Sunday, July 30, 2017

Hart Ranch

We arrived here on July 29 for three nights after a two day journey of 963 miles to Rapid City, South Dakota.   We spent one night in a rest area en route.  This is a one of the best parks in the RPI system, M*****.  Not much has changed since our last visit in July 2014 except the grass was browning out as they have not had enough rain and apparently there is no irrigation system.  Our site was equipped with full hookups including 50 amp electric, water, sewer, and cable TV; all located on a level concrete pad.

 They have upgraded the internet here and our site was directly next to the transmitter; and I have been able to update the blog for the first time in weeks.  The internet worked great!  The bike rally in Sturgis starts next week and the Harley's are already filling up local campgrounds.  We have been catching up on errands that we have not made time for: food shopping, hair cuts, and washing clothes.  Tomorrow we are planning to dine out at the Alpine Restaurant for a Black Angus Tenderloin in Hill City.

KOA Kankakee, Illinois

We stopped here for one night en route to our next stop in Rapid City, S. Dakota and to visit our motorhome friends, Mike and Pat from IRV2 family.  We had a full hookup pull through site.  Our site was off level and had to use jacks to level the coach.   There is not much around here except corn and soy bean fields, and the park seemed to be filled with full time residents.  Other than that, it was a good stop over and we paid $36 for one night.  I rate this park P***.
Mike and Pat treated us to a delicious German meal and then a tour of their beautiful lakefront home in a private community.

Hearthstone Public Campground - Lake George, N. Y.

We camped here for three days to visit Lake George, N. Y.  from July 11 -14.  This is a beautiful N. Y State Park set in the woods alongside Lake George.  There is a swimming beach and you can launch your kayak from shore.  Aggie’s family visits this resort area every year  and I can see why.  This park is close to Lake George Village where most of the action is.  There are boat rides, rental boats, parasailing, all kinds of restaurants, gift shops, and attractions to take your money.  There is even a trolley car that will pick you up at the park which will drop you off into town and take you back for $1 to $2 round trip, which will save you quite a bit on parking fees in town.
That said, this is a dry camping park which has a dump station in the park.  There are water faucets throughout the park, but very chlorinated and there is one faucet where you can attach a hose to fill your tank but we did not utilize it.  No electric, water or sewer at any site.  This park is not big rig friendly, and upon arrival we had to park our rig on a hill and curve to check in.  Then had to navigate between two large trees upon entry.  We detached our toed on a single lane road where no one could pass.  Some untrimmed trees scrapped the top or sides of my rig and most sites were not very level including our site.  There is a very steep grade going down to the sites nearest to the water.  Some sites had a filtered view of the lake.  Our site was situated down hill from the street and even with blocks under my wheels and use of jacks in the back I still was not level.  Ninety percent of campers in the park were camping with tents and tent trailers.
There are two sections to this park which is divided by highway 9N.  I would not attempt bringing an RV over 22 feet on the side away from the lake, but I did notice a 29 foot trailer in there.  There are many tight turns on this side on very narrow one lane roads.
The rules in the park are very restrictive.  No swimming at the beach without a lifeguard and I did not see one there the few times I walked down to the beach.  That did not stop people from swimming there though.  Dog’s are not allowed in day use areas and at the beach.  No opportunity for Buddy to go for a swim.  Generators are restricted from 9 - 11 am and 4-7 pm.  Loud generators will be asked to leave.  Cell phone was weak and we received 6 channels over the air TV, but did not try satellite TV as we were in the trees.  We paid $90 for 3 days which included a $9 reservation fee.  I would stay here again if in the area and rate this park F*** for large trailers and big rigs .  As this park is better suitable for tenting I rate this park F***** for tents.
The closest large grocery store was 9 miles north off highway 87 called Price Chopper.  We needed supplies and took out a small loan to purchase groceries.  Afterward, we found free parking on the other side of Lake George Village in front of a catholic church and wandered around town for a few hours.  We attended an free outdoor concert, purchased an ice cream cone, and Aggie snagged a good value for a new wallet.  The next day we took Buddy for a ride along the west side of the lake and drove through a resort on an island a few miles north of our campground.  I would have liked to put my kayak in, but the weather was not cooperating as thick clouds covered our area with occasional rain each day.








Holland State Park

We arrived here on July 25 for 2 nights.  We camped on the beach side where they do have some full hookups, but we were happy to get one with 30 amp electric only.  Our site was relatively level and there is a dump station and available water upon exit of the park.  The campground was totally on asphalt, but we had no difficulty navigating into our site as the sites were long enough for our 40 footer and they were 40 foot wide.  Enough room to park a second vehicle.  We paid $70 for 2 nights which included an $8 reservation fee.  We were not charged for our toad for day use.  There is a swimming beach across the dunes and opportunities for fishing across the campground.  There was one community fire pit in the park and they allow you to bring a portable fire pit to use in your own site.  No alcohol allowed in this park.  I rate this park F***.
We took a road trip through the city of Holland and visited the downtown area, the DeKlump Wooden Shoe Factory, Windmill Island Dutch Town, and I have included a picture of a huge home owned by one of the Amway family.  The shoe factory was quite interesting and they show you how they manufacture the shoes for free.  These wooded shoes seem to be reasonably priced from $39 to $49 for my size 10.  We did not pay to enter the Windmill Island Dutch Town which charges a $9 fee per person to enter.  The day use area is exceptionally busy and people we talked to came from up to






3 hours away to watch the ships come back off Lake Michigan and watch the sunsets.




Cheboygan State Park

We stayed here July 23 and 24 as I was too tired to go the few extra miles to Mackinaw City and we had called the State Park office and they indicated that there was room for us for two nights.  It had just stopped raining when we arrived and this campground is about 2.5 miles off the main highway.  The last mile was a dirt road.  This really made a mess on our Tahoe.  We had many sites to choose from and we picked the last open waterfront site.  I use that term loosely as the trees obscured the view of the water.  It was very tight, but I managed to pack the motorhome on the site with 1 inch to spare.  We had a full six inches between our Tahoe and the RV.  I used pads under my tires on one side to assist in leveling the coach.  We shared a 20 amp electrical panel with our neighbors.  There was a nice swimming beach where you could launch a kayak in the park, but you had to drive to it as it was at least 2 miles away.  It rained again while there and was a little muddy.  We paid $24 per night and did not have to pay for the toed at this location.  I rate this park F***.
We took a day trip one day to Mackinaw City and found some interesting shops in this cute little town.  I purchased a wine holder and cross made from real elk antlers.  Aggie sprung for a melamine spoon resting plate.  We visited a museum dedicated mainly to construction of the 5 mile long Mackinaw Bridge.  This bridge connects the northern section of Michigan with the southern section across Lake Superior.  We parked and walked a park along the lake and watched vehicles travel along the bridge.  We then visited Heritage Village, another free tourist attraction, which had refurbished buildings dating back to the 1800's.  We did not take the boat over to Mackinaw Island, which is probably the main attraction here as we noticed people were lined up waiting for the next boat.

Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Museum


We toured this museum while en route to our next destination Cheboygan State Park.  This museum is located adjacent to Thunder Bay in the city of Alpina, Michigan.  We spent a good three hours enjoying the free exhibits and videos of the hundreds of ships lost at sea in the 1800's and early 1900's.  There is a tour on a glass bottom boat where you can see some of the sunken ships in the bay, but the day we visited, it was cancelled due to high winds on the water.  It started to rain as we left and we traveled through a strong storm with thunder, lighting, and heavy rain on our way to our next stop.

Tawas Point State Park



We arrived here on July 21 for 2 nights.  We made reservations as our other plans did not pan out.  The only issue is we had to move each night as they did not have room anywhere in this park for two nights on a week end.  Lucky for us, the weather was rainy and the people on our second site left early so we did not have to wait till 1 PM check out time to move to our new site.  It was a nicer private corner location next to a pond.  The park was full Friday night and as it turned out our old site was empty today.  We had 30 amp electric and as most Michigan State Campgrounds go; we had no water or sewer.  There was a swimming beach and a dog beach in this park.  Since the water level was very high, the dog beach had little sand and a lot of tall grass popping out of the water.  Not a great place for the dog to swim, especially on a leash.  Buddy was able to wet his paws and get a drink of water.  There was also a lighthouse on the property which you could tour for $5 per person.  Our sites were relatively level after placing pads on passenger side of RV.  We had rain both nights and it was a little muddy.  We paid $37.50 per night after a $10 reservation fee and an extra $3.50 per night for our toad.  We had already purchased the annual State Park Pass for the motor home.  I rate this park F***

Algonac State Park

This Michigan State Park is located on the St. Clare river which separates United States and Canada at this point.  We deliberately did not make reservations for the week we planned to visit Michigan and were very surprised at how busy the State Park Campgrounds are here.  Many campers reserve their sites 6 months in advance at most state parks in this state.  We were lucky to snag a water view site for 2 nights, Wednesday and Thursday, July 19 & 20.  We could watch the giant cargo ships cruising by through our motor home windshield.   The sites are a little tight but I had no difficulty maneuvering our 40 footer into my site.   Cell phone reception was weak and we did get both over the air and satellite TV.  My cell phone froze up on me, so I reset it and all worked fine, but I got messages that I used $250 of data from Canada used to research our next stop.   I never went to Canada, but it seems my cell phone picked up the stronger signal in Canada.  This campground was recommended by our IRV2 camping friends, Mike and Sharon who live in their motor home full time 4 miles up the street from this campground.  We enjoyed  an afternoon visiting with them at their park.  Our site was relatively level, but I put some pads under my tires on one side to level it out.  We had 50 amp electric, but no water or sewer at our site.  We did use their dump station on the way out to empty holding tanks and refill water tank.  A good mixture of camping trailers, motor homes, and tents in this park and most campers enjoy the outdoors with campfires burning late into the evening.  Non Michigan residents must purchase a day use pass in addition to camping fees for each vehicle which has a motor.  If you tow a car behind your motor home, you must purchase a pass for each vehicle.  We purchased an annual pass for $32 dollars in lieu of a $9 daily pass which is good for one vehicle.  This park did not charge for our toad.  However, the next park we camped at charged $7 for toad for entire stay which was 2 days.  We paid $29 per night for camping, which seems pretty standard at Michigan State Parks.  There is also a $10 reservation fee if you make reservations as I did for our next stop over the phone.  It is less if you book online.  We enjoyed our stay and I rate this park F***  for non residents and F**** for Michigan residents simply because they are too expensive for non residents for what they provide.  For one night you could pay $29 plus reservation fee $10 and when you arrive you could pay another $18 for your motor home and toed, for a grand total of $57 for one night.
We took a ride north along the coast of Lake Huron to Lexington, Michigan and took Buddy for a swim in Lake Huron.  It is really hard to find a pet friendly beach in the state parks.  There are many waterfront homes along the lake shore and some are very affordable.  On the return trip we took some interior roads through farming country.  Quite interesting!





Niagara Falls in New York

It has been years since we have visited Niagara Falls, and I did not even recognize it.  There is a great park there with visitors center.  Twelve to fourteen million people visit the falls annually, and we had our share of them on our visit.  A lot of traffic in the area and parking is at a premium.  We paid $3 per hour for 2 hours, the maximum time you can stay on the street here.  Parking lots were $20 for all day parking.  Buddy accompanied us as we hiked across a bridge above the Niagara River.
Niagara Falls actually consists of three waterfalls; American Falls at 184 feet high, Bridal Veil Falls at 181 feet high, and Horseshoe Falls at 176 feet high.  While Horseshoe falls is the shortest of the falls, it is twice the width of the other two combined and produces 679000 gallons per second during peak season, almost 10 times the water flow of the other two combined.  Since we did not bring our passports with us, we did not go into Canada where the Horseshoe falls is located.  It is quite the spectacle and there are tour boats which take you up close to the falls and they provide rain gear to keep you dry.  New York produces 2.4 million kilowatts of electricity annually and is one of the largest hydroelectric plants in the world.



video

Darian Lakes State Park

We arrived here July 14 for four nights.  We had a relatively level site with 50 amp electric.  There was a dump station in the park and water spigots throughout the park.  The campground was fully booked for the week end and it was good we made reservations.  Monday and Tuesday we almost had the park to ourselves.  There is a swimming beach with lifeguard and you can launch a kayak or fish in the lake as well.  A few miles away, there is an amusement park with roller coaster rides for more entertainment.  We paid $33 per night plus $9 reservation fee.



I rate this park F****.
We stopped here to visit my Uncle Ed and family and my cousin Larry and his wife Marie.  We spent all day Sunday at Uncle Eddie's house and were treated to a Lasagna dinner.  Buddy was invited and he enjoyed watching deer, rabbits, and birds in Eddie's back yard.  Larry and Marie took us out to a seafood restaurant on Lake Erie.  We dinned outdoors on a covered patio and our table was just steps from the water.  Afterwards, we went to a revitalized downtown Buffalo restaurant and bar for another drink and watched boats cruise down the river.  We caught this interesting boat where passengers peddle like a bicycle to power the paddle boat.  We also took a day trip to Niagara Falls, a separate post.





Fort Adams in Newport, R. I.

We toured this fort which is claimed to be the largest and most secure in the United States.  The senior rate was $10 per person and it was quite interesting.  The docent was very knowledgeable and the tour lasted almost 2 hours.  Afterwards, we went out to dinner at the Lobster Pot on the waterfront where I scarfed down some clams on the half shell along with a couple local beer chasers.  Aggie and I enjoyed scallops and they were yummy.


Kingston State Park, N. H.

We spent a full day in New Hampshire at this park for our family reunion.  We rented a private site which accommodated the whole family.  A storm passed through while there dumping rain and wind, and fortunately our site came with a protected covered building which we all crammed in to get out of the rain.  I took my kayak out and Joanie rented one also.  I observed the clouds coming in so we cut our excursion a little short.  After the storm passed many family members went back into the water.  We had to cut our time a little short as Buddy was back at the motorhome for 10 hours by himself.