2018 – Twin Mills Camping Resort – Howe, IN

Thousand Trails offered a new add on this year called “Trails Collection.” The upgrade makes over 100 more campgrounds available to members (on a more limited basis). The price we paid ($199) makes it a good deal even if you intend to use it only a week or two during the year. Twin Mills Camping Resort is our first Trails Collection campground.

The campground itself is an older campground with over 500 sites. Most, if not all, of the sites have electric and water. Many have full hookups. The main clientele is made up of seasonal campers. One man told me that they have been coming here seasonally over 20 years. There are many nicely done spots, with park model trailers and attractive landscaping. There are also many sites for traveling/weekend campers. Less of them are FHU, but many of them are. The campsites are in a primarily pine forest with lots of shade (and pinecones).

There’s a big pool, a few playgrounds, and limited lake access. Only a very few spots actually afford lake views and they have been occupied by permanent residents for many years.

Over the weekend the place was very busy. The campground, while not full, was well used and there were activities, mainly for the kids. It seemed that everyone had a campfire and at times the smoke was so thick it looked as if a heavy fog had descended on the place. Once the weekend passed the majority of the campers left and the air cleared.

Our only big complaint was associated with our arrival. Unlike Thousand Trails which is (supposedly) first-come-first-served so far as campsites are concerned the Trails Collection campgrounds let you specify your site amenities, if available. At least that’s how it is supposed to work. Here’s the deal: the Trails Collection campgrounds are supposed to set aside 10 campsites for the program. When we arrived, we were told that Thousand Trails is way overbooking those 10 sites. Because of that, we were told, there weren’t any more FHU sites left out of the allocated spots. That didn’t work well for us, especially since we were in for a longer stay. The folks in the office insisted that, in spite of the many vacant FHU sites that there was nothing available to me, a lowly Trails Collection customer. I decided to phone Thousand Trails service center to see if they could help. However, while I was on hold the folks at the front desk found a few FHU sites I could pick from. We moved into a nice spot among the seasonals and settled in. From what I was told by other travelers this is not an unusual situation for this particular campground.

Aside from the challenging situation upon our arrival we have no complaints about this campground. It’s a nice place in an interesting area.

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2018 – Sightseeing Elkhart and Shipshewana, IN

We spent time in this area last year as we headed to an event in Indianapolis. This year we are working our way east and passing through this area again.

We drove a short distance to Elkhart to visit the RV/MH Museum. It was a nice way to spend a hot day. The museum displays highlight the evolution of RV from early days to current century. The early canvas tents on wheels were fascinating to me. Seeing the outdoor cooking gear and utensils was fun too. We saw a RV belonging to Mae West and the one owned by Charles Lindbergh. The variety in size and and how they were decorated inside was fun to see. The museum is well worth the price of admission and I highly recommend it.

Here’s a review from 2017 of this area.
Here’s another review of this area from last week.

We went to the flea market in Shipshewana last year. This year we decided to skip it and do a little shopping and a bit of “recreational eating” instead. We looked around and made purchases on Main Street and then enjoyed pastry and coffee at one of the many bakeries. Before we left town we bought some delicious meat and cheese to bring home. From there we drove some of the back roads and enjoyed seeing the many Amish farms. It was a pleasant drive on a hot day.

Shortly after arriving in this area one of Scott’s cousins told him that we were close to his home town and that he had several relatives nearby. On Sunday we attended Sturgis, Michigan Nazarene and met several of his family. Scott says there were 2nd, 3rd, and 4th cousins there and then together for an enjoyable lunch. This was an unexpected bonus for us!

Again, there is a lot to see and do in this area – all to the more reason for us to return on a future adventure.

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2018 – Bear Cave Thousand Trails – Buchanan, MI

Bear Cave Thousand Trails is just north of South Bend, Indiana in the southwestern corner of Michigan. The campground is situated along the St. Joseph River and there are several sites along the river. Most of these sites are a bit smaller and all are 30 amp/water sites. Campers with smaller rigs will enjoy these sites. There are several FHU 50 amp sites but many of these are sold to seasonal residents. Still, there were vacant FHU sites while we were at the campground. Most of the available FHU sites are large sites on or around a field rather than in the wooded areas beside the river. Not only would we have not fit in the river or playground sites, we wouldn’t have been able to get a satellite TV signal so we were satisfied with our back in site along the perimeter of the field sites.

The road into the campground is a bit of a concern. It is gravel and just barely wide enough for two RV’s to meet. “Just barely” may even be a bit optimistic depending on how close to the edge the drivers are willing to get. This isn’t a huge deal because the road in is fairly short, but it is something people might want to know.

Our Verizon signal was barely there even using a cradle booster. We had internet but it was only fair at best and sometimes unusable. Compounding the problem is the fact that there is no WiFi anywhere in the campground – not at the Activity Center and not for pay. I think Jackie and I both went through a bit of Internet withdrawal – not necessarily a bad thing.

The campground has a big pool (too cold for us in early June – but well-used by the kids) and a big Activity Center.  The spa was out of service. These are a ways from the FHU section of the campground.

During our visit the cave itself was closed due to winter flooding. Work was being done on it and on the nice river walkway that was also damaged. The nicest feature of the campground, in my opinion, was a pretty waterfall that is right at the heart of the campground. In fact, there are some campsites that overlook the waterfall. I imagine that with the sound of the water that tenting in those sites must be great for sleeping!

Really, I think there’s a lot to like about this campground. It is a bit tired and in need of some corporate financial TLC but really, this is a pretty good Thousand Trails.

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2018 – Sightseeing Northwestern Indiana and Southwestern Michigan

Being close to South Bend, Indiana and having heard of Notre Dame University all my life we decided to drive down and tour of the campus. I was impressed with beautiful well kept grounds. The famous Gold Dome and statue Of The Virgin Mary on top is a well known landmark. We toured the bookstore and saw the many items ranging from text books to Fighting Irish themed clothings. We took a walking tour with a friendly young lady who is a sophomore at the University. She said they have about 16 female dorms and 17 male dorms. The Basilica of the Sacred Heart is a beautiful ornate place of worship with the stained glass windows first installed In 1893. Our final stop was The Hesburgh Library featuring Jesus depicted in a famous mural as the “Word of Life” facing Notre Dame Stadium. This giant mural is better known as “Touchdown Jesus”. There is much more to see on campus should you decide to visit.

Here’s another review of this area.
Here’s yet another review of this area.

We also enjoyed our day in St. Joseph, Michigan. This city is at the mouth the St. Joseph River on Lake Michigan. Many people were enjoying the Silver Beach County Park. This park offers wide beaches with playgrounds for kids of all ages. There were several volleyball nets. We saw lots of children playing in the water at the Whirlpool Compass Fountain. They were having a blast being sprayed with with water shooting up from the floor for them to run through and stand under and huge water cannons shooting across the park on timers. There is also a paved trail above the shoreline with benches to sit on and enjoy lake view.

From the river walkway we could see the two lighthouses called Range lights at the mouth of the St.Joseph River. They were built in 1907 when the pier was lengthened.

A major attraction of the Park is the Silver Beach Carousel open year around and along with unique handmade horses. It features a rocking peacock and sea serpent benches that are wheelchair accessible.

This is a great area to visit and I know there is much more to see. In fact, I’ll have another review of the area as we continue our visit in the vicinity at a different campground next week.

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2018 – Cedar Lake, IN Ministries RV Park

Cedar Lake Ministries, located about an hour southeast of Chicago in northwestern Indiana, has roots reaching back over 100 years when Chicago’s Moody Church took over management of a railroad recreation destination on a large lake. The ministry at this retreat center continues to this day. The Center has a nice RV park that is open to the public and that is where we have been the past few days. The RV park offers FHU back in sites, some with 50 amp electric service. The sites aren’t especially deep, but there is adequate parking for extra vehicles. The bathhouse is nicely done and clean. Water spigots are on shared hookups between every other site, equally unhandy to those on both sides so extra water hose will likely be needed. WiFi was pretty good although we did get frequent drops requiring us to reconnect. The sites on the north side of the road in and out are most likely to be satellite friendly. While we were at the campground there was a Christian music concert that we were welcome to attend. We thought the music was pretty good. There is no direct lake access but it is just a short walk to the public portion of the retreat center where there are benches along the lake, affording us nice views. My Verizon signal was good. We give this retreat center campground two thumbs up and would happily return.

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2018 – Olivet Nazarene University – Good friends and memories

We had a pleasant Day in Bourbonnais, Illinois seeing long time friends Lee and Marilyn Turner along with a short visit with Scott’s cousin Phillis and William Harris. We were blessed by the good worship service at College Church on Olivet Nazarene University campus – our first time to worship there in nearly 50 years! After lunch with Lee and Marilyn and a quick visit to their beautiful home we headed back to the University. It has grown and prospered since we met on this campus and began our lives together. We found a few memorable spots (like where we met for the very first time). Scott noticed that for some reason there was no plaque marking the spot. He is sure that the missing plaque is just a temporary omission that will be fixed soon.

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