Michigan Madness, Arkansas Antics and Wrapping up 2016....
January 8, 2017
With a new year typically comes the sometimes dreaded, often exciting-- New Year’s Resolutions. We’ve never been one to make a lot of resolutions because well, it seems like they’re just too easy to break. But this year, well, we’re making one and that’s to stay a little more current on our blog. The last few months of the year got crazy busy and we fell a little behind with posting and keeping current. (Excuses, excuses!!) You heard it first here...more blog posts!!
But suffice it to say, we have had a really great fall with an incredible trip to Michigan, followed by a productive trip to Elkhart, Indiana for some coach renovations, a quick stop in Illinois to visit with family, a fun visit with friends in Arkansas, followed up with a visit to Hot Springs National Park and then when it started to get a little cold, we landed in Texas, where we’ve been for the last couple of months.
First off, Michigan is truly an incredible state and we stayed in several different parks during our time there. We hit the Detroit area to visit the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village, and then headed to the Upper Peninsula where we met up with our friends David and Sharon. We spent about three weeks with them splitting our time between Tahquamenon Falls and Munising, then we parted ways and headed to Mackinac Island, Sleeping Bear Dunes and ended our Michigan adventure in Holland.
Really glad we explored Michigan in the fall!!
STOP 1: We stayed at Sterling State Park, Monroe Michigan and our main purpose for this stop was a visit to the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village.
Henry Ford Greenfield Village
The Henry Ford Museum...
While the museum was about all things innovation, including some really cool cars....
for some reason we were drawn the the motorhome section of the museum!!
Nice visual of the assembly process
We loved the Dymaxion House which was developed by inventor and architect Buckminster Fuller to address several perceived shortcomings with existing homebuilding techniques. Can't believe that this didn't catch on!!
Michigan was never a state that we paid a lot of attention to, and quite honestly, I have no idea why. It is a pretty awesome state that could have kept us occupied for several months and is on our list of places to return and to do just that—explore more!! Seemed everywhere we went there was a nice selection of hiking, biking, sightseeing, and exploring that we could have easily dug in for the whole season. We really feel like we just scratched the surface of seeing everything the state has to offer and highly recommend a trip there if you’re looking for a “cooler” place to spend the summer or fall.
STOP 2: Tahquamenon Falls State Park, Paradise, Michigan where we connected with our friends David and Sharon. Great area to hike and take in the falls. Also enjoyed the Whitefish Point Shipwreck Museum and a great bread shop a few miles from the campground.
The lower falls at Tahquamenon Falls State Park.
Campground is located within a few minutes walk of this awesome scene.
You can rent a row boat at the lower falls and explore a little island by the falls.
The Upper Falls, which is about a five mile hike from the lower falls....
and there's a brewery at the Upper Falls.
David, Sharon and I hiked to the brewery, Greg met us there!
Great reward after a nice hike...
hoping more parks start adding breweries at the end of a long hike!!
Cute chipmunks everywhere at the park.
We even watched one snag a sandwich from someone's picnic table!!
Whitefish Point Shipwreck Museum...only about a 30 minute drive from the park.
They do a great job paying respects to the numerous shipwrecks of the Great Lakes
with a special tribute to the Edmond Fitzgerald.
Clear water...just beautiful!!
STOP 3: We stayed Munising Tourist Park in Munising and there is a lot to do in this area. Home to tons of waterfalls, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Grand Island and it's only a short drive to Marquette. Great area for bike riding and hiking!
Munising and the surrounding area are home to many many waterfalls.
We spent an entire day waterfall hopping!!
Pictured rocks is so picturesque (probably thus the name!!)
We took the sunset boat tour and the camera just doesn't capture the beauty of this place!!
Pictured Rocks derives its name from the 15 miles of colorful sandstone cliffs.
The cliffs are up to 200 feet above lake level.
They have been naturally sculptured into shallow caves, arches, and formations.
Streaks on the face of the cliffs come from the groundwater leaching out of the rock.
With it come iron (red), manganese (black-white), limonite (yellow-brown),
copper (pink-green), and other minerals.
As the water evaporates,these minerals leave streaks of color.
It's just beautiful.
Bad hair....but give us a break!! We were wrapping up a two hour boat ride
This is Grand Island, which was a very short boat ride from our campground.
We took our bikes over and biked (and walked) the 22 mile coastline of the island.
It looked flat from the campground, but kicked our butts....
We did make it all the way around....not sure how, but we did!!
Maybe we should have taken that "moderate to difficult" rating a little more serious!!
Points of the island looked very caribbean. It was just beautiful!!
Our only eagle sighting came on our bide ride around the island.
Breathtaking sunsets right from our campground
David, the master of the guitar, was trying to give Greg a little lesson on playing the ukulele.
David tried...but don't hold your breath for a campfire singalong with a ukulele.
STOP 4: Straits State Park in St. Ignace was right across the bridge from Mackinac Island. We stayed on the island one night (in a hotel) taking advantage of a couple nice bike rides and exploring the island. We also took a quick trip to Drummond Island which is a must stop if you are an avid off roader!! (We were hoping to rent one, but they were all rented by the time we got there.)
Great view of the Mackinac Bridge from our campground
View of The Grand Hotel coming in on the ferry.
The hotel has been entertaining guests since 1887.
The world longest porch at the Grand Hotel.
No autos allowed on the island; horses are the main mode of transportation.
Hobie and Greg chilling outside the hotel we stayed at--Mission Point.
Limited pet friendly options on Mackinac.
STOP 5: Quick exploration of Sleeping Bear Dunes while we stayed at Platte River Campground. Also explored the Traverse City area but definitely an place that we needed a few more weeks to explore.
One of us did the dune climb and one of us stayed in the truck and took a nap....
(see Taquanemenon hike for the answer!)
Trees growing in sand...Cool!!
First time we have seen this. An automated firewood selling station!!
Explored the Lake Leelanau peninsula and .....
like magic, we found a great Cidery--Tandem Ciders.
We also got to officially meet and spend some time with RV-Dreamers Jim and Diana Belisle.
They are from the area and were workamping close by,
so they were great at providing us with a long list of things to do!!
STOP 6: We split our time between Holland Motorhomes where we had a few things done to the coach and Holland State Park. Lots to do in this area, but we were hindered a bit with the repairs.
This is an actual working windmill at Windmill Island Gardens, a city run park/attraction. This mill became the last windmill allowed to leave the Netherlands in 1964 and is operated by the only female member of the Professional and Traditional Grain Millers Guild. Super cool!!
Street organ given to Holland in 1947 by the city of Amsterdam out of gratitude to the U.S. for its role in liberating the Netherlands in World War II
After Michigan--Elkhart!! Our planned coach renovations went as smoothly as renovations could go. But as with most projects we tackle, somehow they always start out small and end up big. It started to spin out of control when we hit an appliance snag during our Michigan route when our fridge decided that it only wanted to work sometimes and then a few stops later, our microwave/convection decided it didn’t want to work at all, so while both were unplanned, it just made sense to replace them (and replacement was partially covered under our extended warranty).
Of course, getting the microwave out required us to remove part of the backsplash, which ultimately meant chipping off and breaking backsplash tile, which then of course meant we needed a new backsplash and well, since we’re doing a new backsplash and since they couldn’t match our countertops for our new table configuration, we decided it made sense to replace the countertops while we could. The ultimate outcome is that we are happy with everything we did and while it was a lot more—both physically and financially—than we had planned, we are really pleased with the outcome and are enjoying the layout and functionality a lot more. We wrapped up the project a few weeks ago with new dining chairs so we’ll do a full blog post with pictures on the whole renovation process.
Hobie's not too sure about the renovations!!
One of the new couches being installed....
After Elkhart we had a very quick stop in Indianapolis where our paths crossed with our friends Bill and Kelly who had spent the summer in Alaska and they were on their way to Pennsylvania. We were glad the travel stars aligned even if it was only for an overnight stop.
Was great to spend a little time and share a campfire with Bill and Kelly!!
Indianapolis was followed by a few days of family time visiting with my grandma and aunt in Illinois and then on to Arkansas where our friends Pam and Red have their own “compound” where we got to spend a few days enjoying time with them and exploring the area a bit. They have purchased some land and have a barn on their property and they spend a few months out of the year hanging out there in their toyhauler. We really like how they have things set up and it got us talking about—and exploring the option of--possibly purchasing some land and replicating what they are doing. Stay tuned for more information on that as we explore some options….
Hanging out around the fire!
Putting our selfie stick to good use!!
Hot Springs was our last stop before we hit Texas and that was another place we really enjoyed. The town in its heyday was THE place people went to either get healed or pampered and the National Park does a great job preserving the history of the time period. We took advantage of both a modern day spa experience and a re-creation of a spa experience from the late 1800’s and have to say, we enjoyed the latter a whole lot more. I think it was a combination of nostalgia and the overall experience, but would highly recommend (putting modesty aside) a trip to the “original” spa.
While men and women are separated into two different areas, you do move from spa station to spa station wrapped in a sheet, and while the attendants do a nice job of trying to preserve privacy, you (or at least I did) feel a little exposed. (The original spa experience, for what you get is really inexpensive. We got a special package that included two different kind of baths, shower, steam wrap, sauna, 20 minute massage and paraffin hand dip for $74.00. Oh, and we got a souvenir loofa mitt as a bonus!!)
Bath House Row
A spa shower from yesteryear that is replicated in the spa experience.
As crazy as it looks, it felt great!!
After seeing a picture of this bathtub,
sure hope the one we used in the spa was a little cleaner!!
The Ohio Club home to a great burger, but back in the day,
it was quite the hangout for gangsters and all sorts of related gangster shenanigans.
And since Arkansas, we’ve been hanging out in Texas with family, bouncing between a few different parks, but mainly staying in the Canyon Lake area. Our friends Lee and Tracy had a workamping gig selling Christmas trees close by and it was nice that we got to some time with them and Greg has been keeping busy doing solar installs.
So, that wraps up our 2016 and we are anxiously looking forward to our adventures in 2017. We’re still finalizing our plans but we do know that our RV adventures will take us to the Coachella music festival in the spring and the Albuquerque Balloon Festival in the fall…. and hopefully many fun places in-between!
Thanks for following along and hopefully you’ll hear from us before June!!