As I age with what I’d like to think, a little bit of wisdom, I have come to appreciate where I live no matter where it is. I normally referred to living in Michigan with a sigh, as if living somewhere warmer was better. Somewhere with mountains, ocean and no dreaded winters. It wasn’t until I chose to accept responsibility for my life is when I developed an appreciation and love for myself and everything in my life, including Michigan.
My eyes are wide as can be with excitement. I now realize how I do not have to travel far to experience adventure. Port Austin, Mi is about a 2.5 hour drive from Detroit. It is also located right on Lake Huron with beaches and affordable camping, kayaking, and ice cream! The beautiful scenic drive straight up Van Dyke, passing through farms and small towns is worth the trip alone.
One of the main things I wanted to see was the “gothic barn” in Port Austin. We could not find an exact location online, so my mission was to ask a local and find it. The sun was setting as we were driving and Jeff happened to look to his right and spot the image of the “graffiti bird” on a barn. “There it is!” With anticipation we pulled over to get a closer look and some pics.
This made my trip. I expected it to be hard to find, if we were to find it at all. To our surprise, it happened to be right off of M-53, close to Meade county. Keep a look out going North on your right hand side. Jeff suspected the more popular image of the “gas mask farmers” to be on the opposite side, which it is!! No one was around, so I made sure to get a closer pic.
The satisfaction of spotting the barn and the adrenaline from running through the tall fields silenced any conversation for the remainder of our drive. Music, smiles and a grateful heart were only needed. I was living in the moment, his hand in mine and a glance in each others eyes every so often. I was at peace, with the wind tangling my hair and the sun setting to my left. It is moments like this that make the journey worth it. However, just as every bad moment doesn’t last, every good moment doesn’t either.
Our perma grins instantly turned into a blank stare after pulling into our campsite, in fear of the unknown. I warned Jeff to lower his expectations since the reviews of Duggan’s Campground were spotty online. We both have never stayed at a campground that mainly consisted of year round residents. I knew I had to keep an open mind and was up for whatever was meant to come our way.
After settling in, I could feel a sense of community between the residents. Most riding their golf carts door to door, sharing dinner and a beer. Our neighbor across the street opened the door for conversation by offering us a “hot one” to get our camp fire going. (No, not in a weird way lol). Jeff and I appreciated any attempt at opening up, it allowed us to feel welcome and safe. The camp fire burned hot and the night carried on; it was what we had worked all week for.
The night took a strange turn when our neighbors next to us decided to get into an argument that lasted most of the night and then make up, which lasted most of the morning. We kept looking at each other with disbelief. Again, we decided to remain open and make the best of whatever came our way. We kept our distance, but continued to be friendly; even though they made us both feel extremely uncomfortable.
The next morning, kayaking to turnip rock was on the agenda. It was the main focus of our trip to Port Austin. Turnip rock is a natural rock formation only accessible via kayak due to private property. We rented kayaks from Port Austin Kayak and paddled the 7 mile round trip to turnip rock.
My favorite part of any adventure is packing a lunch and finding a good spot to stop and eat in the wild. In our case, the middle of the lake. The trip is the perfect distance, just long enough to paddle hard and eat a good lunch. Just short enough to not get too exhausted and still have the afternoon.
Huge hand dipped ice cream waffle cones, dinner over the fire and a quick jump in the water summed up the remainder of our short time away. A must is a post dinner walk across the street to the beach and watch the sunset.
A very nice ending to a super open, hopeful and adventurous weekend. Something that I live for. To be able to experience the bad with the good and still be able to remain open. We all have experiences, good and bad; sometimes we forget that the bad can be just as meaningful as what we perceive as “good”. If we can remain open, free from judgment and expectations, there really is no “bad” experience. Imagine how wonderful life can be.
We will definitely be back to hike and camp in Port Crescent State Park, Port Austin, MI. Camp and hike right on the beach! Yes please!