Moving East (For Fall)
Greetings from Pawnee State Recreation Area just west of Lincoln, Nebraska. We're here for three days and then we'll be parked in our friend Kristen Blankley and Michael Douglas' driveway for a few days so Melanie can attend a conference at the University of Nebraska College of Law.
We've been traveling every few days since we left Sisters, Oregon on the 21st, a pace we don't generally like to keep, but necessary to comfortably make Lincoln by the 10th of August.
We say we chase weather, that is, we chase favorable temps which for us is highs in the 70's and low's in the 50's or 60's at night.
We've learned a valuable lesson going forward. If at all possible, avoid traveling through parts of Washington, Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska in summer. Avoiding the heat is not an option otherwise.
We experienced our all time high temperature while traveling in South Dakota last weekend. Driving from Rapid City, South Dakota to Valentine, Nebraska the thermometer on Miranda's dashboard read 109 degrees F in the middle of the afternoon.
For those who read this and are traveling in a Leisure Travel Van, we had the Mercedes air conditioner on as well as the van (house) air conditioner. We were still quite warm in the front of the van with the sun beating in through the windshield. It didn't help we were traveling east and south so the sun was hitting us in the cab most of the time.
Our next few days in Valentine were great with highs reaching the 70's in the afternoon. And temps have been agreeable for the last few days here at Pawnee.
I suppose this is what amounts to a hardship for we nomads. A very first-world hardship at that. 😜😎
We've learned, when it comes to extremes in temperature, lower temps are easier to deal with. Layering clothing in colder temps works well, but there's only so many clothes one may remove when the temps soar and even then you're still hot. Hot saps energy too and we're both worn out after a day traveling in high temps.
Our van air conditioner works well, but extreme heat is still not ideal. The only consolation has been, generally speaking, the humidity. Since the humidity has been on the low end most days, temperatures cool substantially and relatively quickly at night and we don't have to run the air conditioner while we sleep. The air conditioner is really too loud and cycling on and off wakes me every time.
We'll be camped inside for a few days after tonight while it warms up here in Lincoln. On Sunday we head east into Iowa to Des Moines for four days. Temps will be a bit cooler there.
I'm sitting in a parking area adjacent to a truck stop and next to a storage unit that is used by Episcopal Peace Fellowship (EPF) in New Freedom, PA. Melanie and Shannon, who until recently was also employed with EPF are sorting through years of accumulated paperwork, swag, etc. trying to close out the storage unit.
We're currently camped in an Army Corp of Engineers (COE) campground, Seven Points, about 30 miles away from here for a couple of nights whilst things with the storage unit are sorted out.
Then we travel to Ithaca, NY for the celebration of one of EPF's valuable members, Linda Gaither, over the coming weekend.
We'll leave there headed in the general direction of Burlington, Vermont where Melanie will meet up with friends, Connie and Diana, at Diana's new place a few miles outside of Burlington. I'm left to my own devices for a few days. Of course, it could be worse than having to spend time alone around Burlington for a few days. 😎
I'll be parked in front of the barn at our friends, John and Cec's, in Essex Junction, VT while Melanie's away.
We've decided to spend most of our our remaining time and the first of Fall in Vermont this year. Fall and cooler weather can't arrive too soon for us. The past week has seen temperatures moderating and we're beginning to get glimpses of Fall color in the higher elevations.
Since complaining back in August about the summer heat, which, as you may have noticed, is all the rage as the planet continues to heat up, we've traveled to Polk City, Iowa just north of Des Moines for a few nice days at another COE campground, Prairie Flower, the Iowa State Fair and one of our favorite restaurants, Harbinger.
We passed through Potosi, Wisconsin camping at Grant River Campground (COE). I'd recommend it to you, but for the near constant freight trains that pass by the campground. If you like loud train horns, Grant River may be for you. It is located on the Mississippi River which is quite lovely.
We visited our friends, Rick and Ellen, in Barrington, Illinois for a few days. Barrington is always a nice stop for us and Rick and Ellen are practically family now. We didn't make the train trip into Chicago this time.
When we left Barrington, we drove Miranda to the Mercedes dealer in Hoffman Estates where she received a new set of brakes. While I'd never owned a Sprinter Van before Miranda, 85k miles seemed like an acceptable length of time for brakes. Like every other Mercedes service we've gotten all over the country now, the folks at Hoffman Estates were great and got us in and out in good time. They even washed Miranda for us.
From Hoffman Estates we traveled the South Haven, Michigan to a place we've camped several times before. Nothing special about the campground except it's in South Haven, a very cool small town along the Eastern Coast of Lake Michigan and it's located near the western junction of the Kal-Haven Trailhead. We've ridden a portion of the trail three times now and it's one of our favorites.
Just an aside, we met new friends, Gayle and Mike, after having lunch one afternoon in South Haven, something we are privileged to do as we make our way around the country. As often happens, we strike up a conversation with someone we happen on and an hour later we're exchanging information and discussing possibly camping at their home outside South Haven next year as we make our way east. We look forward to seeing them again next year.
Moving inland a bit, we spent a few days near Grand Rapids at Steamboat Park Campground in Jenison, Michigan. The campground is located on the Grand River and is connected to the Kent Trails which we bicycled a couple days.
Ludington State Park campground was next for us. It was a bit rainy while we were there, but we managed to get a few walks in, one to the lighthouse located about a mile and a half from the campground. It's a great Michigan State Park.
We headed farther north to Lake Leelanau, Michigan and back to Wild Cherry Resort, a campground where Miranda's leveling system gave us trouble a few years back. I'd originally chosen Wild Cherry back then so we could ride the rail trail between Suttons Bay and Traverse City. Since the leveler problem (and a rainy weekend) prevented that, I was looking forward to the ride this time around.
We drove over to the trailhead in Suttons Bay, a nice town located on Suttons Bay (Lake Michigan) and rode the Leelanau Trail to Traverse City, had a nice lunch on West Arm Grand Traverse Bay and rode back. Great weather, great day.
The next day I did some riding on my own while Melanie checked out Suttons Bay, we had lunch and made our way back to the campground.
We traveled to Old Mission Peninsula north of Traverse City for a few days over the Labor Day weekend staying at a Boondockers Welcome location on a farm there. Luke, our host, was great providing good information for a bike ride up the east coast of the peninsula to the Mission Point Lighthouse on Saturday. When getting a reservation in a campground becomes tough, Boondockers is almost always a great way to solve the problem. We were grateful to Luke and family for accommodating us on a holiday weekend.
Holidays can prove to be difficult as we don't plan too far out to give us maximum flexibility as we travel. It's nice to have good second, third... choices.
We've just arrived outside Ithaca, NY and will camp in Taughannock Falls State Park for a few days before moving to Richford, New York to driveway surf at our friends Linda and Mikes' home. We'll be celebrating Linda who received the EPF John Nevin Sayre award recently.
Digressing to finish September thus far, we spent the remainder of the Labor Day holiday at Sun Outdoors Petoskey/Bay Harbor. Sun Outdoors has numerous properties that are, generally speaking, higher end campgrounds with good amenities such as a pool and hot tube and, in this instance, tiny home cottages and a putting green. The hot tub was nice. We stay with them in San Antonio, Texas at their property along the river.
I booked us here because the Little Traverse Wheelway is located just across Highway 31 from Sun Outdoors Petoskey/Bay Harbor and extends south into Charlevoix.
On Monday, we rode our bikes into Charlevoix and had lunch, rode around town a bit and then rode back to our camp.
Deciding we'd not had enough bike riding, we decided to check out Bay Harbor an upscale community for people who have boats on Lake Michigan. We found a wine bar open and sat outside enjoying the pleasant late summer weather.
Heading farther north still on Tuesday the 6th, we camped for two days in Wilderness State Park on the shores of Lake Michigan. I booked us here mainly because it's near The Headlands International Dark Sky Park.
Our friend, Keith, texted us at some point and mentioned we should check it out. As luck would have it, there was a near full moon while we were in residence at Wilderness State Park so dark skies, not so much.
We did ride into Mackinaw City for lunch one day and ducked into The Headlands on our way there. Sunsets at Wilderness Park were great and we'll definitely be back to try and catch the dark skies.
We spent three days at a Boondockers Welcome spot in Alpena, Michigan on Lake Huron. We'd not checked out eastern Michigan and so we drove down the Lake Huron coast after we left Wilderness State Park. Our host at the Boondockers spot was most gracious, our spot, just off a major highway was noisy until late into the evening. I knew it would be noisy before we arrived but, for our purposes, it was a great spot.
I rode the Northeastern State Trail while we were in Alpena.
We drove into town on Saturday and parked on Thunder Bay to watch Alabama play Texas. Afterwards we walked into town and had a late early dinner at The Black Sheep Pub.
From Alpena we traveled farther down the coast to Bay City where we spent a few days in Bay City State Park yet another stellar Michigan State Park. We drove into Bay City and had lunch during our time there, but rain prevented us from enjoying the Bay County Riverwalk/Railtrail System that runs from just north of Tobico March near the state park into town.
We spent a couple of days at Walnut Grove Campground in Belleville, Michigan where we rode the Wayne County Metropark's Trail a few days. The trail follows the Huron River through 3 metro parks and is stellar.
East Harbor State Park Campground, Lakeside Marblehead, Ohio, was our next camp spot for a night. It's a nice Ohio state park located on East Bay Lake Erie.
We then drove into Cleveland for what has become an annual visit to Trinity Cathedral in downtown. The Diocese of Ohio has an EPF Peace Partner Chapter located at the Cathedral.
The location is also great for us because Cleveland is a very bike friendly place. We rode our bikes to near Case Western Reserve on Saturday morning to meet members of the Chapter for coffee. It's always nice to meet new friends and catch up with friends we met there before.
We were able to check out the Cleveland Botanical Gardens after coffee.
The last few days found us at an Army Corp of Engineers Campground. Seven Points is located on Raystown Lake and we lucked into a really nice spot right on the lake.
On our way to Taughnanock Falls today we drove into State College for a brief time to check it out and let Melanie, our corresponding secretary, acquire posts cards.
It's warmer than we want it to be right now, but overnight temperature will fall and tomorrow, the first day of the Fall season, will be seasonable with a predicted high of 63 degrees, low tomorrow night will be 44. Yes!! Happy first day of Fall, y'all
Steven and Melanie