We are here in Northern Michigan after fleeing a rainstorm that arrived hours early, chasing us out of Turtle Lake Resort. This morning, we’re in a family campground and I suspect from the sound on the roof of the tent, that the Michigan forecast is wrong again. The rain due at 2pm is apparently arriving at 6:30am.
I whisper, “It might just blow over. It’s not due ‘till this afternoon.” I’m thinking from under my comfy sleeping quilt cuddled with DF. I’m tired and I want to sleep in. That sound on the tent is a drizzle, but we’ve also heard that before in Ohio and Northern Vermont. We certainly want to avoid a wet tent to pack into the tightly crammed trunk, soaking everything and maybe creating mold.
We get out and quickly, perform our well-practiced routine, tearing the camp down safely and tucking it away. All during the process, the rain intensifies. We’ll be leaving for Lake Shelbyville a little earlier than planned.
We have made the correct choice. We are wet and had planned a hot shower before leaving. Everyone else is still asleep as we go to the lighted “His and Hers” public shower facilities just down the little road. It is a small beacon of refreshment and relief.
This early, I have it to myself. Entering the shower, there is a curious curtain after the curtain. It makes for a dressing/undressing room. This place has built-in privacy for an all-male room! How quaint. How strange. I spent puberty and some high school in Michigan. This doesn’t jive with the school gyms. It is senseless to me actually. What are they afraid of? I think back to Turtle Lake and the outdoor wall-less co-ed showers at Coventry.
It does feel very good. We are both smiling a snicker, when I meet DF out at the car, which is parked next to these restrooms. We shuffle the last of our packing into the car in a hurry to avoid the wet rain. It is good to shuck the damp clothing right away before the seat gets soaked through. It will be good to be out on the road. There will be no concern about people noticing two carnuding people in this downpour. The safety issues will keep their attention.
The rains are supposed to be going on throughout Michigan. They are torrential all the way, all morning. We stop for gas, in rain. We find Trader Joe’s in the rain. We use umbrellas in the rain. Finally, out near Gary Indiana, the rain stops. Unfortunately so does the traffic.
There is a freeway jam several miles long. We sit. People have more of a tendency to look at who is beside them in jams. What else is there to do, just creep along a few feet at a time and not bump into the each other? We look up the nudity laws in Indiana. Yep, they’re weird. A piece of cloth lying over our bodies keeps us more legal. Even so, there is no way that the police have time for us, even if they could find us in this mess. DF tucks a piece under her seat belt to hold it in place. My rolled up kilt is just sitting in my lap. In the event of inquiry, ”Yea, we’re not dressed, so what? We’re covered.”
An hour or so later and we are escaping the bad air, humidity and tedious boredom. We’re doing 75 mph on an open flat road, surrounded to the horizons by the miles corn and soy fields. The novelty found many weeks ago has been done in. I smile, expressing this with a sarcastic, “Look a corn field!” My joke works. DF smiles back in agreement.
We get off of the Interstate, trusting GPS directions the mono-culture surrounding us. The roads are flat and straight and go on for miles on end. It gets harder to trust the GPS as the odometer ticks by. It is difficult because we are trying to imagine that there is a lake and a forest out here. After a half hour or so, trees appear. Just before sunset, we arrive and are heading down a slope to our reserved camping spot.
This is a very “nice” place. Grass, replacing natural vegetation, is groomed around the asphalt driveways. There are several campers and RV’s. Several spots have rigs for boats. We have an asphalt surface to pitch a tent on. We see campers at ten o’clock and two o’clock, like an old Doctor Pepper bottle. There are a few trees between. We’ll have to be alert to stay nude. Things are quiet, as I check angles of sight, windows and their coverings for signs of life.
After the drive, I want to grab the moment and walk down the trail that starts at our campsite to watch a peaceful sunset and unwind. Sundown orange and the silhouettes of trees are across a reflective lake surface.
This is a dammed spot run by the Corp of Engineers. The funny thing is, when DF walks back to the campsite, a head cruises in the water. Just before me, a large beaver is minding its own business.
We still have enough dusk to set up our tent and have a good dinner. We have to bundle up to protect from mosquitoes, but delight in the lightning bugs in the dark forest.
Just in case, to block some of the view of the neighbors, I arrange the car parking and the string for when we hang our wet cloth in the morning, strategically.
The night grows dark, leaving us some privacy. The others are asleep early, too, or keeping safely tucked into their cocoon shelters, blind to the outside.
We leave the tent roof off and open. The net top creates safe toplessness. Milky Way starlight, fresh country air, under a huge hickory tree makes for an ideal nest. There are tranquil lights in the distance, as the moon rises through the trees.
Later, I claim the late night. I wake up at 4:00am, when everyone else is deep in dreams and decide to take a walk to the public showers, which is a fair distance from our site. I do it just to walk. In the darkness and shadows, I can tuck away the kilt under my arm and trust that everyone is asleep.
My shower is brief, just a refreshment. There is no towel, but the warm evening air takes care of much of the moister, slowly. As I stroll, I swing my kilt as a fan.
In the morning, we have lost track of the day of the week again. A debate of whether it is Tuesday or Wednesday is ongoing. The phone doesn’t seem to work here to check the facts. It doesn’t help that yesterday felt like a two days drive in the hard deluge and traffic.
Up at 8am we can take our time to leave.
Having packed by 11am, we wander about to explore. The neighbor’s trucks are gone. Another one up the hill is gone. We have some freedom. I see a pair of moms with a troupe of children walking into the forest within sight of us. They are gone for a time, but I notice them coming back and heading away for their camp. They are done with that trail.
With that knowledge that the trail is no longer in use of the local neighbors, we manage to walk a part of it nude. After clearing the forest, there are views out across the lake.
There is an observatory for us to climb on.
On the Road Again:
We still have several miles of two lane farm road to cover before the Interstate system sets us off flying. There is a prosperous look in the countryside. The homes look nice. They are well cared for. It isn’t like so much of the farm regions where corporate factory farming has killed small towns.
We decide to take a shortcut. The highway dwindles through tiny towns until it is flooded by a creek. The corn next to the road towers over our little car. “I think we made a wrong turn back there.” We are in real Midwest backcountry America. It feels good. It feels comfortable to be naked around here. We can get out and walk and just listen for others in a place that we are unlikely to be disturbed. I’m glad that we got lost.
We’re on our way to Kansas. The Colorado Rocky Mountains have been put on the schedule. We can take all the time that we need. Having the rain chasing us has cut short nearly every stop during our trip. We have time to spare at our leisure.
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