Weekend Recap: 36 Hours in Northern Michigan

It’s hard to have a bad Monday when you’ve just had a weekend filled with so many of your favorite things. Work was just fine today – no medical malpractice insurance emergencies – and Noah and I had a great weekend camping in Interlochen Friday and Saturday night and spending the day on Saturday in Leland and Leelanau State Park at the Trail to Table event benefiting Michigan’s State Parks and celebrating the 100th anniversary of Michigan State Parks.

We left quickly after work on Friday on our way to the Traverse City area. We delayed making camping reservations for the weekend and as such there were no reservable spots available at any state parks so we had a few state forest campgrounds on our list to check out for some first-come, first-served campsites.  Our first stop was Scheck’s Trail Camp – there were many open sites, but it’s a horse trail campground and the sites were kind of out in the open, so we figured we’d be able to find something better.  We headed on to Arbutus Lake State Forest Campground – it was completely full, but looked like a cool campground that we might want to check out in the future. At this point it was around 8 pm and Noah and I were both getting a little worried we end up having to sleep in the car, but onward we went.

Next stop was Lake Dubonnet State Forest Campground near Interlochen, MI – this one was not on our list, but there were several different areas in the campground and lots of sites – we lucked out and found a site not on the lake but towards the back of the campground.  The sites were a nice size and not super close together in a wooded area.

We did have some neighbors who were nice and gave us their picnic table and even helped Noah move it to our site. However, they had some visitors come to their site around 11 pm and didn’t leave until they got rained out at around 2am. Needless to say, I did not sleep very well the first part of the night due to all the hootin’ and hollerin’ and then the 2nd half of the night I had to pee, but didn’t want to get out of the tent in the rain. Ah, livin’ that camp life – not always and tranquil and certainly not glamorous the way we do it.


Saturday morning, we got up, had coffee and oatmeal at camp before heading to Leland to stop at Fishtown and The Village Cheese Shanty to pick up sandwiches for lunch.


We also stopped at a cute store (I don’t remember the name now) in Fishtown where I got a new hoodie, I am OBSESSED with! So soft, campfires and MI – can’t wait for some cool summer and fall nights to where the heck out of that thing!


Those sandwiches from The Village Cheese Shanty were tasty! I had the Fishtown  – all veggies with avocado spread and olive spread, delicious herbed Havarti cheese, on a fresh made pretzel roll.


Noah got the Northshore – turkey and bacon with herbed mayo and Havarti – also tasty! We ate the sandwiches while fending off biting flies (!) near the lighthouse at Leelanau State Park. From there we headed to the trail head for the Trail to Table event put on by MI DNR, New Holland Brewing Co., REI, and Merrell.

We opted for the 4-mile hike, led by a representative from the DNR, Nate. I tried out the Merrell ChopRocks – a water hiker. They were pretty comfortable and light, but some of the structure on the heel kind of hurt when I would hike up an incline. They definitely were not as cushy as my Brooks Cascadias. I do think they would be fine for some short beach hiking, or short hikes with lots of water/stream crossings.


The 4-mile hike was pretty easy with just a few uphill areas near the dunes. Most of it was shaded in the beautifully wooded trails of the state park. It did start to warm up and was a bit humid but almost perfect weather for an afternoon hike.


Just before the end of the hike we stopped on Lake Michigan at the dunes to put our feet in and rest for a couple minutes.


Noah and I then hiked the remaining half mile back to our car and decompressed for a few minutes before heading back to the park for the beer dinner. As an introvert, so much socializing and time in a large group leaves me feeling like a need a few minutes to quiet my mind and sit in solitude (with Noah 😉) for a few minutes.


We got back to the park and had a few minutes before the remaining activities started so we headed back down to the water to walk around a bit. The turquoise blue waters of Lake Michigan are always stunning and never cease to amaze me.


We went to the pavilion and park area to start the dinner festivities. I grabbed a new beer from New Holland, the Cerveza con Limon, which was very tasty! This is an easy-drinking lager with natural lemon and lime oils that give it a light refreshing citrus flavor, but not the artificial flavor like so many other citrus flavored beers.


We sat as a group to listen to a talk by REI staff members about the 10 Essentials to carry on any hike or backpacking trip and outdoor ethics and Leave No Trace principles. These were largely review for me as I had done a fair amount of research before we started backpacking earlier this year (I love to be prepared!) and Noah and I went to a LNT workshop here in Lansing last year when their Traveling Trainers came as part of their Hot Spots program last June.


The Daily Blend from Traverse City put together a delicious 3-course dinner starting with a spring mix salad made of Michigan produce, infused olive oil and vinegar from Fustini’s.


This was paired with New Holland’s Cerveza Con Limon. The 2nd course/entrée was chicken paella and veggie paella paired with New Holland’s new Lake & Trail Copper Lager.


This is a tasty amber lager new this year with proceeds benefiting Michigan State Parks. The can is cool too, designed by Erika Lange/Woosah Outfitters in Grand Rapids.


Dessert, the 3rd course, was Kilwin’s vanilla ice cream, with fresh Michigan strawberry sauce, fresh whopped cream, and sprinkles! So yummy! And the Dragon’s Milk White Stout paired with the ice cream sundae was delicious. I actually liked the Dragon’s Milk White Stout better with the ice cream than on its own.


This Trail to Table event was absolutely awesome! It was like it was made for me 😉 Hiking, time outside, outdoor talk, beer, food – so many of my favorite things!


On our way back to the campground – which does not have showers (only pit toilets!) – we stopped at public park/beach with swimming access in the Grand Traverse Bay to rinse off the sweat, bug spray, and sunscreen. That water was SO cold – leg-numbing cold! But very refreshing!

Back to the campground, Noah started a fire and we chilled.


I had another Lake & Trail copper lager by the campfire before we turned in for an early bedtime. We were tired from all the day’s fun activities! We both slept much better Saturday night – it didn’t hurt that our neighbors were quiet too.

Sunday morning, we packed up right away to head home so we could make the 3-hour drive back to Lansing to pick up Jerome from Doggy Day Care before noon.  The early departure and packing up was fine, but lesson learned: always have coffee and a snack ready before you leave camp in case you can’t get breakfast right away. We had planned to stop in Interlochen for coffee and breakfast on our way home, but due to some navigational issues ended up not stopping until we got to Cadillac an hour away! Needless to say, I was a little hangry and coffee-deprived. But some tasty Kona coffee from Cadillac Java – a neat little drive-thru coffee shack in Cadillac cured me.


We spent the rest of Sunday grocery shopping, meal prepping, and picking up around the house in preparation for the week ahead. And basking in the awesomeness of an awesome, awesome weekend!

Tell me: how was your weekend? Spend time outside? Recharge your batteries? Do you get “a case of the Mondays?”



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