Friday, June 29, 2018

Meet Me In Manistee! -- June 29, 2018

One full week in Michigan!  So far it's been great.  Seems like we've been here for a month!  Great scenery, great weather, quiet....what more could anyone ask for? 

On Monday, Bo and I went into Manistee (8 miles).  We had two primary and Bo needed to go to a vet.  He was scratching at his ear and shaking his head all over the place.  Nikko had this same can't ignore it.  Sometimes it's mites, but more often just some kind of bacteria.  The first vet I called was rather aloof -- well, the receptionist, that is.  She was just "no, no, no".  "No, we're not taking new, we just can't fit him in even, not even if it was an emergency could we see any pet."  And, on top of that, she didn't even recommend anyone else.  All I got was "good luck".  I was not impressed, to say the least.  There was only one other vet listed.  We had to go into town anyway, so I just stopped in unannounced...this was 9:45am.  The office/waiting area, etc. was really the nicest I have ever seen.  I explained our dilemma and the very nice receptionist said, "Of course we can get him about 10:00am TODAY?"  I thought I was hearing things!  Anyway, we were in and out pretty quickly, even with Bo snarling, bearing teeth, and overall not being very happy. In only about 36 hrs he was 85% better. Now, no sign of discomfort at all. If you ever need a vet in Manistee, MI call Parkdale Animal Hospital!  

Ok...that over with, we decided to check out the Lake Michigan 1st Street beach and downtown Manistee since we were already in town.  Manistee is a town of about 6,800 people.  It is the county seat of Manistee County.  The interesting name "Manistee" is from an Ojibwe word first applied to the principal river of the county.  The derivation is not certain, but it may be from ministigweyaa, "river with islands at its mouth".  Other sources claim that it was an Ojibwe term meaning "spirit of the woods".  I'll go with the latter since we are enjoying our site in the woods so much!  

First, the 1st Street Beach.  

Virtually no one was there on this perfect day.  The sand is "sugar sand"....white and fine like sugar.  There are pavilions and grills for picnics and adjacent to the beach is a dog run, and a little playground for kids.  However, the highlight of this area is the lighthouse which juts out into the water.  


Since it has been a long time since I have been to the ocean, this was certainly that same feeling.  It's all quite "New England-ish" here.  It reminded me of the coastal areas of Connecticut when I lived there (which for the most part was really along Long Island Sound, not so much the Atlantic Ocean). There's another beach in Manistee, the 5th Avenue Beach, that we will probably check out next week before we leave this site.  Is this weekend the holiday weekend or next weekend??  Every day is the same in the forest.  Pretty sure there won't be any fireworks out here!

Into the historic downtown we went.  Bo actually walked along the sidewalk with me....he's not all that socialized so we tried to avoid coming right up on people.  Luckily, it was pretty quiet.   These photos are self-explanatory. "Historic" downtown is basically one main so many small towns. It's great that they have kept the old buildings maintained and haven't replaced them with something "modern"...unlike my home base town.  Hate that!  It used to be so quaint.  Anyway, you can see that, for the most part, Manistee has stayed with tradition.  (Except this corner renovation....not sure what they were thinking with that....).  There are little boutiques and such...along with, unfortunately, empty storefronts...again, like so many small towns.  But, all in all, a very charming little lakeshore town.

The street is lined with these pretty lamp posts and planters...

The Manistee River runs right through Manistee.  

I came across the small Veteran's Memorial Park which is right along the river so we stopped there and I got a few photos.  If you can't live in a lake shore property, this would be a nice water front area to live...I think these condos run about $135,000+/-.  The real estate values here are anywhere from $30K - $1.6M...from a forest stationary mobile home to a lake front property.  Something for everyone!

So, that's the overview of Manistee, Michigan.  It's a great little town on the shore of a great big lake.  I could live the summer, that is!  

We took a fun road trip yesterday.  Once I go through the 150+ photos, I'll get a new post up. Be forewarned...even after sorting through them all, it will be a post with a lot of photos! 

It's going to be pretty warm the next several days...but, I remind myself, not as warm as farther south!  Glad I made the 8-hour drive up here....for many reasons!

Bye for now from Manistee!  Hope you enjoyed the tour.
Have a super weekend....whether or not it's the "holiday weekend"!

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Beat the Heat! -- June 24, 2018

I left off my last post passing along the idea that you needn't travel but a few hours away from home to find all sorts of adventures.  I lied!  Lol!

Not really.  What I said was true from my experience, however, after a few days at home base, at virtually the last minute before my scheduled departure, I decided to drive well  more than 3 hours to a new site!  But, that's what makes this van (or RV) life appealing.  Get up, ignition, and GO!

I started driving north on a quiet, two-lane road on Thursday was cool and foggy....

I was on this road for a few hours and it eventually got a little clearer, but remained cool and overcast.  Along the way there were my favorite sites....old buildings / barns....

This is Amish country.  The Amish are members of a group of traditionalist Christian church fellowships with Swiss German origins.  They are known for simple living, plain dress and reluctance to adopt many conveniences of modern technology.  There are over 315,000 people in the Amish communities in the U.S.  Most all of the farms and any other farm-like properties had horses.  The Amish use horses for carriage transportation, and the large draft horses to plow fields, pull wagons, and other strenuous work.  The Amish are known for their extraordinary furniture-making skills and bakeries.  You can generally order custom made furniture pieces. 

I saw a few carriages along the one photograph....

Along one stretch of the road were several monolithic turbines....I love these things for some reason!


Unfortunately, my interesting two-lane road finally ended and most of the remaining part of the adventure was on the interstate.  UGH, again.  So, obviously nothing to report from that vantage point.  I'm going to be researching an alternate return route.

So......where on earth is she headed??  Here's a clue!

Yep -- Michigan!  

I looked at the average temps and what was predicted for the next week or so and that was the deciding factor.  Nothing else!  On the average, once you get up into the state, it is about 8-10 degrees cooler than anywhere I would have camped 3-4 hours from home base.  This summer, so far, seems to have unusually high temps...a lot in the 90's with high humidity.  Bo and I find that almost intolerable.  Especially Bo.  I can somehow talk myself out of thinking it is unbearable, but as smart as he is, he just can't do that.  So, Destination Michigan was the way to go.

Wanting to camp for free, as usual, I researched the Manistee National Forest.  There's a lot of camping in the forest, like most any other national forest, but it isn't all free. I didn't want to go as far as the Upper Peninsula, at least on this trip, so I focused on areas south of Cadillac, MI.  That's about an 8 hour drive, including a few stops for gas and leg stretching for Bo.  

Finally destination?  Near Manistee, MI.  Manistee is right on Lake Michigan.  Of course, camping right on the lake was out of the question.  $$$$$$$.  But, I found a great spot about 10-15 minutes east of  the town.  Marzinski Horse Campground

It's only a stone's throw from a decent two-lane roadway... M-55...which goes right into Manistee.  You know what that means --- cell and internet availability, if only two for me!  (I'm sitting at my campsite right now and will be able to post this!  Yay!)  I had read that you could hear the road traffic at the campground, but, really, it was barely noticeable on Friday, and virtually non-existent this weekend.  

I pulled into the campground (not marked from M-55 - good thing for GPS coordinates) and within a few seconds of being on the access road (Marzinski Rd), I see the beginning of the campground loop. 

That's a lot of camp sites!  I'm not super focused after 8+ hours of  driving, but I start around the "circle", which is totally encased in a pine tree forest.  There was someone at Site #1 -- had a big camping trailer, a boat and a motorcycle.  Still not sure if he's a visitor or a camp host.  The hand pump water station and restroom are right near the entrance.  There were sites on both sides of the other camper...maybe Site #6? and then no one else as I made my way 360* around the loop trying to analyze the sites.  I really didn't analyze them too much....I was just too tired, but as I circled around for the second time, I pulled into #11.  It was huge and took no effort to park a certain way, etc.  

This will be fine, I thought.  So we jumped out, walked around for a couple of minutes and set up.  I have the set up process down to a science, so it only takes about 20 minutes.  It was about 5:30pm so I wasn't paying much attention to the sun/shade coverage, although I was facing west.  We just chilled out, took a little walk, fixed a simple dinner and went to bed early!

Woke up Friday morning (Bo is my 6:00am on-the-dot alarm clock!)....tea and a bagel...took a walk and looked at a lot of the other sites.  Really, virtually all of them were fine.  This does not really resemble a horse camp, tho.  Anyway, I looked at the site right across from ours and decided to move!  Our original site was really ok, but it was just too out in the open. However, it was perfect for a large horse trailer.  It would be very little effort to just carry our stuff across the road.  So, that's what I did!  In about 30 minutes, we had relocated to Site #12.

Much better!  And as the sun started moving overhead, I was glad we moved.  There was full sun almost all day at the original site.  Even with cooler temps (low 70's), the van can really heat up just sitting in the sun.  

Here's a glance at a few of the other sites.  None of them are "bad" sites at all.  

I mentioned that this does not seem at all like a horse campground. The only evidence of that is most of the sites have a "telephone-pole" type post for hitching up your horses.  And....out at the entry area on Marzinski Road are where the trails start, although you can barely see them.  They look like human trails, not horse trails, but there are 20 miles of them! This is where we hike.

Nice and super quiet here -- no "traffic" through the campground.  I think only 3-4 cars/trucks have come around the circle since we've been here, and that included one other camper who pulled in way around the circle, making 4 of the 21 sites occupied.  We can see no one from our site.  And since it's Sunday at 1pm, I really don't expect anyone else to show up. Honestly, I don't think this campground is ever "busy".  Some sites don't look like they have been occupied for months. Obviously, then, not a lot going on here so we just look for things of interest...whatever we can find in a pine forest!




Almost the entire "floor" of this area is covered in oak saplings, 
however, there aren't any actual oak trees!


 One campsite has a very large grove of ferns....really pretty!

So, that's my overview of our current campsite.  I don't have any idea right now how long we will stay here.  Researching some other areas.  We will be gone awhile on this outing so there is plenty of time for relocating.  Plan to do a few excursions from this site during this week, tho'.  As always, I will keep you "posted"!

Bye for now...thanks for viewing!
Enjoy your week!