Posts Tagged With: travel trailer

Travels With Minnie: Mackinac Island-A Life Without Cars

We caught an early ferry to explore Mackinac Island.

Charming Mackinac Island sits in Lake Huron, just off the east coast of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Established in 1895, it’s Michigan’s first state park and offers something for everyone…except car enthusiasts. The automobile ban began in 1898 and remains in effect today. Visitors see the park on foot, bike, horse or in one of the horse-drawn carriages or taxis.

Even trash collection is done with horse and wagon.
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Traveling With Minnie: A Superior Day

We arrived in Ishpeming, Michigan yesterday for a two-night stay on the U.P. That’s short for Upper Peninsula and the folks who live here proudly refer to themselves as Yoopers. Those unlucky enough to live in the lower part of the state below the Mackinac Bridge are, in good fun, referred to as trolls. Why? Well, because we all know that trolls live “under the bridge.”

Another beautiful campsite.

With a full day to fill Sunday, we drove east to the town of Marquette, located on the banks of Lake Superior, the largest of the five Great Lakes.

Gray clouds disappeared as we began our walk along the shoreline of Lake Superior.
Our goal was to walk out to and around Presque Isle Park, an oval-shaped peninsula seen in the distance above.

Tomorrow we will continue east and set up camp at Straits State Park on the north side of the Mackinac Bridge. I guess we’ll see for ourselves if there are any trolls under that bridge!

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Travels With Minnie: Miles and Miles to Minnesota

The restored 1918 barn houses the Wilde Prairie Winery tasting room near Brandon, South Dakota.

After our Nebraska Harvest Host experience, we popped back up into a corner of South Dakota for a night at Wilde Prairie Winery, another Harvest Host site.

The next morning we spent an endless day of driving into Minnesota, in part because I misdirected Reg down a narrow (paved) road with so many potholes and washboards that it took us a good hour complete the 20-mile “detour.” It wasn’t the only wrong turn of the day but I’ve got to say, Reg is getting really good at maneuvering the Minnie in tight spaces!

We arrived at Gull Lake Recreation Area, just outside Brainerd, Minnesota, for a three-night stay. As we settled into our oversized campsite, we silently thanked the Army Corp of Engineers for understanding what makes a great camping experience.

Tomorrow we leave this beautiful part of the country and continue east into Wisconsin, then down a part of the Michigan coast. We have a week of reservations ahead of us with relatively short drives…according to google maps. Google won’t let us down, will it?

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Travels With Minnie: Eastward

First stop with “Minnie” – Bordertown Casino and RV Resort outside of Reno.

The first day doesn’t count. It never feels like an adventure until the scenery opens up with a promise of the unknown ahead. While day 2 wasn’t new ground for us, it’s been six years since we’ve traveled along US Highway 50, otherwise known as “The Loneliest Road in America.” Last time we were driving our Prius and gas consumption was not a huge concern. Only two towns on the stretch between Fallon and Ely in Nevada (our destination) offer gas, and when one is towing a trailer, these things are important to remember. While Reg drove, confident we’d be fine, I appointed myself gas gauge monitor.

The highway follows the old mail carrying Pony Express route between Sacramento, California and St. Louis, Missouri. There are lots of pull offs with historical markers and the Nevada towns of Austin and Eureka still offer glimpses into the old west. We skipped the sightseeing this trip and simply enjoyed the scenery.

Surprisingly, Nevada is home to 300+/- mountain ranges.
This cloud rolling across the landscape looked like a massive tsunami.
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Back in Bend, Oregon

Our last minute plan to squeeze one more trip out of camping season landed us at this Glamp-Site in Bend, Oregon.

Friends Lan and Jeff stayed here (The Crown Villa RV Park) last month and provided good reviews, so we knew we’d be comfortable on our last outing of the season. Beggars can’t be choosers – especially when looking for 3 nights just one day in advance. This is a very nice RV park located inside the Bend city limits. We feel quite spoiled and are hardly roughing it.

We did get some good hiking in, so in spite of our pristine site, we managed get a little dusty. Shevlin Park was crowded on Sunday afternoon, but we found the last open parking spot and settled on a loop trail that took us on a 5-mile walk through the park canyon.

It was a nice warmup for the hike we did the following day. The 6-mile Matthieu Lakes loop trail is located off the beaten path outside of Sisters, Oregon.

Our destination was North Matthieu Lake (above) which was just shy of the turnaround point of our 6-mile hike.
We first walked through acres of burned forest. There is very little regrowth from the 2017 Milli Fire.

We passed several small ponds along the way. Although we were in shirtsleeves today, one pond was edged with ice, evidence of how low the nighttime temperatures drop this time of year.

Our first glimpse of North Matthieu Lake.

Following the trail around the lake, we found the perfect lunch spot.

We continued on to South Matthieu Lake, a smaller lake but every bit as pretty. This is where we intersected with the Pacific Crest Trail, turning back along the iconic path and returning to the trailhead.

Our return trip took us up high with views of ancient lava flows, a view of Mt. Washington, a bird’s eye view of our lunch spot and back through sections of fire damage. All in all, a great hike and a good end to camping season!

Categories: Oregon, Road Trips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

It’s About The Journey…Not The Destination

A little over 2 weeks ago we waved goodbye to friends Chris and Judy as we left our campsite near Bend, Oregon. We had 4 days to reach Sedona, Arizona where we had reservations for 2 weeks of hiking and biking among the red rocks.
Twenty minutes into the drive, Reg began lobbying for a change of plans. Temperatures were hovering in the 90s in Sedona…a little warm for outdoor activities. “We should go to Colorado,” he said. I put up a fight, but after a few more heated miles, we canceled our first week in Sedona. And so our journey began, and that’s how we ended up spending our first night here. If not for our change of plans, we would have missed this.

It was 6:00 pm, Reg had been driving since mid morning and I had called every RV Park I could find with no luck. Tired and frustrated, we spent a restless night at this Interstate Highway rest stop outside of Boise, Idaho, cooking hot dogs for dinner.

The following morning we cobbled together reservations for 3 more nights on the road and 5 nights in Ouray, Colorado. The plan was to then head down to Arizona and salvage the last week of our Sedona reservation.

We spent one night in the Brigham City, Utah KOA (Kampground of America chain of parks) and then 2 nights in the KOA in Grand Junction, Colorado, where, as you can see, Reg began to relax after a frantic three days.
Since Grand Junction wasn’t part of the plan, we weren’t sure how we’d fill our day until we discovered nearby Colorado National Monument. If not for our change of plans, we would have missed this.

There are plenty of spots to pull over and take in views of the canyon while twisting and turning along 23-mile Rim Rock Drive.

Then it was on to Ouray (pronounced You-Ray) Colorado and more surprises.

KOA campgrounds saved us on this trip. Our site for 5 days at the Ouray KOA was tucked up under the trees and alongside a creek.

We weren’t expecting a fall color trip, but were thrilled to see our first high altitude change of season. If not for our change of plans, we would have missed this.

Another National Park that was never on our radar was Black Canyon of the Gunnison. Not far from Ouray, we decided to make a day trip out of it. If not for our change of plans, we would have missed this.

A short hike along the Warner Point Nature Trail led us to a spectacular lunch spot.

We drove along the “Million Dollar Highway,” a 25 mile length of route US 550 between Ouray and the historical mining town of Silverton. The history of the name varies depending on the source. Some say it refers to the million dollar cost of building the road, others claim it refers to the amount of ore mined from the area. My favorite explanation tells the story of a traveler who was so overcome with vertigo that he insisted he would never travel the road again…even if he were paid a million dollars. The drive offers spectacular scenery including an overlook of what’s left of the Red Mountain Mining site where an historic silver boom took place from from 1882 a 1893. If not for our change of plans, we would have missed this.

The overlook offers a view of the old Train trestle and mining operation as well as informational boards with its history.

When it was time to leave Colorado the Arizona temperatures were just not cooling off. We made the decision to turn around and return home. Disappointing, but there was still more to see. Making the best of it, I snapped photos through the windshield as Reg battled some gusty winds. This really is a beautiful country. If we hadn’t changed our plans, we would have missed this.

While we never reached our destination, we still enjoyed a memorable journey…and for us, that’s what’s important!

Categories: Road Trips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Everyone Needs a Little Helper in Utah

It isn’t often that we post photos from towns we’ve stayed in, but we found the little town of Helper, Utah oozing with charm and we can’t wait to tell you about it! What was to be simply a roadside stop for the night as we traveled back into Utah turned out to be the biggest, nicest surprise of the trip.

Castle Gate RV Park gets our vote for best RV Park views of our trip.

To say we were pleasantly surprised by Castle Gate RV Park would be a gross understatement. Clean, tidy, uncrowded and practically brand new, the staff was friendly and helpful. We were happy as clams…then we walked into town.

Our first stop was this incredibly preserved old gas station.

Regular for .31 per gallon and premium/ethyl for .38 per gallon. Boy, those were the days!

We moved into the heart of town and the surprises kept on coming. Everywhere we looked were tributes to the town’s past.

“Big John” (the tallest coal miner in the world) celebrates the mining history of Helper, Utah.

This little gem of a town is located about halfway between Provo and Green River on Highway 6 in Utah. It’s well worth a stop to check out the rich railroad and mining history. In case you’re curious, the name Helper originated with the helper engines that, in days gone by, assisted trains making the steep 15-mile climb up Price Canyon.
What a treat is has been to have a little “Helper” today.

Categories: Road Trips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Along the Perimeter in Ouray, Colorado

Happy to find a sturdy bridge across the stream.

What better way to learn the lay of the land than to walk the perimeter…and that’s just what we did today in Ouray (pronounced You-Ray), Colorado.

Trail guides vary, listing the circular Perimeter Trail as 5 1/2 – 6 miles with 1,600 feet of elevation gain and loss. All promise spectacular views.

If you look closely, you can see the trail alongside the mountain.

The trail took us through tunnels, across numerous bridges and through some gorgeous fall color. There was a bit of climbing, mostly at the beginning and end. We chose to walk counter clockwise, saving our glimpse of the waterfall until the end.

We got a bird’s eye view of Ouray.
Lots of color.
It wasn’t much of a waterfall in October, but there was still a trickle spilling from high above.

All in all, this was a good days hike. By the time we reached our starting point we were hot and dirty and tired…but in a good way!

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Packing up the Trailer

We recently spent 3 days camping with friends at Oregon’s Humbug Mountain State Park. In addition to the laughter and incredible meals, Reg and I took the opportunity to get a little uphill practice with our backpacks. We will soon be lacing up our boots for another trekking adventure, and Humbug Mountain is uphill all the way…a good check to see if we’ve still got what it takes! We were rewarded with a surprise view at the top where recently removed trees and brush had previously hidden the coastline.

We continued south, stopping to stretch our legs at the Gold Beach Harbor where Reg proved you’re never too old to enjoy a jet boat ride. I also snapped a photo of what’s left of the historic Mary D. Hume. She was built in 1881, working the Pacific for 97 years before eventually returning to live her life out not far from where she was originally built.

Harris Beach State Park has been our home for the last 3 days. Always a favorite, this time it was a real test for Reg as he expertly backed into what must be the most narrow site in the entire park. We’ll soon head home, packing up the trailer for the last time this summer. It’s always a little sad, but more adventure awaits!

Categories: Oregon Coast | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Backroads Across America: RV Capital of the World

 

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Our wrong-turn destination has yielded another welcome surprise: Elkhart, Indiana is the recreational vehicle capital of the world. More than 80 percent of global RV production is based in this area, we have read.

Plus, it is home to the RV/Motor Home Hall of Fame Museum. That’s where we headed today, after a morning visit to a huge RV show next door.

Many of the features in modern RVs have been around for many decades, we could see. They were heavier and lacked the wide-screen TVs, but had the warmth and charm of yesteryear.

Above are a few of the treasures we found during our most enjoyable afternoon tour. The 1931 Model AA Tennessee Traveler has yellow pine floors and oak and yellow poplar cabinetry.  See the 1946 Teardrop? It was pulled by a 1930 Model A. Can you find the motor home built atop a Cadillac?

I am standing in the first Fleetwood trailer, a 1950 Sporter. The interior shot with tourquoise seats is a 1937 Hayes motor home, which featured a steel body and roof. Can you say heavy?

The weather may have threatened all day here today. But, we were warmed by the thought that yesterday’s craftmanship and charm are being preserved, right here in Indiana!

 

Categories: Backroads Across America | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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