Creating Memories 2010

Creating Memories in the woods of the UP. (L to R: Chandler, 13, Reagan and Haley, 10, and my dad, Lt Col Bernard D Claxton, USAF Ret, 2010.)

Connecting with Family and Embracing Safe Practices

Safe Words and Safe Practices for a Joyful Trip

If you’ve been following our adventure on this week, you’ll know that our journey from DFW to Marquette, Michigan has been filled with excitement.

But more importantly, it has brought my daughters and me closer together in a unique way. A wonderful bonus is the growing bond we share with my dad, who has joined us for the past two days.

During this trip, we’ve set a few rules, the most important one being the use of “Safe words” and “Safe practices.” We have consciously excluded any negativity, both in words and actions, that could dampen our spirits.

This approach has been truly eye-opening, especially considering the stark contrast between safety and unsafety. As you can imagine, dealing with competitive twin sisters can be challenging at times, but overall, we’re handling it remarkably well.

One of the significant changes we’ve made is reducing contact with Ex1 and barely giving any thought to Ex2. Books on “Safe People,” “Safe Words,” and “Safe Emotions” have made it evident that they don’t align with any of the three categories.

Whenever they indulge in “Unsafe words” or emotions, I’ve noticed that I tend to respond in emotionally unhealthy ways as well. However, I’m committed to correcting this behavior in my life.

A Journey of Growth and Sisterhood


This word has become the cornerstone of our existence, bringing more peace into our lives. I strive to surround myself with new friends, healthy practices, and positive emotions that are deemed “safe” by counselors and psychiatrists.

Letting go of the abusive criticisms, irrational behavior, anger, and anxieties of others has been one of the most beneficial decisions I’ve ever made for myself.

Recognizing that what I had been enduring wasn’t normal has been a crucial step toward my overall well-being. Safe. Safe. Safe.

Camp Claxton: Unveiling the Beauty of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

In 1976, my dad purchased 40 acres of land in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, nestled in the middle of nowhere.

Despite the passage of time, the remote location has remained unchanged.

I vividly remember the day, before we moved away, when Dad brought my three brothers and me to the land to shoot. The memory has stayed with me all these years, and I’ve longed to return ever since.

For the past couple of years, I’ve wanted to bring my daughters here, but it wasn’t possible due to my previous marriage. However, thanks to the generosity of Chevy and GM, who loaned us a red jewel 2010 Chevrolet Traverse, we’ve finally made the journey north.

Today, we ventured onto the land with my three girls: Chandler, 13, and the soon-to-be 11-year-old twins.

Creating memories and a flashback

Back in 1976, I could never have imagined that I would one day bring my own daughters here.

Armed with a .22 rifle and my dad’s revolver that shoots .357 and .38 shells, we embarked on our hike from the car into the heart of the land. However, the girls’ excitement was overshadowed by apprehension.

They began to worry about encountering bears or the red fox we had seen a few miles away. Yet, their trepidation didn’t deter them.

Creating memories in the UP Chandler Shoots

As we reached the campsite and prepared to shoot, a clear sense of hesitation lingered among the three of them. Once again, Reagan, the competitive one who often pushes her sisters aside, took the lead.

Haley, eager to be the first to shoot, became nervous upon hearing the sounds and feeling the recoil, even though a .22 rifle barely has any recoil.

But then, something remarkable happened. Reagan, with my dad’s support, overcame her initial anxiety after a few shots. Chandler, my confident 13-year-old, proudly declared, “Hi, my name is Chandler. Chandler knows how to shoot a gun.”

And finally, Haley jumped in, with each daughter firing the .22 rifle about 10 times. With every rotation, their confidence, aim, and excitement grew—not just about shooting guns but about maturing into strong and safe women.

As we left our land, there were protests, although Chandler was only concerned about having a weak cellphone signal. Yet, despite the reluctance to leave, all of them, even Chandler, had been transformed. They now understood why their dad always claimed that this place was one of the greatest on earth to be a boy.

In the midst of the woods, the rustling leaves provided a symphony of nature. The temperature was a pleasant 64 degrees, and the sun cast its warm glow.

At that moment, I felt the whispers of time soothing the wounds of my past relationships. It was as if the sounds of the leaves were washing away my pain, while also ushering in a new chapter for my three girls. Walking back to the Traverse, they appeared different—stronger.

Before we departed, each of them held and aimed the .22 rifle on their own, hitting the target from a considerable distance.

Today was a day of safety, with my dad teaching them gun safety. They gained newfound confidence, not only in shooting but in themselves. They learned to appreciate the solace found in nature, freeing themselves from the daily grind of the city.

Creating memories in the UP Bear Hunter Reagan.

There are numerous other highlights from today’s adventure, and thanks to this week-long trip from Chevrolet, I’ll have more stories to share in the coming days. However, I’m currently exhausted from the range of emotions experienced during today’s activities—the safe and uplifting emotions.

As my girls sleep, undoubtedly dreaming of becoming markswomen and intrepid explorers in the trails and woods of Northern Michigan, I reflect on the profound pride I have for them. Today, they conquered their fears and embraced life with greater enthusiasm.

It is a memory that will forever be etched in their minds, becoming an integral part of their lives. No matter what challenges they face in the future, no one will be able to take this experience away from them.

Let me conclude this post with a photo. If you compare the image leading into the woods with the one leading out, you might notice something. I see three daughters, strong and proud.


I’m not entirely sure what tomorrow holds in store for us. Perhaps a visit to Laughing White Fish Falls? Or maybe a hike up Sugar Loaf Mountain? We’ve yet to explore Presque Isle fully. Regardless of the specific plans, each day this week has brought even more adventure than the last, leaving us with lasting memories.

As my girls grow older, transitioning into their teenage years and adulthood, today will remain etched in their memories. More importantly, it will shape their character and become a part of who they are. I couldn’t be prouder of them. As my dad did for me and now for his own granddaughters, he instilled a renewed sense of excitement for life. No matter what challenges lie ahead, they will always carry that spark within them.


Creating Memories: A Safe and Adventurous Journey in the UP: My ‘Little Women’

This is an image of the tree line from the new County Road 510 Bridge near Marquette, Michigan.



  1. Tweets that mention June 24, 2010: One of my best days alive, ever; Especially as a dad : The Adventures of Daddy Claxton -- - [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Donny Claxton, Donny Claxton. Donny Claxton said: Update:: June 24, 2010: One…

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Donald J. Claxton | The Timberlander, a selfie from camping for 13 weeks in 2022 on the Claxton family land in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, northwest of Marquette.

Donald J. Claxton is
‘The Timberlander’

Hello, I’m Donald J. 

I refer to myself as “The Timberlander” because I love off-grid living and woodworking.

My Great Pyrenees, Maycee, and I enjoy spending our time in the woods of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

In the UP, I craft, make, grow, run, carve, and generate:

  • Custom crosses
  • Timber frame shelters
  • A garden
  • My water
  • Basswood figurines and ornaments
  • My own power

Check out my crafts for sale in The Timberlander’s Treasures.

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