Early summer in Michigan – home, Frankfort, tent camping in Charlevoix – June/July 2023

The past few years, we have spent early June at our “sticks and bricks”, enjoying normal-length showers, our huge king size bed and our dishwasher, among other comforts of home. We catch up on laundry, routine dentist and doctor visits and time with family.  This year there were also retirement parties, our niece’s graduation party, a nice Father’s Day picnic and a visit from our Hawaiian friends, Kacy and Bri,  and their daughters.

We started planning for our return to our property in Frankfort and for some short tent camping trips.  We had both been inspired by other tent campers’ set-ups on our previous journey. It would be a way to use our Northern Outpost as a base camp and venture out further, without hauling our large rig.  Last year we went backpacking for the first time in 20 years, with some heavy, outdated equipment.  While tent campsites are less remote than hike-in sites, we could bring a larger tent, a cooler, plenty of food and drinks, and comfortable air mattresses. We would also have access to many more smaller sites that would not accomodate our rig.

We finally headed north in late June.  There is nothing like the feeling of our first arrival of the year, at our property. The first thing we always notice is the strong, sweet smell of Douglas Fir trees, one of my favorite scents on the planet.  I love seeing and hearing the birds, especially those that we don’t see or hear anywhere else. The Eastern Towhee, Indigo Bunting and Black-capped Chickadees sang as we decided where and how to park the rig for the summer. It is always interesting and fun to see which trees have grown bigger, which have fallen or died, and where new saplings have sprouted.

We set up camp for the summer and eased into our normal summer “up north” routine, hiking, visiting our favorite places and meeting up with friends in the area. We spent 2 nights tent camping at Fisherman’s Island State Park In Charlevoix. We had a beautiful lake front campsite. Our only complaint about the place was that the restrooms were very far away (between a quarter and half mile). It was great to see Charlevoix again. Unlike other northern Michigan towns, which have become overrun with tourists and wealthy vacation homeowners, it seemed to be mostly the same as when we last visited in 2009. We loved camping in the bigger tent and the new air mattresses were pretty comfortable. After 11 nights off grid, we were running out of water, so we came home.

Camping off grid at our own Northern Outpost. Home sweet home…

Wildflowers on our long, winding driveway at our Northern Outpost. They are one of the reasons I love Tom Petty’s song “Wildflowers” and often think of the song while I am here.
I rushed to pick as many flowers as I could before Dave mowed the driveway. Slushie really liked them and guarded them with his sword and civil war musket.
Frankfort Beach on a Friday morning before a holiday. Tourism is finally back to normal here! Thank goodness. Two years ago, all parking was full at the beach and in town and the beach was packed with people.
Frankfort Beach, Frankfort, MI
Elizabeth Lane Oliver Center for the Arts.
Built in 1934, this buiding was the Frankfort coastguard station, before the nearby existing station was built. I often stop here when I am walking around or near town. The exhibits feature local artists.
Many afternoons, while Dave was cutting dead trees on the property, I spent time walking and running on the Betsie Valley Trail. It is a 22-mile paved and gravel trail, runnining from Frankfort to Thompsonville. There are three different trailheads within 5 miles of our property, making it easy to see something new every day. We spend a lot of time cycling on the trail, also.
“Music in the Street”, a regular Thursday night event in Beulah.
Sunset over Beulah Beach and Crystal Lake. Through most of the summer, smoke from Canada’s wildfires affected the area, depending on wind direction. This was a Thursday evening. The area is no longer crowed on weekdays, as it was during and just after the pandemic.
Our lakefront campsite at Fisherman’s Island State Park, Charlevoix, MI
Fisherman’s Island State Park, Charlevoix, MI
Charlevoix South Pier Lighthouse, Charlevoix, Mi
East Park and Charlevoix Marina, Charlevoix, MI
Bier’s Inwood Brewery, Charlevoix, MI
Our lakefront campsite at Fisherman’s Island State Park, Charlevoix, MI
Sunset on Lake Michigan at Fisherman’s Island State Park, Charlevoix, MI
One morning, we walked through the marina area in Frankfort, just as the charter boats were coming in.
Frankfort Light on a foggy morning.
Fireworks over Betsie Bay, Elberta, MI
Our bikes on the Betsie Valley Trail