Okay, we didn’t really search for Spock.  But it isn’t really Hippie Camp.  The name really doesn’t fit, as “hippie” suggests a sort of dirty, free-loading, space cadet.  These folks may be dirty (certainly at the end of the week), but everyone I’ve met in the last three years (with a few exceptions, of course) is hard-working and sharp.  The “camp” part, though, really does fit.  After 3 years, it feels like going back to summer camp, seeing our old camp friends, playing games, doing crafts, learning new things.  I always wished I could be a kid that went to camp every summer and as an adult, I came to long for a vacation spot we returned to at the same time each year.  Once I dreamed that would be Nantucket, but life didn’t turn out that way.  It’s okay, though, because I’m quite fond of my Lake Superior family, free of Topsiders though they may be.

We rented a van again, to save the mileage on our 2001 van (and to avoid being stranded in the Upper Peninsula at midnight).  This time, we picked it up on a Thursday, to have it loaded and ready to go Friday morning.  We’re not out-at-the-crack-of-dawn sorts of folks, but we did make it off by 8:30 am.  I’d packed some mini-quiches and hard boiled eggs and seasoned nuts and such and we didn’t need to eat at restaurants.  Steve isn’t one of those push-through-and-hold-your-pee guys, so we stop a lot to stretch legs, grab a snack from the cooler, compare the rest areas of various states (Ohio wins, a far cry from the odd hole-in-the-ground stable-themed toilets from when I was a child traveling the state).  Ipods make good travelers.  My kids bicker as much as most, but they are well behaved in their own cones of solitude.  Or when they nap inside sweater hoods:

We stopped in Rockford, Illinois for the night and had breakfast the next morning at “the Machine Shed”–the restaurant Cracker Barrel is trying to be.  Yummy, hearty food.  Unfortunate overalls for the wait staff, however.  I’d have to be making BIG tips to be willing to wear overalls.

We made it to Ashland around 3:30, stopped at the co-op for some provisions, and got to camp around 4.  Our tents were set up, thanks to Michael and Emily, in our usual area.  This year, Michael rigged a great tarp for our kitchen space instead of the EZ up/EZ down. Lily was off with friends before I was even out of the van.  Michael and Emily got a new tent this year when the zipper on the old one broke (REI just gave them a new one.  REI rocks).  We got another REI tented neighbor and ended up looking like a planned camping community:


The weather for unpacking was lovely, sunny and breezy, but the skeeters were BAD.  Big and slow, which is nice, but numerous, which is not.  This was the only year we’d really used bug spray and we went through several cans.  But I don’t use it at all the rest of the year, so I’ll push those DEET worries aside. (natural repellents, you say?  the mosquitoes think you are adorable.  And delicious)  We had a group dinner (that was really meant for instructors, but hey, there was plenty!) and then sat with the kids on the beach beside the fires they’d made.  perfectly idyllic.  Too nice to even go get my camera.

Sunday morning, I made bacon and eggs from home and Emily made pancakes.  perfect camp breakfast.  It got warm pretty quickly, so we went into the lake.  It’s cooooold.  Maybe 60 degrees?  But it is refreshing for sure.  So clean that you can see your feet in water to your neck and because it’s fresh water, you don’t feel all sticky when you get out.  Tingly and alive!  There were some nice little waves to jump and then we sat out in the sun to dry.

After lunch, I went into town with Michael, Grace, and Julianna.  Grace had music to share and she had that young teen earnestness about music that I remember with a bit of a cringe.  “You have to listen to the words!”  Some horrid R&Bish rappish thing about a guy apologizing for how he treated the subject of the song and how he thought he’d seen said person but then knew it couldn’t be so…because he was DEAD.  And was his DAD, not a girl at all.  Just like an O’Henry story.  for realz.  She was disappointed in my lack of enthusiasm and punished me by making us listen to another of this dude’s songs, about his home state of Minnesota.  It contained the line “And the women are beautiful (at least I think they are).” which totally cracked me up and made her angry again.  I made some crack along the lines of “Well, it’s just nice to know that you have black folk in Minnesota.”  To which she said “Oh, he’s white!”  Which explained a lot.  It was my punishment, really, for forcing people to seriously! listen! to Beatles songs long past when they stopped caring.

I met Steve in town and we got some groceries and a knife for Ben.  He wanted a fixed blade knife, but all I could find were big ol’ Bowie knife type things, so we got the recommended folding knife.  Turned out it was NOT what he wanted, and was hard to close.  And he’s not good at faking enthusiasm.

But he will totally cut you.

Buying the wrong knife eventually led to Knife Quest ’11, but more on that later.

We went to the “Open House” for the classes being offered.  There were a lot fewer folks there this year–150, rather than 250–and that meant fewer instructors, too.  There wasn’t much that really grabbed me.  I opted to do some spoon carving and asked about making some hurache sandals, but the instructor was cagey and borderline panicked about having more people than materials.  I did not drive 22 hours to be stressed about “getting in, ” so I let it go.  Instead, I knitted on the beach, made some dinner, and chilled.  There was a Women’s Sharing Circle, and as you can imagine, I opted out.  I wish I hadn’t, though.  My fear of people oversharing kind of gets in the way of my feeling included.  Next year.

The moon rose a gorgeous deep orange, so lovely we went after cameras, for all it was worth.  Hard to take a pic at night with a point and shoot.

Julianna has a fancy-pants camera, but she hasn’t really learned to use it.  It’s like she uses a Porsche to drive from one hole to another on the golf course.  She used me as a tripod, though

Accept my butt! Before it destroys you!

Hers came out even blurrier than mine, though.

The night was still, which unfortunately brought home how hard it is to have other people about 3 feet from your head when you’re trying to sleep.  Our neighbors (in the REI Kingdome, far left, above) were NOT the early-to-bedders that we are.  I was murderous by the end of the week.

Sunday pics:

Lily, Christy, and Zora in the ever-present mud puddle

Standard scene: Emily and I cooking, cloud of children drifting around underfoot

Julianna takes a break from wave jumping

More to come…