Foggy water and green grass
The morning fog on the water, as seen from the back of my campsite

I failed to call my dad on Father’s Day, because I had no cell service. I feel like that was bad planning on my part, but by the time I realized that my phone was lying to me — that the 1 bar of Verizon service really meant responses like “message failed to send” and “call failed” — I’d already paid $40 for two nights at Bay Furnace Campground. And not just that, I’d gotten one of the four nicest sites, the ones on the lake with water views and their own tiny private beaches. I was not minded to walk away for the sake of an internet connection.  (Sorry, Dad. I hope you had a Happy Father’s Day!)

Even if I hadn’t gotten such a nice site, I would have loved this campground. All the sites are reasonably spacious, with good separation between them. I can see my neighbors — and actually overhear some of their conversations — but my site still feels private. I left the shades up to watch the night sky when I went to sleep last night, which I don’t always do, if it feels like people might be driving or walking by. 

Although speaking of night skies… Michigan is very far north. I know this not because I can read a map or know anything about American geography (although I actually can and do) but because it stays light ridiculously late and gets light ridiculously early. My instincts are to stay awake for a couple hours after it gets dark and then wake up with the sunrise. That’s not giving me nearly enough sleep in Michigan. If I lived in Alaska, I don’t think I’d get any sleep all summer long. 

A pair of mallard ducks.
The ducks didn’t seem to mind the cold.

Back to the campground — it’s dry camping, no electricity or water hook-ups, but there are bathrooms and a dump station and places to get fresh water. Also unexpected ruins and fog on the water in the morning. Also, I am fairly sure, forget-me-nots growing wild in the forest. Seriously, forget-me-nots and fog together make me feel like I’m living in L. M. Montgomery novel. 

The writing is still not going well (translation: not going at all), but Amazon finally gave the Kindle app a useful organizational tool: the ability to mark books as Read, and then filter by Unread and Read. I’ve been working my way through my Kindle library, finding the books that I downloaded on impulse, when they were on sale or free, and then never got around to reading. I currently have 302 unread books, which is probably enough to keep me reading for quite a while, although I suspect that plenty of them will eventually wind up in my DNF collection. I was surprised to discover, though, that of the 800+ books on my Kindle that I have already read (or tried to read), only 104 were in the DNF collection. I would have thought that number would be much higher because I give up on books easily these days. If my interest hasn’t clicked by the 10% mark, I move on to the next book. 

There are some exceptions, though, usually the ones that I think will be good for me in some way. The virtuous reading. Most of those are about writing, marketing, or self-publishing. The current one that I’m working on is about newsletters. It’s entertainingly written, the author has a great voice, and reading it makes me feel like Sisyphus. The fundamental concept is using your newsletter as a way to connect with people — you don’t want to simply inform people when you have a new book for sale because that’s asking them to buy something, instead you want to charm them and turn them into your friends. Be authentic, be real. Send kitten pictures! … So that they will then buy something from you.  

I get the concept. I even understand that if I ever hope to earn a real living at writing books, it’s part of the job. It doesn’t even make sense that I think of it as pretending to be a nice person, because my authentic self is, in fact, nice. But it feels so fake. I might have to pick one of you and write you an email every month and then send it to the rest of my mailing list as well. That might work better for me. Ha. 

An old stone wall with a pigeon flying in front of it and trees growing out of the top.
The unexpected ruins: an iron furnace that burned down in the 1800s. Many, many pigeons make their homes on top, so in the early evening it was loud with cooing and twittering. The white spot is a pigeon flying off.

Moving on, I’m currently writing this on my phone while sitting outside, using a tiny Bluetooth keyboard and a lap-desk that I bought a year ago, and my newly beloved camping chair. I love this chair. It was so worth the quest. I’ve been thinking about a post — or maybe a FB post to the Travato group — about what I’ve learned in my almost three years of van living. There’s an industrial concept about the virtues of constant incremental optimization. It’s got a Japanese name — kaizen, maybe? Anyway, it applies to life in a van, too. Three years and I’m still discovering ways to be more comfortable, to make life easier or more pleasurable.  Being able to sit outside in the sunshine while I write is lovely. Lovely enough that I think I will now try to work on Fen for a while. Maybe I can break through my travel-inspired inertia and actually make some progress.  

Oh, but one final note about Michigan’s upper peninsula — it was 38 degrees this morning. 38! I should absolutely not have packed my winter clothes away when I left Arcata.