Kickapoo/Paint Creek

August 6-8

We checked into site #75, in the Illini loop of Kickapoo State Recreation Area (SRA) in Illinois, after stopping at a really nice grocery store en route to pick up some dinner entrees. Possibly due to the difficulty of keeping the water pipes from freezing in winter, none of the sites have water, although many have electricity. There are also sections where tent camping and/or unserviced RV camping is the norm. Cell service at the site is okay—we had two bars of Verizon LTE. The bath houses are clean and sufficient.

Camping area map: detail from a larger, elderly map. That’s I-74 west and east on the right.

As is usual when we have stayed at Kickapoo in times past, an individual of the local deer population greeted us.


We enjoyed the company of this very interesting tree in our site, too. If we’d been staying longer, we probably would have used it to hang a hammock to lounge about some.


Instead of lounging, however, we set off on our bicycles to explore more of the park area than we’d ever had time to do in the past. This is a really huge recreational area, with hiking and mountain biking trails, and so many ponds and lakes I think one might get lost.


At the turn of the century, the area was a surface mining operation. We tried to ride to a mine “shaft” designated on the map, but it was gated—even though we rode around the gate, we stopped at a dilapidated old wooden bridge that had way too many saplings growing on it for comfortable crossing. The entire SRA is 2,842 acres, with 22 deep water ponds (221 acres of water) along the Vermillion River. The state purchased nearly 1,300 acres of the mining operation in 1939 from United Electric Coal Co. Most of the purchase price was raised from Danville, IL residents at the time. So if you’re a water or fishing enthusiast, it’s a great place to visit. Check it out here.

There is a ton of infrastructure around, but on a Monday, we encountered only enough vehicles to count on two hands; and we saw only a few individuals and families taking advantage of the vast amounts of fishing and paddling (most of the waterways are designated electric motors only) opportunities available. Maybe things are different on the weekends, but overall we found the place quiet and sedate. Surprisingly, there were very few printed materials available to folks who might want to know more about the trails, the history, or the amenities. Without actually riding on any of the “trails,” most of them appeared to be rugged, mountain-bike-only trails.


The park stretches on both sides of the I-74 corridor, with roadways going over and under the highway.

I thought it odd that there was no safety structure along this overpass, keeping folks from pitching themselves or objects off the bridge . . . 

Here is a map of the whole shebang, that I’ve cut into two halves so it’s not so huge:


Our ride took us over all of the roadways designated in white, plus a few that don’t seem to be on any maps at all. The roadways and some of the put-in areas for boats and fishing were somewhat unkempt and in need of some TLC, but its an old park, after all. We took our time and tootled about for a couple of hours. It was pretty hot and muggy.

Bike Stats:

  • Ride time = 1:25
  • Stopped time = 1 hour
  • Distance = 12.3 miles

After our exertions, we treated ourselves to another grilled salmon dinner—this time eating delicious wild sockeye, with grilled squash and Uncle Ben’s Wild Rice. Yum.


We headed to Ohio the next morning, to Paint Creek State Park (near Bainbridge, OH), where it began to rain and refused to stop the entire time we were there. We also moved from central time to eastern time, and started the adjustment to misplacing an hour somewhere along the way.

Our site (#125) was the same one we’ve stayed at before, because so many of the sites are elevated (nice and level) parking areas where both sides of the “lawn” areas fall off sharply from the site, making erecting an awning difficult if not impossible. While #125 is rather sandwiched among other sites, the one to our “face” was empty this time, and with the rain keeping us indoors anyway, it was not a problem.

The bath house is fine, but augmented with a couple of toilet-only structures, and there’s a laundry, but no dish washing station. And the sites are all either unserviced or electric-only.

Since it was raining steadily, and since we stayed indoors the whole time, the lack of tremendous amenities was not a problem (check the link above to our prior, 2017 stop here to see more of the lay of the land). We have, however, thoroughly enjoyed a long bit of in-campground cycling in the past.

The State Park is another boating haven, with the reservoir created when Paint Creek was impounded providing power boat and jet ski entertainment, as well as more sedate fishing, canoeing/kayaking, and swimming opportunities. There are also hiking trails and a few Mountain biking trails, plus a disc golf course (and an archery range), but few cycling options other than the campground roadways. The park office offers wifi, but otherwise, cell service (Verizon) is non-existent.

We started a jigsaw puzzle we’d purchased in Michigan at the Sleeping Bear Dunes gift shop, featuring pretty Michigan rocks in the shape of the state. It was fun but very challenging.


To the patter of rain on the roof, we got about a third of it put together on our nook table before calling it a day at 12:30A in the EST, where we felt it was still 11:30 CST.

The next day, we continued putting the puzzle together through breakfast and lunch, and finished around 2 in the afternoon. We didn’t want to get it partway done and have to undo all our work before our departure on Wednesday, August 8, so we kept at it. And it kept raining.

For our evening’s entertainment, we watched the third of the three movies we’d brought along: Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, MO. We found it to be a tight, unsettling story very well told, with just enough ambiguity to provoke lots of thought. Troubling, overall—leaves you wondering what you might have done in a similar situation. Well worth the look-see.

Still damp, we left for Grindstone Federal Campground in the Mt. Rogers Recreation area, near Damascus, VA: our final stop along this odyssey, back to Virginia with friends and neighbors for the first time in nearly 6 weeks. What a fun adventure it’s been.

Cycling Lake Vesuvius, Wayne National Forest, OH

Thursday, August 3

Today was all about cycle training as much as possible given what the campground offers. But we also found some “culture” to inform us.

We were definitely going to ride to the beach again. But our friendly hostess recommended a “stone house” that she said was at the boat launch area of Lake Vesuvius (opposite direction from the beach) along a paved walk. This entire area has been all about iron ore mining and smelting for many many decades, until better ore and better shipping lanes were found in Pittsburgh. The limestone-cum-iron ore geology makes for these steep cuts in the ground from waterways and runoff, and at one point, the “miners” didn’t have to even dig a mine, but just chip the ore off exposed deposits.

Through the steady wearing-away by water through eons grew this rock house—or really, a tall cave—which is evidently a common structure in iron-rich regions. Our informative sign indicated that there were probably employees of the Vesuvius Iron Furnace (down at the bottom of the Rec Area drive, off that route 29 we did not want to pedal) who would come to this rock house to extract coal from the seam at the back of this open cave, so they could heat their homes.

The way down to the boat launch and rock house was steeper and possibly longer than the downhill side toward the beach. We rode down and parked the bikes while I walked along the “boardwalk” at one side of this finger of the Lake, and grabbed a few photos. Then we rode back to see the rock house, and then climbed back up the hill.


After catching our breath, we rode down to the beach again. This time, there were peeps there, readying to picnic and watch the kiddies swim. Back at the tops, we did a few more loops trying to get our mileage up to 10 miles. It was a great workout.

Private showers are simply the bees knees. It felt very good to shower (I took my time and luxuriated a bit), and we had a lunch of chicken salad and crackers, then grapes and carrots to fill out the belly. As we were continuing to relax after lunch, a good little thunderstorm came through just to keep us honest. We had to haul everything back under the awning again, and we had quite some rocking and rolling from the storm gods fighting with each other, but luckily, no wind.

Later we tried to begin to get ready for departure on the morrow with a bit of packing, but the storm kept rolling in and out and over and yon, so we mostly kept inside. Dinner: spinach pie redux. Next stop will be back in Virginia, to Grindstone campground, one of our fave spots, near the Creeper Trail between Damascus and Abingdon. We’ll definitely be un-hitching there to ride the Creeper if the weather will cooperate.

We got to bed early with a plan to arise early, and after tea/coffee, eat somewhere on the way (and grab some wifi to catch up on emails etc). It was mapped to be a very long day of driving to Grindstone.

Wayne National Forest (OH) Recreation Area and Oak Hill Campground

(I’m uploading this and the following posts from home, after the entire Kalamazoo Trip was completed due to having no cell service and little wifi. Sorry for the confusion about the dates, as today is August 8 but this post begins with August 1.)

August 1 (Rabbit, Rabbit!)

Forgot to mention the number of Alto Tours we conducted while on Kelly’s Island. I did mention the fellow with one on order, working to finalize his options by seeing ours: Tim. We did 8 additional tours besides Tim’s. It was kind of distracting, frankly. Some of the folks were very nice and polite, like our next-door neighbors, first the wife and then the husband a day later (counted as 2 of the tours). They were very nice and respectful, although hubby came over as we were breaking down and took up more time than necessary, IMHO.

And another couple came as we ate our final Kelly’s Island dinner, but they were nice and apologetic, so I went ahead and got up to show them around. But one pair of guys who were (like us) ignoring the prohibition against alcohol (and had had one or two nips too many, I thought) came too closely to our space, and said, “We’re lost” and after a few comments about Roomba, asked how much we paid for it, with no apologies, then hooted in astonishment when Jack gave him some 3-years-old, rounded Canadian dollar figures. Those two made us really uncomfortable. One other guy was mostly interested in our awning, but ended up poking his head inside anyway. Another fellow introduced himself by saying, “Like most of the people in this entire campground, I’m curious about your trailer.” At least he was upfront. But he was one of the nice ones and seemed genuinely interested in finding out more, saying that he’d check it out online when he got the chance. Wow.

We were surprised by how many folks trooped through our site, although I guess it’s difficult to “own” down to the waterside. But still. Evidently, even though I was unable to discern paths marked as “pubic access” on the various campground maps, most folks just consider everything headed to where they want to go as “public access,” including our site with it’s fire ring down by the waterside. I found that truly annoying.

We’d definitely go back, though, even to a site without electric, as long as we might position ourselves farther away from the screaming beach. We got proof positive, however, that either our connections from the solar panels to the battery or the battery itself needs a good checking out. Maybe even a battery replacement. As long as we could be close to the water under the trees and that lovely land-ward breeze was blowing, it was completely tolerable, temp-wise. We had trouble, however, keeping Roomba’s interior below 93 degrees. Which was making the ‘fridge work pretty hard, and thus the battery or connection issues were obvious. An offside awning would have been nice, too.

Rolling away toward the ferry port by about 9:15AM, we made the boat after a wait of only ten-minutes. Greeting us on the far side, while we were still cruising through Marblehead, was a soaring bald eagle: The first water-raptor we had seen (surprisingly?) since our proximity to Lake Erie. Counted one additional baldy and 4 redtailed hawks in north OH.

Our drive was without issue until we were in hour 5 (after a rather long stop for lunch and to catch up on emails) in far southern Ohio, after we stopped for groceries as we cruised through Chilocothe. Our intention was to leave Roomba hitched at camp, so we wanted enough supplies for the next few days. But as we headed farther south, the traffic picked up considerably. We went through a rather depressing-looking town called Portsmouth (the locals pronounce it “Port Smith”) at about 4:30, and figured some factory or another had just let out.

The way eased out of Portsmouth and into an even more “factory-town-like” place called New Boston, where we were pretty much at a standstill for a good half-hour or so, making our way along a single main road with un-coordinated traffic lights at each of many intersections. Thinking it was an accident or construction, and being very tired ourselves, we tried to remain patient. Yet we never saw any visible reason for the hold-up (isn’t that maddening?). Finally turned off the main road to take the connection to this Federal Recreation area, called the Wayne National Forest. Lake Vesuvius is one of the major features, and one of the campgrounds involved is called Oak Hill (our destination).

It was a very long climb uphill to Oak Hill, and it was made snail-slow (appropriate for our Alto?) because the fresh asphalt was being lined by one of those crawling, impossible-to-pass painting machines. We actually never saw the machine, as there was an enormously long line of vehicles putt-putting behind it.

When we turned off that road (93) onto the smaller road (29) to get to camp, we noticed it would not be appropriate for bicycling: No shoulders, neither paved nor grassy, and a thin and winding roadway, presumably populated with big rigs and trailering boats headed up to recreate on the Lake. So much for exploring the neighborhood on bikes. In about a mile we turned into the Rec Area proper and began to see signs for boat launches and beaches, and glimpsed our first sight of the big lake. Another long winding climb with zero traffic found us at Oak Hill Campground.

By that time, it was around 5:30 or 6 and there was no check-in or office area, so we were clueless except what our site number was (13). With only one wrong turn through a section of the camp ground whose site numbers were too high, we got ourselves oriented and found our site, high on a knoll and all alone, with the world falling away sharply at our backs, presumably down to the lake.


Had to set up the awning over the pavement (which, later during our stay and in the mid-day when the trees were not shading us, proved to be a problem as the asphalt was a significant heat sink and radiated back to us even under the awning)—there was very little “yard”—but it’s a lovely, quiet, private site located quite near the very clean and private bath house. There are four completely private toilet/showers in the cast concrete structure, and all the fixtures are stainless steel. Wow.


The camp hostess came up and introduced herself to us once we’d set up and settled a little. We asked if there was anywhere to get ice, but she reported that the only ice was a drive back to the closest little town. Later, she stopped by and asked if we wanted her to pick up a bag for us, as she was going to fetch herself some. Really nice lady. While we were eating our hamburger and fresh corn-on-the-cob dinner, she dropped off the ice.

It was nice to take some advantage of the electric by drying things off and cooling down with the AC. We hit the hay early because of the long, stressful drive, and planned to sleep late since we had not much at all to do next day.

Wednesday, August 2

Yesterday, we’d taken the bikes off the rack so we’d be ready tootle around and see what we could find. We got going at 10-ish. We’d seen signage for a boat launch in one direction, and a beach in the other, so we figured we might find them and also get some climb-training in. Literally anything and everything one might want to do is downhill from this campground. We did our “every right turn” thing throughout the campsite loops, which were rolling but not steep. Then we cycled around a barrier to look at the “group camping” area located off the main drag beyond the campground, which is designed for tents only, and not very big.

As we were exiting the group area, our friendly hostess was headed down to the beach via car, and she stopped to warn us that it was very steep, and if we elected to continue there was a nice overlook she’d recommend. We carried on. The way until the overlook was gentle rolling with level intervals where we figured we could catch our breaths on the way back up.

The overlook was lovely.


Then we pitched very steeply down to the beach, had a nice tootle about and a visit to the water fountain there, plus a couple of cycles around the picnic area parking lot. We were the only souls around. There was one truly lovely picnic spot in the trees, elevated above the heat-seeking pavement, with steps for access. I liked it so much I took a photo.


On the hell-bent-for-election way down to the beach, I’d noticed a large moth in the middle of the road, and as I was pedaling back up, I stopped to grab a photo of it. Pretty guy, likely at the end of his life, or maybe he was just rattled by the passing of a car. Anyway, I gently moved it to the side on some nice moss and bade it fare-thee-well.


Then I cranked back up to the campground. With a couple more loops, we packed it in, although at the time, we thought we might even go back for another climb up from the beach, since we’d only logged slightly over 6 miles. That didn’t work out due to an afternoon rain shower (and our overall laziness). But it was good training for both the seat parts and the leg parts.

For lunch we had grilled cheese, onion, and pepperoni sandwiches. They were super yum.


We had a special dinner planned, and I pulled out the Omnia oven to build us a spinach pie — a recipe we’d grabbed off the Altoistes Cuisine Facebook site. Someone had recommended using filo dough, so we’d bought some frozen and the process of layering it into the doughnut-shaped Omnia, with cooking spray in between layers took longer than I’d imagined. But the rest of the process was easy and the entire thing turned out like a dream, even though I did not have enough feta cheese to add into the spinach, onion, garlic, and egg mixture that was spooned onto the filo and topped with more dough.

It cooked for about 50 minutes on medium (our smaller of the two burners) and turned out to be splendid. I turned it upside-down to get it out of the silicone liner of the Omnia, onto a plate, and that worked just fine.


Earlier, Jack had made up some fresh guacamole, so while we waited to eat, we had a lovely cocktail hour with a delicious appetizer.

Next time I do the pie, however, I think we’ll use a pre-made pie crust or even a pita bread split and layered into the Omnia. While the filo was good, it was hardly worth the lengthy effort. And flakes and shreds got all over Roomba, both before and after cooking. I’d also like it better with some chicken or ground lamb added, and with some tsatziki on the side. It was pretty darn good, as-is, though.

Kelly’s Island State Park, OH

July 30 & 31

We were on the road by 8:30AM, headed toward Kelly’s Island State Park, Ohio. The island is in Lake Erie, and the ferry departs every half-hour during the summer for the Island, from Marblehead, OH.

The ferry ride is short and sweet, although expensive for a trailer, Tow Vehicle, and two old gits on a there-and-back-again: $113. Especially since it’s just a 20-minute ride.


Kelly’s Island from the ferry


Roomba aboard

But worth every dollar. The roads on the Island are narrow, but there are very few fossil fuel vehicles, and the island-wide speed limit is 25MPH. Most of the vehicular traffic is bicycles and these undersized electric golf carts. We had not the first clue which way to turn out of the ferry landing area, so we went left. The Lakeview road took us past the “downtown” area (such as it is) and 4 miles along the pretty drive to the state park. As we moved away from the commerce center, there were fewer vehicles and more lovely homes and lake views.

Our site is one of the premium lake front sites but without any power or water (site #103). The bath houses are modern and clean, although there are only 3 each of shower, toilet stall, and sink. I’d imagine during the busiest of summer weekends that would not serve (or you’d have to wait a long time for your turn).


We’re right next to the “beach” however, meaning there are plenty of shouting, screaming kids swimming in the shallow waters protected by a stone breakwater. To our right (facing the water and east) is an area with lots of boats anchored and motoring through, with a couple of pretty sailboats. Unfortunately, about an hour after we’d arrived and (mostly) set up, a boat with two couples on it arrived, anchored, and started blasting their very loud, very bad music for all to enjoy. They stayed, swimming, (probably) drinking, playing their awful music too loudly, and being totally obnoxious for hours. I finally had to take refuge inside, although it was really really hot.


The good news/bad news about site 103 is that, since it has no services, it’s a good thing it’s in full sun. That does, however, make it a challenge to manage the interior heat. The shady part of our site has many trees and a clear understory, with a well-placed fire ring, so setting up away from the camper and in the shade (and with the lake-breeze a constant cooling effect) is perfect. We hung both hammocks, got some firewood (for when BoomBoxBoat decided to go away) and chilled.

Through the Alto owners Facebook group, we arranged to meet up with Tim, who is on the waiting list for a 1713 like ours, but wanted to see one “in use” to help him decide what amenities he would finalize for his unit. He is a musician and a bicyclist, and since he was playing a gig on the island Saturday night, decided to stay until we arrived (before heading back to his home in Cleveland) so he could check out our Roomba.

He arrived before we’d completed the set-up, and chatted a long time before he headed back to is car to make the ferry back to the mainland. He was especially interested in the bike rack and the awning options. Of course, our awning is no longer available from Safari Condo, so seeing ours probably didn’t help him much.

We had a lovely fire and dinner (BoomBoxBoat had left by that time), ended the day with a lovely adult beverage, and hit the hay.



Monday, July 31

I got up early (5:30-ish) to see the sunrise over the lake. The best thing about getting up that early was listening to and watching the birds awaken. It was truly lovely and I’m glad I made the effort.








After our usual breakfast of sausage patties on slider buns, we kitted up for our bike ride. Not only did we want to get into town to purchase some fresh veggies (if possible), but we also wanted to circumnavigate the island on the roads, and see what we could see.

It was a wonderful ride. I didn’t stop to take photos of all the lovely lakeside homes we passed, but there were a passel of them. After finding the primary market and getting some veggies to grill with our pork chops this evening, we hit the Kelly’s Island Brewery for what turned out to be their breakfast menu, but we called it lunch anyway (the didn’t begin serving lunch until noon, and we arrived there at 11). Eggs were involved, and really great home fries, and I had mine topped with chili, while Jack got sausage gravy on his.

Limestone Quarry



Saw the ferry we’d ridden yesterday headed to Kelly’s Island



The brewery’s bar is all made of stone with neat inserts throughout
Fred Flintstone seems to have become a fossil in the brewery’s bar

A short ride later, we were back at camp, and enjoying a lovely shower. While the screaming kids were there again swimming and making tons of noise, BoomBoxBoat did not appear by the time of this upload. Our total mileage for the day was 15.25 miles, and it was a lovely, leisurely ride, followed by a leisurely time in the hammocks.

We made ready to build a fire and work on our final Kelly’s Island dinner when I popped up to the Camp Office to borrow their wifi for this upload (there’s zero Verizon service here). We aren’t going to break our necks to move on tomorrow AM, but our next stop is Oak Hill Federal Park near Lake Vesuvius, OH, for a two-night stay before hitting Virginia again.

To Kalamazoo: Travel Days

July 23, 2017

Due to several late nights in a row—a couple of overhot sleeping nights when our own ceiling fan could not keep up with the humid, still air; housesitters’ lost luggage flying from Buffalo NY to Greensboro NC; a trip to Roanoke to close on my mother’s house (and a lovely lunch afterward to celebrate—and in no small measure, to mourn—that milestone with her); and a wonderful evening on a classic “southern porch” with ceiling fans and wide floors for a delightful meal and wondrous company and conversation—we arose on our departure day pretty exhausted. With the timing of everything having to do with the housesitters’ later arrival than expected and our desire to squire them around, showing off the sights and “gotta-dos” in our area (not to mention the house and critter minding routines), we elected not to hitch Roomba nor even load our 2015 Subaru tow vehicle on Saturday.

So our departure morning began with these final load-and-hitch routines. All along, we’d figured on leaving by about 10A, but we had a long way to go (guestimated at 6 or so hours) to our first overnight, Paint Creek State Park in Ohio. So anything earlier would have been excellent. But alas, even with the help of Angela and John doing the “morning run” for critter management, we did not pull out of our driveway until 10.

Briefly stopped at the intersection of I-77 and Rt. 58 near Hillsville for an AM snack, and found the interstates totally packed with semis and probable vacationeers headed home after a weekend or so away. Lots and lots of traffic.

Listened to the beginning of an engaging mystery novel, and ended up trading drivers much more often than normal because we were both tired. Jack got us into West Virginia where we took another break and I took a photo of our Roomba next to an enormous three-axle fifth wheel whose weight I could not possibly imagine. So glad we have our modest teardrop.


I took us through all the WV toll plazas along I-64 to make it to OH. A final stop in Chillocothie at a grocery to get our usual chicken salad to go on the lettuce we’d brought along for a quick-and-delicious no-cook dinner after set-up, and we got to Bainbridge, OH, which was the closest ‘burgh Jack had been able to find for the onboard mapping system. So, because Jack was driving by this time, actually finding Paint Creek State Park and their campground fell to Siri on my phone using AppleMaps.

Even when I’d plugged it in, the route seemed “around our thumbs to get to our butts,” but sometimes, especially when you’re navigating around a lake upon which the target state park is oriented, that’s how you have to go. So we headed out of Bainbridge on Rt. 50, with the map image and brown signs indicating that Paint Creek Lake and the State Park properties were all along our right-hand side. Small brown signs appeared at intervals along our route indicating marinas and boat launches. Nowhere was there a major sign that actually said Paint Creek State Park. One small, narrow brown sign packed in with a bunch of other thin brown signs along a short signpost (most of them about boat access points) had the words “camping: 5.” We were unsure if that was attached to the park or not even though it was a brown sign.

So we skipped the only indicator of camping of any sort, and carried on the way Siri was suggesting. By this time it was 6PM and we had encircled the entire park (judging by the map) but there was one narrow road that showed a bridge across a part of the lake, and we figured it was possible this was the only way into the park if you’re not launching a boat. From the 7-hundred numbered road (753) we had taken from Rt. 50, we wound up on a small farm road whose sign near our turn-off said “no outlet.”

Maybe that meant that it dead-headed into the park?

Still marginally hopeful, and noting that there were no handy turn-arounds at this end of the road in any case (and dead tired by this time) we carried on. Another mile or two and we saw a sign that said, “Road ends 500 ft.” Sure enough, a low road with a barrier across it was, in fact, the end (I figured it had been flooded out at some point, and never re-opened). But we were obviously not the only trailer rig that had made this error due to lousy mapping, and there was a decent pull-in/back-out spot for an about-face right next to the barrier.

Around 6:30PM we were back in the neighborhood of Rt. 50, re-tracing our earlier route (which was only about 13 miles all told), and searching (in vain) for a State Park sign. Along the route (I was driving at this point, as I did the back-and-go at the turn-around) Jack was able to get a street address for the park, and we mapped that, but it wasn’t anywhere near where we were, so we decided that was a mail box or an office address. We tried to call, but by this time, the office or check-in station or wherever we were going to pick up our reservation materials was closed. So we decided to take the small “camping” indicator sign direction, down another narrow road, and at long last, found the park camping entrance.

Our site (#125) is very nice and shady, with a well-positioned fire ring (unused by us). We’re near the bath house, which is old but clean, offering additional laundry area, but no dish washing station. The sites have electric but no water, although there are well-positioned faucets everywhere. The sites, we’ve noticed, however, are very short and narrow. There’s only one position in which your trailer or rig can sit. Some are in the full sun, and others, along the lakeside, are very shady to semi-shady. Our site does not have access to the lake — in fact on our side of the camping area, one can only glimpse water down a thoroughly forested (and poison oak infested) bank.

Site #125

The site next door is one of the camp hosts and we met the couple minding this area as they were headed back home for two days to mow their lawns and re-stock their stores. Very friendly. The other big rig we are sandwiched between had to park their tow vehicle cross-wise to their camper because both would not fit on the asphalt back-in area. There are many big rigs whose TVs do not fit on the parking sites — and many of the sites, while there’s a nice, level, narrow asphalt place to put your rig, many are placed such that the ground around the asphalt falls off substantially, sometimes to both sides, making putting up an awning like ours impossible. In these cases, the fire ring is way away from the trailer site, and in others, they had to build a “deck” off the asphalt (and the user must pay more for that privilege) so one could set up even a chair. Forget having a convenient place to set up a screen house.

Still, many sites are nice with generous spacing between — while others, like #125, are fairly tightly sandwiched.

So we felt a bit crowded (especially because they were cigarette smokers and our site is downwind of them) and we turned on our AC to help close out them and their smoke — they also chose to build a campfire, which of course, blew smoke into our space and would have filled Roomba if we’d chosen our normal routine of merely letting the exhaust fan keep the inside cool. Happily, before leaving the hosts had told us our neighbors were scheduled to leave tomorrow. Besides, we were glad for the AC as it was warm and muggy, and the hosts reported they’d had a deluge the night before.

We did a minimal set-up both inside and out (just the awning and a couple of chairs outside) and ate dinner around 8-8:30. Shortly afterwards, a gang came along and wanted a tour, as one of them had seen an Alto model 1743 in the past, and he wanted his friends to see ours. They were nice and kept it short and sweet, so we could enjoy the rest of our adult beverages, and so I could make up the bed. We called it a day around 9 and neither of us read for very long before the eyes were slamming shut.

July 24, 2017

The day dawned without our knowledge and we didn’t climb out of bed until around 8A. But it was cool and breezy — even looked a bit like it wanted to rain, but didn’t — as we sat outside to enjoy our coffee and tea. A toasted croissant with jelly served for a meal, and around 11 we boarded the bikes to have a short tootle around the grounds.

Our first stop was at the “camp store” which is also the check-in area, and we got our proper paperwork and a couple of maps of the immediate environs. This is quite a nice campground, with putt-putt golf, a frisbee golf course, several nice playgrounds and open areas, a nature preserve with identification signage, and other amenities.


There are quite a lot of hiking and horse-riding trails, and also some mountain-biking trails, but we stuck to the paved roads as we had not changed out our road tires for nubbies. We rode our bikes around the biggest camping loop (ours), and then down Tyler Road to one of the boat launches.

There was a significant amount of flood debris scattered around down at the launch area, and you could see that the flood waters had risen a serious level above the parking area there. My guess is that the parking had to have been 20 or 30 feet underwater, judging by the mess left. This would explain the washed out road we encountered yesterday, but after looking at a map, I still don’t know why any mapping system would send folks to that area, since there’s nothing there but lake and natural area.

We climbed back uphill and went the other direction from the campground until Tyler Rd. met Rapid Forge Rd., and turned around to head back, did the smaller of the two camping loops, and returned to Roomba for lunch. The breeze was still quite lovely, and managed to keep most of the bugs away. Nevertheless we kept the AC going as the sun moved around to bear down on Roomba’s Big Front Window (BFW) for a while before the tree closest to our parking pad could offer the shade that the later afternoon promised.

Jack had arisen in the AM with a sinus headache, so after our ride, during which we found enough cell service up at the camp store to receive a few emails and texts, he hit the bed for an afternoon lie-down. As the sun and heat rose, I joined him—just to read my book, mind you.

We awakened around 3 and decided to rouse ourselves with another short pedal up to check out the weather where we could get cell service. All forecasts were for cooler and dry weather. Not having to deal with humidity is a true blessing after the prior week at home.

For dinner we enjoyed some tamales that cousin Laura and our mutual friend, Steph, had fixed and then frozen earlier this year. They had given us some to try, and they packed small and stayed frozen, so we had brought them along. A little steam in a pot and presto, we had fresh, home-made tamales! They were the best I’d ever eaten, and I’m not a tamale fan, normally.

Because we had a long drive to reach Kalamazoo, we did most of the break-down after dinner, and again enjoyed an early night, setting the alarm for 6A to have tea/coffee and hit the road west.