My campsite at Trout Lake

I could blame the weather or the bugs, but I think I should have thought twice about staying at Trout Lake Campground when the campground host casually mentioned that they were expecting a full house on the weekend because they were hosting a big off-road vehicle rally. I’d already handed him my credit card for two nights, however, and I really wanted a shower. If I’d known that the showers were the type were you have no control of the water temp and that the mosquitoes were sharing their meals with the black flies, I would have snatched my credit card back out of his hand. It was, however, only for two nights, so I will stop complaining now. And I’d had a long day before getting there so I really was ready to stop driving.

I hadn’t gone all that far, but I’d been driving through Pictured Rocks National Park and stopping regularly. Lots of scenic views. Also lots of bugs. I saw one guy wearing a mosquito net hat — clearly the apparel of the experienced northern Michigan hiker!

Waterfalls and rushing streams!
trees and lake view
Admiring the distant views — the deep blue in the background is the lake.
forget-me-nots in green grasses
Admiring the close-up views — the forget-me-nots are an invasive species apparently, but they’re really beautiful.

After a quiet (and grumpy) rest day at Trout Lake, I got back on the road again on Thursday with relief, but no real destination in mind. It turned into a day of minor errands — Aldi and Walmart and gas — followed by a somewhat ridiculous, but rewarding persistence.

I only had one night to spend wherever I decided to stop, so there was no reason to look for someplace special. A parking lot would have made sense. Maybe a night in a motel, so I could actually have that really nice shower? I was so indecisive. But it stays light really late in Michigan so instead of stopping, I just kept looking. I rejected one campground — too hilly. I rejected a second campground — nice for tent campers, but a parking lot for a van. (But while I was in the parking lot, I ran the generator and cooked some InstantPot chicken and rice for dinner.) I got lost while looking for a third campground and missed it entirely. Apple Maps sent me in a ridiculous direction for the next campground and I wound up in a dead end dirt road with minimal room to turn around. I still didn’t find myself a nice Walmart for the night. I don’t know why I was so determined, but at that point, I’d been looking for someplace nice for so long that I wasn’t going to stop until I was happy. Or exhausted, I suppose.

Fortunately, happy came first. At about 7PM, I found myself at Wagner Lake Campground in the Huron-Manistee National Forests.

Private, quiet, peaceful, beautiful. I could have stayed there for days (despite the mosquitoes, which were pervasive but not insane). Instead, I enjoyed a completely relaxing morning, and got back on the road around noon. For once, I knew exactly where I was headed — a weekend with friends that I hadn’t seen since college!