Wednesday, August 21, 2013


As I have plans to visit my brother and his family in the western suburbs of Chicago this Friday I wanted to find a reasonably priced place to camp in southwestern Michigan.  Some online research revealed that the city of Otsego, MI has a small area in it's Brookside Park reserved for RV's with hookups for the extremely reasonable price of $10 per day....3 day maximum stay.  You just register and pay at the police station and go pick your (one of four) spot.

Also courtesy of your $10 bill, but still a great deal!
It WAS the middle of the week but I was still surprised that I had the campground completely to myself, although a few locals would stop in and eat their lunches on the picnic tables occasionally.  

The lonely looking Tank.
It's a very nice little campground, far enough away from M-89 to be fairly insulated from road noise.  No facilities but Port-a-john's are provided.

There really is a brook flowing through Brookside.
 I discovered a shortcut out of the park that led right to the back of a Dairy Freeze which sells the largest one-scoop ice cream cones I've ever purchased.

Danger!  Many calories are at the end of this path!

A Sadder Side to Life on the Road
Out for a walk Tuesday I noticed a older, white bearded, gentleman, probably in his late-60's early-70's sitting in the front, day use section of the park.  As it was 6 am I wondered at how early he must have gotten there but didn't pay it much thought after that.  Later, out the windows of the Tank I saw him engaging people in seemingly animated conversations but, again didn't think much of it.  There was a lady with her little girl who I could see shake her head no then after walking away a bit turn around to see if he was following her and that seemed a little odd.  Finally, about an hour after this, while researching campgrounds on the Internet and paying zero attention to my surroundings I heard a voice from the stairs of the Tank ask,

"Can I please talk to my wife?"

 I sat and thought for a second....could this be an angry guy looking for his wife and thinking I actually had her in the Tank fooling around with her?  Could he be armed?  Oh, and the screen door to the Tank doesn't have a lock so if he wanted to come in he could.

I replied,  "I'm the only one in here."  He said, "Fine but could I still talk to her?"

I started to get a clue that he was having problems.  He said that his wife had thrown him out of the house and he had no where but this park to go.  I asked if he couldn't return to his house but he said it was his wife's and she didn't want him there anymore and her two sons had come over and they were "big fellas".  It really tugged at me when he said,

"Who am I supposed to see or talk to? I can't figure it out"

I told him I didn't know because I wasn't from around here so I couldn't really help him and started looking up the Otsego Police Dept. number thinking the poor old guy might be a threat to himself.  He walked away but turned around and said,

"If you ever lose your place to live you can come see me and I'll help you because you'll know how I feel then."

I found the  police number and was getting ready to dial it but just then a Otsego Police car came into the park and pulled straight up to the old guy.  A policeman got out and started talking to him...apparently one of the people from earlier in the park must have contacted the police with the same concern I had.  A second police car pulled up and after a few minutes conversation the old guy got into the back of one of the cars, willingly, not under arrest or in handcuffs or anything and they drove away.  I hope they were able to find help for him.  I'm still thinking about what else I should have or could have done.  I didn't know if I should include this story for you all to read but this blog is supposed to be about living in the Tank and this was part of the story this week.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Campground Review: Yankee Springs State Recreation Area Middleville, MI

After the blowout 86th birthday party for my Dad my brother and I traveled to Soaring Eagle Casino in nearby Mt. Pleasant where I stayed a night for free in their RV parking.

These folks can party!
After doing some online research I selected Yankee Springs rec area as a place to spend a few days, it was about 95 miles southwest of Mt. Pleasant.  Yankee Springs is built around the southern portion of Gun Lake, it's huge, at least 20 square miles which makes me wonder why they squeezed the campers together so tightly?

You can see THREE campsites in this picture...cozy!
The State charges $24 a night for a site with electrical hookups, no water or sewer but there are four dump stations on the way out of the park.  In the area I stayed there were 198 sites, most of them occupied with families getting a last camping trip in before school starts.  My site backed up to a heavily wooded area, just down the road were about 25 sites on the water which must get reserved weeks in advance because none showed available on the State's reservation website. There is a well kept bathroom/shower facility within about 100 yards of my site.  The sites are fairly level with the grass somewhat worn away after a long camp season.  Millenicom (Verizon) internet came in at 2 out of 4 bars.

Southern Gun Lake
There are over 10 miles of walking and biking paths through the wooded area of the park.  A really nice grassy lakeside mini-park was about a quarter mile from my site.

The campsites are shaded so a lot of people came here for sun.
Next to the little park was the Yankee Springs beach area.  It was only 71 degrees when I took this so there weren't many brave souls venturing out into Gun Lake.

Beach on Gun Lake.

I'll give Yankee Springs a 4 star rating (out of 5).  It was nice but the curiously closely spaced campsites would probably preclude me from coming back. I check out tomorrow and am planning on hitting the Anytime Fitness just down the road in Portage then find somewhere else to camp in the general area.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, August 9, 2013


The Tank covered 5000 miles in the last three months.  It is one dirty RV and I set about cleaning it yesterday.  The bug marks had been weathered into the fiberglass wind screen to the point where it was necessary to use a commercial auto cleaning solution and the back of one of those "brillo" sponges, and a lot of elbow grease.

Thousands of bug hits incurred over 5000 miles.
I dismounted the camper and lowered it on it's stilts so that it was accessible with a small step ladder.  To clean the wind foil in front I backed the pickup up to the front and lowered the tailgate to use as a scaffold.

First time in 3 months the Tank has been "disassembled".
It was a slow process.  Scrub cleaner into a section, get down hose the area off, re-scrub the areas you missed, hose it down, move to the next section.  It took most of the morning but it looks 100 percent better.

Sparkling!  I ran the truck through a car wash too.
During the cleaning of the Tank my brother Jim (who is putting me up in his driveway until my Dad's 86th birthday party Saturday night) pointed out severe tread wear on one of the Tank's front tires.  The kind of wear that makes one ask "How did this thing not come apart on the way down from Traverse City?"  The Tank's tires  have 56,000 miles on them so I bit the bullet and bought 4 10-ply heavy duty tires.  The tank also needed shocks all around sooooo I walked out of the tire store $1300 lighter.

The Tank's new "treads".

 Oh well, I'm going camping in the Rockies with my daughter over Labor Day so I'm real grateful we found a problem before it manifested itself on I-70 going through the Eisenhower Tunnel at 11 pm.

Safety first!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes (Part 2)

Here are some more pictures I took while at the Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore, my first blog got completely filled up so I couldn't fit them all in.

Taken from the top, hikers on their way up the dune.
The Tank on the Scenic Trail
View south along Lake Michigan's shore
Coast Guard museum freighter bridge mockup
The  Coast Guard used train tracks to get the boat to the beach

Thanks for reading! (both).

Friday, August 2, 2013

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

In search of more summer-like temperatures I crossed the Mackinac Bridge into Michigan's lower peninsula.  I'm a member of Anytime Fitness so a city having a location (1500 locations nationwide) tends to draw me.  Traverse City had one so I made that area a destination.  About 25 miles to the west of the city is Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore which I visited and toured by first visiting the Phillip Hart Visitor Center in Empire, MI to buy the $10 weekly park pass. 

Lake Michigan from the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive
The first stops were along the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive which is a winding one lane 7.5 mile paved road loop with 12 stops for different views of the lake and the dunes.  The scenery is just spectacular.

The dunes beach along Lake Michigan
It takes about an hour and a half to complete the Scenic Drive loop depending on how much photography you want to engage in.

There's an ore carrier way out on the horizon
Next up was the Dune Climb where you....climb up a 110 foot sand dune that seems more like a couple miles high.  Here's the first part of the climb.

Initially it doesn't look too tough.
The tough part of the climbing is you slide back several inches for every step you take.

Glen Lake from the top of the dune.

After dumping sand out of my Topsiders I continued on to the historical town of Glen Haven, a steamship stop at the turn of the 20th century.  There's a Maritime Museum there built around an actual Coast Guard station that is free to visit (donations accepted).

Lots of exhibits of early 1900's life.
They had a miniature cannon that fired rope 400 yards out to a sinking ship that allowed crewman to be brought to shore on....pretty cool!
I'm a sucker for cannons.