Unexpected Michigan, part 1: Brighton

I confess. I did not expect to like Michigan all that much. It’s not that I expected to dislike it, it’s just that it’s never been someplace that I’ve longed to go. Before our trip, we were sharing our planned route with some friends and they said, “Why Michigan? Do you know someone there?” The answer was yes, we do. But I understood the feeling behind the question. What’s in Michigan?

So imagine my surprise when Michigan turns out to have a lot to offer! We really enjoyed the few days we spent there, so I thought I’d dedicate a couple of posts to our time in Michigan in case you, like me, are wondering, why Michigan?

The drive from Columbus OH to Holland MI, where we had reservations at a campground, was a bit longer than we wanted to do in one day. So we planned to stop somewhere in between, though we weren’t sure where. About the time that the kids were starting to indicate that they were done being in the car for the day, we used a great mobile app we have to find a campground. We found a state park nearby, called to check availability, and soon pulled in to Brighton State Recreation Area to set up camp.

It was nice to arrive with enough time to set up camp, let the kids play, leisurely cook dinner and be finished at a reasonable time for the kids to go to bed. There was a lake with a little beach right beside the camping area where putting our feet in pretty quickly turned into swimming in our clothes. Another family was there with a little boy who was fishing, and he kept catching all these little fish and letting Emelie pet each one before throwing it back in the water. It was just a fun, spontaneous and relaxed time.img_0985.jpg

Changed into dry clothes and cooking dinner.

img_0988.jpgBedtime! When we’re all sleeping in the same room, it seems to work best to help Peter go to sleep in the stroller first, then move him to bed after Emelie is settled.

It got colder overnight that we expected, and by morning all four of us were in the same bed keeping each other warm. Note to self, check weather forecasts and choose pajamas accordingly. But it was so cozy to cuddle up all together that I’m actually glad it happened that way. I wouldn’t want to sleep that way every night, but once in a while it’s pretty ok.


Bundled up for a chilly breakfast

We woke up to these friends in the campground, who’d wandered over from the lake:

img_0999.jpgand spent a relaxed morning taking a walk, finding caterpillars…


img_1009.jpg… and going on a treasure hunt (geocaching).


Thank you to whoever left these plastic beads in the geocache, so that my little girl could find an actual “treasure” when she opened the “treasure chest” that we followed the gps “treasure map” to find. Perfect!

And thank you to Brighton Recreation Area for providing just the atmosphere we needed to really start to feel like we were on vacation. As much as we loved all the visiting we did in the first week, it all added up to a pretty intense pace, and we really needed a day filled with unplanned swimming and caterpillar watching.

In the afternoon, we drove across Michigan to Holland State Park and set camp by the shores of Lake Michigan. But that is another story for another post.

Here’s our campground review:

Price: At $19/night, very reasonable and a great value. What isn’t included, though, is the “passport” that you need for your car, an additional $8/day, unless you get an annual pass for $29.
Location: A beautiful location, with lakes and trails. We weren’t really looking for activities to do in the area, so we can’t comment on how practical it is in that regard.
Facilities: Very nice bathroom/shower building that is an easy walk from all the campsites. It’s well maintained, clean and new looking. Water spigot was also close, and the “modern” sites all have electricity. All we missed as a good place to do dishes.
Site Description: Grass/gravel. No significant problems leveling the camper.
Neighborhood: Lots of families and everyone was very friendly.
Comments: We love that this campground has gps units available to borrow and info to try geocaching. How great to encourage people to try it for the first time (sponsored by REI – we <3 REI). We were very satisfied with this campground and would definitely stay there again if we were ever in the area, and we would recommend it to others.

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