Monday, August 27, 2018

"Glamping"on Lake Charlevoix

The term "glamping" refers to glamorous hi-end camping and readers of this blog know I've never come close to glamping, usually pretty much the polar opposite.  Until last week that is.  My college buddy Scott has a friend and business acquaintance who owns what is probably best described as a "compound" on Lake Charlevoix and the friend graciously offered it to Scott and friends to use for five days in the middle of August--we graciously accepted!

The main house in the compound we stayed at.

Not only did we get a beautiful house to base out of there were also "toys" that came with the site!

Waverunners and a Boston Whaler!

I only got my Waverunner up to 36 mph, Scott's wife Ann got her's up to 51!

I parked the Mini in front of the compound's barn where it fit nicely.
Spartans:  Me, Gary, Steve, Scott (L to R)

It was a real blast cooking meals together although we hit some of Charlevoix' great restaurants for wonderful whitefish dinners too.

Too many cooks?  Nah!

To gas up the water craft we had to go clear to the other end of Lake Charlevoix but nobody complained!

Gassing up the Boston Whaler.

It was really generous of Scott's friend to let us use his place for five days.  We had perfect weather and everyone had a great time.  We spent the last morning cleaning the house and the water craft to get them into pristine condition like when we arrived and also left a couple of nice house gifts for the owner to show our gratitude for a great five day stay.  I'd go back in a minute!

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Campground Review: Whiting Park Advance, MI

People familiar with vacationing in Michigan's lower peninsula generally recognize the Charlevoix area as one of the most desireable camping/vacationing destinations in the state.  Specifically, anywhere on beautiful Lake Charlevoix.

Lovely Lake Charlevoix.

During my previous camping itineraries I had purposely avoided the Charlevoix area due to crowding and high priced campgrounds, the most desirable area equals the highest pricing, or so I thought.  This year three college buddies and I were planning on spending five days at a lake side house and being in the area three days early I ventured to Whiting Park, a county park on the southeast side of Lake Charlevoix.

The park sits on both sides of the lakefront road.

 I expected to pay through the nose for the privilege of camping on Lake Charlevoix during the height of the season but was pleasantly surprised at the reasonable rate of $25 per night.

Here's the data sheet on Whiting Park:

Hookups:                                             20, 30 Amp                                                                
Fire ring:                                              Yes                                                     
Water Access:                                     Yes                                         
Fresh Water:                                       Yes                             
Trash Service:                                     Yes                             
Toilets:                                                 Yes                             
Showers:                                             Yes                                                     
Dump station:                                      Yes                             
WiFi:                                                    No                                          
Level sites:                                          No                                          
Laundry:                                              No                                                      
Store:                                                  No                                                                  
Pool:                                                    No                                          
Shade:                                                Yes                                                     
Verizon reception:                               4G, 3 bars                                           
Internet reception                                3 of 5 bars
Cost:                                        $25 per night

You get electric hookups at Whiting Park but no water or sewer although fresh water is available at the dump station or the bath house.

The Whiting Park bath house.

The campsites themselves all have a rather pronounced slant towards Lake Charlevoix so be prepared to work on leveling your RV.

I had to add blocks under the front jack to reach level due to the slope.

For me, the best feature of Whiting Park was the miles of forest trails traversing it's 136 acres, I got my steps in every day on really great hiking trails.

A sunlit trail in Whiting Park.

For most people though the sandy beach on Lake Charlevoix is the premiere attraction at the park.

A section of the large sandy beach at Whiting Park.

Given the high demand area Whiting Park is in $25 per night during peak season is a pretty good value!  The hiking trails alone would probably get me back next year.  Sometimes I need to challenge my pricing assumptions about camping locations and Whiting Park was definitely one of them.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Campground Review: Soldier Lake Campground Raco, MI

In the heart of the Hiawatha National Forest I "discovered" a small camping gem, Soldier Lake Campground.  I camped there for a week in August and will definitely be adding it to my "Will Return" list.

Administrated by the National Forest Service.

Soldier Lake is a tiny fresh water lake about two miles south of M-28 and twenty miles east of Newberry.  The campground stretches around three sides of the lake and includes a day use public beach and picnic area with a nice sandy beachfront.

Soldier Lake seen from the public beach area.

Here's Soldier Lake Campground's data sheet:

Hookups:                                             None, dry camping                                                    
Fire ring:                                              Yes                                                                 
Water Access:                                     Yes                                                     
Fresh Water:                                        Yes                                         
Trash Service:                                     Yes                                         
Toilets:                                                 Yes (Vault)                                        
Showers:                                             No                                                      
Dump station:                                      No                                          
WiFi:                                                    No                                          
Level sites:                                          Yes                                         
Laundry:                                              No                                                      
Store:                                                   No                                                                  
Pool:                                                    No                                          
Shade:                                                 Yes                                         
Verizon reception:                                4G, 1 bar                                            
Internet reception                                 1 bar
Cost:                                                     $16/night, $8/night with Senior Pass

Coming into the campground on a Tuesday I was fortunate to get a lake front site with probably one of the best views in the whole place as a lot of the lakefront sites have their view of the lake blocked by thick stands of trees.

The beautiful lake view from campsite #8.

I really picked site 8 because it was relatively open to the sky vs. most of the heavily shaded sites and I knew I'd be relying heavily on my solar setup with no hookups.  The second half of my stay turned rainy and it was a challenge to keep all my devices and the Mini's house battery charged with the dearth of direct sunlight.

There are several marked hiking trails through the thickly treed forest surrounding the campground.

A trailhead near the campground.

The road through the campground is paved which was nice when it rained so hard, it was still possible to get walks in without wading through a river of mud.

I loved the camping experience at Soldier Lake!  For $56 I got seven days of great lakefront camping and the rain at the end was free of charge.  If you're in the Upper Peninsula near Newberry I'd strongly recommend staying at Soldier Lake Campground!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, August 6, 2018

Air Force

I recently acquired a drone with a HD camera to help better document the campgrounds I camp in.  Here's a demo from the Pickford Township Park:

A little "bouncy" I guess but it was just my second day of flying it and at least a part of it gives a feel for the park.  It also can take stills:

That's me by the picnic table.

The Mini's campsite from 100 feet.

Maybe I can find some video editing software to give a more polished look,  I'll do some research into it.

Thanks for reading!