Monday, September 30, 2013

Enjoying Autumn in Michigan


We’ve been enjoying some beautiful fall weather here in Michigan – daytime highs have been in the high 60s and low 70s, and overnight lows in the 50s, with just a few nights in the high 40s.  It’s hard to believe we’ve been here a month already – time certainly flies when you are busy!


We’re going to extend for another month here at the campground, and hopefully the nice fall weather will continue through October.  It’s supposed to be 80 degrees tomorrow, so that’s a good start to the month!


We’ve been busy taking care of business -- doctor appointments, dentist appointments, financial planner meetings – and fun, too – getting together with friends for football games, dinners with family, Driver’s Ed for Bryce – and helping my mom and Tom’s parents get their yards cleaned up before winter.


We’ve had a few campfires,


spent an afternoon at our favorite apple orchard,

Apple picking day

and enjoyed some beautiful sunsets!

Sunset_September 25th

Yesterday was Bryce’s 15th birthday,

Happy Birthday, Bryce!

and we had a party at my mom’s house.  I was busy cooking all week – cake, cookies, spaghetti & meatballs . . .

I was busy baking!

and we had a pretty good feast!

After changing the oil in Grandma’s car, Bryce and Nicolas helped her get started on the new puzzle we brought her . . .

Hard at work

Working on the new puzzle










while I cooked dinner and worked on my laundry.

Jaxon found the cake in the kitchen and just took a little taste . . .

Mmmm . . . cake!

he liked the meatballs, too, though!

Jaxon liked the meatballs!

Bryce and his cake


Soon enough, we all got to have a taste of the cake!








Bryce enjoyed his birthday celebration with the family, especially spending the day with Grandma!

Bryce and Grandma

Back at the campground, the leaves are just starting to change, and we’re hoping that winter weather takes its time showing up, too!

Beautiful September Day

Thursday, September 19, 2013

One Year Later

Just over a year ago, on August 31, 2012, we hitched up the RV and drove down the driveway of our home for the last time.


We’ve been fulltime RVers for a year now, and we travelled about 10,000 miles, added 14 states to our map,


and visited 21 of our nation’s National Parks.
























Mission San Jose












Officer Row

























Colorado River View from Dead Horse Point












Engines meet at the Golden Spike























Yellowtail Dam












Day 206_The Presidents













What have we learned and experienced this year??

The #1 adventure . . . Jeeping in Moab, hands-down!

Climbing Down!

We also enjoyed salt-water fishing, kayaking, fly-fishing, hiking, exploring caves, and incredible scenery – from dry, dusty deserts to lush green meadows, rivers, mountains, and everything in between!

We learned that deserts are beautiful, but we prefer green!

We learned that mountains are awesome, but the altitude is brutal when you’re not used to it!

We learned that we love to explore new areas and see as much as we can, but we also need some downtime!

How did we do on our budget??

When we factored in 4-1/2 months of volunteering/workamping, we did really well on campground fees.  We averaged $415/month, with July as our most expensive month at $908 (and that included 7 nights of boondocking!).  Passport America really came in handy, and paid for itself several times over.

Our fuel expenses were higher than expected, although that can be attributed to us travelling further than we originally planned.  We only paid over $4.00/gallon once this past year – that was in Wall, SD.  We put twice as many miles on the car as we did the truck, so having the extra vehicle (which gets about 2.5X the fuel mileage) really paid off.

Our grocery and restaurant expenses were quite a bit higher than we expected . . . those boys just eat WAY TOO MUCH! Smile  We were surprised to find that the grocery prices we are used to in Michigan are actually pretty low – we paid more in almost every state, but especially Florida and Colorado.

We should have budgeted more for entertainment/activities, but definitely got our money’s worth out of the National Parks Pass.  We could have also benefitted from having a Zoo/Aquarium Membership, but never did buy one.

What did we miss about Michigan??

The beach!

Colorful Day at the Beach

We stayed at the ocean, and on a few lakes, but none of them could compare to the salt-free water and sugar sand of Michigan beaches! 

Of course we also missed our families and friends, but that’s why we’re back here now.  Besides taking care of the business of doctor, dentist, orthodontist, and financial planner appointments, we’re also spending lots of time getting caught up with our friends and families before we hit the road again!

There’s still so much for us to see, and we can’t wait, but next year we’re going to plan on getting back to Michigan a little sooner so we can enjoy some of the summer “up north”!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

More Silver Lake fun

We’ve been back “home” for almost a week now, and we’ve been busy with family visits, doctor & dentist appointments, and getting ready for another school year.

We picked a different campground as our home base this year, Camp Lord Willing in Monroe, MI, and it’s very nice.  The campground is open year-round, and there are quite a few long-term residents, but the RVs and sites are well-kept, and it’s very peaceful and quiet.

 Camp Lord Willing - site #21

Tom is especially happy that the roads are all paved!  It’s also a little more centrally-located between our families, and an easy drive for me to go to work.  It’ll be a good place to call home for several weeks while we take care of business.

Before we left Silver Lake, though, we had a couple more days of fun.

Sunday was supposed to be rainy and cool, but again the weather forecasters were way off, and it turned out to be a beautiful day.  We took a drive down to the Lake Michigan beach to walk the beach and see the lighthouse.

Beautiful day, but not too crowded

Apparently there was recently a ruling in Michigan that allows homeowners on lakes claim the beach as private, and on this stretch of sand the homeowners were taking advantage of it and had set up signs stating that the public was not allowed to walk on the sand; we had to stay on the edge of the water.  Once we arrived back on state park property, we could walk in the sand again!

Walking the beach

Kite Surfing on Lake Michigan


Along the way, we watched a guy kite sailing along the shore.  It was a great day for it, with a nice strong wind off the lake.









If we had known it was going to be as nice as it was, we could have brought our lunches and had a picnic at the beach.  Instead, after getting the kids to pose for a couple pictures,

The kids just love posing for us!

At the beach











we headed back to the RV Park for lunch.  After lunch and some relaxing time, we gave in to the kids and rode bikes into town for some go-carting and ice cream.

Nick & Bryce both trying to get around this guy

Even the big kids had to get into the competition!


The ride ended way too soon, but the kids all had fun!

Oops -- spinout!

We finished up the day with some time at the pool, and a campfire in the evening.  We also had a surprise meeting with The Boyink’s, another family living an RV lifestyle.  We’ve been following each other’s blogs, with a common background of being from Michigan, but had never met in person.  They just happened to be in the RV Park visiting family who we were parked across from, and we recognized them as they walked down the road!  What a small world!

Our friends had to leave on Monday (back to work and school!), but we had a couple extra days to relax.  The rain and cold front finally arrived, and the RV Park quickly emptied out.  Our neighbor in the park was going up on the dunes and offered to take Nick & Bryce with him and his daughter, so that was fun for them . . . they said it was fairly tame up on the dunes, but chilly!  They had a great time, though!

On Tuesday, we were back to beautiful weather, and we took a drive to nearby Pentwater,

Beautiful day in Pentwater

where most of the shops were closed (recovering from the busy holiday weekend, I guess!), but we managed to visit our favorite shop in town.

No trip to Pentwater is complete without a stop here!









From downtown, we walked to the beach at Mears State Park.

The beach at Mears State Park

It was a quiet day at the beach, with just a few dogs swimming in the water,   Not Casey; someone else's dog enjoying the water!









and a few boats out on the water.

Sailboat on Lake Michigan

We walked out to the end of the pier, where nick and Bryce climbed on the rocks . . .

Mermaid Rocks

 mermaid rocks, I guess . . .

Bryce on the mermaid rocks



Nicolas at the beach

then we took a walk through the campground to check it out.

Nice location, but small sites

The views from the sites are certainly beautiful, but the sites are really just parking spots, and they are pretty small . . . too tight for a big rig, I’m afraid.  I guess we’ll stick with the Silver Creek RV Resort when we want to be in this area, and make the drive up to Pentwater.

On the way back to the campground, we stopped for one last view of the sand dunes.

Silver Lake Sand Dunes

It was a great way to end our Labor Day weekend holiday, back home in Michigan!