Friday, November 25, 2016

Camping in November? Yes, please!

I can honestly say that I've never camped in November until this year. We were pleasantly surprised by the Michigan weather this fall and were able to squeeze out one last camping weekend. It was hard to find a campground open at this time of year, but luckily Sterling State Park in my hometown of Monroe, Michigan was still open for one more weekend.

We packed up and headed out right after work and arrived just in time to get situated on site 31 just before dark. There were about 40 other campers taking advantage of the great November weather. It was a little chilly at night, but nothing that the nice roaring fire couldn't help. On Saturday, we took a long walk on the beach followed by a bike ride along the paved path. We also visited with my parents since we were in town and my brother came out to the park and joined us for coffee on Saturday morning too. It was nice surprise although he got us out of bed....LOL!

I cannot believe that another camping season has come to a close! I will always say that we didn't get to camp enough, but this season seems like we really didn't. Now, the Pod is all winterized and packed away for another Michigan winter in the barn.  We are counting down the days until we hit the road next spring!

Site 31 at Sterling State Park in Monroe, MI.

We really needed this fire to keep
us toasty warm at night!

Lake Erie Love!

We couldn't ask for a more beautiful fall in Michigan!

Hoodies, bonfires and pretty leaves....oh my!

Jim and I took a very spur of the moment camping trip to Harrison Lake State Park in Fayette, Ohio the last weekend in October. It is very rare to have good camping weather in late October in Michigan, but we were fortunate to score a 70 degree day. We were surprised at how full the campground was, but I think everyone else had the same idea.

Harrison Lake is a short 40-minute drive from our home. The weather was perfect on Saturday as we enjoyed a 5-mile hike around the entire park. I could ramble on about the beauty of the area at this time of year, but I think my pictures would do a better job of that.

Ironically we were on site 113 which was the same site that
we camped on the last time we were here.

Fall in Ohio - just goregous!

I just love this time of year!

The spillway

The beauty that surrounded us!

This picture doesn't do the colors justice, but is still beautiful!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Fifth Annual Cousins Weekend

We started this annual Cousins Weekend back in 2012 and I'm so glad that we kept our tradition going now for five years in a row. I hope we can keep it going for at least another five years as family and time together is super important. We all get busy and have our own lives, but I think it is very important to take time out of our busy schedules and spend time with those that you love.

I want to recap the last five years of trips that we have made together just for my own memory's sake and to have a running list of the places we have been:
  • 2012 - Soaring Eagle Casino in Mount Pleasant, MI
  • 2013 - Camping at Muskegon State Park in Muskegon, MI
  • 2014 - Camping at Stafford County Park in Port Hope, MI
  • 2015 - Cottage weekend at Arend's on Little Gray Goose Lake in Jerome, MI
  • 2016 - Camping at Stafford County Park in Port Hope, MI
We liked Stafford County Park so much that we decided to make a return trip. It seems to be centrally located for most of us. It was one of the hottest and rainiest weekends of the summer but we didn't slow us down much. It was figure that the best day of the weekend was Sunday when we were packing up a leaving. 

We did have to check up on a very distance relative in Kinde, MI that owns and operates Heck's Bar. We stumbled across this bar the last time we were in the area and had to stop again. 

It doesn't matter where we go or what we do, it is always a great time to get together with my cousins!

The Cousins Compound - Sites 12, 13, 15, 16

The Cousins Compound
The Cousins

Cousin Laura, Kathy and Jimmy

Heck's Bar in Kinde, MI

Beautiful Lake Huron

Lake Huron

Sunshine and Whiskey

I think there's a country music song for just about anything in life. Sunshine and Whiskey by Frankie Ballard popped into my head when I reflect on the long weekend back in July at Chain O'Lakes State Park in Alboin.

Every year we plan a trip with our friends and this year we decided to try some place new. We have never been to Chain O' Lake State Park and so enjoyed our time there. The weather for the weekend was just perfect. Warm enough during the day for a swim in the lake and cool enough at night for a nice fire.

My friend Don introduced us to Bird Dog Chocolate Whiskey. I didn't think I was much of a whiskey drinker until I met the Bird Dog. We had a great day of "day drinking" (other country song by Little Big Town, I might add...see there really is a country song for everything!) and forgot about reality for a while.

The park was awesome. The campsites were roomy. The lake was warm. And the company was fantastic! Here's to over 20 plus years of friendship with this group and to making more camping memories together.

The Pod on site 367

Meet my new friend, Bird Dog

From left to right: Shelby Longnecker, Brooke Longnecker
and Don Grodi

From left to right: Don Grodi and Jim Longnecker

Jimmy - the fire starter

Monday, July 11, 2016

Pod People

From Interlochen State Park we made the journey seven miles down the road to attend the 2016 RPod Eastern Roundup (ERU) at Holiday Park Campground in Traverse City, Michigan. The rally didn't officially start until Thursday but we went a day early. We've tried to attend a couple of RPod rallies before, but it just didn't work. We were both really excited to be going to our first one.

So what is a RPod ERU? Well, it is a gathering of RPods and their owners that camp together, eat together, exchange travel stories and share modifications that they have done on their Pods. We have hardly done anything to our RPod, but did walk away with a lot to think about. 

Holiday Park Campground was by far the nicest campground we have EVER stayed in (and not to mention the most expensive). We had Wi-Fi at our campsite, so it was real convenient for me to do homework in the Pod. I believe this was only the second time we had water and sewer on site as well. 

People attended from Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Maryland, South Carolina, Iowa and even Canada. We met some of the greatest people here along with some of the cutest four-legged friends as well. Pod people have a common bond right from the start and there's always something to talk about. 

I thought I would share a great video from Travis that he took from the ERU . . .

Finally, here's the top three things that I learned from the ERU....

1. BOURBON is ment to be sipped and enjoyed, not chugged. Thanks to Mark for the education and samplings of bourbon. Hope to make it down to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail at some point!

2. PODLUCKS ARE THE BEST  - the first night of the rally we had a hot dog roast and everyone brought a dish to pass. Pod people know how to cook and put on a real good spread!


Holiday Park Campground - Traverse City, MI

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Where is your coffee cup?

Where is your coffee cup?
Most people know that not much stands between me and my morning coffee. It is my first stop every morning. Not only is it a necessity to get me moving (especially lately), I enjoy everything about it too.

On Tuesday morning at Interlochen State Park, we decided to have a rest day. We just chilled out all day at the campsite and enjoyed the scenery and nature around us. I did end up doing some reading for school, but that was about it. It was so nice to just chill for a change.

Here's my view, with my coffee cup. I believe we sat here until after noon just enjoying our coffee, each other and the crazy chipmunk that entertained us for hours.

Interlochen State Park was the first official state park in Michigan that was established in 1917. We were glad to check this one of our list. We were on site 385 which was on the banks of the lake. It was an extra-large site with lots of trees. Jim did a great job of navigating the Pod through the trees that offered the greatest view of the lake.  This site must have had a Yurt or Teepee on it at one point, as we also had a large dance floor at the far end of the campsite.

The first night we were there it got down to 48 degrees. The wind was sharp off the lake and I swear there was a wind chill. Only in Michigan, in June, do I need to pack shorts, hoodies and a coat! We connected with my family from Kalkaska, I spent quality time at the Interlochen library (thanks for the free wi-fi) and enjoyed some serious time around the fire ring. This was a great way to kick off our week of camping. Here's a few more photos of our campsite.

Interlochen State Park - Site 385

Smores, anyone?

Interlochen State Park - Site 385

Next stop — the 2016 RPod Eastern Roundup Rally (ERU) in Traverse City, MI...

Saturday, July 9, 2016

45 Minutes

I typically wouldn't make a post about a stop over night on a trip, but I just couldn't believe the customer service we received at Ionia State Park. Jim and I were heading to Traverse City for a week and I was already in Grand Rapids for a conference for work, so we decided to spend the night at Ionia. We have camped there before and knew the way around. I didn't want Jim to navigate Grand Rapids while towing the Pod, so this was much easier.

Ionia State Park - Site 69
We arrived 45 minutes before the check-in time to find a line of campers parked outside of the office. I went to check-in and the person at the desk was turning everyone away. In all my years of camping, I have never experienced this before. It is not like we were three hours early. We left the office and went down to the beach with the Pod in tow to wait for the official check-in time.

Once 3 pm arrived, we headed back to the office to find a mob of people all trying to check-in at the same time, with the same person in the office who just couldn't figure out where we were all there at the same time.  Duh!

Just wanted to send a word to the wise out to fellow travels. Pay attention to the check-in time if you are heading to Ionia State Park.  I didn't realize 45 minutes would make or break it.