Without fail, every Labor Day weekend it rains. Perhaps it's because the Farmer's Almanac says so, but it's more likely because Mother Nature knows we'll be sleeping in a tent for 3 straight nights.
Last weekend Jeff and I joined a group of friends on the Pine River, just north of Baldwin, for Paddlefest - a tradition friends started 10 years ago with their family and later extended the invitation to others. Paddlefest is now an annual event that falls on the calendar each Labor Day weekend where 'Tent-City-USA' is recreated at Coolwater Campground. We kayak the Pine River, eat, drink, play games, and we hang out by the campfire talking non stop.
This was Jeff's first year joining the trip (last year on Labor Day we were traveling to Vanuatu) while it was my 3rd. But no matter the year, there are of course traditions... like our 'team shirts' (we get matching t-shirts every year that more often than not make us look like a shirt group) or the act of tossing a pair of shoes into the trees above our campsite before we leave Monday morning - a closing ceremony of sorts.
My favorite part each year (by far) is the entire group turning off our cell phones. More than once throughout the weekend people asked, "What time is it?" ... no one knew. Or we'd be debating a topic and in effort to find the answer someone would (on autopilot) demand, "Google it!" and again, no response because there were no phones. It was glorious.
We kayaked two legs of the Pine River: Saturday we went from Dobson Bridge to Peterson and on Sunday we took Peterson to Low Bridge. The longer of the two being Peterson to Low Bridge totaling around 5 hours which depends on how quick you paddle and how often you stop. Each year we climb the large sand dune (on the Peterson to Low Bridge leg) which is a solid piece of 'Pure Michigan.'
But alas, it's back to reality this week, phones and all. It was a great last weekend celebrating summer. And now... we're officially ready for fall!