The Last Weekend of Summer

Now that we’re well into October and the chances of any balmy Indian Summer days in Michigan seem less and less likely, I find myself reflecting on my last official weekend of summer.

With the autumnal equinox approaching in just a few days, I drove over to Michigan’s West Coast, headed for a campground several miles south of Ludington. It seems that I wasn’t the only one with designs on camping at the lakeshore that weekend, as many campgrounds along Lake Michigan’s coast were fully booked. After an exhaustive online search, I’d discovered Buttersville Park and Campground, which does not accept reservations. Although not exactly the rustic sort of camping experience I tend to prefer, I managed to secure a site shaded by tall pines and located just steps away from the staircase leading down to the beach. (And if I’m forced to camp at a more “modern” site, offering potable water at the twist of a tap and a place to wash my face in the morning, then I suppose that I can manage.)

The weekend before, I’d swam and splashed and turned somersaults in Lake Superior, so I was surprised to find Lake Michigan less than inviting on this occasion. I did take a dip, more for the rush than for the pleasure, but my sister-in-law Mia and I spent most of our time on the beach happily talking or reading under the shade of my umbrella.

What made this weekend so memorable for me, and so distinctly “Michigan,” was the combination of the stunning swathe of beach that Mia and I had almost all to ourselves, the wind off the water that lulled me to sleep as it rustled the pines and the presence of the quaint lakeside town of Ludington just a short drive away.

Mia and I did head into Ludington for an evening out, stopping at Jamesport Brewing Company and then PM Steamers. (If the name of this establishment does not make you smirk, chuckle or guffaw, then you are clearly far more mature than Mia and I. But we both agreed … what were they thinking?!?) However, most of our culinary enjoyment occurred in the classic camping fashion, around a roaring fire.

Our first dinner consisted of “hobos,” a concoction of fresh vegetables, meat and anything else you may like, mixed up in a packet formed of aluminum foil and cooked for about an hour over the open flames. For these particular hobos, Mia and I filled our packets with ground elk (shot by my husband in Montana last fall), broccoli, red bell pepper, mushrooms, onion, garlic and parboiled potato, all sprinkled with olive oil and spices. When we finally opened the fragrant, steaming packages, we topped them with selections from Williams Cheese Co. and then devoured our creations. These were Mia’s first hobos, and she was already excited to try them again in the near future.

For breakfast the next morning, I started a fire and whipped up some cinnamon-scented, strawberry-stuffed French toast in our trusty double pie iron. We savored these treats – soft on the inside, crisp and brown around the edges and drizzled with real maple syrup – while we sipped from steaming mugs and contemplated the beauty that surrounded us.

We finished our final evening of camping with a decadent woodfired dessert. Sandwich organic strawberry slices and a slather of Nutella between two pieces of good, buttered wholegrain bread, cook in a pie iron, and you’ve got a temptation that easily rivals a s’more. (We felt confident in making that judgment, having enjoyed the latter just the night before.)

What a delicious way to end the summer of 2009.

Sunset from the bluff at our campground

Sunset from the bluff at our campground


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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Sounds like a wonderful weekend. I haven’t been camping for soooo long but Ludington is one of my favorite areas in this state. Glad you had such a relaxing time.

  2. delightful episode, you brought me along with you, I could taste the breakfast toast!

  3. Wow! This was almost 2 years ago, but I lived it with you as if were just happening.

    The writing made me see the beach you were on, and feel the anticipation you must have felt when trying to find a campground at that time of year!

    Thanks for a great read!

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