds hung over the campground and the lake all day on Saturday. We couldn’t imagine going to the Cleveland Zoo on such a wet windy day so, our zoo plans  were replaced with lunch and a movie in Monroe.dscn6357

 Late on Saterday afternoon, we were blessed with a huge rainbow. The night was calm and we slept soundly. dscn6363 I was able to catch the beautiful sunrise over a very quiet Lake Erie on Sunday morning. dscn6366As you can probably guess, after enduring such a wet, windy weekend, we broke camp under blue skies and sunshine.

Although it was not what we had planned or hoped for, the weekend was definitely an adventure!

That stormy weekend on Lake Erie concluded our H.O.M.E.S. summer.

We reached our goal of camping on all 5 Great Lakes in one summer. WOW!


Lake Huron



Lake Ontario

4mile sign


Lake Michigan

hoffmaster sign


Lake Eriedscn6342


Lake Superior


We had many fun adventures this summer. We went site seeing near each campground that we visited. I never get tired of being a tourist!

Most importantly, we spent quality time with family and friends.

As I write this, November is almost upon us.  My friend and I have already been talking about our campground choices for Memorial Day weekend. We will have our campsites picked in time to make our reservations on November 29.

I will again, spend some cold winter mornings, drinking coffee and researching campgrounds, tourist sites, and festivals. I always plan ahead to ensure that our camping season will be as enjoyable as possible.

I hope your  summer was as full of family, friends, and fun as ours was.

 Your comments and  e-mails are always welcome. Drop me a line.

I will be blogging throughout the winter so, stop by often and have a read.

Happy Camping,






“Even paradise sees it’s share of storms, but in the end, it is still paradise.”

Trevor Driggers


My Photos:

  • The featured photo is of the Storm clouds over Lake Erie at sunset
  • A view of Sterling State Park
  • The playground at the day use area of Sterling State Park
  • The 2013 tornado. Photo taken from my front porch in Byron, Mi.
  • The storm clouds over Lake Erie
  • The storm clouds over Sterling State Park
  • A rainbow over Lake Erie
  • The sunrise over Lake Erie
  • My friend Denise and I with 5 of her grandkids, Ryan, Sam, Amber, Skyler, and Kenzie, and 3 of my grandkids, Tiler, Bree and Chase  at Tawas Point State Park
  • My grandkids and I at Four Mile Creek State Park in New York
  • At the Hoffmaster State Park sign with Denise and Kenzie, Chase, Bree, Charlotte and myself
  • The morning after the storm. Bree, Sarah, Chase, and myself at Sterling State Park
  • Four of my six grandkids, Alexandra, Tiler, Briahna, Chase, and myself, at Brimley State Park
  • Me in 2014


Embrace Fall Camping

Tent Camping On Cool Nights

Don’t you absolutely love autumn?

I really enjoy the cool crisp air and the changing leaves. The fact that we have Halloween to look forward to  makes fall even more enjoyable.dscn6818

One of my favorite camping trips is  the annual Fall Festival weekend at Sleepy Hollow State Park.

We call it, Halloween camp because the entire park is decorated for Halloween. The kids go trick or treating. There is pumpkin painting, hay rides, and a campsite decorating contest.

dscn2251Halloween camp is the first weekend in October. Even when the days are warm, the nights are pretty cool.

When it gets cold, I  run my ceramic heater for awhile at bedtime, and again in the early morning, to take the chill off. I think ceramic heaters are great for warming a tent but, I  don’t feel that it is safe to  leave one running  all night while we are sleeping.

So, how do we stay warm in our tent on those cool Michigan nights? Over the years, I have learned a few tricks to help me  keep my family comfortable.dscn6827

Good sleeping bags are a must!!

Sleeping bags come in different weights. A 30-degree sleeping bag is heavy enough to keep you warm when it is 30 degrees. There are lighter sleeping bags for warmer weather and heavier sleeping bags for colder weather.

When I bought my sleeping bags,  the 30-degree  bags were my choice. My thought was, that we would only be camping in the summer, and it doesn’t get down to 30 degrees very often in the summer.

HA! We live and we learn, right?

As it turns out, we don’t just camp in the summer. We camp from Memorial Day weekend until early October.

I have camped when the overnight temperature got down to 36 degrees in the summer! We have camped in the fall when it was sleeting!

So, when our sleeping bags are worn, I will replace  some of them with  warmer sleeping bags for colder weather but, I will not replace perfectly good sleeping bags

Who can afford that?

I use sleeping bag liners to add extra warmth.  You can buy sleeping bag liners for under $20.00 or, you can do what I did and make your own.

I bought  inexpensive throw blankets  for under $5.00 and sewed them together on three sides.

I also  put an inexpensive throw on top of my air mattresses. Remember, the air in your air mattress will only be as warm as the air in your tent. Don’t waste your body heat warming your air mattress. Put a couple of extra layers of material between you and the surface of the mattress. Putting a rug under your air mattress will help also.

Bring warm sleepwear when you camp.

This is when you can seriously rock your flannel jammies! dscn6834 Soft warm flannel is perfect for sleeping in tents. So, don’t pack your winter jammies away in the spring. Put them with your camping gear to wear on cool nights.

Wear warm dry socks to bed. dscn6849    If your feet get cold or damp when you are out and about the  campground, change your socks before going to bed. Having cold  feet will make you feel cold all over.

Add a bed beanie to your camping gear.

Say what?smiley laughting

You heard me right. A bed beanie!dscn6844

You are covering  up the rest of your body to keep warm, cover your head too.  A warm knitted cap, a beanie, will help to keep  your body heat from escaping through your head.

Another thing that we use is hot water bottles.

I like to put my hot water bottle at the foot of the bed. Try it! You will be surprised how much it will warm the bed.

I used  inexpensive throws  to make cozies (slip covers) for our hot water bottles. They were easy and everyone has a different design. As you can see, my grandkids all like skulls!galaxy-s4-476

These hot water bottles are cute and functional.

Let’s face it, summer isn’t all sunshine, and warm nights are not guaranteed.

I am a dedicated  camper. I am always  looking for  ways to extend our camping season. Having a few tricks for staying warm, has helped me to do just that!

 Autumn is a beautiful season to be outdoors.  Don’t cancel your camping plans or shy away from fall camping trips because the temperature is expected to drop.

There will always be cold fronts but, if you plan ahead and are  prepared for the cool nights, you can continue to enjoy sleeping in your tent while the autumn leaves fall all around you.Coolpix 186Happy Camping,



“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower”

Albert Camus



My Photos

  • The featured photo is of the Shiawassee River 10-17-16
  • A country road in Bancroft, Michigan 10-17-16
  • Trick or treating at  Sleepy Hollow State park 10-3-15
  • Fall colors 10-17-16
  • A cutie pie, rocking his flannel jammies
  • Warm feet in fun socks
  • Wearing a bed beanie
  • Our hot water bottles
  • My tent at Sleepy Hollow State Park 10-4-14
  • Me,  being a witch at Cross Roads Village’s Halloween 10-8-11