Summer RoadTrip 2022: Part Ten – Sault Ste Marie and the Eastern Hiawatha National Forest

We continue driving east on the Upper Peninsula (UP) of Michigan exploring the coast of Lake Superior and the eastern Hiawatha National Forest. Taking notes and making tentative plans for our UP Michigan Tour slated for August 2023.

Our next stop is in Sault Ste. Marie. A place full of historic significance for the Great Lakes region. It is here in Sault Ste. Marie that locks were constructed connecting Lake Superior with Lake Huron and Lake Michigan making it possible for ships to pass through .

The bridge to Sault Ste. Marie.
The surrounding area of Sault Ste. Marie.
A tower near the Soo Locks is a great place to go for views of the locks and town. There’s a small but informative museum at the base of the tower.
Tower of History in Sault Ste. Marie.

Inside the tower there’s an elevator to the top observation deck.. There is a nominal fee to use the elevator. If you are feeling energetic, take the long stairs to the top for free.

Pics from the Top of the Tower of History

Sault Ste. Marie from the tower.
Sault Ste. Marie.
MaryAnn and Me at the top of the tower.
Video from the top of the tower.
Lake Superior.
Using a zoom lens from the tower.
Entrance to the Soo Locks. We went to the Tower of History and museum instead.
From the observation deck at the top of the tower.
Lake Huron from the tower.
Shipping that just passed through the locks.

Pics from the Road in the UP

After leaving Sault Ste. Marie, we back-tracked a little and drove back into the eastern side of the Hiawatha National Forest. Our next stop is a first-come-first serve national forest campground called “Soldier Lake.”

Entrance to Soldier Lake.
Video of our campsite.
Our campsite at Soldier Lake. Dry camping.
The sites are very large and private.
We unpacked the Komo rear storage and pulled out our kayak.
Here we are kayaking on Soldier Lake.
We are so glad we decided to add an inflatable kayak to our travel plans. It has given us another avenue of exploration.
Mackinac Bridge over the Straits of Mackinac.

Join us next time as we continue our exploration of the UP, making stops at Michigan’s Straits State Park and take a ferry to Mackinac Island. Until next time, safe travels everyone…

Summer RoadTrip 2022: Part Nine – Picture Rocks National Lakeshore and Tahquamenon Falls

Tahquamenon Falls. The water is brown because of the natural minerals (iron) in the water.

We continued our scouting tour of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan leaving Munising Falls and travelling east to Picture Rocks National Lakeshore. We decided to go the road less traveled and chose to camp in the Little Beaver Lake Campground which is part of the Picture Rocks National Lakeshore.

Munising Falls

Little Beaver Lake Campground is a hidden gem, literally. The dirt road leading us down through the steep hills of the national forest has so many sharp curves that the length of vehicles is limited to no more than 36 feet for motor homes and if towing a trailer, the length cannot exceed 42 feet.

Since our Leisure Travel Van (LTV) is only 25 feet 1 inch long, we didn’t have any difficulty navigating the road down to Little Beaver Lake. Our campsite was located right on the shoreline of the lake.

Pics From The Road In The UP From Munising To Picture Rocks National Lakeshore

Typical road in the national forest.
I love this picture!
The road seems to go on forever.
No big rigs aloud! Not for the faint of heart either.
It won’t be long now, just three more miles down this steep winding dirt road.
Our campsite at Little Beaver Lake.
Campsites were far apart but not for big rigs.
We were the only motor home in this small campground. Only 10-12 sites and the tent campers looked shocked to see us there. No hookups, dry camping only $11.50 per night and reservations must be made online.
Our campsite was on the shoreline of Little Beaver Lake.

Even though we were now in the middle of July it was still quite chilly with day temps only getting to the low seventies and over night temps were in the upper forties, (fahrenheit). Also a thick fog would come into the campground every night, so thick it significantly reduced visibility and made it feel a little scary. Made us think about the buggy man and we were glad we weren’t in a tent. We felt warm, safe and dry in our LTV.

We hiked to 12 mile beach in Picture Rocks National Lakeshore.

There were hiking trails there at Little Beaver Lake and “short” (MaryAnn’s definition of short is different than mine) walking distance to the beach along the shores of Lake Superior. Once we were settled into our campsite, which doesn’t take long when you are dry camping, we started out on a hike to Lake Superior.

The trail took us along some very high cliffs and some caves. This cave opening looked large enough to house Big Foot, if he really does exist…

MaryAnn is approaching one of the many cliffs. This gives you an idea of how massive these rock formations are.
Potential home of Big Foot?
Hello, anybody home?
MaryAnn in front of one of the caves along the trail. Yes, it’s a little chilly and there are mosquitoes!
Massive rocks along the trail and heavily wooded.
MaryAnn is a fast walker!
Large trees were growing on top of the boulders.
MaryAnn loves to go on hikes, so she is very happy right now.
More large rocks with trees growing on top of them.
We made it to Lake Superior!
We were advised by fellow campers not to venture out onto the beach because bitting sand flies would come up from the sand and swarm all over you. So we took their advise and just looked from the edge of the beach.
Here we are on the shores of Lake Superior! Trying to defend ourselves from the mosquitoes and biting flies!
The road to Tahquamenon Falls.
The road goes on seemingly forever through the national forest.
The entrance to one of two campgrounds at Tahquamenon Falls.
Tahquamenon River. Water is naturally brown because of the iron in the water.
Our campsite at Rivermouth Campground in Tahquamenon Falls State Park. MaryAnn enjoying a nice warm fire on a chilly night in July.
The campsite was large enough, however, many of the nearby campers have not learned proper camping etiquette. They continually broke the number one rule, “don’t walk through other peoples campsite”.
Tahquamenon River.
One of many water falls at Tahquamenon Falls.
There were boardwalks throughout the Lower Falls area making the walking quite easy. MaryAnn and the Traveling Pups.
MaryAnn is always smiling when she gets to go on a hike or walk. It’s one of her favorite things to do when we are traveling.

Pics From Around The Lower Falls On Tahquamenon River

MaryAnn and the Traveling Pups.
Video of some of the water falls.
The Traveling Pups are best friends.
Video of more of the falls.
The Lower Falls on the Tahquamenon River.

There are two areas to visit here at Tahquamenon Falls State Park, the Lower Falls and the Upper Falls. The Upper Falls are the most popular and hardest to get to because of the crowds of people. So we decided to save the Upper Falls for next years LTV caravan tour.

In fact we decided to save the rest of Picture Rocks National Lakeshore for our 2023 UP Michigan LTV Tour as well. We need to have something to look forward to and to keep some of the mystery and adventure for next year.

On our next post we take a day trip to Sault Saint Marie and then go back into the Hiawatha National Forest (This time to the east side.) Thanks for coming along on our scouting adventure of the UP. Until next time, safe journey my friends…

Summer RoadTrip 2022: Part Eight – Marquette, Kitch-Iti-Kipi and Munising, Michigan

MaryAnn and me Kayaking on the Camp 7 Lake in the Hiawatha National Forest.

In part eight of our summer roadtrip the adventure continues from the Porcupine Mountains in western Upper Peninsula (UP) of Michigan as we travel east to the city of Marquette. We camped for three nights at Tourist Park, a campground owned and operated by the city of Marquette. The campground was roomy with full services and is very well maintained. The staff are friendly and professional, I would give Marquette Tourist Park a 5 out of 5 star rating, we would definitely come back.

Marquette is a great place to ride bikes which we did a lot there. We rode our bikes downtown and found a great pizza restaurant called “Third Coast Pizza” and for desert we went about a half block up to an awesome bakery called “Baby Cakes”. The bakery has amazing pastries (including gluten free and sugar free). Come along as we explore Marquette and then travel deep into the Hiawatha National Forest and beyond…

Pics from the Road in the UP

The entrance to Tourist Park in Marquette.
Our campsite at Tourist Park.
The RV sites were roomy and offered full service hookups. There are other options as well, everything from just electric/water hookups to tents only.

Tourist Park is convienently located near downtown, but isolated enough to give that camping vibe. Paved bike trails lead directly into town and beyond.

A water fall enroute to Presque Isle on the outskirts of Marquette. An easy bike ride from our campground.
MaryAnn in her bike gear.
Here we are at Presque Isle near Marquette.
Shipping at Marquette on Lake Superior.
A beacon in Marquette harbor.
MaryAnn on one of the bike trails in Marquette.
Views of Lake Superior from the Marquette bike trails.
Picture of the shoreline of Lake Superior from the Marquette bike trails.
From the Marquette bike trail (hard to see) is a rail system going out into the harbor delivering coal to ships.
Shoreline on Presque Isle in Marquette.
These signs selling “Pasties” were along the roads in the UP in every town and city. Someone should rethink what they call these things, the first thing I thought of had nothing to do with pastries…
Here it is! A sample of the infamous pasties!
Meat and various other things inside including potatoes.

Pasties have a cultural history of the UP dating back to the copper mining days. The wives would make these pasties with meat and potatoes and send them with their husbands into the mines to eat for lunch and dinner. Since then these pasties as they were affectionately called, have become a delicacy here in the UP. You haven’t been to the UP unless you have eaten a Pasty.

From Marquette we drove deep into the Hiawatha National Forest. MaryAnn and I prefer to be unplugged from electric and water hookups and camped in the wilderness far from the crowds. The fourth of July was approaching and we were hoping to avoid the noise of fireworks as well.

Since our Leisure Travel Van is completely self sufficient with solar, a diesel generator and lithium batteries and a full size bathroom (a “dry bath” for you RVers out there) we have no problem camping in the national forests, we make a point to be unplugged and in the national forests around the country whenever possible.

The road into the Hiawatha National Forest.
The road into the Hiawatha National Forest.
The entrance to our campground.

There a literally thousnds of campgrounds in the national forests around the country to chose from, we use a phone app called, “Campendium” to find the ones near us. In the UP there are so many campgrounds to chose from in the two national forests, the Ottawa in the west and the Hiawatha in the east, making it a little overwhelming trying to decide which campground to camp in, we look for campgrounds that don’t require reservations (first come – first serve).

The road to our campground.
Like most campsites in the national forests the sites are huge.
We planned to spend the Fourth of July weekend here in peace and quite.
We will do a little bike riding and kayaking here on a nearby lake, a very short walk from our campsite.
There are 41 campsites at Camp 7 Lake campground situated along the shores of a small lake.
Kayaking at Camp 7 Lake in the Hiawatha National Forest.
MaryAnn insisted we all needed to go on a short hike through the woods to see another nearby lake. She said it was less than a mile away. Four miles latter we were still hiking!
It wasn’t cold. I was trying to protect myself from the ferocious mosquitoes!
She just kept pressing on through the woods dragging us every step of the way, in spite my complaining. Poor Peeta was literally being dragged by his leash, MaryAnn would not be deterred!
MaryAnn and the Traveling Pups in the Hiawatha National Forest. Much of the trail to and around the lake looked like this picture.
Camp 7 Lake.

By the way, we didn’t get a nice quite Fourth of July. Some locals came by the campground and treated us to some fireworks, there was even a parade with candy being thrown out to each campsite and people dressed up like farm animals singing the song, “Farmer in the Dale”! Don’t ask me, I haven’t a clue what “Farmer in the Dale” has to do with the 4th of July.

Kitch-Iti-Kipi is the largest freshwater spring in Michigan and everyone must come here to see it before they die, just saying.

After Camp 7 Lake, we drove about 20 minutes to Kitch-Iti-Kipi – a fresh water spring in the Hiawatha National Forest. The name is Ojibwa, one of the native tribes in this region when the Europeans arrived and it means, “The Great Water, or “The Blue Sky I See, or “The Roaring Bubbling Spring”. Your guess is as good as mine.

It’s not cold, although it was raining, just trying to protect ourselves from the mosquitoes.
The raft that takes people out on the freshwater spring at Kitch-Iti-Kipi.
The water is crystal clear and this fish are huge! Sorry, no fishing is permitted.

After Leaving Kitch-Iti-Kipi, we drove back into civilization to the town of Munising, UP on the shores of Lake Superior. Without reservations, we camped in the overflow area, but still had electric and water hookups. We arrived on the Fourth of July and were treated to a parade and July 4th celebrations down at the harbor.

Our campsite at Munising Tourist Park. Not as good as the Marquette Tourist Park, but I would give it 4 out of 5 stars.
The local 4th of July parade in Munising.
Munising 4th of July parade. Yes, it was raining, but a little rain never hurt anyone.
Munising Harbor on Lake Superior.
I got to meet Big Foot while we were in Munising! He graciously allowed me to take a picture of us together.
MaryAnn and me at the Munising 4th of July celebration.

After our visit in Munising, we continued east through the UP stopping at the Munising Falls for a photo shoot. Our next stop will be in the Picture Rocks National Lakeshore.

MaryAnn and the Traveling Pups on the trail to Munising Falls.
Munising Falls.
A better perspective of Munising Falls.
MaryAnn, me and the Traveling Pups, Peeta (dark ears) Luna (blonde ears). At Munising Falls.

Marquette, Hiawatha National Forest and Munising are definitely highlights on our summer roadtrip 2022. Next time we will explore some of Picture Rocks National Lakeshore. Be sure to tune in as our epic adventure in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula continues…

Summer RoadTrip 2022: Part Seven – Copper Harbor and the Porcupine Mountains

Lake of The Clouds, Porcupine Mountains.

Our first stop in the Upper Peninsula (UP) of Michigan was at Copper Harbor. Named after the rush to mine the large deposits of copper in the area. The copper is long gone, but the history and scenic views remain. Come along as we explore Copper Harbor and near by Porcupine Mountains…

Only Ohio and Indiana are left and we will complete our goal to visit all of the States of the Union with our tiny house! It’s taken us 5 years and 89,000 miles to do it, but we will complete this goal on this roadtrip.

Pics from the road in the Upper Peninsula (UP) of Michigan

Quincy Mine is a national historic site and has underground tours.
Our first stop in the Upper Peninsula (UP)
I know, who came up with the name for this place right! Well the campground is named after the lake and it’s been called ‘Fanny Hooe’ for hundreds of years.
Our campsite here in Copper Harbor. Someone thought this out real well and put the electric and water hookups as far away as possible. I had to use extra hose and thirty amp extension cords to reach. I covered the connections to keep the rain out and it did rain while we were there.
Our campsite at Fanny Hooe. The mosquitoes were terrible here.
The sites were large and far enough apart from other campers.
Covered our ebikes to protect them from the rain.

Historic Fort Wilkins at Copper Harbor

Fort Wilkins Historic State Park is home to the remains of a mid-1800s fort built to control the native population in the area while miners mined for the copper ore here in the UP.

We liked the state park a lot and when we return here next year we plan to stay here at Fort Wilkins Historic State Park. We would have stayed here this time, but the website indicated they were full. We rode our bikes over to this park from Fanny Hooe to explore it instead.

MaryAnn and I rode our bikes to the state park, hence the reason we have our bike gear on in these pictures.
MaryAnn checking out the ovens the bakers used in the 1800’s.
Fort Wilkins is worth a stop to get an understanding of this area and the history here in the UP.
Blacksmith shop at Fort Wilkins.
Fort Wilkins.
We continued our bike riding throughout the area of Copper Harbor. In the background is the lighthouse built in the 1800’s.
A closer look at the lighthouse at Copper Harbor.
Specs on Lake Superior.

Pics from the Road in the UP

Draw bridge

Porcupine Mountains

Our campsite at Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. MaryAnn, the Traveling Pups and our Leisure Travel Van, Unity FX.
Our campsite was large. Only electric, no water hookups.
If you are going to come to the UP I recommend investing in a Non-resident Michigan state park pass, unless you don’t plan on staying at or visiting any of the state parks in Michigan. If you don’t stay at any Michigan state parks you will be missing out on a lot. Just saying.
Sunset at Lake Superior in the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. This picture was taken by MaryAnn.
Lake of the Clouds in the Porcupine Mountains.
Video of Lake of the Clouds.
MaryAnn enjoying the Lake of the Clouds.
Forest at Lake of the Clouds.
Thick forest in the Porcupine Mountains.
MaryAnn on the boardwalk to the Lake of the Clouds.
Forest at Lake of the Clouds.
Here we are at Lake of the Clouds in the UP! This is one of the places on my list.
MaryAnn
MaryAnn at Lake of the Clouds.
The road through the Porcupine Mountains.
Our next stop in the Porcupine Mountains.
MaryAnn and the Traveling Pups going down another boardwalk. This one at Presque Isle had a lot of steps but the pups did great!
A long way down!
Don’t have a clue what she is pointing at.
Video at Presque Isle.
Presque Isle
A lot of swimmers here at Presque Isle.
MaryAnn liked Lake of the Clouds and the Porcupine Mountains as much as I did, we want to come back.

We invite you to join us as we continue our summer adventure 2022, exploring the UP of Michigan. Next time we head for one of the many highlights of this trip in Marquette…

Summer Roadtrip 2022: Part Six – Wisconsin

On this part of our summer roadtrip 2022, we begin scouting out Wisconsin and then the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for our next Leisure Travel Van (LTV) Caravan Tour slated for 2023. We led a tour of southern Arizona in 2021 and we just ended a tour of Idaho in June of 2022. Now we’re planing to lead a caravan tour of 12 LTVs through the Upper Peninsula (UP) of Michigan in August 2023.

Swamp lands on the Mississippi River.

The UP caravan tour, like the Arizona and Idaho tours, will be advertised by the Southwest Roadrunners LTV Travel Club, We are currently in the process of finalizing the itinerary for the UP tour.

The bridge crossing over the Mississippi River into Wisconsin from Minnesota .

We arrived on the banks of the Mississippi River, near Fountain City, Wisconsin and decided to spend the night at a Wisconsin state park called Merrick State Park. We thought the Wisconsin state parks would be cheaper than staying at a private park, but because of an $11 non-state residence fee per night, we actually paid the same amount as we would have at a private RV park. Plus Wisconsin state parks don’t have water or sewer hookups at the campsites, they only have electric at the campsites.

At this point in our summer roadtrip we only have 3 states to visit to complete our goal of seeing every state in the Union with our LTV.

Pics from the Road to Merrick State Park, Wisconsin

Mississippi River
Mississippi River
The entrance to Merrick State Park
Our campsite for the night.

Can’t see them in this picture, but this state park is swarming with mosquitoes! We had to spend a good part of our stay here sequestered inside our tiny house. Between the mosquitoes, gnats and biting flies we were completely out number and over whelmed!

Electric only campsites at Merrick and all Wisconsin state parks.
Merrick State Park is situated on he banks of the Mississippi River and has a convenient boat ramp should anyone like to go boating or fishing.
The campsites are spacious here at Merrick.
We arrived at Merrick State Park during the Painted turtle egg laying season.
These Painted turtles were everywhere laying eggs. Some eggs had already hatched and very tiny baby turtles where out exploring the campground.

During our night at Merrick State Park we decided to change our plans to go to Duluth, Minnesota. We saw on the map an interesting area in northern Wisconsin called, “Apostle Islands” on the shoreline of Lake Superior that looked interesting and it’s part of the National Lakeshore. Duluth will just have to wait for another trip at another time.

Pics from the Road to the Apostle Islands, Wisconsin

Lake Superior
Lake Superior and the Apostle Islands.
Entrance to our first campground in the Apostle Islands area.
In all the campgrounds and RV parks we have ever camped in, including Alaska and Canada, this was the first time we had to pay extra for our traveling pups. $3 per dog in order to stay here. They only had space available for one night so we had to move to another campground the next day.
Madeline Island, one of 22 islands that make up the Apostle Islands, Wisconsin on Lake Supereior.
We stopped here to get our national parks passport stamped.
Our second campground in the Apostle Islands area.
Our campsite in Bayfield, Wisconsin. We were camped right on the shores of Lake Superior across form one of the twenty-two Apostle Islands.
Front view of our campsite.

Views from our campsite on the shores of Lake Superior, Apostle Islands

MaryAnn and the Traveling Pups at our campsite.
It looks closer than it really is, I was using a zoom lens.
See, the island and boat are much further away.
Zoom lens again.
On our first full day in the Apostle Islands we rode our ebikes to a local ferry and explored nearby Madeline Island, part of the National Lakeshore. We wear the orange vests to alert drivers of our presence on the roads while we are riding our bikes.
MaryAnn (front center) with our ebikes on the ferry to Madeline Island.
Pics from the ferry to one of the Apostle Islands, Madeline Island that’s part of the National Lakeshore.
A point of interest at Big Bay State Park, Madeline Island.
Barrier Beach., Big Bay State Park
Big Bay Point, Big Bay State Park
Big Bay Point at Big Bay State Park.
MaryAnn at Big Bay Point.
Big Bay State Park.
Returning to the mainland of Wisconsin.
Sunset on Lake Superior.
Sunset on Lake Superior.
Our tiny house on Lake Superior at sunset.
Our cruise ship tour of the 22 Apostle Islands day trip from Bayfield.
We started in short sleeve shirts but not very far out on Lake Superior we put on our jackets. The water was only 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Pics from Our Cruise Tour of the Apostle Islands

Light house on Devil’s Island, one of the 22 Islands of the Apostle Islands Archipelago.
Second Lighthouse in the Apostle Islands.
Eagle’s nest with chick and Mother Eagle just above it, Devil’s Island.
Devil’s Island gets its name from the weird sound the wind and waves make as they move through these sea caves.
Kayakers at Devil’s Island.
Short video usurp from our cruise tour.
Sea caves on Devil’s Island.
Devil’s Island.
Devil’s Island.
Devil’s Island.
Fishing is the big attraction here in the Apostle Islands.
There are 22 Islands in the Apostle Islands Archipelago.
Many Kayakers in the Apostle Islands.
Bayfield, Wisconsin from the cruise ship.
Bayfield.
Wearing jackets because the water temperature in Lake Superior is 40 degrees and the air temperature isn’t much higher than that, especially when the wind is blowing, which happens a lot.

We decided there’s so much to see and do here in the Apostle Islands that this place will be our rendezvous for the beginning of our UP Michigan Tour in 2023.

In the Next post we continue our exploration for next years UP tour in Copper Harbor, Michigan…

Summer Road Trip 2022: Part Five – South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa

From left: MaryAnn, Paula, Paulette, Danny; Back row from left: Me, Nathan.

Before we left Devil’s Tower, we took a group picture of our mini caravan travelers. Then we continued our summer roadtrip to South Dakota and Mount Rushmore.

Nothing like the open road.

Pics from the Road

Entrance to Mount Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota.

Gutzon Borglum is the artist who carved the images of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln on Mount Rushmore. But do you know the history of one of the other carvings Gutzon Borglum has done?

Here’s a usurp from one of my earlier post, “I’ve Got Georgia on My Mind, Part Five – Stone Mountain” – “It was the bust of Lincoln that prompted Helen Plane, President of United Daughters of the Confederacy, to contact Gutzon Borglum (the same man who would later carve the images of Mount Rushmore) about the Possibility of doing a head of Robert E. lee on the side of Stone Mountain in Georgia. He agreed to visit the site in 1915 but upon seeing the size of the place he said, “Ladies, the head of Lee on the side of that mountain would look like a postage stamp on a barn door!” Having thus crushed their dream, he proceeded to give them a new one –a large group featuring Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and Jefferson Davis on horseback followed by a column of soldiers. Because of World War I, work at Stone Mountain did not begin until 1923. Carving was limited to jackhammers and chisels until a visiting Belgian engineer taught Borglum the use of dynamite for precise work. The head of Lee was unveiled in 1924. Soldiers in the audience who served with the Confederate leader were moved to tears by the likeness.

However, trouble had been brewing between Borglum and the businessmen directing the project, and Borglum was abruptly dismissed. He destroyed his models in order to protect his design and this so angered the directors that a warrant was issued for his arrest and he was forced to flee Georgia. Augustus Lukeman is hired to replace Borglum and Borglum’s head of Lee was removed. In fact, none of Borglum’s work survived when the carving was finally finished in 1970.”

Just an interesting back story of the man who carved Mount Rushmore.

The flags of all the states of the Union line the walk way to Mount Rushmore.
We live in Arizona!
I grew up in Ohio!
Another group photo, this time at Mount Rushmore. By now you should know who everybody is in our group. Don’t know who that is standing behind us.
One last photo at Mount Rushmore.

Pics from the Road

Who called this meeting anyway?
Looks like a good place for my monument.
A moose on the side of the road!
This dear has a tracking caller on it.
Entrance to Wind Cave National Park.
Prairie Dog at Wind Cave.

After leaving Mount Rushmore we stopped for the night at Wind Cave National Park. Situated just south of Mount Rushmore, the park is a must for every explorer. We have yet to see the cave do to lack of time and the fact that there are a lot of steps leading down into the cave and of course a lot of steps coming back up out of the cave. Because of health challenges we decided to continue down the road.

Camping at Wind Cave Campground. Very large sites so that we could park together.
Our tiny house at Wind Cave National Park.

More Pics from the Road

Mitchell, South Dakota. Bette’s RV Park. Our last night together.

Our mini caravan tour ended just west of Sioux Falls, South Dakota in the town of Mitchell. From here Nathan and Paula will go to Sioux Falls to visit a friend for a few days and then they will head out on their own to Wisconsin and parts of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and then on to Indiana to attend a wedding.

Danny and Paulette head east on a fast track to Massachusetts to attend a funeral. While we will continue on to Iowa then Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts.

We parted with a word of prayer and then continued our summer roadtrip alone for the first time since we left home in Arizona almost two months ago. It was strange to be on our own again and seemed kind of scary with no one talking to us on the radio and no one to share our adventures. But, we did continue texting each other as our roads got further and further apart.

Pics from the Road

Wow! This guy has been out here for a long time!
Remember it’s a dry heat!

Visiting Minnesota and Iowa means we now only have Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana and Ohio in order to fulfill our goal of visiting every state of the Union, except Hawaii of course, with our Leisure Travel Van! It’s taken us about 4 and a half years and over 80,000 miles to do it!

We didn’t spend a lot of time in Minnesota. Once we discovered Minnesota has a state law that all gas stations must sell bio-diesel. Also, no one could tell us exactly how much the percentage of bio-diesel was at the pumps, the sign says, “5-20% bio-diesel.” Our Mercedes engine can only handle 5%, any more than that is not good for our engine and we would need to change the oil as soon as possible after using 20% bio-diesel since it will thin out the oil. So we left Minnesota as soon as possible.

The entrance to our campground in Iowa.
The view from our campsite at Spirit Lake.
Our campsite at Spirit Lake, Iowa.
Luna, one of the Traveling Pups and in the back ground, our e-bikes.
Part of Spirit Lake from one of the bike trails.
The bike trails at Spirit Lake were awesome!
One of the docks onto Spirit Lake from the bike trail.
We road our bikes for twenty miles on the bike trails here at Spirit Lake.

The bike trails were great here at Spirit Lake. The trails made it easy to explore the area and visit the nearby communities. We road our bikes every day for about twenty miles a day. E-bikes of course.

The road of life continues on…

The road of life continues on through ups and downs, twists and turns. We don’t know what is waiting for us over the next ridge and there’s no way to be prepared for every possibility, good or bad the road never stops and there is no way we can prevent what happens next.

Fortunately there is someone ready to carry us over the mountains and through the valleys that the road of life may bring us. That someone is Jesus Christ. Only call upon His name in both the good, bad and terrible and Jesus will lift us up and carry us.

Next time the road takes us to Wisconsin. Where we battle mosquitoes along the banks of the Mississippi River and camp on the shores of Lake Superior. Until next time may the peace of Jesus Christ that passes all understanding be with you….

Summer Road Trip 2022: Part Four – Cody, Wyoming and Devil’s Tower

Devil’s Tower, Wyoming

We decided to leave Yellowstone behind and continue our caravan tour driving east from the Gallatin National Forest in western Montana. Our next stop would be Cody, Wyoming. What is there to do in Cody? Plenty! Everything from river rafting to museum exploring along with dinner, a concert and the longest running rodeo in the world.

We parked our Leisure Travel Vans (LTV) at Ponderosa RV Park in Cody. The rv park is conveniently located within walking distance of the best museum I have ever explored and I have explored a lot of museums.

Ponderosa RV Park, Cody, Wyoming From left: Nathan and Paula’s Leisure Travel Van (LTV) Unity Murphy Bed (MB), Our LTV Unity FLEX (FX), and Danny and Paulette’s LTV Unity FX.
Buffalo Bill and Museum of the West, Cody, Wyoming.

The Buffalo Bill Center of the West is a must see the next time your in Wyoming. It’s actually five museums in one and in order to see everything there allow at least one to two days, perhaps three, especially if you like to read and see everything.

MaryAnn, me and Buffalo Bill Cody.

Cody, named after Buffalo Bill Cody a historical icon of the Wild West, has a lot to offer anyone interested in learning more about how the West was won and tamed.

Dinner, Country Music concert and Rodeo in Cody, Wyoming. From Left: Danny, Paulette, MaryAnn and me.

The Cody Cattle Company offers a great deal on dinner (Old West Style), a country music concert and a rodeo all together on the same night. A van came to the rv park to pick us up and transport us to all the festivities. First up is an all-you-can-eat country western style dinner and concert. After the concert the van then transported us to the longest running rodeo in the world. After the rodeo the van takes people back to the rv park. A great night of entertainment. If you don’t like rodeos there’s a ticket that doesn’t include the rodeo and the van will bring you back to the rv park after the dinner/concert.

After a great weekend in Cody we continued driving east. Our next stop will be Devil’s Tower National Monument in eastern Wyoming. About 20 miles south of Devil’s Tower the skies started to blacken and look very ominous and foreboding. Then weather alerts sounded on all our cell phones that a tornado had been sighted in our area and we should find shelter immediately.

A tornado was seen on the ground approaching our location.
We became storm chasers that day. Or was the storm chasing us! We could actually see the clouds spinning in the sky!
We decided to turn around a drive south out of the danger zone.
But it seemed as though the tornado was following us.
We headed for the small town of Moorcroft, Wyoming where we parked our LTVs behind a school and took shelter in a breezeway of the school for protection from the storm.

Sirens were sounding the alarm and loudspeakers were giving the town of Moorcroft instructions to seek shelter immediately. The voice over the loudspeaker said a confirmed tornado had been sighted on the ground just northwest of town.

We were praying for protection from the storm and the Lord Jesus was faithful in keeping us safe. There aren’t any atheist in foxholes when the bombs are falling all around.

It was a scary experience, but in the end the tornado missed us and eventually the danger passed so that we could drive further east and stop for the night in Sundance, Wyoming.

Video escaping the Tornado.
RV park in Sundance, Wyoming where we spent the night after the tornado passed. We saw a lot of hail damage to cars in the area. Broken windshields and huge dents from baseball size hail.
The next day the skies still looked threatening.
The road to Devil’s Tower.

Devil’s Tower National Monument

We were determined to get to Devil’s Tower so the next day we drove north from Sundance to Devil’s Tower. As we approached the tower from the south the tower became visible from a long distance away.

Devil’s Tower is the site of the movie, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” 1977. Actually, the film crew for the movie only spent a few minutes filming here for the movie and they were never at the top of the tower as indicated in the movie.

Devil’s Tower dominates the landscape.
Getting closer.
Getting closer to the tower.
Getting closer.
Devil’s Tower National Monument, Wyoming.
MaryAnn and Paulette hiking around the base of the tower.

Nathan, Paula, MaryAnn and Paulette hiked around the base of the tower. Danny and me sat on a bench at the visitors center and waited for their return.

The rocks around the base of the tower are huge! MaryAnn at the base of the tower.
MaryAnn looks tiny next to the boulders around the tower.
The top of the tower as seen from the base.
As seen from the base.
Can you see the people climbing the tower? They’er about a third of the way up the side of Devil’s Tower. A permit must be obtained from the park to climb the tower.
The views base of the tower of the surrounding area.

In our next post we continue our summer road trip 2022 driving east to South Dakota, Mount Rushmore and beyond. Come along as our road trip adventure continues…

Summer Road Trip 2022: Part Three – Grand Teton National Park & Yellowstone

The three amigos! Leisure Travel Vans, Unity.

Immediately following the Leisure Travel Van (LTV) Caravan Tour of Idaho 2022 we started part three of our summer road trip with two other LTV couples. On this part of our summer adventure we head for the Grand Teton National Park and then on to Yellowstone. Along the way we have the privilege of seeing more wildlife then I think we saw on our entire caravan through the Maritimes in 2019, a 7 month journey from our home in southern Arizona.

Center: MaryAnn; From left: Paulette, me, Danny; Second row from left: Nathan and Paula.

A much smaller caravan this time with plans to explore as many of the national parks as we can on our way to scout out the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for our next caravan tour in 2023.

Since we purchased our LTV in September 2017 we set a goal for ourselves to visit every state in the Union with our LTV. In 4 1/2 years of ownership (soon to be 5) and over 80,000 miles, we have only 7 states left to visit: Hawaii (of course), Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana and Ohio. We intend to fulfill this goal on this trip through the mid-west. Obviously we won’t be taking our LTV to Hawaii – we had to get on a plane in order to check it off the list.

Pics from the Road – American Falls, Idaho to The Grand Teton National Park

We stopped to stretch our legs in route to Grand Teton National Park. From left: Paula, Nathan, and MaryAnn.
Saw this juvenile moose running across a farm field in eastern Idaho. He looked confused and was definitely out of place.

Grand Teton National Park

The Grand Teton National Park is one of our favorite of the national parks. We were here last year and back again this year, looking at these majestic giants never gets old for us.

Moose along the road in the Grand Teton National Park.
Our campsite here at one of the many campgrounds either in or just outside the park.

If you plan to camp inside the park I recommend getting reservations 6 months to a year in advance. Last year we managed to get 2 nights inside the park. This year we were just outside the main gate about a mile at Gros Ventre Campground.

We managed to get campsites very close to each other.

Grand Teton Mountain Range

Grand Teton Mountains
Grand Teton Mountains
Grand Teton Mountains
Grand Teton Mountains
Waiting in line to enter Grand Teton National Park. It wasn’t long.
Hidden Falls Trail near Jenny Lake.
Hidden Falls. From left: Paulette, MaryAnn, Paula.
Hidden Falls. MaryAnn and me.
Video of Hidden Falls.
Hidden Falls.
Jenny Lake, Grand Tetons.
Boat ride across Jenny Lake to Hidden Falls trail. Front row, from left: Nathan, Paula, Danny; back row from left: MaryAnn, me, Paulette.
Video of crossing Jenny Lake.
The view from our campsite in the Grand Tetons.
View from Gros Ventre Campground.
Square at Jackson Hole, Wyoming. MaryAnn and me. Every year the Elk shed their antlers.

Pics from the road between Grand Tetons and Yellowstone

This lake still had ice on it in June.
Elk.
Buffalo or Bison.
Snow along the sides of the road was prevalent.

Yellowstone

This Grizzly Bear and her three cubs were right next to the road. I took this picture from about 20 yards away.
Traffic jams occur often in Yellowstone when the bison are on the move.
People started getting to close.
The park rangers had to step in to control the crowd when some of the bison became obviously agitated.
Geysers!!!

Pics from the Road in Yellowstone

Mountain goats in Yellowstone
The Yellowstone western entrance from Montana.
We spent the night at a national forest campground in Montana, not far from Gardiner. Cost $8.
Our campsite in the national forest.
Views from our campsite in the national forest.

We didn’t spend a lot of time in Yellowstone this year. We did stop to watch Old Faithful again. Next post we continue east from the national forest in Montana to Cody, Wyoming and then on to Devil’s Tower.

Summer Road Trip 2022: Part Two – Leisure Travel Van Caravan Tour of Idaho

The road to Idaho.

Immediately after the Southwest Roadrunner’s Leisure Travel Van (LTV) rally in Reno, Nevada we started our LTV caravan tour of Idaho. Our itinerary for this years caravan tour started in Reno with a 4 hour drive to Wells, Nevada. This years caravan had 12 Leisure Travel Vans, including ours.

Rest stop just west of Wells, Nevada. From left: Frank, Tai (back to us) and Towney.

Our itinerary for the tour of Idaho was planned to be a 17 night/18 day adventure. We will visit Hagerman/Twin Falls; Glenns Ferry/Three Islands State Park; Boise; Cascade; McCall; Lewiston/Hells Gate State Park; Lake Coeur d’Alene/Heyburn State Park; Hamilton, Montana; Stanley/Sawtooth Mountains; Arco/Craters of the Moon National Monument; and American Falls, Idaho.

Wells, Nevada

Wells, Nevada RV park.
Wells, Nevada RV park.
From the road in southeastern Idaho.
From the road in southeastern Idaho.

Twin Falls, Idaho

Our first stop in southern Idaho was at the Shoshone Falls near Twin Falls and Hagerman, Idaho. The water was low for this time of year, (May) but still beautiful.

Shoshone Falls.
Snake River.
Shoshone Falls video.
Shoshone Falls.
Looking at the Shoshone Falls LTV owners from left: MaryAnn, Jane, Tai, Debra and Tom with their dog, Kelsea.
Video at the Twin Falls visitor center.
Marmots at the edge of the cliffs around Snake River.

Hagerman, Idaho

Hagerman, Idaho.
Hagerman RV Park.

Pics from the Road in Idaho

From the road in southern Idaho.
From the road in Idaho
Video at Malad Gorge
Malad Gorge
From the road in Idaho.
Glenns Ferry, Idaho

Boise, Idaho

Boise, Idaho
Almost every night we gathered together to talk about our day of exploring the area and to discuss what the itinerary will be for the next day. (Photo by Peter Coad)
MaryAnn and me. (Photo by Peter Coad)
The card game called, Skip-Bo became a regular activity after our meetings. (Photo by Peter Coad)
Skip-Bo can become addictive. (Photo by Peter Coad)

Cascade, Idaho

Cascade, Idaho

We lost the latch in the door to our LTV while we were in Reno just before we left for this trip. Not a show stopper, the deadbolt still worked so we continued on with our caravan tour of Idaho as planned.

Waters Edge RV Park in Cascade

However, on the highway between Twin Falls and Hagerman, Idaho the house door started rattling and shaking as we were going down the road to the point that I thought we might lose the door. So I strapped the door in place with a strong tie down strap that Tai, another LTV owner on the tour had given me. After talking to Leisure Travel Vans in Canada and calling around to local RV dealers in the area as we were traveling, I found out that the entire door lock would have to be replaced and no one had one available.

Our door latch fell out of the lock onto the ground in Reno, Nevada.

I finally found the lock I needed on Amazon and made arrangements for it to be shipped to McCall. Idaho to the RV park we were going to be staying at a few days later. But in Boise after texting a picture to various repair shops, I found a dealer about 10 miles from the High Valley RV Park where we were staying that had the lock assembly in stock. On our way to our next stop in Cascade we stopped and bought the lock assembly and cancelled the Amazon order, thinking “a bird in hand is better than two in the bush.”

The latch from our house door.
The new lock we picked up at a RV service shop in Boise.
Our Leisure Travel Van at Waters Edge in Cascade, Idaho. This is where we replaced the door lock with the help of Towney, one of the LTV owners traveling with us on the caravan tour.

One of the benefits of traveling with other LTV owners is that when things don’t go as planned there are people who can help solve the many challenges that can occur while we are on the road.

On our Alaska caravan in 2018, one of our solar panels on the roof caught on fire. There were ten LTV owners also in our caravan who came running to help us with this problem.

Waters Edge RV Park, Cascade, Idaho.

McCall, Idaho

Our LTV at McCall RV Park, McCall, Idaho
McCall, Idaho
Skip-Bo at McCall at the lodge in the RV park. What else is there to do when it’s raining for almost the entire time we were at McCall. (Photo by Peter Coad)
From left: me (in Desert Storm hat), Paulette (blue jacket), Tom (green jacket), Judy (brown shirt), Jane (grey jacket), Tai (orange shirt), MaryAnn (grey jacket next to me). Photo by Peter Coad)
On one of our nights in McCall we had a fellowship dinner to celebrate and commemorate Memorial Day. (Photo by Peter Coad)
At the end of the Memorial Day dinner we took a group picture of our LTV Caravan Idaho Tour 2022. Front: MaryAnn and me; Second row from left: Wendy, Towney, Debra. Tom, Mary and Jon; Third row from left: Pete, Judy, Doug, Jim, Linda, Byrnece, Frank, Jenifer and Dave; Last row from left: Kerry, Maureen, Tai, Jane, Paulette and Danny. (Photo by Peter Coad)

Of the 12 couples that joined us on this years caravan tour, 6 couples were with us on last years tour of southern Arizona. The southern Arizona tour lasted 12 nights and covered all of southern Arizona south of Tucson.

Rained a lot at McCall. Fortunately the Traveling Pups were ready for the rain in their new raincoats.
Don’t Luna look excited about their new raincoats!
Peeta looks so thrilled about his coat!
The neighbors stopped by for a visit at our campsite at McCall.

Hells Gate State Park, Lewiston, Idaho

Entrance to Hells Gate State Park.
Wild Turkeys near our campsite at Hells Gate State Park.
Lewiston, Idaho
Our campsite at Hells Gate State Park.
Video from the road to Lewiston, Idaho.

Heyburn State Park, Lake Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

Campfire gathering at Heyburn State Park. (Photo by Peter Coad)
Our gatherings at the end of the day was always a highlight. (Photo by Peter Coad)
Video of e-bike ride at Heyburn State Park near Lake Coeur d’Alene
Eagle next to the bike trail in Heyburn State Park
Tai and Jane pausing for a selfie during our bike ride in Heyburn.
Going fishing near Lake Coeur d’Alene
Heyburn State Park
Lake Coeur d’Alene
Lake Coeur d’Alene

Hamilton, Montana

Anglers Roost RV park in Montana. We had to stop in Montana on our way to the Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho.

In order to travel to the Sawtooth Mountains from the Lake Coeur d’Alene area we had to take interstate 90 east through Montana. There were mountains in our way that we had to go around since our LTVs don’t have wings.

After the rain in Hamilton, Montana. (Photo by Wendy Uncles)
Angler’s Roost RV Park, Hamilton, Montana. (Photo by Wendy Uncles)
Angler’s Roost was all about fishing.

Custer City, Idaho – Ghost Town.

The road to Custer City Ghost Town.

We took a side trip to see a ghost town called Custer City. It’s the ruins of an abandoned mining town from the 1800’s. There are volunteers there dressed in the clothing worn by the long gone residence of the town who will answer any questions about the people who once lived here.

Views from the road to Custer City.
Road to Custer City.
Views from the road to Custer City.
One of the buildings still standing in Custer City.
Views from the road to Custer City.
Custer City.

If you ever find yourself driving through the Sawtooth Mountains near Stanley, I highly recommend stopping here at Custer City. It requires driving on a dirt road for a few miles, but definitely worth it. There’s a lot of sad stories here at Custer, stories of how the people lived in this harsh environment and also how they died. Most died from the extreme harsh winters, the town was completely isolated and cut off from the outside world for several months each year. Its amazing what people are willing to do, especially in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries for the hope of sticking it rich.

When driving the road to Custer, it will also take you back in time in an area that still bears the scars from over 200 years ago when the miners used large water cannons to blast away the sides of the mountains looking for gold. You can see large piles of gravel on each side of the road from these water cannons.

Stanley, Idaho – Sawtooth Mountains

For me one of the highlights of the tour of Idaho are the Sawtooth Mountains. I must to see in person.
Sawtooth Mountains.
Salmon River – Sawtooth Mountains.
Sawtooth Mountains.
Sawtooth Mountains.
Sawtooth Mountains.
Salmon River – Sawtooth Mountains.
Sawtooth
Our group went out to dinner at the Mountain Village Restaurant in Stanley. Great place!
Video of upper level at the Stanley RV Park, Sawtooth Mountains.
Salmon River in the Sawtooth Mountains.
Sawtooth Mountains.

Arco, Idaho – Craters of the Moon National Monument

On our way to Arco, Idaho we stopped at Craters of the Moon National Monument. Craters of the Moon is all about the volcano activity here in Idaho. Interesting place that reminded me a lot of Big Island, Hawaii.

Evidence of volcanos are everywhere here.
Craters of the Moon.
Craters of the Moon.
Lava flow at Craters of the Moon.
Craters of the Moon.
The road to Arco. Idaho.
The parking lot of the first nuclear power plant in the world. Arco.
The museum at the nuclear power plant also shows how it was built and how the whole process works. From left: Danny, MaryAnn and Paulette.
The road to Arco, Idaho.
Parking lot at the Idaho Potato Museum, Blackfoot, Idaho.
Me and MaryAnn at the Potato Museum. At the end of the tour you can order a giant baked potato for lunch. Then go across the street to a great homemade ice cream shop, called Candy Jar.

Pics from the Road in Idaho

American Falls, Idaho.

Our last fellowship gathering to end our tour of Idaho. The next day everyone went their separate ways.
MaryAnn and the Traveling Pups on one of her many walks during the trip. Almost every morning she would meet up with some of the other LTV travelers to walk in the area where we were camped.
American Falls, Idaho
Our grand finally gathering at our campsite in American Falls.

After our 18 day trip through Idaho ended, the next day MaryAnn and I continued traveling with two other LTV owners to the Grand Teton National Park and beyond. Stay tuned to see what happens in our next post as we continue our Summer Road trip 2022…

Summer Road Trip 2022: Part One – Road to Reno and Lake Tahoe

White Tank Mountains, May 2022.

Listen… Can you hear them… Can you hear the little voices calling? It’s the road calling, and we must obey…

All systems go! We had to do some work on the Tiny House to get ready for our summer road trip.

We replaced our refrigerator which took an entire day to do since we chose to go with the NorCold refrigerator instead of the original Dometic refrigerator. The NorCold was less expensive, about $600 less than the Dometic and slightly smaller. We also replaced the sealant on the roof, reattached the bathroom cabinet to the wall and replaced the pee-trap under the bathroom sink. Our house door latch and locks needed to be replaced, however that turned out to be more complicated than we had expected since the lock on the house door is connected to the door FOB for the cab doors. We did replaced the latch for the screen door, but left the outside door lock alone since we would lose the use of the FOB if we replaced it.

White Tank Mountains west of Phoenix.
When we are in the Phoenix area we prefer to camp in the White Tank Mountain County Park.
Selfie at 70 mph! On the road from Phoenix to Las Vegas.
On the road to Las Vegas.
I do enjoy a good straight road.

After spending the night at a friends house in Las Vegas, we continued our trip to Reno. A long the way we stoped at a state park called Fort Churchill. This park is a day use only park that contains ruins of a fort from back in the 1800”s and a museum. Allow about an hour and a half if you plan to stop here. The park is located on State Route 95 west of Las Vegas.

MaryAnn, the traveling pups and our friend and fellow Leisure Travel Van traveler, Tai at Fort Churchill.
Ruins at Fort Churchill.
Keep an eye out for these guys, they could ruin your day.
Tai at the museum in Fort Churchill.
Tai’s better half, Jane at the museum.
Our Leisure Travel Van with Tai and Jane’s. The silver one is Tai and Jane’s.
State Route 95 from Las Vegas to Reno, Nevada.

Pics from the road to Reno, Nevada.

Not as barren as you would think.
We stopped at this RV park to sleep for the night before continuing our road trip to Reno.
Not sure how this RV park got 4 stars out of 5 rating, but it worked as an overnight stop.

More Pics from the Road