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  • Jenna Beall

A Run-in with the Law

Last week, Adam and I took our camper on her longest road trip yet. We packed up Chanice and traveled 500 miles north to Petoskey, Michigan.


The air was crisp. The mornings and nights were cool, often in the low 50s, and Lake Michigan was as blue as the Mediterranean Sea. Some trees were already beginning to change colors, and we got to enjoy a little unexpected leaf peeping.

It was also our first trip working from the road, and you can only imagine my relief when EVERYTHING ACTUALLY WORKED! I sent my manager and teammates excited messages that Sunday night—Jenna here, reporting from Petoskey!


We were ready to rock.


Our week started smoothly. Incredibly smoothly. We were staying at campsite 109, which was right beside the boardwalk that led to the beach. I woke up with the sunrise—because of my alarm, not because I'm that in-tune with nature (plus, we have blackout curtains)—and had the entire beach to myself. It was silent and peaceful, almost holy, and I watched the water and prayed.


"God, please convince Adam to want to move here," I murmured.


We'll see how that one pans out.

Anyways! Adam and I worked that morning and then spent our lunch hour taking Gus into Harbor Springs. We poked into a few shops and made our first (but certainly not our last!) visit to Tom's Mom's Cookies.

If you're ever in the Harbor Springs area, check out Tom's Mom's Cookies. They are the bee's knees.

We walked down to the harbor, and Gus couldn't help but take a dip.

We returned to our campsite and our workdays, and that evening, I went swimming in an icy-cold Lake Michigan. We made foil packet dinners around the campfire, and when I went to sleep that night, my heart was bursting with gratitude.

That's me! In the middle!

Our Tuesday followed this same sublime schedule


That evening, we planned on visiting downtown Petoskey, and I was stoked. I love downtown Petoskey. It reminds me of Stars Hollow or a small town from a Hallmark movie. It is charming. It is enchanting. It is cozy.


We had only been gone one hour, and I'd only made a few shopping purchases, when I saw a voicemail from a Petoskey number. I wondered if I'd made dinner reservations (and forgotten about them) as I pressed the play button.


IT WAS A PETOSKEY STATE PARK RANGER!!!


"Oh my God, oh my God," I murmured.


Adam's eyes grew wide. "What? What is it?" he asked, later confessing he thought someone had died.


Maybe my reaction was dramatic, but in my defense, I do not get in trouble. I am a rule follower to my core. I am Midwest polite. I stand there holding the door for people for uncomfortably long bits of time and I try to make small talk in elevators. These are habits that probably only make people hate me but I cannot resist because, again, MIDWEST POLITE!


But back to the voicemail.


As it turned out, another camper had called and complained about our dogs barking. The park ranger's tone was surprisingly cheerful, but we were mortified. We love our dogs, but we appreciate that not everybody is a dog person. We would never let our dogs stay outside barking at home, so the thought that they were doing this in a campground was humiliating.


We hopped in Adam's truck and hurried back to the campground. We stopped by the ranger station to apologize in-person.


"Hi! We're the jerks with the barking dogs," Adam said.


"WE ARE SO SORRY!" I added.


The park ranger laughed. "This happens all the time. It's really not a big deal," he assured us.


When we pulled up to our campsite, we were surprised to see sweet, nearly-11-year-old Gus was the cause of the disturbance. There he was, standing on the bed and barking for all the world to hear him, like the camper was burning down or an intruder had broken in to swipe our assortment of Target, HomeGoods, and Amazon homeware.


Admittedly, I had pegged Dewey as the instigator, but he and Margot were innocent.

The falsely accused

As I tended to the dogs, Adam went around to every, single campsite and apologized. At one campsite, it was only a band of children sitting outside. (Where were all the adults?) Still, Adam offered his apologies.


"Oh, don't worry about it!' the seven-year-old girl said. "Your dogs are adorable! I've rode my bike by them all week."


Almost everyone laughed and said they either hadn't heard or hadn't minded except for one curmudgeon, who had clearly been the one to file the complaint.


"Make sure it doesn't happen again," he grumbled, as his own golden retriever jumped all over Adam.


Adam assured him it wouldn't.


"Somehow Gus made an enemy of a man who actually HAS a golden retriever," we laughed later.


Adam ended up walking Gus around to the (friendly) campsites so our neighbors could meet the now famous barking dog and Gus could offer his own apologies. In Gus's defense, he did look rather contrite.

The walk of shame

Afterwards, Adam placed a pickup order at Petoskey Brewing—where we had originally planned on having drinks before "the incident"—and he and Gus went to fetch it. I stayed back with the little dogs and read more of The Vanishing Half, which I hadn't been able to put down.


We were sitting around the campfire when a wicked rainstorm blew in later that evening. We headed inside where we turned on a movie (Big) and enjoyed our brews from the coziness and comfort of Chanice.


"Hey, wasn't that grumpy guy tent camping?" I asked Adam.


"Uh-huh," he confirmed, as we both took a peek outside at his setup that was getting more and more soaked by the second.


As it turned out, this was no pop-up shower.


It rained and rained for hours, until nearly daybreak to be exact. We had always wanted to sleep in the camper during a storm, and the experience did not disappoint. I loved getting to hear the sound of the rain against the aluminum roof all night long. It was delightfully snug and warm and relaxing.


When my alarm went off at 6:30, I pushed the curtain aside to see how Gus's accuser had fared.


The campsite was empty. He was gone, not having left a trace. He'd been rained out.


"Did you see the mean man is gone?" I asked Adam over our morning coffee. "How is that for some fast karma?"


I'm happy to report the remainder of the trip was blissfully uneventful—though for all future bits of tourism, we had three dogs tagging along in the backseat of the truck.

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