Howell Michigan Camping

We are stopped at a state park near Brighton Michigan for six nights to visit family. Running on electric only. Our tank sizes are 70 gallon fresh water, 10 hot water, 90 gray and 45 black. We are being more conservative on water usage than our last longer stay without hookups. So far it looks like we will have no problem spending a week off hookups. Paper plates and taking a shower at the public building is about all we are doing to preserve water and tank space.  Karen is being more careful when washing dishes as well.

We have finished 850 miles of a 1700 mile trip. I purchased a one year subscription to RV Trip Planning Wizard and really like it.  I also jump over to campground reviews.com for additional ideas for camping areas. Those years of planning are coming in handy as I’ve got an arsenal of ideas for trip planning provided by friends and readers.  Thanks for that!

One comment that makes since is trip planning and navigation are two separate concepts. Navigation might be using a GPS or map during the drive. Our 2018 Dodge navigation system is working great. As I’m still so new at hauling a monster fifth wheel, I still look at Google Earth for the entire route to check for tight areas. Used to even look over interstate’s on Google Earth as well but now feel comfortable with only checking lessor roads, especially if they are not divided highways. RV Trip Planning Wizard also contains a low bridge database so at this point I’ve not bothered to find a third party application to check for low bridges. At this point, I’ll not purposely take side routes that are not part of the original route planning. Tried that in Indianapolis to get around major highway backups. Was a fun trip to include my first time on a larger road in a residential area and a first time trip through a round-a-bout. That got my nerves sparking but keeping it slow and watching those back tires in the mirrors, along with reassurance from Karen I was going great, were big boosts to morale. Have I said I really, really love Ram’s tow mirrors!  They are awesome. Even if you get a 2500 to tow with, make sure you have the factory tow mirrors!

For now, when I book a camping spot I copy all my notes to Google Calendar. That way we can look things up quickly while traveling or upon arrival.  Click this link to see what my typical notes look like:  Calendar view

For now, because I’m so new at this, I print a campground map prior to arrival so I know how to get to our spot and where dump stations are located. Before we park I make sure I know how I’ll pull out assuming all the surrounding spots are taken and I’ll be maneuvering around cars and other campers. For that matter, when I park in a cramped grocery store lot in the dually truck, I make sure I can get out if someone parks on both sides of me and the travel lanes are narrow.  On the way into the current state park there were two low branches (ya have to look up to see them). It was like driving threw a serpentine course as I weaved in and out of other camping spots to avoid low branches. Just learned I’ll be keeping my tree trimmer with the extendable handles. And I hope not to go to jail for cutting a branch every now and then.

This lifestyle is really going to be healthy. I’m walking more and am generally more physically active. Karen and I are loving our time together. It’s nice to wake up in the morning in our new home then step outside to remember you are dead center in a wonderful state park. It would be hard to explain the wonder of it all in words. Just imagine if you are in your sticks and bricks house, unaware of what is outside, then open the door to amazement.

We are going to try out spending two nights at each stop on the way back to Kansas City. We had a couple overnight stops on the way here and tried to stay around 200 miles for each travel day. RV Trip Planning Wizard has an excellent system for showing travel distances between stops. Really helps with picking campgrounds along the way. So far we are booking our stops when we can. All this helps keep the stress level down for us new guys.  Finding less stressful ways to do things is important during this first year I’m sure.

One stop on the drive to Michigan was at a county campground which does not take reservations. We called and the lady at the county office said there would be spots. At $20 a night with 30 amps, within five miles from the highway in a secluded location, what a find that was. Get your notepad out and mark this one down.

Snap 2019-07-26 at 09.15.54

 

I’ve been using my make-shift office setup to get some work done. Right now I’m sitting at a chair outside the camper. But for more serious work I take five minutes to setup a more involved space at the dining table. Like most everything else, the way we do things seem to be evolving into something that works well.  I might add the process of evolution is also occurring for places we store things to include the basement space where for the most part we started off with containers we already owned. Yup, I’ve already discovered how you setup for the stay has a lot to do with how long you stay. For example, moving a storage containing out of the basement to under the camper to make room to pull other stuff out. I’d say don’t sweat over all the details such as how you arrange storage. Your unique system will just seem to happen on it’s own.

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Current office arrangement

 

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Yesterday’s view from the “office”

For the short-term you may notice a few changes in my writing style. There is a lot going on that I want to report on. I’ll just have to bang out the thoughts more quickly for now.

A sad note is that we lost our dog Johnny-Ringo to illness on this trip. I can’t write much about it. I live around death nearly every day on the job back home. Loosing a dog hurts just as much as when other loved-ones die. Seeing Karen sad hurts . Dogs have such unique personalities. He had a long-term breathing problem and it finally caught up to him. I can’t find the strength to even post my favorite photos of him. At least my mom now has another dog to play with in heaven; I like to think.

We went to bible study with Karen’s mom the other day. It was wonderful. The minister is so educated and smart about the bible. We are looking forward to stopping in at other churches on this journey. Tonight the minister is coming out for a campfire. His wife appears to be equally knowledgably. There were several older folks at the bible study and I got a lot from listening to their wisdom.

To my sister Mary – We saw an R Pod camper across the street from us being pulled with a full size SUV. Most of the campers of that size in this campground are the hybrid travel trailers with hard sides and the pop-out beds at the end. During this week I’ve noticed what appears to be moms with kids coming out during the week presumably when dad is at work. I’ll bet you see the same in your trips.

By the way, we have a contract on the house. Closes August 26th if all goes well. I’ve got to hook-up to the city sewer system and there might be a delay in getting that done as the contractor is backed-up. With the help of the real estate agent, who knows how the city and contractors work, we have a plan B should the sewer connection be delayed. We gave the new residence permission to store personal items in the basement. They are staying with relatives but had to get the kids registered in school. I’m thinking we are going to have a good relationship during the process with the new owners who are over the top excited about the house. They already finished their inspections and I’m waiting for the results. The realtor has us sign everything on-line and I can tell is making sure to allow us to enjoy our vacation time.

A final thought for sure is that I’m thankful to all our new RVer friends and readers of this blog for the last four years or so of planning. So much of what we learned and are now applying will ensure we make it through the curves in the road that pop up in this lifestyle.

Mark from Missouri

19 thoughts on “Howell Michigan Camping

    • Hay Jim,

      Have you ever driven US 24 west from Fort Wayne? We are looking for a path around Indianapolis to the west. Outer highway is one lane due to construction. I’m even thinking I-80 would be better than going anywhere near Indianapolis. I’m wanting to cut over from I69 to I74/72

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      • Nice find. I went to the Indiana DOT website and checked out the detour. Looks doable as the detour is state highway. I checked out the turns on Google Earth as well. Our truck’s GPS still has the active traffic alerts which is nice for looking at the road ahead as well. I’ll remember to check state DOT sites for future planning.

        Liked by 1 person

      • We always pre-plan our potty and fuel stops on Google Earth, also. It’s easier to do it before you leave each day, instead of trying to do it on the fly. Pre-planning prevents ugly surprises.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. It sounds like a WONDERFUL trip! We are in Michigan at the moment (Buchanan/Niles area) and will be headed up to Alpena on Lake Huron in a couple of weeks (waiting on eyeglasses to come in). I’m so sorry for the loss of Johnny-Ringo. It’s so exciting to read about your first experiences of this amazing lifestyle. Safe travels, guys! I really hope to meet you all on the road in the near future. Dawn

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    • I’m thinking you guys are about four hours from us. Enjoy your time up north.

      Our other dog, Huck, is doing well. So far no sign he is missing Ringo. They were named after that movie Tomb Stone when Doc Holiday meets Johnny Ringo for a gun fight and says “I’m your Huckleberry.” We saw a young Cocker Spaniel in the campground today. Energetic as heck. Reminded us of Ringo when he was younger. Makes you value the time you have with however or whatever all the more. I think Huck will appreciate the extra space in the back of the truck and not having to stop on a trip because yet again Ringo has to go to the bathroom. Huck loves to travel. He smiles all day long on trips and really likes meeting people and the other dogs.

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  2. So sorry to hear about the loss of your dog. We too lost ours while the house was in escrow and it’s heartbreaking. I remember the days of diligent planning in the beginning of our full-time journey. I still plan … kind of 🤣

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  3. So sorry to hear about the loss of Johny-Ringo. Glad you’re liking RV Trip Wizard, I’ve found it to be a valuable asset in our trip planning arsenal.

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  4. So glad to see you guys on the road after so much planning. It won’t take long before you feel pretty relaxed about pulling the 5er. I always look for semi’s on back roads to let me know there are no low bridges ahead, at least not to far ahead.
    The hardest part for us when starting out was figuring out it was ok to slow everything down and there is no hurry to get somewhere or do anything. Enjoy the relaxed lifestyle and read a book LOL.

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    • Thanks. It’s getting easier to tow this thing. I’m getting ready to write a post on fuel stops and other things that come up when towing. Hoping to get some feedback and ideas on that.

      On this return trip we are staying a minimum of two nights in each park rather than several overnighters. Unfortunately, I have to be back and work on 8/5/19.

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  5. Sorry to hear about Johnny-RIngo. A couple of thoughts based on our first 14 months as full timers on the road. I still plan our routes including looking at satellite views when I expect trouble spots. I also try to get a campground map to be as prepared as possible. Campgrounds are often the tightest spots we get into and a little knowledge ahead of time can definitely help. For low crossings we use RV Trip Planner as well as lowclearances.com (which is claimed to be the best source). We have already found several low clearances that were on one but not the other and some that were on neither. So, you have to be prepared to change plans if you encounter one you don’t know about 🙂

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    • Thanks for the advice Jerry and condolences on Ringo.

      I bookmarked lowclearances.com to take a better look at it. When we were in a small town area in Indiana I saw a 10’6 clearance on a state highway which was not on RV Trip Planning Wizards. I was not towing at the time. So far we have taken two roads that were not part of my pre-trip planning. Ran into detours both times unexpectedly. Also got to one overnight spot with just 41 miles left in fuel. Glad I knew exactly where the park was or there would have been little fuel left to run around looking for the park in the rural area. Lessons learned for sure.

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  6. So sorry to hear about your beloved pup. It is so hard to lose our furbabies.
    Sounds like you are figuring this whole thing out – like everyone does!
    Congrats on the contract! Hope your closing goes smoothly!

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