Please Don’t Transport Firewood

Please Don’t Transport Firewood

I am an avid camper. I am a nature lover and consider myself a conscientious camper.

It was hard for me to accept, since I only burn deadfall, and firewood that I buy near my campsite, that my evening campfire could be destroying Michigan’s forests. But, I was guilty of taking firewood from home on some of my camping trips, and taking leftover firewood home with me after my camping trips. firewood I had to face the fact that I was part of the problem.

I have learned that when we transport wood, we can inadvertently be transporting invasive insects and diseases that can kill our native trees. Hidden within the firewood there can be eggs and larvae. When the eggs hatch at the new location the insects will attack the trees in that area.em ash tree damage

One of the invasive species, is the Emerald Ash Borer, believed to have come from Asia in shipping crates.em ash art This pest has caused destruction to the native ash trees throughout Michigan. As many as 10 million trees have been affected. Seventy thousand trees in the Detroit area have been lost.em ash tree damage 2 Emerald Ash Borers have now been confirmed in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio , and Ontario.

Quarantines have been established in Michigan to try to slow the spread of the infestation.dont move wood It is illegal to transport any deciduous trees (trees that lose their leaves) from the quarantined area. You cannot bring any ash firewood into any state park, state forest, forest campground, or recreation area.

It is illegal to move hardwood firewood out of Michigan. Any hardwood firewood being bought over the Mackinac bridge is confiscated.

To limit the spread of the Emerald Ash borerem ash borer 2, Federal quarantines restricting the transport of ash wood from Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota,  New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Wisconsin, and West Virginia have now been established.em ash regions

The province of Ontario, as well as other states, are trying to limit the spread of all insect pests known to live in firewood by placing regulations or bans on moving any firewood.

Although the Emerald Ash Borer is the biggest threat to Michigan’s forests, Oak Wilt, Beech Bark disease, Dutch Elm disease, and Gypsy Moths are causing major damage, and are also being spread by transported firewood.

 http://don’ says: “Burn it where you buy it.”burn it where you buy it

Use only locally cut firewood. Never use wood that was cut more than 50 miles away, or at least within the county.  It is even better if you can burn wood that was cut less than 10 miles away. If you must use wood that is not from  your area, use wood with a USDA APHIS seal, indicating that the wood has been heat treated to kill and insects.

If you are not sure where to get firewood in your camping area, visit

Join me in taking measures to save our forests for the generations to come. It’s not that hard to do.

Don’t transport firewood!

Happy Camping,





“It is not so much for it’s beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit”

Robert Louis Stevenson

Swimmer’s Itch

Swimmer’s Itch

Imagine your horror, after spending a lazy summer day at the beach, playing in the shallow water with your family, and you end up looking like this:


 This is what Swimmer’s itch looks like.

I had never even heard of swimmer’s itch until a few years ago.

While planning a camping trip to S. Higgins Lake State Park, I read in the park reviews that people were reporting that they were  infected with swimmer’s itch after being in the lake.Coolpix 296

Swimmer’s itch is cercarial dermatitis. It is caused by an allergic reaction to group of flatworm parasites that burrow into the skin.

The parasites are introduced into the water by water fowl, and animals that live near the water such as muskrats and raccoons. Coolpix 297

The eggs of the parasites are passed into the water through the feces of the birds or animals. When the eggs hatch in the water, the larvae infect aquatic snails. The snails then release  microscopic cercaria. The cercaria  swim to the surface of the water. If humans are swimming in the water, the cercaria will burrow into the skin of the humans.

swimitch cycle

Fortunately, humans are not suitable hosts for the cercaria, and the parasite soon dies, but not before causing an allergic reaction. An infected person may notice symptoms which include:

  • itchy skin
  • a burning sensation
  • red pimples
  • blisters

The discomfort caused by the allergic reaction is short lived. It is usually gone within a week. The symptoms can be eased by using:

  • antihistamine
  • bathing in baking soda or Epsom salts
  • applying oatmeal paste
  • anti-itch lotion

As hard as it is, scratching the rash is strongly discouraged. Scratching may cause the skin to brake, and become infected.

Swimmer’s itch can be avoided in the following ways:

  • Do not swim or wade in brackish water or marshy areas.
  • Do not swim in areas where swimmer’s itch is a known problem.
  • Don’t feed water fowl. This encourages them to come into swimming areas. (I am adamant about not feeding wild animals. See my post:  Close Encounters Of The Wild Kind)
  • Always shower after swimming or dry vigorously with a towel.

After learning what I could do to help my family avoid swimmer’s itch, I made the decision to go ahead with our plans to camp at S. Higgins Lake State Park.

We had a very nice weekend. The kids  enjoyed swimming in beautiful Higgins Lake.  I made sure that they showered right after swimming, and we didn’t experience any  outbreaks of swimmer’s itch.

By reading the reviews of the campground, I learned of a potential problem. I was able to do research, and make an educated decision whether  or not to camp, and swim at this park.

When looking for a campsite, I encourage everyone to read the reviews left by previous campers. When we leave responsible reviews of the campgrounds that we visit, we are aiding future campers to choose the right campground for their family’s next adventure.

Happy Camping,


DSCN1800 (1)



“Thought is the wind, knowledge the sail, and mankind the vessel.”

                                       Augustus Hare

Choosing The Perfect Tent For Your Needs

Let’s Talk About Tents

So, you have decided to buy a tent. This is a big step. Let’s face it; your tent is your most important piece of equipment. It is your shelter. While camping, it is your home. Your tent can mean the difference between having a wonderful vacation or being miserable. Finding the right tent for your needs should be something you do carefully. I like to research and read reviews before I buy almost anything. Purchasing a tent is no different.

Fortunately, there are a lot of good, reasonably priced tents on the market. Manufacturers such as Keltey, Mountain Trails, Coleman, Wenzel, Ozark Trail, Kodiak and Big Agnes are just a few.

What should you consider when choosing a tent? First of all: what are you using it for?

There are different kinds of camping. If you are going to use your tent while backpacking (something I would love to do one day,)girlhiker you will want a tent that is light – weight. A small single wall nylon tent would be a good consideration. There are also ultra-light backpacking tents with a fly and mesh top. The mesh top provides added ventilation.

Big Agnes is known for making durable ultra-light tents. The 2 person, 3 seasons, Fly Creek UL2 is a good example. It has a silicone treated fly and only weighs 1 lb. 15 oz. for under $300.00   http://www.bigagnes.combig agnesREI has the quarter dome 1. It is a 1 person, 3 seasons tent that is 2 lbs. and, costs $229.00

REI quarterdomeMSR’s carbon reflex tent has a nylon fly. It is a single person, 3 seasons tent that is only 2lb. 9oz. pack weight. It cost $239.97


carbon reflexOf course, there are way too many backpacking tents to name them all but, the above mentioned will give you an idea of the light-weight tents that would be good for hiking or a quick overnighter.

For family camping, you will, of course, want a larger tent. To decide how big your tent needs to be, you will need to consider how many campers you will be housing and, how much personal gear each camper will need to stow.

When a tent manufacturer says that a tent sleeps a certain number of people, what they mean is,  how many people will fit in the tent, lying side by side in sleeping bags. If you, like me, want a comfy double high airbed to sleep on you will have to look at the size of the tent floor. Bear in mind that when the manufacturer lists the size of the tent, they mean the overall size of the tent, not necessarily the size of the tent floor. I almost made that mistake myself.

My granddaughter and I were considering this really nice looking, L-shaped tent by Ozark Trail. The manufacturer lists it as 16′  x 16′. How can an L-shaped tent be 16′ x 16′? Wouldn’t 16′ x 16′ be a square? As it turned out, there is a large awning on the front of the tent that is included in the tent size. I have since seen this tent set up in a campground. I still think it is a really cool tent.

I have since seen this tent set up in a campground. I still think it is a really cool tent.

ozark trail L








I have owned several tents. This Coleman has proven to be a quality tent. It survived my son’s college years and, his camping trips, which included an annual weekend  at “Red Neck Fest.” It can sleep up to 8 people. The shock cord construction makes it easy to put up and take down. I have patched it in a few places and replaced some of the rain fly cords but, it is still in good shape. I use it as a guest tent.Coolpix 195

Another Coleman tent that I own is this 2 person dome tent. It is great for sleepovers and, because it is small,  it is easy to take along in case you need extra room or a gear tent.Galaxy S 4 1739

This 3 room cabin tent by Ozark Trail is 20′ x10′. It sleeps 10 people or, 3 queen size beds. It has shock cord construction.Galaxy S 4 1509 Besides the main door, both of the ends open. I was able to assemble this tent by myself in 10 minutes. I paid $130.00 for it and we were still enjoying camping in it when the zipper on the door broke. I looked into getting a new zipper but, the repair would have cost $60.00. I decided that since my grandkids had grown quite a bit since I got the tent, I would put the $60.00 towards a bigger tent.

The tent that I have now is the Ozark by Tahoe Gear. It is a 3 seasons tent. It sleeps 16 people or 4 queen size beds. It is a 16′ x 16′, 3 room cabin tent. It has 7′ center and wall height. There are 7 windows and 2 vents near the floor for cross ventilation. The power cord slip is at the bottom of the tent in a corner. This tent is durable and comfortable. My family is enjoying camping in it and, I have received quite a few compliments on it.



We camp from May – October. Although I would love to, I have never camped in a tent in the winter. Winter camping requires a tent that is designed to withstand the cold, the wind and, the weight of snow. I was quite surprised at how many 4 seasons tents I found.

I would have believed that the cotton canvas tent would have been the only type designed for  cold weather camping but, I was wrong,

You can’t, however, go wrong with a cotton canvas tent. The cotton is breathable and durable. The threads are twisted together before weaving for strength. The tent actually becomes stronger and more waterproof when it gets wet because wet cotton shrinks. Kodiak, one of the top manufacturers of cotton canvas tents, boasts that their tents are made with marine-grade, 100% cotton duck canvas that also has a hydra-shield coating. They are virtually waterproof. The walls won’t even wick water if you touch them when it is raining.kodiak_6121_front

The Kodiak canvas flex bow tent got rave reviews. They are, however, heavy. The 10′ x 14′, 8 person cabin tent weighed in at almost 80 lbs. The cost was $670.00

Another tent that caught my eye is the Nordic Tentipi. The great design of this shelter makes it very suitable for winter camping.tentipi2

This design features and inner and outer tent. Ie has a smoke opening at the top and air intake vents at the bottom so that you can have a fire inside of the tent when the temperature is cold and, also, have added ventilation during warm weather camping. It is made of 50/50 cotton/polyester fabric. The fabric is tightly woven to repel water and, the teepee shape will shed the snow. The Nordic Tentipi has many other impressive features.  The Onyx 9 Light Base model only weighs 13.36 lbs. and starts at just over $1000.00


The North Face 2-meter Dome Tent sounds like another amazing tent for winter camping. This tent is designed for “challenging environments.” It has an industrial strength 210D nylon fly. It has a Polyurethane coating to repel harsh rain. The aluminum poles crisscross multiple times to form a strong “lattice” support and, the steep walls of the geodesicnorthfacewinter shape are designed to shed snow and withstand strong winds. It is approximately 50 lbs. pack weight and, the 8 person design costs in the $5,500.00 range. All of the reviews that I read on this tent were very positive.


I can only imagine how cool it would be to sleep in these tents. Hopefully, someday,  I will get the chance to find out.

I have found several tents that were just what my family needed at the time. As our needs have changed, we have changed our tent. The nice thing about tent camping is that you can always upgrade your tent without it costing you a fortune.

Whatever type of camping you are into, the perfect tent is out there with your name on it!

Take your time. Do your homework. Read reviews. I am confident that you will find the tent that is right for your needs. Let me know what you find!

Happy Camping,





“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”

Henry David Thoreau

My Photos:

  1. Featured Photo: My Ozark Trail tent and privacy tent at S. Higgins State Park
  2. Coleman 8 person tent at Sleepy Hollow State Park
  3. Coleman 2 person tent at Straits State Park
  4. Ozark Trail tent at home
  5. Tahoe Gear tent at Holland State Park





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






Halloween Totem Poles


What do you do to celebrate Autumn? dscn2334Take trips to the apple orchard for cider and warm donuts? Go on hay rides at the pumpkin patch? Do you break out your Uggs and hoodies?

Yep, me too!

Being a camping enthusiast, I also celebrate Autumn at the Fall Festival weekend at Sleepy Hollow State Park.galaxy-s4-2453 Sadly, I know that as we arrive and begin to set up the tent, this will be our last camping trip until spring  but,  Sleepy Hollow State Park’s Fall Festival weekend is a great way to rock out this year’s camping season in style. It is so much fun!

We call it Halloween camp because although it is only the first weekend in October, the whole campground is decorated for Halloween.

One of the ways that Sleepy Hollow State Park decorates is with totem poles that are made, for the most part, with   plastic pumpkin heads.

This year, my friend and I decided to make our own.

Months ago, Denise (yes, there are 2 of us!) and I started shopping for  Halloween decorations at Good Will and Salvation Army, and other thrift stores. We  had  fun building our Halloween decorating stash. We would send each other pictures of our latest finds. We are just  big kids when it comes to Halloween!

These totem poles are so inexpensive and easy to make that I wanted to share this DIY Halloween  decoration with all of you.

I started with  old broom handles from my garage and glued lights on them.

I used Christmas tree stands ( again from the thrift store) to hold the broom handles upright.

One of my best finds was a 2′ plastic ghost for $2.99. I used it as the bottom of my  first totem pole.dscn6529

After cutting the bottom out of my pumpkin heads, I started stacking them on top of the ghost.

I used Gorilla Glue to hold the pumpkin heads in place.

I topped this one off   with a plastic skull.

How cute is this?

dscn6534I am happy with how my second totem pole turned out also!dscn6637

My friend, Denise T., used PVC pipe for  her totems.14222275_10205891104271687_29536737169047486_n 14344059_10205936175038428_2907847541065033449_n

I love this!!!14183882_10205890456775500_2215159130948949389_n

They are adorable!

So, there you go. A fun and inexpensive DIY Halloween craft.

Can you imagine these on your front porch? Better yet, next to your tent or RV at a fall festival camping weekend?

If you make Halloween totem poles for yourself, send me pictures.

Happy Camping,



”  Some people are born for Halloween, and some are just counting the days until Christmas.”

Stephan Graham Jones

My Photos

  • The featured photo was taken near Traverse City in 2012
  • View from a rest area on I 75, 2014
  • Me at Halloween camp, 2014
  • 3 pictures of my Halloween totem poles
  • 3 pictures of Denise’s Halloween totem poles
  • Me carving pumpkins with my family, 2013

Campground Etiquette

Teach Your Children Well

I love camping! I enjoy seeing the kiddos on their bikes riding all over the campground, children bikeshearing the laughter of families playing together, sitting around the campfire at night, and I love sleeping in tents.

Some campgrounds are roomier than others and campers have more privacy, but, even in the smaller campgrounds, when the campsites are close together, being a good neighbor is easy, if you follow a few simple rules. 

Respect the quiet time rule.

Most campgrounds have a quiet time starting at 10:00 p.m.night time camp Stay up and enjoy your campfire, by all means, I do, but, turn the music and the voice levels down so that your neighbors can go to sleep if they wish.

I admit that I was guilty of breaking this rule while camping this summer. My friend and I, along with our 8 grandchildren, collectively, were sitting by the fire  one night, being silly  with the kids and laughing.  We were having so much fun that we didn’t realize how loud we were until the park rangers stopped on their walk through camp and reminded us that it was quiet time.


We all need to be courteous and quiet after 10:00.

Arriving Late

If you arrive at your campsite late at night, try to set up your camp quietly.  Use flashlights not headlights.

Be Understanding

If your neighbors arrive and set up late, offer them a couple of pieces of your firewood and some kindling so they can relax by the fire or cook a meal.

Don’t cut through other people’s campsites.

This is a pet peeve of mine. beartentWhen people reserve a site in a campground, they are renting that living space  for their vacation. Respect their space and their privacy. I have had kids ride their bikes through my campsite to get to a trail. I have had people cut through my campsite to get to the beach. I have even had people walk up and look into my tent windows to see how it is laid out.

How Rude!

Keep your pets under control.

Most campgrounds have a rule that dogs have to be on a 6-foot leash but, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are being kept under control. The humans still have to use some common sense. Even if, according to you, “its okay, he is friendly,” “he wouldn’t hurt a flea” or, “he will just lick you to death,” not everyone wants to pet or be sniffed by your dog!

Keep your pet at your side.Growling dog

What about barking? Do you  want to camp next to a dog that barks all the time? Neither do I.

Clean up after your pets PLEASE!

scoop poop

Do not wash your dishes in the bathroom sinks.

Trust me, no one wants to wash their face or brush their teeth at the same sink that you just used for your dirty dishes. GROSS!

Leave the campsite cleaner than you found it.

Our camping motto is: “Take only pictures, leave only footprints.”cleaning campsite

The last thing we do before we drive away from our campsite is to walk around picking up any tiny bits of trash that we may have overlooked.

Camping is a wonderful way to spend time with family and friends. It is also a great way to make new friends. To make a friend be a friend.

Teach your children well by showing them how to be a good campground neighbor .

Happy Camping,



My Photos:

The featured photo is Tyrone Hills Golf Course, October 2013

Photo of me at Niagara Falls

Freedom without rules doesn’t work. And communities do not work unless they are regulated by etiquette.”

Judith Martin

Making Giant Bubbles

Making Giant Bubbles

Do you want an easy and cheap way to entertain your kids? Keep reading, this is it!

Your kids will love, love, love making giant bubbles!

When we saw a family on the beach making these huge bubbles, I have to admit I was mesmerized.

The  bubbles floated from their wands, into the sunset. DSCN5094 I was happy to sit and take pictures  but, others on the beach wanted to know how the giant bubbles  were made. The family with the bubbles would not give up their secrets.

They did, however, invite the children, who were by then, flocked around them, to dip the wands into the  bucket of solution and watch the bubbles float away.

The kids didn’t care how it was done, they were just thrilled to  be making giant bubbles of their own.DSCN5110

I am not one to be outdone, in the eyes of my grandkids. I knew I would have to figure out how the giant bubbles were made. I turned to my faithful friend who seems to know everything…th


Ah yes! There is a plethora of ways to make giant bubbles.

This is how it is done:

You can use big straws, sticks or, dowels. I happened to have some nice metal dowels from a clothes drying unit that I no longer use.


I tied an old cotton clothes line around the end of one of the dowels.

I measured two feet of line. I put a washer on the line for weight before attaching it to the second dowel.


I measured about 18″ of the remaining line,  attached it  to the  line on the first dowel and cut it.


I tried several of the giant bubble solution recipes that I found online. This is the one that worked the best.

  • 1/2 cup Dawn dish liquid
  • 1/2 cup corn starch
  • 1 tablespoon of glycerine
  • 6 Cups of water

Mix it gently so it doesn’t get foamy.

Let it sit at least a couple of hours (I honestly don’t know why I just followed the directions.) Gently stir it before using.

Dip the bubble wands into the solution and walk backwards as you part the wands.

I have been using the same batch of bubble solution all summer. I just keep it tightly covered.


When not using your wands, put them in a plastic bag to keep them clean and they will be ready to make giant bubbles whenever or, wherever you want!


That’s it!!!

Drop me a line and let me know how your giant bubbles turned out.

Happy Camping,



My soul can find no staircase to Heaven unless it be through Earth’s loveliness.”


My Photos:

  • The featured photo is of my grandson making giant bubbles on the beach at Hoffmaster State Park at sunset.
  • A family making giant bubbles on the beach at Hoffmaster State Park
  • The kids making giant bubbles on the beach at Hoffmaster State Park
  • How to make a bubble wand
  • How to weight a bubble wand
  • A finished bubble wand
  • The kids making bubbles at Four Mile Creek State Park
  • The kids making bubbles at Four Mile Creek State Park
  • Me by the Michigan display at the Soo Locks.

Camping On Lake Superior At Brimley State Park

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

“The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down of the big lake they called ‘Gitche Gumee’. The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead when the skies of November turn gloomy”

The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

Gordon Lightfoot

Lake Superior. The big lake they called ‘Gitche Gumee.” The largest freshwater lake in the world!

Did you know that Lake Superior could contain all of the other Great Lakes plus 3 more lakes the size of Lake Erie?  That is huge!Lake Superior

Lake Superior is 350 miles long and 160 miles wide. The average depth is 489 feet with a maximum depth of 1,333 feet. No wonder it acts more like an ocean than a lake.DSCN5966

Lake Superior’s seas sweep across from the Northwest to the Southeast with a tremendous amount of force.

Of the 550 known wrecks in Lake Superior, over 200 of them are along the shoreline from Whitefish Point to Munising. There are no natural harbors for ships to take refuge during the big Lake Superior storms. Whitefish Bay provides the big ships some protection from the storms, if the ships can get there in time.

DSCN6066You can see many cool artifacts from Lake Superior shipwrecks at The Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point.

 I am so glad that my family enjoys going to museums as much as I do. I like that they understand, when viewing  artifacts, that these “things” are directly related to real people who had homes and families and, who lost their lives while doing their jobs, shipping on the Great Lakes.

While visiting Whitefish Point we also had the  opportunity to crash a wedding on the beach.

I really don’t think that it is strange that we stayed to watch the wedding, I am a little concerned that I felt the need to take several pictures of the ceremony.question-yikA5pBiE

What is wrong with me?

If you recognize the happy couple, please tell them “Mozel Tov” from me. I thoroughly enjoyed their wedding. I would have stayed  to congratulate them personally but,  they weren’t serving refreshments, and we were getting hungry.dscn6055

We camped in sweet old Brimley State park again this year.

I usually don’t stay at a campground two years in a row but, Brimley State Park is worth a double take.DSCN6084

Established in 1923, Brimley has 237 campsites on 151 acres  that sit on the shores of Whitefish Bay. It is a lovely campground with a large picnic area and playground. The beach is expansive. The shore is solid and the swim area is well marked.

 Some of the most beautiful sunsets I have seen, and photographed, have been over Whitefish Bay from the beach at Brimley State Park.


You can also watch the big ships slowly making their way to Sault Ste Marie.DSCN6057

Besides our visit to Whitefish Point, we took a day  to spend on Mackinac Island. It had been 38 years since my last visit to the island. Only one of my grandkids had been there.  We took the carriage tour and had a wonderful day.

Our U.P. vacation also included day trips to Sioux Ste. Marie, the Soo Locks, and
Tahquamenon Falls. I love love love sightseeing with my grandkids.

I don’t know about your family but, when we start planning a camping trip, one of the most important things that we have to decide is what is going to be on our camping menu.

There is something about being out in the fresh air all day that just makes everyone feel hungrier and the food always seems to tastes better.

DSCN6071Now, I won’t call myself an expert by any means, but, I am getting better at open fire cooking. No one has come home hungry yet!

On this trip, I decided to try some new recipes. The first is homemade corned beef hash.

Making Corned beef hash is nothing new . My mom made corned beef hash from the corned beef dinner leftovers. Basically, it was boiled potatoes, cabbage, carrots and corned beef reheated. Over the years, I made corned beef hash from scratch. I dropped the carrots and cabbage, and added rutabaga ( a favorite of mine,) but, I still precooked the veggies. My son, Dane, took the recipe and improved it even more. He doesn’t precook any of the vegetables. He layers the sauteed vegetables in butter (Oh Yeah!.) I have been making it Dane’s way for some time but, this was the first time I have made it over an open fire.

I started by sauteing chopped onions in butter until they were tender.


When the onions were translucent and tender, I added 2 cloves of chopped garlic and let it simmer with the onions for a few minutes.

I removed the onion garlic mixture when I was ready to add the chopped rutabaga.

Rutabaga is a root vegetable that is very dense and takes awhile to cook. I didn’t have a clue how long it would take to cook over the fire, and I didn’t want my onions and garlic to burn.

I added another pat of butter with the rutabaga.DSCN5998

I covered the rutabaga with foil to keep the heat in.

While the rutabaga was cooking, I reminded my grandson of the new pocket knife that I had just bought for him and put him to work peeling and cutting potatoes (bwahaha, beware of grandmas bearing gifts.)DSCN6000

When the rutabaga was almost tender (about 20 minutes,) I added  another pat of butter (Paula Dean would be proud,) and the potatoes. I also reintroduced the onions and garlic and seasoned it with salt and pepper.

I covered it and let it simmer, stirring occasionally for  another 12 – 15 minutes.

Since on this trip, I was using canned corned beef, I gave the can with the funky little key to my grandson, and asked him to open it for me (I am sure by this point he was wishing he had stayed in bed like his sister, brother, and cousin.)

I sat back ready to lmao watching him  trying to figure out what to do with that little key, but, he figured it out in record time! Rock on Tiler!DSCN6002

When the potatoes were tender, we added the corned beef, stirred it all up again, and when it was starting to brown on one side, I woke the rest of my happy campers for breakfast.DSCN6007

 I am not even going to try to describe  how delicious it was.

Make it  for yourself and enjoy!

The other meal we tried for the first time was a hobo turkey dinner. I used a turkey loin.


After spraying two layers of heavy- duty aluminum foil with cooking spray, we seasoned  slices of potatoes.


On top of the potatoes, we added slices of the turkey loin.DSCN6165

On top of the turkey, we added stuffing that we had made a few minutes before. Stuffing is a favorite side dish  of mine when I am camping since you  can make it by just adding hot water and a little butter!

DSCN6166On top of the stuffing, we added a vegetable (ours was corn but, you can use any.)DSCN6167

On top of the vegetable we added gravy (again, from a packet, just add hot water.)


We wrapped it all up tight and put it on the grate over the fire.


Our dinner took approximately 35 minutes to cook.

I had extra turkey and vegetables that I cooked in a separate  pan. I was glad that I did since everyone wanted seconds.


  All too soon, it was time to break camp. Another Upper Peninsula vacation had come to an end.

We returned home with a few souvenirs and a lot of good memories. Isn’t that what summer vacations are all about?

Drop me a line at and let me know where your family made memories this year.  What are your favorite camp recipes? I would love to hear from you!

Happy Camping,



“The beauty of the trees, the softness of the air, the fragrance of the grass, speaks to me.

The summit of the mountains, the thunder of the sky, the rhythm of the sea, speaks to me.

The strength of the fire, the taste of salmon, the trail of the sun, and the life that never goes away, they speak to me.

And my heart soars.”

Chief Dan George

My Photos:

  • The featured photo is the sunset over Whitefish Bay, July 29, 2016
  • Lake Superior flexing her muscles on Whitefish Bay, July 28, 2016
  • The sign at the Great Lakes Shipwreck museum.
  • The happy couple (whoever they are)
  • My family by the Brimley State Park sign
  • My grandkids at the Soo Locks
  • Making corned beef hash
  • Making corned beef hash
  • Tiler cutting potatoes for the corned beef hash
  • Making corned beef hash
  • Tiler and the corned beef key
  • A big pan of corned beef hash
  •  7 pictures of how we made our turkey dinner
  • Me on Whitefish Bay at Brimley State Park



Camping On Lake Huron At Tawas Point State Park

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


I hope you had a happy and safe July 4th.

The food! The sunshine! The fireworks! No wonder  we love the 4th of July  so much.DSCN1491

There is always a variety of things to do on 4th of July weekend. Many people  have family reunions, block parties or, attend some of the many festivals going on.

 I celebrated by camping in Tawas Point State Park with my grandkids, Tiler, Bree, Chase, and our friends, Denise, Ryan, Sam, Amber, Skyler, and Kenzie.

Yep, Denise and I were “those women with all the kids!”DSCN5827

We had 2 campsites, 2 vehicles, 3 tents, 4 kayaks, and 8 kids. No wonder we had   fun.

We had so much fun that, for the first time EVER, the park rangers had to have a talk with us!

I admit it was late. We were sitting around the campfire with all the kids, eating peanuts, and cutting up (I may have been the instigator but, I’ll never admit it) The park rangers came over and said, with a friendly smile,ranger_13_jeep_col-250x181 that we were making too much noise after quiet time. Woops!

Of course, after the rangers left, I blamed the kids for getting me in trouble. 😉

We went on with our “cutting up” but, we were careful to make less noise.

We had amazing weather! Warm days and cool nights. Perfect for tent camping!

If you haven’t visited Tawas Point State Park, you should. Once referred to as the Cap Cod of the midwest, Tawas Point State Park sits on the end of a sand pit that forms Tawas Bay.  The water is shallow and warm.Tawas Bay

 The campground is laid out with the convenience of the campers in mind. It has  paths that cut across the campground to the bathroom/shower buildings so you don’t have to walk all the way around.

There is a great recreational area with a playground, horseshoe pits, and a wide open area that we saw being used for baseball, soccer, frisbees, and good old fashioned games of  tag.DSCN5741

There are beautiful trails and birdwatching areas. Tawas Point  is  a resting area for birds on the Lake Huron flyway.  The Tawas Bird Festival is in the spring and coincides with the returning of the migratory birds.

We DSCN5722saw many birding enthusiasts sitting on the provided “decks” taking pictures of the many species of birds or,  just relaxing and enjoying the view.

Tawas Point State Park is the home to the Tawas Point Lighthouse.

The original lighthouse was commissioned in 1853 and sat at Ottawa Point.   The waves caused sand to build up at the point causing added land mass. Before long the lighthouse too far inland and the mariners on Lake Huron were unable to see the light.

I have always heard about erosion but, never before heard of land mass forming or, making.DSCN5707

The present lighthouse was built on the point in 1877.  It features a Fresnel lens, designed by French Engineer, Augistin Fresnel.  It is 1 of 70 that remain in the Untied States.  16 of the remaining lenses are on the Great Lakes,  8 are in Michigan. DSCN5711

Despite the fact that the point, which juts out into Lake Huron and helps create Tawas Bay, is a “making point, ” getting longer with time, the current lighthouse is still serving its purpose. The white light can be seen for 16 miles, and the red light, which marks  the entrance to the Bay, can be seen for 12 miles.

Ottawa Point was renamed Tawas Point, in 1902

Renovation of the lighthouse by The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Friends of Tawas Point State Park is ongoing.DSCN5763

For a few bucks, you can take the interesting  tour of the lighthouse and climb to the top. We did! What a view!DSCN5753

Our Tawas Point State Park campsites backed up to a wind break, a small wooded area between the campsites and the bay. A trail ran through the windbreak to a brushy beach.

We realized that the young trees and brush grew during a time, a few years ago, when the lakes were low and shore was farther out. Now that the water levels on Lake Huron are returning, (YEA!!!)  the new growth sits in the water. Although swimming behind our campsite was not ideal because of the brush, the bottom was solid sand and we could walk out beyond the brush to swim. There was also a swimming beach a short walk away. Despite the brush, we were  able to launch our kayaks from right behind our campsite. DSCN5703

DSCN5768Lake Huron was referred to as  La Mer Douce, the “sweet” or “fresh-water” sea.” French explorers later named the lake after the Huron people.

Lake Huron is the second largest of the Great Lakes, and the third largest freshwater lake in the world.


It is 206 miles long and 183 miles wide. It has an average depth is 195 feet, with a maximum depth of 750 feet.

It has the longest shoreline of all of the Great Lakes due to it’s 30,000 Islands.

Below the surface of Lake Huron, there are more than 1000 shipwrecks,  9000-year-old animal- herding structures, and part of the Goderich Mine. The largest salt mine in the world.Lake Huron

I have enjoyed Lake Huron every time that I have camped on her shores. I think Lake Huron might be my favorite. Shhhhh, don’t tell the other Great Lakes! 😉

To view the fireworks, DSCN4058we decorated one of the Kayaks and the tube with glow sticks.  I paddled a short distance out into the bay, pulling the tube with the kids behind me. As we floated and watched the fireworks, I sang patriotic songs. I sang the Star Spangled Banner, God Bless America, and This Land Is Your Land (is that the name of it?) I don’t know if the people who were gathered  on the beach to watch the fireworks, could hear me or not. I didn’t care, I was having a blast! I know  you are thinking that there must have been alcohol involved, right? Again, I admit nothing. 😉

Celebrating our country’s independence  should be a fun filled weekend, spent  with family and friends. We are celebrating being free!!

I feel blessed that I was able to spend the 2016 Fourth of July weekend with my family and friends camping on the Tawas Bay of Lake Huron, in such a nice state park. I definitely recommend visiting Tawas Point State Park to my family,to my friends, and to you!

I love hearing from you. Thanks for the messages!

Happy Camping,



” If one way be better than another, that you may be sure is nature’s way.”


My Photos:

  • The featured photo is of the sunset on Tawas Bay of Lake Huron
  • The flag at Tawas Point lighthouse
  • Fireworks, St. John, Michigan 2014
  • My July 4, 2016, weekend campmates at the Tawas Point State Park sign.
  • Chase at the Tawas Point State Park playground
  • Bree and Sam at a bird watching station, Tawas Point State Park
  • Tawas Point lighthouse
  • Lighthouse information stand
  • Looking up at the lighthouse
  • Climbing to the top of the lighthouse
  • The shoreline behind our Tawas Point State Park campsite
  • Ryan, Sam, and Bree  kayaking on Tawas Bay at sunset
  • Kwaske fireworks, 2015
  • A picture of me taking pictures at Whitefish Bay, 2016




Close Encounters Of The Wild Kind

Born To Be Wild

It’s really not their fault!rabbit

Bless their hearts! We are the ones encroaching on their living spaces and we have the audacity to complain about them bothering us.

As society has grown, we have required more and more space. city We have taken over the country sides, fields and forests. We have left the animals with nowhere else to go.

I live in “the country.” I love seeing the abundance of wildlife in my yard. I sit and watch them, take pictures of them, and occasionally throw a “past it’s best” apple into the woods for a treat for them but, I always respect that they are wild and should remain wild.

I do not feed them.

 They were born wild. Their mothers taught them how to survive in the wild, where to find food and how to protect themselves.13427881_10153452086892133_3334584363677448145_n-1

If we feed them, we teach them that they don’t have to forage in the forest for food the way their mother’s taught them, that food will be provided. We begin to break down their instincts.  They begin to trust us.muscrat

Remember, animals grow to adulthood much faster that humans do. If you are feeding  them, over the course of a few years, you are feeding several generations of wild animals. As years go by the “wild” mother’s teach their young that they don’t have to look for food in the forests and fields, they just have to go to the feeder.

Close encounter of the deer kind.


By providing for them, you are taming the animals and making them dependent on you. What happens to them  when you are no longer around to feed them?

The worst thing you can do for them, in my opinion, is to teach the wild animals to trust humans.  Not all humans are as kind as you are.good evil

Now, let me get off my soap box…

man soap box

The fault doesn’t completely lie with the people who are setting up feeders around their property or, teaching squirrels to eat out of their hands. Some of us do dumb, careless things that teach the animals bad behaviors. I am guilty as charged. I have had several close encounters of the wild kind that were unpleasant, and clearly my fault!

There was the incident involving the U.P. skunk.images-3

Skunks are part of the weasel family. They are the size of a cat and can be striped, spotted or, have a swirl patterned fur. Some are brownish in color but, most skunks are known for their distinctive black and white stripes.

Skunks can be found in most of the United States, the Southern half of Canada and Northern Mexico.Unknown

Opportunistic, they live in hollowed trees and logs, dens abandoned by other animals, or under structures built by humans, such as porches, and outbuildings.

They eat plant and animal matter. Grubs, insects, bird eggs, small rodents, frogs, and berries are all staples of a skunk’s diet.

Skunks are nocturnal and solitary except for mating season and during cold winters when they may share a communal den for warmth.

They have poor eye site but, a strong sense of smell and very good hearing. When threatened, they will growl, shake their tails, fluff their fur, spit and even stomp. As a last resort, a skunk will spray  a strong smelling liquid from their anal glands.  They can spray up to 10 feet and the stench of the foul smelling liquid can be smelled for up to 1.5 miles.skunk clip art

Skunks are one of the primary carriers of rabies in the Midwest.

My close encounter of the skunk kind happened when I was camping in the U.P. with my grandkids, and  forgot to take the trash to the trash bin before going to bed one night.

During the night, I got up to get a bottle of water from the bench of the picnic table. As I walked around the picnic table, I saw him, foraging through my trash bin, A SKUNK.!!!skunk tent

He appeared to shudder and made a low grunting sound.

I didn’t want to go past him again so, I ran behind my car.running woman

At that time, I had only owned my Chevy Traverse for 4 days. 4 Days!!! 

I stood with my head against the driver’s door thinking, “please don’t spray, please don’t spray.”  My new car, my tent, and all of my sleeping bags would be ruined if he sprayed.

I was barefoot, wearing sleep shorts and a tee shirt. I was shivering in the cool Upper Peninsula night air for what seemed like  a long time.

I tried looking under the car but, couldn’t see anything. I crept to the front of the car and peeked around but, the picnic table was blocking my view.  I couldn’t see if he was still there or not. I had to do something!scared woman

 Eventually, I got up the nerve to cross the road and go behind my neighbor’s campsites.images I walked until I was well past my own campsite before crossing back to my side of the road.

I tiptoed to the back of my tent, and slowly began to unzip the back door. At that moment in time, in the silence of the night,  the sound of my door zipper sounded like it was being broadcast across the campground. I was sure the skunk would hear it and come running around the tent with the intention of  spraying me.

I opened the door just enough to fit myself through. As quickly as I could,  I  squeezed sideways through the  opening that I had made for myself. As I did,  I stepped on a small flashlight that was laying on the tent floor, and fell, unceremoniously, Unknown-4 into  my tent butt first or, as my Nana would have put it, arse over tea kettle.

My left foot was still sticking out of the door but, I didn’t dare move. Remember, I had no idea if the skunk was still there or not.

When after a few moments, nothing happened, I quietly retrieved my foot, zipped my door shut and crawled back to bed. I never did get the water that I went out for. I did, however, learn a valuable lesson. Needless to say, I have not forgotten to take my trash to the trash bin, since that night.takingout trash

The U.P. skunk encounter happened because people, like me, leave food or trash around their campsites. The animals have learned that if they wait until the campground occupants are sleeping they can come into camp and get free food.

I take full responsibility for the incident. Although I admit that  I called him everything but a gentleman, the bottom line is, that my close encounter of the skunk kind was my fault.

Another wild animal often encountered near our homes and campsites are raccoons.cute bandit

Raccoons like skunks nocturnal and are opportunistic eaters. They eat berries, fruits,  rodents and eggs, as well as, crawfish, and frogs. They are not above eating garbage or roadkill.raccon in trash

Raccoons are usually the size of a small dog. They are  brown with ringed tails and  dark fur “masks” around their eyes, that makes them look like bandits.

They have  5 long dexterous fingers on each hand. They den in hollow trees, fallen logs or human-made structures.

Like bears, raccoons gorge in spring and summer to build body fat and sleep most of the winter but, are not true hibernators.

 They can carry rabies, roundworm,  and leptospirosis.

Raccoons can run up to 15 miles per hourracing raccoon and be vicious when approached by humans.

We were camping in New York when our close encounter of the raccoon kind  happened.

 I had taken precautions. I took the trash to the trash bins. I put the drink cooler and a case of water on top of my food cooler. My dry food bin had lock down handles.  I thought I had done everything right. Imagine my surprise when I was awakened during the night by the sound of “someone” getting into our stuff.

When I shone the flashlight out of the tent window, there was a little raccoon diligently working on prying up the top of my dry food bin.

I  knew  not to harass a raccoon due to their aggressive nature.

I remember a night when leaving for work, a raccoon ran into my garage and took a position between me and my car. There was no way I was going to challenge that raccoon for possession of the garage. I went into the house and told my husband about the big raccoon holding my car hostage. He wasn’t keen about facing down a raccoon either. We decided that I would go out on the front porch to watch the raccoon while my husband opened the back door into the garage. Our hope was that  the garage door opening  at the back of the garage would startle the raccoon, and it would run away. Our plan worked, the raccoon ran out of the garage and I was able to get to work on time.

So, there I was in New York, with a little raccoon that was tearing into our food bin. THIS WAS WAR!!!

I tried to spook him by shining my flashlight on him but, he was unfazed. I opened my tent door and said, more sternly,  “Get out of here you little (gotta keep this G rated)no bad wordsson of Mrs.  to Raccoon!” He cocked his head to the side and gave me that “who me?” look. innocent raccoon He was so small and so stinking cute I almost smiled but, remembering that this was a food war,  I lunged at him with my flashlight and  said “Get out of here you no cus words donkey’s hind end”  To my relief, he opted not to tear my face off, and, instead,  turned and ran off into the night. Maybe he was afraid I would start shouting  “F” bombs, like,Unknown “friggin,” at him if he didn’t leave.

As I inspected my bin, I saw the claw marks along the side of the lid from his long fingers.DSCN5835 He had not unlatched the handles.  He had pried the side up until he could grab our bag of hotdog buns. He pulled the buns through the opening enough to get a few bites, and began the process again.

I locked the bin in the back of my car, and we went back to bed. Another lesson was learned. I knew that I would have to lock up the bin every night after that.

Our next camping trip was at Tawas Point State Park. My friend and I commented about the abundance of  chipmunks running around the campsite. many chipmunksThey seemed to be everywhere and had very little fear of us. They would approach us when we were sitting in camp. One actually ran over my foot.

Chipmunks are cute little rodents with black, white, and brown stripes.nice chipmunk They are the smallest member of the squirrel family, measuring 4 – 7 inches long and weighing  1 – 5 ounces.  They have cheek pouches that can stretch to three times the size of the chipmunks head. They use the cheek pouches to carry food, such as mushrooms, nuts, and berries to their winter dens which are long underground tunnels that they have burrowed.

chipmunk cheeksIn warm weather months, they generally nest in logs or bushes and will eat insects, baby birds, frogs, and bird eggs.

Chipmunks do not hibernate but, do sleep soundly for 2 -3  days, wake to eat, and go back to sleep.

Mild fall and winter weather has led to the unusually large populations of chipmunks, which is why we saw so many running  around our campsites.

Chipmunks in campgrounds,  eat dropped food and trash.   Like other rodents, they will chew through anything, as I was about to find out.

On our first morning in camp, we decided to make a quick trip to the store for a few supplies. We were gone for an hour and a half. When we returned, one of our neighbors was standing in my campsite taking pictures.  She said, laughing, “I’m sorry to trespass in your campsite but, I had to get a picture of that cute little chipmunk sitting on your bin, eating. “

My first thought was that one of the kids had left some food out but, when I looked, the Chipmunk had chewed a hole in the top of my bin, and had reached in and got our hotdog buns. What is this, DSCN5836Chipmunkzilla? images

And, what is with these animals and hot dog buns?images-4

Needless to say, if it weren’t for the fact that we had 8 kids with us, the air would have probably been blue for a whileimages-1 but, instead of cussing, I sanitized the bin, (Chipmunks can carry rabies, fleas, and other parasites), and moved it into the car, where it would stay for the remainder of our camping trip and all future camping trips.

It is really not their fault! The animals are just doing what animals do. They are surviving.chipmunk at tawas

Our campgrounds have  been built in their homes.

Experiencing the wildlife that inhabits our parks and campgrounds should be exciting and fun. How dare we complain when they eat the food that we make available or, get into the trash that we  carelessly leave laying around.

 To keep the close encounters of the wild kind pleasant, for ourselves, and for future campers, we have to remember, they were born to be wild and should remain wild.

Don’t feed them!

Keep your campsite clean. Secure your food.  Deposit trash in the campground receptacles, and for crying out loud….


I hope you and your family are having a wonderful summer. May  your close encounters of the wild kind be a joy!

Happy Camping,


DSCN1800 (1)
“One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.”

William Shakespeare

My Photos:

  • A rabbit in my yard
  • A huge turtle crossing the road by my house
  • A muskrat in my yard
  • A deer in my yard
  • Raccoon damage to my bin lid
  • Chipmunkzilla damage
  • Chipmunk at Tawas Point State Park
  • Me at Lake Superior in 2014


Camping on Lake Ontario At Four Mile Creek State Park, New York

Our H.O.M.E.S Summer/Lake Ontario

I have been out of school for 41 years (Sheesh, I can’t be that old!) but, I still love hearing the words,schools out for summer

 This year, we celebrated the kid’s new-found freedom by taking the second trip of our H.O.M.E.S summer. We camped in New York, on Lake Ontario.

basinMap2Lake Ontario lies below Lake Erie, at the base of Niagara Falls. It is bordered by New York, on the American side, and Ontario, on the Canadian side.

Lake Ontario is 193 miles long and 53 miles wide. It is the fourteenth largest lake in the world but, the smallest of the Great Lakes in surface area. It has an average depth is 283 feet with a maximum depth of 802 feet, which is second only to Lake Superior, the largest of the Great Lakes.

The province of Ontario was named after Lake Ontario. In the language of the Iroquois people, Ontario means; “beautiful water.” DSCN5621

Lke OntarioPlanning a camping trip on Lake Ontario made me a bit nervous.   It was the first time  I would be taking my grandchildren camping   outside of Michigan.

I was  worried about hauling a trailer full of camping equipment through customs, twice each way. What if the customs agents thought I had shifty eyes or something? I had a vision of them tearing everything open, and letting their drug dogs drool all over our sleeping bags and underwear. What a nightmare that would be!!! I packed my trailer as neatly as possible and used clear bins. The customs agents didn’t even glance at my trailer, way far less, tell me how nicely it was packed.

 Our reservation was at  Four Mile Creek State Park. It is located at 1055 Lake Rd, Youngstown, NY.,14174. 4mile sign

The park is lovely and quiet. Our  campsite  was perfect. It was a very deep site at the top of a cul-de-sac. We had neighbors to our left but, none on the right side of us, which meant that our camping and playing area was huge.

We went to two different Lake Ontario beaches during our stay.rockyshoreThe beaches  were very rocky. I was unable  to walk on the beach without shoes. The water  of Lake Ontario was clear and cold. water rocks

The number one thing that I wanted to do during our stay, was to spend a day at Niagara Falls, New York. Niagara Falls has always been one of my favorite places but, I have always spent time on the Canadian side. Exploring Niagara Falls N.Y. would be a new experience for me, and I love new experiences.

I purchased the Niagara U.S.A. Discovery passes online, before our trip. The passes gave us admission to 5 of the most popular tourist sites, plus all day access to the trolley system.

The first site that we visited was the Niagara Imax  theater. I had seen the Imax feature several times and  enjoyed it every time. The feature begins with  what the first explorers experienced when they discovered the falls. They were in awe of the size and power of what they were seeing. It goes on to tell the native legends about the maid of the mist. The kids enjoyed hearing about the Niagara Falls daredevils. My favorite part is when you feel like you are flying over the falls.

Next on our tour was the Niagara Aquarium. It is a small aquarium but, has a variety of aquatic creatures. We had fun looking at the exhibits and watching the penguins, sharks, and sea lions.

The  Niagara Discovery Center is a hands-on museum that focuses on how the Great Lakes were formed by the receding glaciers of the last ice age. I was fascinated by the displays and reading about the history of the Great Lakes and Niagara Falls. The kids went  through the discovery center trying  all of the hands-on exhibits.Maid of the mist water

The Maid of the Mist boat ride is always fun. I took Bree to Niagara Falls, Canada,  a couple of years ago, and we went on the Maid of the Mist with my cousin, Chris. I was happy to see that Bree was eager to go on the ride again. It is so exciting to me to be right in front of a  waterfall  that is crashing 188 feet at the rate of 150,000 gallons per second. Niagara Falls is so powerful. I can’t believe people say; “it’s just a waterfall.”

Our last site of the day was the Cave of the Winds. You start out on the lower deck. As you climb to the upper decks, you get closer and closer, to Bridal Veil Falls. Being at the top, right next to the rushing water, is both intimidating and bridal falls

We had a clear hot day for sightseeing. I was glad that we didn’t have to find our way from site to site or, worry about how far we would have to walk in the heat. Having all day access to the Niagara Trolley,  made an already enjoyable day even more pleasant.

The Niagara U.S.A. discovery passes cost $160.00 for 2 adults and 2 children. It was, in my opinion, well worth the money. Would I recommend the Niagara U.S.A.  Discovery pass to my friends? Absolutely!

The next day, after the kids took a cool dip in the lake, we went to Fort Niagara.castle Fort Niagara

Having this fort on the Niagara River made it possible to control access to the Great Lakes during colonial wars. The fort was built by the French in 1728 but, there were military posts at the site  as early as 1679. Over a 300 year span, the French, the British, and the Americans have all occupied the fort.fort Niagara Fort Niagara’s last armed conflict was the war of 1812. The fort was restored between 1926 and 1934.

 In 1963, the last army units were withdrawn from Fort Niagara. Today, the only military presence is the U.S. Coast Guard.inside fr. Niagara

We thoroughly enjoyed walking through the buildings of the old fort, seeing the living quarters, and antiques. While Chase and Tiler had fun watching the musket firing demonstrations and pretending to fire the old canons,ti chase canons Bree enjoyed posing for a picture with a handsome soldier named Gavin. bree gavin

I told Bree that Gavin was 200 years too old for her but, she just rolled her eyes at me…. What?

We exited through the gift shop and bought some souvenirs. After chilling  with ice cream cones we made our way back to camp.Ice cream Ft. Niagara

Sunday was a special day for me. My cousin Chris, and her family, Margo, Carrie and Carrie’s kids, Scotty, Logan, and Haylee came to visit from Toronto, and Niagara Falls,Ont., respectively. We spent some much needed time catching up while the second cousins swam and got acquainted. We had a cook-out and a nice afternoon. All too soon, it was time for our Canadian family to headed back across the border.with canadian fam

We ended our New York vacation with an evening of fishing, swimming, and watching the sunset over  Lake Ontario.

I won’t be afraid to take my family camping out of state again. In fact, we have decided to take at least one camping trip out of state each summer. I’ve already made plans to camp with my friend, Shannon,  at South Bass Island, in Ohio, next year.

I will continue to try to widen my horizons. I love taking my grandchildren to new places and, experiencing new things with them. I would like to be  remembered for my love of family,  nature,  history, and of course, sleeping in tents!

I hope you are  making special memories with your family this summer!

Happy Camping,


me 4 mi creek

“Just living is not enough…one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.”

Hans Christian Anderson

My Photos:

  • The featured photo is of Chase, fishing in Lake Ontario
  • Lake Ontario after sunset
  • My family at Four Mile Creek Campground
  • The beach on Lake Ontario
  • The clear water of Lake Ontario
  • The Maid of the Mist and the base of Bridal Veil Falls
  • My grandkids at Cave of the Winds
  • The castle at Fort Niagara
  • Fort Niagara
  • Inside of Fort Niagara
  • Tiler and Chase with an old cannon
  • Bree and the soldier
  • Eating ice-cream at Fort Niagara
  • Us, with my Canadian family
  • Me, at sunset, on the beach between Lake Ontario and Four Mile Creek




The Tent Camping Checklist

The Tent Camping Checklist

Several times I have forgotten my own pillow, and had to Google directions to the nearest Walmart. I have also forgotten other small items but, it was when I was at Straits State Park, in the U.P., without a bed for one of my grandkids, that I decided that I needed  a permanent camping checklist.

How could I go camping with everything except 1 bed? Easy!

Because we have families to feed and bills to pay, most of us work full time jobs. nursing deerWe have a few free hours after work to organize the camping equipment, the kids, their personal things, your own personal items, the food and everything else.

This mama was feeding her family in my back yard!

I have learned a lot about organizing camping trips. I keep all of my camping equipment together on shelves in my basement. I discourage my family from borrowing  from our camping equipment when they need a flashlight or batteries.

Several days before the trip, I start staging everything in a line down the middle of the room. As I move things from the shelf to the staging area, I do the first run down on my  check list. I check everything off the list again as I load it for the trip.

A friend of mine worked on this list with me. She has used it, I have used it, other friends have used it too! You might feel that it is overly detailed but, this is what works for me. My checklist covers personal items as well as camping gear.  Since I have been using this list, I have not forgotten ANYTHING!

Camping Checklist

The curling iron is for my granddaughter, I just cover my unruly curls by putting on a hat! sun ball capI hope that this camping checklist serves you as well as it has served me.

Happy Camping,



“Nature always wears the colors of the spirit”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

My Photos:

  1. The featured photo is a bee hard at work
  2. A fawn nursing
  3. Me at Lillydale, N.Y.


Camping on Lake Michigan at P.J. Hoffmaster State Park


Our H.O.M.E.S Summer/ Lake Michigan


“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them”

John F. Kennedy

Memorial Day weekend finally arrived. This is the day that is designated for us to   stop to remember, and thank our  soldiers and their families, for making the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.

I was not born an American. I was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. My parents moved to Canada when I was 11 months old. We lived in small mining town in Northern Ontario, and later, Guelf, Ontario.flags

On November 9, 1963, we immigrated to the United States of America. I consider it a privilege to be an American citizen.

I would like to take this time, on behalf of my parents, of blessed memory, and my entire family, to say thank you to the men and women who have bravely defended this country that we love.


Memorial Day weekend is also considered the first weekend of camping season. Anyone who knows me, knows how excited I get. I have waited all winter, prepared all spring, and I am ready.

This year my family is committed to camping on all 5 of the Great Lakes. We are calling it our H.O.M.E.S. summer. We won’t be camping in H.O.M.E.S order. The first Great Lake that we camp on will be Lake Michigan.basinMap2

Lake Michigan is the only one of the Great Lakes that is located entirely within the Untied States. Lake Superior, Lake Huron, Lake Ontario and, Lake Erie are also bordered by Canada. The shores of Lake Michigan are shared by  Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana.

Lake Michigan is 307 miles long and 118 miles wide. It is the second largest of the Great Lakes by volume, and the third largest by surface area. It is the sixth largest fresh water lake in the world.

Lake MichiganThe average depth of Lake Michigan is 279 feet with a maximum depth of 925 feet.

The largest fresh water sand dunes in the world grace the shores of Lake Michigan. In several places, the dunes tower hundreds of feet above the lake. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore covers 35 miles of lakeshore and has a reported 1,143,857 annual visitors.

According to Chippewa legend, a mother bear and her two cubs entered the lake to escape a forest fire on the western shore. The mother bear  was able to swim to safety,  and climbed to  a high bluff to wait for her cubs. The cubs drowned in the lake but, the mother never stopped waiting or hoping that her cubs would come. Eventually, the wind buried the mother bear under the sand of the dunes, and it is said, that she is still there waiting for her cubs to this day. The Great Spirit, Manitou, was so moved by the mother bear’s love, that he created two islands in memory of the cubs. They are North and South Manitou islands.beardune

What a beautiful story.

Lake Michigan has been known by many names. It has been called Grand Lac. Lake of the Puants, Lac des Illinois, Lac St. Joseph, Lac Dauphin, and Lake of the Stinking Water, before getting it’s final name of Lake Michigan.

There are state parks all along the shores of Lake Michigan. We  are camping at P.J. Hoffmaster State Park.


Hoffmaster State Park is located at 6585 Lake Harbor Rd., Muskegon, Mi., 49441. The park was named after Percy James Hoffmaster, who served as the Director of the Department of Conservation, which preceded the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. He also served as Superintendent of State Parks, and is considered the founder of the Michigan State Parks system.hoffmaster sign

I camped with my grandchildren, Bree and Chase, and our friends, Denise, Kenzie, and Charlotte, on sites 33 and 34. image001They are big, woodsy sites with a clean, shallow, pretty little creek running behind them. The kids had fun through out the weekend, playing in the creek with the other young campers.

Our campsites were next to the beach path. It was a pleasant scenic walk to the beach. There were benches along the way to sit, rest, and enjoy the serene beauty.  DBeach pathSCN4805

On our first night in camp, we took the kids down to the beach for a night swim. They all wore glow bracelets so that we could keep track of them in the dark water. They splashed and swam  in cold Lake Michigan until after 11:00. They had so much fun!

The beach is huge. It was never crowded.  Twice, we were able to catch a  breathtaking sunset while the kids played in the water, and climbed  on the dunes.Sunset lkmi may28

sunset may 31,2016Besides swimming, and an unsucsessful geochaching hike, we took a day trip to tour the submarine, USS Siversides, silversides liferingand the Coast Guard, Cutter. With the exception of malls, I am not the least bit claustrophobic  but, I cannot imagine what it would be like to spend long periods of time in the confined quarters of a submarine, espessially, when it is submerged. I have a whole new level of respect for our soldiers, who serve on submarines.

My brother-in-law, Ron, did his service on a submarine. Ron, I salute you.

One afternoon, we taught the kids to make bird feeders. These are simple and fun to do.  If you want to make some with your kiddos, you will need:

  • Knox gelatin
  • Water
  • String or yarn (looped and knotted)
  • A cookie cutter
  • Bird seed

Dissolve the gelatin in water. Let it sit until it starts to set up.desolved gel5036 Add 1 cup of bird seed (if it looks runny, add more bird seed.)adding birdseed Scoop 1/2 of the bird seed/gelatin mixture into the cookie cutter. Place the loop of string or yarn on the seed, and add the rest of the bird seed mixture over it.bird seed in cutterjpg Let the seed filled cookie cutter sit until the gelatin is set completely before removing the bird feeder from the cookie cutter. Bird feederPut the bird feeder on a branch and use the string to secure it. The birds will love the treat.

Speaking of treats; I had my first “walking taco” on this camping trip.  If you haven’t had these yet, you should try them. They are fun to make and fun to eat. Start with a single serving size of your favorite nacho chip. You can use any flavor. You can even use Fritos. Crunch them up in the bag a little bit. Open the bag and add your favorite taco fixings. Mix them up with your fork and eat them right out of the bag.  I made mine with cool ranch Doritos, taco meat, cheese and taco sauce. I look forward to trying these with lettuce and tomatoes, and other chip flavors. I will definitely put walking tacos on my lunch menus for future camping trips.

That, to me, is what camping is all about. Being out of doors, doing fun silly things,  eating fun foods, and spending quality time  with family and friends.

I  had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend at beautiful P.J. Hoffmaster State Park with my family and friends. I hope your weekend was just as awesome.

We have a whole season of camping ahead of us. Let me know how your camping season is going. You KNOW I will tell you all about mine!

Happy Camping,




” Spring is natures way of saying, ‘Let’s party!'”

Robin Williams




My Photos:

  1. Featured Photo: The girls, posing in Lake Michigan, May 30, 2016
  2. Flags at the Soo Locks, 2015
  3. P.J. Hoffmaster sign with Bree, Charlotte, Chase, Denise, Kenzie, and Denise
  4. The creek behind our campsite at Hoffmaster State Park
  5. The scenic path to the beach, Hoffmaster State Park.
  6. Sunset over Lake Michigan May 28, 2016
  7. Sunset over Lake Michigan May 30, 2016
  8. Dissolved gelatin
  9. Adding birdseed to gelatin
  10. Scooping birdseed/gelatin mixture into a cookie cutter
  11. Birdseed heart hanging from a tree in camp.
  12. Me at Straits State Park, 2014 (I am wearing a shirts that says, “Camping is in tents” Just sayin!








Great Lakes Camping In Michigian State Parks

Great Lakes Camping In Michigan State Park

When I was asked if we could camp on all 5 Great Lakes this summer, I looked at my 11-year-old granddaughter, and without hesitation, said; “Sure.”

It wasn’t until I started to actually plan what we are calling our H.O.M.E.S. (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie and, Superior) summer, that I started to realize how involved it would be. We would have to squeeze 5 camping trips into a Michigan summer, and I still work full time!


In Michigan, our summer camping season is roughly from Memorial Day weekend until Labor Day weekend. I say “roughly”, because it is after all, Michigan, and although we have the pleasure of enjoying 4 distinct seasons, our seasons begin and end when Mother Nature says they begin and end. She has a mind of her own, and a wicked sense of humor. She can reduce our camping season by causing snow days, (when the roads are too snowy or icy for the school buses to travel safely,) and cold days, ( when the actual temperature, or the wind chill temperature is too low for the kiddos to safely stand outside at their bus stops.)





With a relatively short camping season, it is no wonder that Michigan State Parks fill up quickly. Camping enthusiasts, like myself, look for the “perfect” campsite online during the winter, and book them 6 months in advance. I personally try to get the waterfront sites, if there are any. If not, I look for the biggest sites. It is always nice to have a little space between camping neighbors, especially when the park is at capacity. I can honestly say, I have never encountered any problems in a Michigan State Park.

The Michigan State Parks are overseen by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.


In the 1800s, the people of Michigan became concerned about the depletion of the natural resources, and the Legislature created agencies to protect and manage them. The agencies were combined in 1921 to form the Michigan Department of Conservation. The department was renamed the Department of Natural Resources in 1969, and given a broader range of responsibility. Their mission statement describes their wide range of goals.

“The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state’s natural and cultural resources for the current and future generations. The DNR strives to:

  • Protect natural and cultural resources.
  • Ensure sustainable recreation use and enjoyment.
  • Enable strong natural resource-based economies.
  • Improve and build strong relationships and partnerships.
  • Foster effective business practices and good governance.”

Protecting the natural resources, and ensuring recreational safety, are the conservation officers. C.O.s are law enforcement officers who enforce the regulations for outdoor recreational activities, as well as the protection of the environment, and the public.


Park rangers work within our park system to oversee the operation of the parks, assist visitors, enforce park rules, and  educate the public, among other duties. It has been my experience that the Michigan State Parks are well run by the rangers. When I see where people have posted reviews that the facilities are dated and dirty, I cringe. Sure, some of the bath/shower rooms in some of the parks are somewhat dated but, they have been closed twice per day for cleaning in every state park that I have camped in.attendant cleaning


These are campgrounds. Folks with wet and dirty feet are in and out of the bath/shower rooms all day. They are not going to be as clean as our bathrooms at home. When camping, you have to expect a little dirt. I consider it all part of the camping experience.

There are some Michigan State Parks that I have liked better than others. There are some that I didn’t care for much at all but, never was it because I found the park to be poorly run or unkempt. Thank you Rangers!

ranger_13_jeep_col-250x181I hope that I am not the only one willing to admit  that I am  old enough to remember this Ranger!

As I was planning our H.O.M.E.S. camping trips, it occurred to me that in order to camp on Lake Ontario, I would have to step out of my Michigan State Parks comfort zone and look for a campsite out of state. My overall satisfaction with Michigan State Parks was the reason that I searched New York State Parks for a campsite. I was thrilled to find  a campground that is only 15 minutes from Niagara Falls.P1050969 Since I was a child, “The Falls” has been one of my favorite places. We used to take day trips to Niagara Falls when we visited our family in Toronto. I am so excited to take my grandkids to see the Niagara Falls and Fort Niagara.

I now have all 5 of our summer camping reservations made. We have a very aggressive camping schedule ahead of us.

I intend to take the opportunity to educate the kids about the Great Lakes as we travel.  I am planning some “hands on” activities for each campground to keep the lessons light and the learning fun. I am predicting  an awesome summer.

You can’t go wrong enjoying the out of doors as a family. Will you and your family be camping on any of the Great Lakes this summer?

Visit our State Parks. They are ours to enjoy!

I will let you know how my H.O.M.E.S. summer is going.

Happy Camping,


Android pictures 05-18-15 1087  

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better”

                                                                                                    Albert Einstein     


  1. Featured Photo: A sailboat on Whitefish Bay at sunset
  2. Snow day sledding
  3. Snow day sledding
  4. Snow day sledding
  5. Snow day sledding
  6. A deer with a snowy face
  7. Niagara Falls
  8. Me at the Mackinaw Bridge