An Overnight Trip In Gaylord

I left Freeland around 11 am Sunday, and after turning around two times because I forgot some essentials, I finally made my way up to Gaylord for a quick overnight. It was rainy when I left and cloudy when I got into Gaylord, but Weather Underground was telling me I was in for a good 18 hours of beautiful weather.

I stopped by White Birch Outfitters(WBO) for some local info and scored a nice pair of Kuhl pants that were on clearance. I got a paper map with suggestions on where to go from the owner, Casey Buckleitner.

I picked a spot near Black River and did about a mile hike down to this outdoor stove Casey told me about. I got back and decided to set up camp. I should have waited and gone exploring because a car did come by me later, as I was enjoying a Guinness, and they had just seen four elk in the field a 1/4 mile away. Oh well.

I had also stopped at Jay’s in Gaylord and picked up a Mr. Buddy heater because I knew the temps were going to be below freezing overnight. I didn’t sleep with it running in the Roof Top Tent (RTT), but it did warm things up a bit before I went to bed and made getting out of the sleeping bag easier in the morning.

After my beer and almost vegetarian chili, I sat in my rocking camp chair and enjoyed a little Glenlivet. The smoke from the fire and chilly weather reminded me of my trip to Scotland. With no road noise or cell service, it was a great way to unplug. I also had attempted a Swedish fire log but didn’t have metal wire, so I just stopped short of entirely splitting the log. I don’t think I had enough airflow from it not being split enough, and I ended up putting it on the fire. It really kicked out heat versus a solid log.

Weather Underground was right on with the weather. Clouds went away, and with a new moon, the stars quickly came out. I didn’t bring my tripod but made do with a flat piece of wood and my bag to get some 30-second exposure shots.

I heard more coyotes than I did last weekend near Manistee. When I was sitting by the fire, I would bang my hatchet against my shovel, and that seemed to quiet them down. It also made me feel better because I forgot to grab my 1911 when I left. During the night, they continued to howl/bark/whine about every 1/2 hour or so. But once I fell asleep, I didn’t hear them anymore.

Also, on this trip, I tried out using a marine battery to power my CPAP. I have mild sleep apnea, and after just one night without it in Hiawatha National Forest in July, I was dog tired the next day and had to stay at a state park with electricity in Copper Harbor. I finally got to use a thing Brett Ratell made to secure the power cord. I left the battery down in the annex and ran the cable up to the CPAP. I had the best night’s sleep camping outside a campground ever. A dual battery setup is in my future now.

I woke up around 6 am, and it was too dark and too cold for me to start my day. I fired up the little heater for a few minutes to warm up. Then I went back to sleep for another hour. I woke up, and the soft glow of light was coming through the tent fabric. I had some condensation inside, but I aired it out with a fan when I got home. I used the heater again in the annex while I made breakfast.

The fire had burnt out overnight, and I decided against starting another in the morning. I used my little Coleman stove in the annex, and along with the heater, it was nice and toasty. I had some pre-made cold brew coffee in the morning in my freebie yellow cup that AEV gave away at the 2018 open house. I love this cup. Cold and hot drinks are both good in it. After sipping some almost boiling cold brew, I ate some blueberry muffins and some warm oatmeal.

Packing up the tent always seems to take ten times longer than setting up and 31-degree temperatures didn’t help. But finally, I was all packed up, DNR camping form in a plastic bag under a rock on a piece of wood that was there before me, and I was on my way. Instead of just hitting Go Home on the GPS, I put in the rough location of the witness tree and elk viewing area #2. I took some seasonal roads to try to extend the day a little more before heading south. Again goose eggs on the elk sighting. Eventually, I made my way to Vanderbilt and I-75 and headed home.

This is definitely a place I want to go back to and explore more.

The Built Versus Bought Dilemma

An Op-Ed article from contributor Asa Lee Meadows on the built versus bought dilemma.

It was January 2, New Year’s day off (Observed).  Having just moved up to Michigan a few months ago and noticed the greater number of deer present I decided that it was time to switch out my ARB stubby bumper for a full-width AEV bumper that I used to run on my 2012 JK. With the 2014, I had thought about just trimming the fenders myself, which would have looked better with the stubby. I’m glad I waited a few months to see how I liked the stubby before proceeding with the fender trim. Actually, it was over a year, but I wanted to be sure, and with a new baby, I never had time to really wrench on the jeep.

jeeps in winter
The Jeep Running In The Winter

Back to my day off plans. I informed the wife that I would be in my fortress of solitude (garage) for most of the day taking off the old bumper, and reinstalling the winch & winch plate, bumper, and front skid. After refreshing myself of the install procedure that I had done 4 years ago with the help of my friend James I decided that maybe I’ll let a shop do the swap for me this time.

A few reasons went into this.

  1. I still haven’t cleared the garage all the way out after moving here. I have most of the tools in my toolbox, but there are boxes of other tools still packed. I know my anti-seize is packed away and my friend Reid would be freaking out if I didn’t apply liberal amounts of it to everything with threads on it during the install. I have no idea where my wire loom is if I have any left over for the fog light wiring extension.
  2. I have enough room in the garage for both my jeep and the wife’s car with about 4 feet of room in the front of the jeep to work on. But it’s still crowded in there. I need to really clear out the garage.
  3. My wife is 6 months pregnant and we have a 20-month-old. Our son George is really active and in this stage of her pregnancy she’s exhausted when she wakes up in the morning. So watching Geo all day solo would be a strain on what is also her day off too.
  4. There’s also a couple other modifications I’d like to do, like switch out my wire rope for synthetic. That’d also mean that I need a different fairlead than the roller one. That would be easiest to do when I put the bumper on.
wearing the red dirt
Wearing The Red Dirt Proudly

Taking all of these things into consideration, I decided I’d rather let a local shop do it and spend my day with George. I took him to the Chippewa Nature center where he likes to play. While there, I saw a posting for a snowshoe hike for beginners. Something that I’ve been wanting to try and will be part of my overall Michigan Overlanding adventures.  Had I spent the day in the garage, I would have missed out on that. In two weeks, we’ll be going on vacation for a week. That gives me plenty of time to get my checklist for what I want to be done and price it out from a couple of places. It also gives me ample time to have the work done while I’m gone.

out playing in the dirt
Out Playing In The Dirt

So yeah, this time I’ll be a bought person. The last Jeep I put on all the bumpers, cut the frame mounts for clearance, installed the lift kit, etc. Like with anything, everyone’s own personal priorities, budgets, and life circumstances will dictate what happens and when. It really shouldn’t be a matter of saying whose rig is better than whose.

I think the important thing for our sport (off-roading) or recreation (overlanding) isn’t how people get out there, but how many people get out there. The more inclusive we are to other people who share common interests the better for us all. The more places we’ll have to wheel. The more public land use areas at our disposal. Those are the things we really should focus on, not who turned a wrench more.