Monthly Archives: August 2015

Campground Review: Finn Road Campground – Essexville, MI

100_4556.JPG Finn Road Campground is a township operated campground near Essexville, MI (which is close to Bay City).  It’s a bit off the beaten track, around 11 miles east of I75 and then, once you are east of Essexville, it is a few miles down a county road.  On the map the campground appears to be on Saginaw Bay of Lake Huron, and it is very close to the bay.  However, there’s a large, dense wetlands area that makes the bay pretty much inaccessible except by boat via a canal cut through the wetlands.  There are, though, a couple of nice walking areas, one along the canal that stops short of the bay and another 2-3 mile trail through the wetlands, reaching all the way back to town.  The campground itself is situated between corn fields and the wetlands. 

100_4555.JPG This is a nicely done campground with paved roads and campsites.  All campsites are level full hookup, 50 amp sites with adequate grassy yards providing plenty of elbow room.  Our site was wide enough to give us a paved sitting area under the awning and deep enough that we could park the pickup in front of the 5th wheel. 

PHOTO_20150830_134339.jpg The water hookups are a bit strange.  Four sites share a four hookup water spigot.  In our case our water hookup was on the wrong side of the camper and fairly distant from it.  I pieced a few spare hoses together to reach it, so no worries.  However, I can imagine a person coming in and not having enough hose to reach.  It would probably be wise to have some extra hose along.

The campground has good WiFi and a heated bath house.  I had good Verizon 4G and was able to get a satellite signal with no problem.  A big Krogers and lots of other shopping is nearby.  There are several seasonal residents at Finn Road and I can see why they like it.  This campground gets a thumbs up from us.

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Sightseeing Review: Bay City and Frankenmuth, MI

100_4576.JPG We had fun visiting the touristy Bavarian town, Frankenmuth, MI, with its many shops and eating places. A highlight was our visit to the Zeilenger Wool Company. They process wool from sheep, goats, alpaca, and others for comforters, mattress pads, bed pillows, etc. They also have a commercial spinning operation, creating custom yarns. We were lucky to be there just as a tour started and we got to see where the cleaned wool was spun into yarn and placed on spools. After our visit at Zeilengers we enjoyed walking around the picturesque downtown, looking at the buildings and visiting several shops. Some of the candy and food shops have free samples – yum! There’s a “modern” covered bridge, and a pretty river where you can take a tour on a riverboat.

100_4603.JPG The other highlight for us was a tour the USS Edson, DD-946 in Bay City, MI at the Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum. Since we volunteered at the Battleship Texas last winter (and plan to do it again this coming winter) we found a visit to this ship especially interesting. Upon admission we were given a walking tour flyer that explained the highlights of the ship. There are many well documented displays providing lots of information on the ship and the places it served. We saw where the enlisted sailors lived, ate, got medical care, and got haircuts. We saw where the officers spent their leisure time and saw their sleeping quarters. The engine area was a bit overwhelming for me, but Scott liked looking around. I especially liked the pilot house and combined information center which controlled all communications. This is an excellent tour for those interested in 1950’s-80’s Navel history. It does require walking up steps, including going up and down steep, narrow ladders. Still, I think it was well worth the effort.

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Campground Review: Tiki RV Park – St Ignace, MI

100_4542.JPG Tiki RV Park is in St Ignace, MI – a primary launching point for visits to Mackinac Island. The park is just minutes from the ferry docks and downtown St Ignace and near the northern end of Mackinaw Bridge. There are a variety of campsites, ranging from full hookup, 50 amp, pull-throughs down to tent sites nestled in the woods. Most of the sites are gravel, although there is a popular no-sewer, grassy area near the restrooms. Many, but not all, of the back in sites have grassy strips between the campsites but the pull-throughs are a generally a bit tighter. We were given an “end site” that resulted in our having a larger front yard. Our neighbor to the driver’s side, though, was faced in the opposite direction of us and was within just a few feet of us.

The interior roads are all good gravel and the sites are fairly level with the exception of a few that would be challenging. Lake Huron is easily visible from the road in front of the campground entrance but only a very few campsites would offer any sort of lake view at all.

There are some big trees in the campground but we were able to get satellite TV after moving the dish around some to find a “hole in the sky.” My 4G Verizon was pretty good and the campground WiFi was solid. The restrooms were kept reasonably clean and there are individual shower rooms as well as a laundry on site.

They honor Passport America, Escapees, and other discounts and I was allowed to combine them, giving me a nice discount for 6 of the 7 nights we stayed. Obviously, the discounts offered, plus the location results in lots of overnight visitors who are just passing through. I don’t think we would have done any better for the price at any campground in the area.

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Sightseeing Review: Mackinac Island, MI and vicinity

As we planned our 2015 Adventure we included a visit to historic Mackinac Island, MI as a highlight of our trip. It did not disappoint.

100_4487.JPG Our base of operations was the lovely town of Saint Ignace. There are many touristy shops and restaurants and a pretty boardwalk along Lake Huron. I especially liked Chief Wawatam City Park and the nearby light house. We relaxed, watching the ferry boats coming and going to the Island, less than six miles across the lake from us.

100_4492.JPG Mackinaw City also has many historic places and parks. The drive over the famous Mackinaw Bridge is a special event in and of itself! We saw a couple of light houses and strolled through a lakefront park as well as taking a walk through the woods, learning about the early inhabitants and settlers as we went.

100_4504.JPG The big event of our stay in the area was a day at Mackinac Island. We specifically picked a ferry departure time that included a side trip under the big bridge. It was amazing seeing this landmark from the vantage point of the water.

100_4530.JPG Once we arrived at Mackinac Island we took a horse drawn carriage tour of the island. Really, there are too many historic homes and buildings to see in one day. I especially enjoyed touring Fort Mackinac. Many of the buildings there are furnished with period items and sound effects give a feel for what it might have been like to have lived at the fort. We were entertained by the close order drill that included many of the audience. There was also a noisy and interesting rifle firing demonstration. After the Fort we walked over to the Grand Hotel. We were disappointed that they charge $10 admission to even walk into the foyer! Having already paid for the ferry, the carriage, and the fort – and still planning on buying a few souvenirs we decided to head to the main shopping areas rather than entering the famous hotel. As we walked, we were impressed by the beautiful flowers in the yards along the way. We bought a few things, but my favorite was some of the world famous island fudge! It will come as no surprise to my friends that I especially enjoyed visiting the public library which has some terrific outside seating overlooking the water – what a great place to relax and read a good book!

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Campground Review: Jack Pine Lodge and Campground – Manistique, MI

100_4381.JPG Jack Pine Lodge and campground is located in the Hiawatha National Forest between Munising, MI, on Lake Superior 30 miles to the north, and Manistique, MI, on Lake Michigan 25 miles to the south. Depending on your point of view, it’s either equally handy or equally unhandy to both! The property has a well-established bar and grill, rental cabins, and a fairly new full hookup campground with 50 amp electric.

100_4476.JPG The campsites are spacious and generally long enough for most any RV and there are a few pull throughs. There’s good shade but we had no problem getting satellite TV. I can’t say as much for cell and internet. Our Verizon cell service was zero to very poor at its best. The bar and grill on the property offers free WiFi and it is dependable but noticeably slow and easily overloaded. You have to be either inside the building or at least right at the door to use the WiFi. There’s a playground for the kids and some horseshoe pits but the big attraction is the many 4-wheeler/snowmobile trails out through the National Forest. Several of the RVers had 4-wheelers and they headed out every day to explore the area via the many miles of well-used trails. It looked as if it would be a lot of fun. In the winter the Lodge hosts snowmobile rallies. I don’t think I’d like the cold and snow through the long Upper Peninsula winters but I’d sure like giving that sport a try. The campground has a heated bathhouse and a small laundry. The next time we travel in this part of the country I’ll be happy to return.

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