As I write this post it seems almost a lifetime ago that my kids and I were at Rustic Rafters, but in reality it was just the other day. I keep feeling like its time to start prepping the fire for lunch! Splitting wood, getting the fire started and working on a hot bed of coals for the burgers while my two little campers sit on the cabin steps whittling.
My kids and I had the pleasure of spending another long weekend at our getaway of getaways, Rustic Rafters. Nestled away in northern Michigan, Rustic Rafters is the quintessential “Up North” campground. With spacious sites, beautiful showers and charming cabins, this place is everything you need for a basecamp for your wilderness adventures or to just sit in camp and watch the sun move across the sky!
We were the first people to stay in one of Ray’s new bunk houses! Designed and hand built by him they are fantastic for a large family or hunting party! The bunk houses are laid out with a table, chairs, coffee pot, fridge, microwave and toaster. There are two sets of bunks on either side of the cabin with a heater between them and to top it all off, a beautiful porch with a table and benches for eating out!!
Our meals were true Cowboy fare! Saturdays dinner consisted of flame grilled steak and beans followed by a breakfast of bacon and flapjacks. That was chased by a round of grilled burgers for lunch and then a mess of eggs and flapjacks the next morning. Everything was cooked over an open fire and hot coals, imparting that delicious, smoky flavor that can only come from cooking outdoors. The children and their sophisticated pallets have decided that brown eggs taste better than white and I was right in my decision to go with them. Originally being met with skepticism and doubt, I had to convince them that the browns were the way to go and take it on faith that I knew what I was doing! Their little faces certainly mirrored the doubt in Dad they were feeling inside!
Fosters Market in Lake City has some of the freshest meat around and the staff is always helpful. Bill came to our rescue when we had a S’mores Emergency and was able to save the day! Thank you Bill!!
We did manage to stroll into town and visit the Family Diner. There has been a restaurant in that spot for as long as I can remember and its tradition to eat there at least once per trip! The food is great and the prices are very reasonable. As with Fosters, the staff was excellent and saw to our every need. They even have a gluten free menu!!
So when you go up north you need to do up north things. Looking for wildlife is near the top of the list and we were not disappointed. The local back roads provide the perfect venues for critter watching and we were treated to seeing a doe and her fawn cautiously picking their way along a creek, a lone turkey roadside and a badger! Yes, a badger!! He crossed the road in front of us in such a manner as to appear angry that a road was cutting through his swamp!
Having access to some private land I decided it was time for my kids to experience an up north rite of passage…their first bows! They took to them like fish to water! I found two nice little compound bows for them, attached the sights ( like a flat lander, or so I was told!) and we headed out to the back forty. Large McDonald’s cups were the targets of opportunity with a sawmill and its dust pile as our backdrop. After a detailed and lengthy safety discussion and many arrows being let loose, Noah was the first to put one through his target and was soon followed by his sister. With turns being taken and arrows flying it became quickly apparent that I had a couple of archers on my hands! In fact, Zoe asked about bow fishing!! I’m so proud of the both of them.
Cupping my face, my hands still smell of work and the forest. Hands that split wood, worked the fire, carried water and provided for my family. Hands that did real work….hands that affirmed our connection to the real world in a time of Facebook and video games and virtual reality. The skills I used were real, the knowledge I used was real and time we shared together was priceless!
Below are links to the places mentioned in the article and as always, thanks for reading!