Choosing Solitude

Or: Luckily Missing Out on a 1980s Dead Show When Jerry Wasn’t All There

We’d had that campground at Ontonagon, MI, on our summer to-do list for quite a while due to its rave reviews online and the waiting list for campsites directly on Lake Superior.  If so many people love the place, surely it’s a must, right?

Duh. When we showed up yesterday morning at 7:30 to be second in line for the list for a site, we were shocked.  I was, at least. Tracy stood in line talking with dude #1, who’d been in line yesterday, while I walked around to get a feel for the place. 

Yeah, the sites right on the lake looked pretty cool, or most of them did.  It would be a singular experience to have the bedroom windows look out over the lake, with no land in sight. 

We did have a site directly on the water in Washburn (Premium @ Superior!), but there was a strip of (lovely) land between us and the water so you couldn’t see it fully unless you were standing on something tall (the lake’s right behind the tall grasses here).

Plus that site was on a small bay off the lake, so the water was hemmed in by land you could see on the horizon.

That site had space though, space between us and our neighbors; at Ontonogen even the coveted, wait-on-two-different-lists lakeside sites were close together. 

Maybe if you spend a lot of time in your camper, or you don’t mind placing your camp chairs exactly so you see only the water, or you don’t have a dog who reacts to other dogs, or you don’t like making noise with your ukulele in the evenings, or you are immune to the sounds and behaviors of your neighbors, then it would be fine.

The nail in the coffin for this Ontonagon campground is that we do have reservations a couple of weeks from now for farther on in Michigan’s UP, so once we got in the interior part of the campground it wouldn’t make sense to then get on the waiting list for a lake-side site because we’d be there only a couple of days at the most.

And the interior sites, OMG they are crowded and a mess.  We were told that the area closer to the lake is more open and social and the back wooded area is more quiet, so of course while Tracy waited in line I beelined to the back area, but Geez Louise. It looked like the sprawling, unorganized weird mess of a music festival overflow camping area in the woods, but with ATVs left in common areas instead of circles of chairs where people had been jamming together.

What do people go there for?  I’m guessing there are ATV trails, plus a beautiful beach (see above), and the chance to move up to a lake site.  Maybe people’s friends are there all summer with them. Who knows, and who cares—we gave up our space in line and high-tailed it out of there.  

On our way back we did walk on the beach (Banjo’s first time, and she was all nose), and stop to check out a boondocking campground (that was full). We bought groceries and firewood. Saw a bunch of wildlife while driving dirt roads looking for campsites:

  • several bald eagles
  • a coyote
  • a swan in a bog
  • a fleeting glimpse of a wolf 
  • a huge bunch of turkeys

And we thought about the benefits of staying right where we are.

Man this is a long post about something we did not do.  I’ll bow out with a note that I’m putting on the faq page.

How Do I Blog When I’m without Cell Signal?

Here while boondocking, I haven’t been able to talk with friends on the phone, text with Finn, respond to friends’ Facebook posts, read the newspaper, play Scrabble, etc. because I have only one bar on my phone with AT&T, and that’s when I walk over to campsite #W1 beside the guy with the loud generator. I do that about once a day to see what notifications might pop up on my phone and to confuse friends with texts that go through hours or days after I wrote them. 

But Tracy does have signal with his Verizon service. So to blog I write the post in a notes app on my phone, transfer that and my photos to my laptop via a cord, edit them, and then turn on the Verizon hotspot just long enough to upload text and images to WordPress, read it over once, and hit Publish.

I’ve gotten this down to a five-minute process!  Less data used, less need to recharge the hotspot and the computer. 

In a pinch (aka if our Verizon data is running low), we drive out to where I can get signal and I use the AT&T hotspot in the truck, or I just wait until we need to drive somewhere (like yesterday) and post then. 

This morning I’m sitting in the tent listening to a very light rain on the roof and in the woods, plus occasional loons on the lake, while Tracy reads the paper inside in bed. On days like this I always ask him, “What happened that’s noteworthy?” And he replies, “The same.” I don’t want to know details and he doesn’t want to recount them. Hurray for Kamala Harris, though!

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