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!


  1. So glad you've gone north! Michigan is a beautiful state. I like the fern forest floor. Hope you see lots you like! Thanks for posting!

  2. Great you were able to go where it is cooler! (102* where I am today) Beautiful pictures!