More Knots, Fewer Devices

I was never in Boy Scouts, Pathfinders, or any other variant of a bushcraft/youth paramilitary organization. Ergo, I never learned knots. 

I’m lucky to have lived through a decade of rock climbing. We engaged in such poor rope use while climbing that I didn’t learn the figure-8 until after 10 years of sending; I finally had to learn it in order to climb at the local gym so I watched this video. So wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Kids, don’t be like me. Learn your knots!

My tent guy lines look ridiculous. My tarp hanging concoctions are pathetic. My shoelace knots barely keep shoes on my feet. 20 years ago I bought these cheap plastic things that I’ve never gotten to work right. No more!

Tonight I learned three knots. The more you know, the less you need, says Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia. Know these knots and leave those crappy plastic things at home.

Thanks, Andrew Skurka.


Northwest Michigan Camping: Lake Michigan Focus

Credit: Google Maps & MS Paint.

We have a friend coming this summer who wants to camp near Petoskey or Sleeping Bear Dunes. That got us hunting for a good campground. We really need to get Best Tent Camping: Michigan (2015).

I decided to put a list together like the one I did for southwest Michigan car camping. The list doesn’t include ferry options, for instance North and South Manitou Islands or Beaver Island. Some of these are more rustic, some more developed. Some are close to water, while others are slightly more inland.

Here are the campgrounds that stood out to us. I’m sure there are other great locations we’re missing, so share your favorites in the comments below.

Here is a table of travel times for the same cities I used in the analysis of southwest MI camping.

NW MI distances

Next I need to work on locations in the UP, but with so little vacation time, we tend to do most of our trips in the lower peninsula, but I’d love to see more of the UP ( | |

Southwest Michigan Camping: Lake Michigan Focus

Credit: Google Maps. Edited in MS Paint (keeping it real).

The list below grows out of conversations with a few different friends who want to go camping this summer in southwest Michigan. They live in different locations, and they have different needs. One common interest: water.

First, I list the camping areas near Lake Michigan or other bodies of water that most stand out to us. Locations are listed from North to South. Second, I post the travel times around the area. Obviously, neither the list of cities nor campgrounds is exhaustive. (And please see links below for local connections.)

What’s your favorite place in this region not listed here?

  1. Meinert Park (Montague)
  2. Pioneer County Park (Muskegon)
  3. Muskegon State Park (Muskegon)
  4. Holland State Park (Holland)
  5. Saugatuck Dunes State Park (Holland)
  6. Van Buren State Park (South Haven)
  7. Covert Park Campground (Covert)
  8. Dune Lake Campground (Coloma)
  9. Shamrock Park (Berrien Springs)
  10. Weko Beach Campground (Bridgman)
  11. Warren Dunes State Park (Sawyer)
  12. Indiana Dunes State Park (Chesterton, IN)

(click to enlarge)

If you want to go further afield, see my post on northwest Michigan camping. Next I need to work on locations in the UP, but with so little vacation time, we tend to do most of our trips in the lower peninsula. Still, I’d love to see more of the UP ( | |

And if you’re looking for a local place to get camping gear or clothes, check out:

  • Wanderlust Outfitters (St. Joseph; Instagram). Just about everything you’d need for a camping or backpack trip (or a day at the beach). Brands: Prana, Fjallraven, OR, Marmot, The North Face, Columbia, Kuhl, Osprey, Black Diamond, MSR, Eno, Therm-a-Rest, Western Mountaineering, Klean Kanteen, Nalgene, Swartwool, and many more. You get the idea. It’s not a huge store, but they make good use of the space to bring quality and variety to our area. It’s so great to have a local gear shop with a friendly crew.
  • Third Coast Surf Shop (St. Joseph & New Buffalo; Instagram). Patagonia, surf boards, SUPs, rentals, skateboards, etc. Also, check out their paddling shop in Benton Harbor.
  • With these shops, we don’t have to go to Chicago for REI or Uncle Dan’s. Shop local!

While I’m at it, here are three of my other favorite shops in town:

  • Bound for Freedom (Facebook). Buy what you need, keep it ethical, change the world. We’ve purchased snack bars, a shaving kit, sunglasses, and flip-flops. We’re getting our next soccer ball here.
  • Forever Books (Facebook). It’s nice to have a local bookstore, not just Amazon. In the past they had more environmental books, but last time I was in, that area was more limited.
  • Cycle and Fitness (Facebook). Bikes and related gear. Check next door for your running needs–Taylor’d Running.
  • Bonus: People in Mishawaka or South Bend may value Outpost Sports. I haven’t been to their stores in South HavenSt. Joseph, or New Buffalo yet. When I visited the Mishawaka store, bikes were the focus.