Last week we camped out with a good friend in Lawton, in southwestern Michigan, between South Haven and Kalamazoo. Melville's 7 Lakes Campground is wooded and has lakes, and the woman in the office is helpful. But on the other hand, the campground's dirt-gravel roads and hilly terrain aren't especially wheelchair-friendly to check out those lakes, and the sites are a little too close for privacy, particularly at campfire time. Also, it is down the road from the Welch's plant where my grandmother worked for 20 years. This is fruit country, and it is where my dad and grandpa once bought a couple of acres of land and to start a blueberry field, long ago sold. We put a lot of work in and had a lot of family around here, and the campground was a good home base for us to look around the area and visit with our memories.
Melville's 7 Lakes Campground 269-312-0262, 14701 96th Van Buren St., Lawton MI.
Site 49. ADA, level pull-through gravel site, water, elect., no sewer, near bathhouse. $35 per night, cash/check only. Https://www.facebook.com/Melvilles-7-Lakes-Family-Campground-LLC-216925315021918/
We spent an afternoon with my uncle and aunt, whom we hadn't seen since before the pandemic. When you haven't seen one in a long time, you don't know what you're going to find. But they both looked great and jolly. It was a warm reunion with a lot of laughs. Days like this have turned out to be one of our favorite things about traveling the way we do. Intimate, unhurried visits, in spaces where we feel comfortable since we still are Covid-wary. But they are visits that actually get made and we really see people we want, instead of vague 'let's do that sometime' and glad-talk. And if plans fall through, no big deal, we're out camping.
In nearby Bangor, we visited the small cemetery where my grandparents are buried. By the eeriest coincidence, Mab's grandparents are buried there as well. Yet neither of us are from that area and we met far from here! Spooky strange. We were there in 1995 for the burial of my aunt, and Mab felt a weird jolt of déjà vu. She thought she remembered the burial of her grandfather there, when she was not even five years old. Indeed, her uncle (now deceased) confirmed that her grandparents were buried at that very cemetery, but we never knew exactly where. The city hall, where we could have looked it up, closed five minutes before we arrived. Anyway, skipping ahead, after much wandering and doubt, and in and out of the car and in and out and in and out of the car again, channeling instincts or spirits or whatever you want to call them, she found their graves! You should have seen how her face and body lit up at that instant. Unforgettable.
Kicking around main street, we peered through the glass into the Strand Theater and a sweet lady surprised us with a mini tour of the old movie place. It was converted from the stable of the volunteer fire department. The wood floors were original, the seats were not. A couple of the bulky old projectors were stored at the back of the balcony, which don't show up in the picture. Now it's only open for special events, but the popcorn machine works great and she made us a large bucket.
There was a lot more family overlay here that I can't get into, which along with the company made the trip quite special. A modest getaway, and probably not much to read or write about, but it was a family pilgrimage with some of the sacred in it for me and the kind of great moments we go out for. Getting out there generates its own rewards.