Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Camping Michigan’s Great Outdoors

Happy June! Thank God Its Monday, again; and, as such, #HappyMonday to all! I personally look forward to each and every Monday. They’re my 52 Chances a year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with you!





June is finally here, celebrating, among other things, National Camping Month and National Great Outdoors Month! Summer unofficially started last weekend but it’s a little more than 2 weeks until the official start – Summer [Solstice] Begins June 21st. It’s the longest day of the year.

Summertime is the best time for picnics, road trips, and going camping! A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I have a camping checklist, part of which I use for my picnic “basket”. Nowadays, my camping checklist is quite extensive. It’s grown and shrunk and re-grown over the years. I find that the older I get, the more conveniences I like to bring.

Worth repeating: “It’s better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it!” My husband and I have not yet advanced to a camper or motor home. I call our style of camping “Comfort-Camping-Without-A-Camper”. Motorhome or camper style “camping” is often referred to as “glamping”, particularly by those who camp in tents.

There was a 5-year span when we had a van, in which we slept, while using our dome tent as a “shed” for our “stuff”, instead. Now, we have a mid-size sedan, in which we pack everything we need and want – including a large, octagon tent AND 10’ x 10’ gazebo. Organization is key!

When I was young, our family always stayed in motels when on vacations. We never camped. “Roughing it” was when the power went out for a week (at home, in Algonac), during a winter/spring ice storm. We had to use candles for light and the fireplace for heat and a “stove”.

Mom and Dad started “camping” AFTER becoming empty-nesters. They invested in a motorhome and joined the Good Sam [RV] Club. They first learned about “RV-ing” and Good Sam from Mom’s older sister, Hazel, and her husband, Chris, who were members of Good Sam’s California chapter. Mom and Dad joined the Michigan AND Ohio chapters.

While on the road, Mom and Dad usually ate in local restaurants. Mom never stopped looking for different dishes to try and imitate when she returned home. Their camping friends often kidded Mom, about being the Secret Recipes DetectiveTM and never using the oven in their motorhome. She did do some microwave cooking, on occasion.

I learned about camping (in a tent) from some friends decades ago when my children were very young. It was an inexpensive way to vacation with kids. Through experience, came more knowledge. I often learned cool camping hacks from other campers whenever we went camping with a group. Camping with friends is so fun!


As seen in…

This is not a Cook Book! It’s Gloria Pitzer’s Food for Thought (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986, p. 43)


A SMILE IS THE universal, unspoken language between us. Some people smile more easily than others, but a smile is as good as a hug. I just LOVE people who smile a lot! Even when I’m shopping or [when Paul and I are] walking around the campgrounds on one of our abbreviated ‘get-aways’ with our motorhome, I find myself smiling at people I have never seen before, and they smile back. It’s contagious!

People don’t smile as much as they should! I’ve noticed lately how seldom strangers smile at each other in shopping centers and restaurants and other places where average folks mingle or pass. It occurred to me that there was nothing to lose by smiling and nodding at people as I shopped or glanced across a restaurant to other tables.

A surprising thing happened! Grim looking faces spontaneously responded with smiles and nods, as if they were trying to place me or recall where we might have met before. It was just wonderful!

Joining the Good Sam [RV] Club was among Mom and Dad’s most favorite experiences. It was a huge source of wonderful friendships and memories for them. Mom kept many scrap books full of photos and special keepsakes from their many trips with the Michigan and Ohio chapters of Good Sam.

Mom often wrote about those trips in her summer newsletter issues – from the new restaurant dishes they tried as they traveled (of which Mom imitated when they went home) to all of the great people they met everywhere they went.

Mom and Dad especially looked forward to Good Sam’s big “Samboree” events! Mom would sometimes give lectures at these events, regarding her copycat and short-cut cookery concepts, such as those published in her Mostly 4-Ingredients cookbook (and the recipe I’m sharing today is from that book).


As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes Newsletter (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Jan-Feb. 1988, p. 1)


ONE THING AMONG MANY that I have learned from Good Sam, the national RV organization, to which Paul and I have belonged for three years now [since 1985]; is that you should never ever withhold your enthusiasm for caring about others.

Never regret anything you do or say on behalf of the good it might bring to those [about whom] you care – for, if your motives are unselfish, and your intentions are to encourage or enrich or benefit others, you can’t lose.

You should jump right in, adding enthusiasm to whatever it is that you are doing that might appear to be just a passive condition when enthusiasm is needed. Try a little enthusiasm!

…Enthusiasm and optimism go hand-in-hand with happiness. These provide us with an emotional springboard from which we can dive quite smoothly, into deep and troubled waters, and still surface refreshed and invigorated.

During Michigan’s unofficial summertime [Memorial Day through Labor Day], tourism is on the rise. There’s so much to do in Michigan’s great outdoors! May through October is the best time for Michigan camping getaways. There are 1,190 licensed campgrounds in the state.

[Pictured below is my extensive camping check list, all of which fits in our Pontiac sedan (as pictured above). I am not paid to advertise for any companies but I am brand specific on a few things because, from my personal experience, they work the best – Dawn dish soap, SOS (soap filled steel pads), and Kingsford Matchlite charcoal.]

If you’re planning to go swimming or doing any water sports or activities along the shoreline surrounding most of the state, the warmest lake water temperatures are generally found July through September, depending on where you go. As beautiful as the Memorial Day weekend was, it was too cold to swim in Lake Huron – I know – I was there.

I’ve mentioned at least a few times, in previous blog posts, that Michigan holds the record for the longest fresh water shoreline in the United States, coming in at 3,288 miles. In fact, regardless of water type (sea or fresh), Michigan is only second to Alaska, in total length of coastline.

Over the next couple of weeks, kids will be getting out of school for their big summer break. Many families are planning their vacation times, now. Summertime in Michigan is also a popular time in which to plan events like company picnics, graduation parties, class/family reunions, and outdoor weddings.

There’s always something special to see and do in Michigan! Summer’s also the best season for car shows and cruises; outdoor concerts and music festivals; art, 4-H and county fairs; plus, other carnivals. Speaking of which, I love the hit Canadian show, Carnival Eats, with Noah Cappe! The food is always the best part of any special event.

Activities and entertainment venues vary slightly, by region – but usually, throughout the summer, you can often find, somewhere nearby, a botanical garden, flea market, farmer’s market, petting zoo, classic car shows; as well as thespian renaissance, art, craft, and/or music festivals.

Pools, beaches and water parks are now open for the summer season. Even though the big lakes’ temperatures are still a bit cold for swimming, Michiganders can’t wait to dip their toes in, at least. Additionally, you’ll find seasonal amusement parks, small-town carnivals, and big county fairs all over the state and nearby.

Some of the outdoor, summer sports and other such activities that Michiganders enjoy include baseball, softball, soccer, track, golf, disc golf, putt-putt golf, tennis, volleyball, and horseshoes (the game). Then there’s the backyard games like cornhole, ladder toss, washer toss, and so on.

Many table-top games have been made into large lawn versions for people’s backyard enjoyment (or to take them to a park or when camping). Many in-land summer activities include picnicking, camping, hiking, biking, motor sport racing, motorcycling, motocross, dirt biking, “4-wheeling”, “mudding”, dune buggy riding, horseback riding, and more.

Popular water sports and other such activities include kayaking, canoeing, sailing, boating, jet skiing, water skiing, parasailing, swimming, scuba diving, snorkeling, and fishing – even building sand castles on the beach. Sand sculpting can be quite amazing!



Here, again, are four basic tips for planning road trips that I’ve shared a couple of times, previously…

    • Always bring a hard copy roadmap, as there are places that may not have cell or wi-fi service for miles.
    • Allow extra time and gas (or electric charge – whatever the case may be) for spontaneity. In case you decide to take a detour or two to other map dots along the way!
    • Stop frequently and take breaks – “smell the roses”, photograph the memories, and talk to the locals.
    • Pack a cooler with some drinks and snacks, even if you plan to eat at restaurants along the way. You know what they say about the best laid plans…


In honor of June, being National Candy Month, here’s Mom’s copycat recipe for Coconut Confections; as seen in her self-published cookbook… Gloria Pitzer’s Mostly 4-Ingredient Recipes (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; April 1986, p. 6).


P.S. Food-for-thought until we meet again, next Monday…


The month of June observes, among other things… National Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Month, National Caribbean American Month, National Country Cooking Month, National Dairy Month, National Iced Tea Month, National Papaya Month, National Soul Food Month, National Rose Month, and National Turkey Lovers Month!

Starting the first Saturday in June and running through the second Saturday (June 3rd-20th for 2023) it’s… International Clothesline Week and National Fishing and Boating Week! Starting the first Sunday in June (4th-10th for 2023), it’s… National Gardening Week and Community Health Improvement Week!

Today is also… National Gingerbread Day and National Veggie Burger Day!

Tomorrow is… National D-Day, National Gardening Exercise Day, National Drive-In Movie Day, and National Applesauce Cake Day!

Wednesday, June 7th, is… National Chocolate Ice Cream Day, National VCR Day, and National Oklahoma Day!

Thursday, June 8th, is… National Best Friends Day and National Upsy Daisy Day!

Friday, June 9th, is… National Donald Duck Day and National Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Day!

June 10th, is… National Egg Roll Day, National Ballpoint Pen Day, National Iced Tea Day, National Black Cow Day, and National Herbs and Spices Day! Plus, as the second Saturday in June (for 2023), it’s also… National Rosé Day!

June 11th, is… National Making Life Beautiful Day, National Corn on the Cob Day, and National German Chocolate Cake Day! Plus, as the second Sunday in June (for 2023), it’s also… National Children’s Day; and the start of… Men’s Health Week [the second Sunday in June through Father’s Day (11th-18th for 2023)]! Additionally, as the start of the second week in June, it’s also… National Little League Week and National Flag Week, which is always the week of [June 14th] National Flag Day (11th-17th for 2023)!


…23 down and 29 to go!

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