I woke up and I knew it was early from the light and the fact that I still felt tired. I looked at my watch and realized that it was 6:30. I really wanted to roll over and go back to sleep, but I forced myself up. I thought we were headed to Copper Harbor for the day, and I really needed to get some laundry done. After camping for 5 nights, everything seemed a little stinky. The laundromat in town opens at 7 am and I figured if I could get there right when they opened, I would be back to camp by 9 am, around the time the rest of the family would be functional.
I stepped outside the camper, relieved that our site was not flooded. I took a quick peek inside our tent and was thankful that it was mostly dry inside. I made a pot of coffee, dried off the picnic table for when the boys would get up, and removed the chairs and breakfast food from the back of the truck. I loaded up the truck with two bags of nasty, damp laundry.
I got to the laundromat at 7:04 am. Perfect! I dragged my stinky laundry to the door and found it locked. I checked my watch again and thought maybe they were just running a few minutes late. I dragged the laundry back to the truck and waited 10 more minutes. When nobody came, I walked down the street to Java By The Bay for a peaceful breakfast, giant cup of coffee, and free wifi. I returned to the laundromat at 8 am, still locked up. The woman at Java By The Bay told me that there was another laundromat in Baraga, so I headed there. I had to stop at a grocery store and get directions since I could not find the building, but eventually I did find it and it was open!
I went inside and tried to put my $10 in the change machine, but the change machine did nothing. Like nothing at all. The light that would indicate that it was out of change was not lit up. The machine said it would give change for $1, $5, and $10 bills. I tried again. Nothing. I was aggravated. The least the machine could do would be to humor me and accept the $10 bill and spit it back out at me. But no, it did nothing. I went to the back and knocked on the office door. No answer. I used my phone to call the number for service that was posted on the wall. It went to voicemail. At this point, I think my head was ready to explode.
Just then, a local woman walked in and I told her about the change machine. She told me I could go next door to the car wash and there was another change machine. Great! I walked next door but that change machine would not take my $10 either. I returned, frustrated. The woman told me that I could drive down to the BP and get change as they owned the laundromat. So I did that and was finally able to get a roll of quarters. While the laundry was washing and drying, I sat in the truck and wrote a couple blogs, taking advantage of the quiet time.
I returned to camp and found everyone else to be on ‘high alert’ as well. Tension was running high on the Arnold/VanHamme/Patterson/Norander/Minnema/Supanich/Belko/Kramer family vacation. Most of the tents had gotten at least some wet inside, with some of them outright flooded. Everyone had laundry and cleaning up to do on account of the storm. We would not be driving to Copper Harbor because the view from Brockway Mountain Pass would not be great with the overcast skies.
Five nights of camping, too much togetherness, and then the storm had worn us down. We were tired and cranky, and I am sure at least a few of us were questioning our own sanity for doing this trip at all. I wondered, once again, how we were all able to talk our spouses into this in the first place.
Instead of Copper Harbor, we ended up making our annual trip to the Bishop Baraga Shrine where everyone just sat there, looking sullen. My kids complained that it was “boring” and that they didn’t want to come.
“No one wants to go the Bishop Baraga Shrine, but we do it every year, so you had better get used to it,” I snapped at them.
Most of the family ordered pasties from the gift shop, but my kids won’t eat them, so we hit Burger King on our way to Powerhouse Falls, the next stop on our adventure. As we left Burger King, we saw my parents’ van, followed by niece’s car, pull over and turn around. We ended up behind them on the highway, but when we were not quite to the road that leads to falls, I saw my dad whip his van into another parking lot and turn around again; my niece followed. We made it to the falls and found the rest of the family there, swatting at millions of mosquitoes and spraying bug spray, wondering where our parents were. We told them that we saw them turning around, as though they could not find the road. They had the pasties for everyone to eat, but the kids sat down at the picnic table to eat their Burger King.
They had just settled in when I heard my brother-in-law calmly say, “Everyone off the table. There are a lot of bees. Everyone off the table. There are a lot of bees,” as though he was evacuating a building on fire. We hurried the kids into the vehicles and then spotted the bees’ nest under the picnic table. My sister’s dog had gotten stung, but thankfully, we had not disturbed the bees enough to create a disaster.
I called my mom and was actually able to get through and she told me they ended up at a different park. We met them there and took the kids on a hike to see Falls River Falls. One pasty SNAFU later, and you could cut the tension with a knife. Mark, the boys, and I returned to camp to take a much-needed nap.
When I awoke, my crankiness had diminished minimally. My sister-in-law told me that it was supposed to start raining Thursday night and continue raining all day Friday. We were supposed to stay until Saturday, but were already thinking we would leave one day early on account of the weather. After hearing about more rain in the forecast, we decided it would be better to leave Thursday and drive to Mackinaw in order to avoid packing up camp in the rain. At that point, I was not really disappointed to cut the trip short and I went about packing up with vigor.
After dinner we made another trip to the casino, thanks to my brother-in-law who watched all the kids, and then returned to camp to put the kids to bed. Everyone had gathered at my sister’s campsite and we joined them. I had planned on going to bed early because I had spent the entire trip chronically sleep-deprived, staying up too late but still waking early.
We drank and told stories, the tension from earlier in the day melted away and escaped our bodies in the form of laughter and maybe a few tears from laughing so hard. My brother-in-law commented how everyone was in a much better mood that night than they had been earlier in the day. This is what we had come for, and even after a very trying couple of days, we found joy being together. Or maybe we were just all really relieved to be leaving the next day, hard to tell for sure. I really did NOT want to go to bed, but I forced myself to around 12:30 am, as I knew the next day would be a long one. I returned to my camper and curled up in the sleeping bag and drifted off to sleep to the sound of my family’s hysterical laughter two campsites down, more than a little maudlin that our trip was coming to an end.