We had a nice visit with our family in Washington and returned on July 25th Just in time for me to join a picnic of a veteran’s group I belong to, the 425th Regimental Association. Almost everyone there was wearing masks and/or maintaining a good social distance. You could tell the pandemic was having an impact. This event normally has around 150 people attending; this year was less than fifty.
We returned to Bad Axe, picked up our trailer, and said our good-byes and thanks to Geri and Marcia. The next stop was Traverse City State Park. State parks are sometimes a challenge for rigs of our size, but we were fortunate to reserve a site that was big enough and was easy to back our trailer into it. I had forgotten how crowded some of the older state parks can be, but everyone seemed to be practicing mask-wearing and social distancing.
There is a long “Rails to Trails” path that runs behind the campground and we used it for exercising and exploring. One should not visit the Traverse City area without visiting at least one winery. The local wineries had modified or closed their tasting rooms. We had toured the wineries on previous visits and decided one would be enough for this trip. We chose the Grand Traverse Winery. Masks were required and the number of people was limited with marks on the floor to maintain distance. Other than a Plexiglas shield at the counter and the server wearing a mask, it was a traditional tasting. We enjoyed many of the wines we sampled and purchased a bottle on our way out.
We went out to dinner on our last night in town. We found a delightful little restaurant that serves authentic pasties. It had been years since we had one and that made the choice of restaurants easy. The sidewalk dining was the icing on the cake.
On Friday, July 31st we left Traverse City and drove to Ludington, MI.
We were not able to get reservations at Ludington State Park, so we stayed at the Vacation Station RV Park. It is a nice park! Full hookups, back in and pull-through sites, cable TV, and Wi-Fi. The sites are nice and big with level concrete pads, a big change from the state park.
One of the first things we did on Saturday was to take our kayaks to Ludington State Park and kayak on Hamlin Lake. After paddling through the islands near the state park shoreline, we portaged our kayaks below the dam and paddled downstream to Lake Michigan (My dad always called it the “big lake.”) Both Traverse City and Ludington State Parks were very full. People are happy that the state park campgrounds are open again. Out in Lake Michigan, we could see the crowds on the beach in front of the beach house. The beach house was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1935 and has always been one of my favorite Ludington landmarks.
The next day we hiked to the Big Sable Point Lighthouse. This light was built in 1867 and was turned over to the State of Michigan by the Coast Guard in 1972 once the light was no longer needed. After a trail lunch on the beach, we hiked along the shoreline to the beach house. Another great day!
On Tuesday, August 4th we made the short drive to School Section Lake Veterans Park Campground. My sister, Susan, lives a short distance away in Canadian Lakes, a big-time golfing community. Seeing her was our primary reason for this stop. We met her at her place for dinner that night and caught up on all kinds of things. As my only sibling, she is special to us.
School Section Lake Veterans Park Campground is a nice place to stay. As with many county parks, they have a large number of seasonal campsites so we were happy we were able to get a good site. They have a large, open field in the center of the campground, which I like because it makes it easy to back into the sites on the perimeter. This is a historical campground as it is the site of a Negro settlement from back in the 1860s. Old Settler Reunions of the families of those early settlers began in the 1890s and have continued to the present. There is a nice swimming beach with rental canoes and kayaks as well as a concession building.
Susan came out to join us for dinner and we treated her to my “famous” BBQ Baby Back ribs. We had another great evening together and we walked around and down to the beach before she left.
Our last day in the campground was devoted to washing the trailer and cleaning out a clogged kitchen drain. When you live in your RV, daily life continues.
On Friday, August 7th we drove to Lansing, MI where we stayed at the Lansing Cottonwood Campground. Because we lived in the Lansing area until we began our full-time RV journey, we make stops here to see doctors and our financial advisor, as well as friends and our son, David.
This is one of our favorite campgrounds because it is so convenient to Lansing. It is located within the city limits on the south end of town. The Lansing River Trail is about a quarter-mile from the campground and will take you to almost anywhere you want to go in Lansing and East Lansing (Michigan State University).
Our son, David, still lives and works in the area and we were able to have him over for dinner, conversation, and table games several times. His big news was that he was moving to a new apartment. Of course, we offered our help and our truck to assist him in moving. He enlisted the help of many of his friends who showed up in force and with an enclosed trailer. The trailer was an essential piece of equipment as it was raining on the day he moved.
Our days were filled with exercising by walking or biking on the Lansing River Trail, appointments with our dentist and financial advisor, and generally practicing the “fine art of doing nothing.” It’s always interesting staying in a park for an extended period of time. We watched neighbors come and go and some of our neighbors had very unique circumstances. For example, one of our neighbors was a family having repairs done to the foundation of their home and moved into the campground to live in a tent, expecting to be there for a week or so. They ended up staying in the park for almost a month. Another of our neighbors was from Alaska, and working in the area for several months. Occasionally, many campers would come in for softball tournaments and we would watch them come and go from the ball diamonds.
We took a day to go kayaking on the Looking Glass River in DeWitt. The local communities have upgraded the kayak launches so it is much easier to launch and recover kayaks. The Looking Glass is a fun river to paddle. You are often paddling through residential areas and communities, but you are secluded enough that you feel like you are in northern Michigan. During the spring, the river is often so high that it overflows its banks and you can paddle through backyards and picnic shelters. However, in the late summer, we found it quite shallow in some spots and a bit of a challenge.
Late in our stay, I made a presentation of the history of Company F (RANGER), 425th Infantry to the Headquarters of the Michigan National Guard for their library. This was the unit I commanded in Pontiac, MI, and I was a co-author with COL Don Bugg, who had preceded me in command.
We were able to visit with several of our friends in the area, either meeting them for dinner or inviting them to join us in the campground. I worked with the management of the campground to do two folk music performances that we called “Music on the Lawn,” on the grassy area across from the office. It was fun and many of the campers enjoyed the performances. Shortly before we left, our neighbor from Alaska asked if we could play together on our guitars. It was a nice way to end our visit to Michigan.
On September 23rd we left Michigan and our next stop is Pennsylvania and the Flight 93 Memorial.
So funny, that we have lived in Michigan almost our entire lives and yet see new experiences like this all the time. So much to see, but never seen it.