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Big Adventure 2018

We're one hop from home at Newburgh NY KOA on a rainy day, and it seems like a good time to recap our latest adventure. The original plan was to leave Cape Cod on August 1st, meander west to Dayton to cross the Air Force Museum off the bucket list, then head up the UP of Michigan and take US 2 across the country to Puget Sound. We planned to be back home around October 20th.

Pretty much right from the start we realized that the intended route was too aggressive for a 10 week trip. We altered the plan a little to do all 5 great lakes and make it as far as Glacier NP. Then Glacier caught fire, so we scrapped that idea and changed the route again. It's good to be flexible. This is why I laugh when people have every stop planned and reserved when they start out on a trip. How stressful meeting a schedule must be!

We set a couple of unrealistic ( for the plan ) limits on ourselves. We wanted to stay in each spot at least 3 days and we didn't want traveling days to be more than 4 hours on the road. If you do the math, you'll see that with those criteria, we need at least 16 weeks. Not that the limits were bad, they just would not allow us to make Puget Sound and back in 11 weeks.

So here's the route and what we saw. I'm really glad we set up to tow a car this time because it allowed us to get out into the areas we stopped.

Arrowhead Marina and RV Park on the Mohawk River in Schenectady NY. This is one of our favorite stops when going to upstate NY. It's at the end of the Erie Canal and there's a fair bit of history around. We didn't see anything because we were busy getting things settled down. I didn't like the way the tow bar was bouncing so I took it apart and replaced some washers.

Hamlin Beach SP on Lake Ontario. I wanted to get into Letchworth SP but of course it was booked. We wanted to stop here to hook up with our financial advisor who's been steering us in the right direction for 25 years. The idea of hitting all 5 great lakes took shape here.

Geneva SP, Geneva OH on Lake Erie. Near the town Geneva-on-the-Lake which apparently is a popular summer destination. Like a Jersey Shore beach town without the fried dough and salt air.

We went lighthouse searching but didn't realize that the Ashtabula Lighthouse is about 2 miles out into the lake.

Tomorrow's Stars RV Resort Springfield OH. Right off I-70 and convenient to Wright Pat AFB. My son flew out to join us and we both crossed the Air Force museum off our bucket list.

There's a Frank Lloyd Wright house in Springfield open to the public so the DW enjoyed the stop as well.

Maumee SP, Oregon OH. Still on Lake Erie. Not much here. Would be a good place to visit Put-in-Bay if that interests you.

Finn Rd RV Park, Bay City MI. Lake Huron off the list. Not much here, but we found a really nice state park on the lake to spend a day.

Petosky KOA, Petosky MI and Lake Michigan off the list. We wanted to get into Mackinac KOA with a view of the bridge, but it was booked. The big deal here is to collect as many Petoskey stones as you can. There's a high end RV resort up the street that got a mention in a recent WSJ article about RVing. We didn't stay there. At $100 a night, I expect that someone will change the sheets in the morning.

Over the Mackinac Bridge and we finally hook up to US 2.

This section of US 2 was the worse of the entire road. We saw many RVs traveling the road. We made it as far Iron Mountain MI- almost in Wisconsin. Good stop to stock up. Plenty of stores.

We took a detour to the south to hook up with a Navy shipmate that I haven't seen for 40 years. We stopped at a city park in Antigo WI and a county park in Glenwood City WI. The Antigo park was right in town and was empty. $20 a night. Odd thing was that you didn't deal with any person. You make reservations online and when you got there, just find your spot and pull in.

Local dive named Roadhouse 45 had excellent burgers.

North and back on US2, we stopped at a RV park in Superior WI and explored the north shore of the lake in Minnesota, completing the 5 Great Lakes mission. If we go back, we'll try to get into Burlington Bay CG up by Two Harbors. Great view of the lake. Labor Day weekend snuck up on us and we didn't have reservations anywhere so we took what was available.

Royal Oaks RV Park, Bemidji MN. Home of Paul Bunyon and Babe the blue ox.

Also close to the start of the Mississippi River which is narrow enough in this area to jump across.

Continuing out US2, Grahams Island SP Devils Lake ND. Beautiful, spacious and quiet state park first come, first served. We were a little nervous about this, but there were plenty of sites available. Good fishing. I don't fish. If they called it "catching", I would do it.

Continuing out US 2, we went by the "Geographical Center of th United States". We didn't stop because there wasn't enough space for us and the toad, but we thought it was odd being so far north. Googling it, we failed to take into account that Alaska and Hawaii were part of the US. If you want the geographical center of the lower 48, it's in Kansas somewhere.

Next stop was Lewis & Clark SP just east of Williston ND. This was the best stop. On a hill overlooking the Missouri River, this park had full hookup 50 amp and was virtually empty.

Willston is a bustling oil town (there are oil wells all around the park) and had every store and restaurant imaginable.

At this point we made the decision to turn south because of fires in Glacier NP. I was very sad about this, but it was the right decision. They actually evacuated the campgrounds in Glacier, so all the CGs around were full anyway.

We turned south to Teddy Roosevelt NP - south unit. We were going to stay in the park campground, but decided it looked a little challenging getting in so we stayed just outside the park in Medora. Great decision. We drove the park in the toad and found that the first 10 miles of the entrance road was under construction and you had to wait for a pilot car. Badlands, buffalo and prairie dogs were the big attractions. Medora has several western type musical shows as well.

Continuing south to Rapid City SD - Custer State Park and Mt Rushmore. Stayed at the KOA. You can see all the pics ever taken of Mt Rushmore, but you cannot appreciate the scale until you see it in person. We did the Needles Highway through Custer. Very scenic.

A short stay in the middle of nowhere Nebraska on the Oregon Trail

and a stop at a COE park almost in Kansas, we headed for Dodge City KS, staying at the Gunsmoke RV Park west of the city.

The Boothill Museum has a re-creation of the old Dodge City main drag and Boothill is still there, albeit trussed up with concrete retaining walls. Definitely worth the stop if you're going that way.

A stop at El Dorado SP in Kansas and a private park in Eldorado Missouri, and we ended up at Blue Springs campground a county park in Lees Summit MO where the DD lives. Had to have some Jacks Stack BBQ. Good visit with the daughter's family and we continue east.

Well southeast anyway. I wanted to cross Lambert's Cafe in Sikeston MO off the bucket list (home of the throwed rolls - Google it) so we hit an RV park in Cape Girardeau and planned an early dinner. At 4 pm in the afternoon there was an hour and a half wait in 90 degree heat, so I took a picture in front of the building and called it a day.

Next stop was a KOA in Casey Illinois. If you've never been, Casey's motto is "Small Town - Big Things" They have a collection of oversized everyday objects - mail box, yard stick, rocking chair etc - scattered throughout town. Great fun!

Another stop in Springfield OH (because I didn't need the GPS to find it) and an overnight stop in western PA to the State College area in PA to visit my sister. Homecoming weekend and a Penn State football game meant there were no RV sites with 30 miles of the place. We ended up in a private park out by Lock Haven. I was disappointed to find that you need to schedule a tour at the Piper Museum in Lock Haven where all the Piper Cubs were built.

We stayed one night at Hickory Run Sp in White Haven PA - just off I-80

and are now here at the Newburgh/NYC KOA.

We'll make one more stop at Aces High in Connecticut - 2 hours from home - to flush out the tanks and start packing and be home on Thursday.

It was a great trip and is a study in being able to change plans mid-trip. I don't know how many of these I have left in me, but there's still plenty of country to see.

My new states camped in map.

Jerry & Jeanne
1996 Safari Sahara 3530 - 'White Tiger'
CAT 3126/Allison 6 speed/Magnum Chassis
2014 Equinox AWD / Blue Ox

Roy&Lynne wrote:
Wow looks like you had a wonderful trip. We have one planned for Dec but being retired, we have no schedule and no need to return at a set date. Since its winter, ours will hug the southern border and then turn north in the spring.

We did that as well. We left New England on Nov 1st and didn't return until May 4th. Went down the coast to FL, then around th gulf coast to Galveston, back north through OK, AR, MO and the east. 16 states, 6000 miles.

Enjoy it.
Jerry & Jeanne
1996 Safari Sahara 3530 - 'White Tiger'
CAT 3126/Allison 6 speed/Magnum Chassis
2014 Equinox AWD / Blue Ox

WOW !!! Great trip and pics !!!!!! In regards to the geographic center of the US, I thought that was in western SD kinda NW of Rapid City.
2017 F350 DRW XLT, CC, 4x4, 6.7
2018 Big Country 3560 SS
"The best part of RVing and Snowmobiling is spending time with family and friends"
"Catin' in the Winter"

Wow looks like you had a wonderful trip. We have one planned for Dec but being retired, we have no schedule and no need to return at a set date. Since its winter, ours will hug the southern border and then turn north in the spring.

Well done...what a great trip!

Great photos! We are on the Oregon coast and start our trip to the Cape on Thursday with a few stops along the way.
Ed/Jeanie & Slade the GSD
2017 Entegra Aspire 42 RBQ/ Sierra Crew

Were still schedule all our stops but were still working 40. Soon maybe might be more in your shoes where we can do some extended trips without all the reservations! :C

Letchworth SP has lots of Erie canal history, easy walking trails with abandoned canals from almost 200 yrs ago. We like the erie canal history so might look into Arrowhead Marina in Schenectady NY as a half way point on our way to Association Lake KOA on Lake Ontario next summer.

Like all the pics, thanks for sharing

2022 F-150 3.5 EcoBoost 4X4 Supercrew GCWR 19,500 157WB
Payload 2476 Maxtow 13,800 3.73 Equalizer 4 Pt Sway Hitch
2017 Jayco Jay Flight 24RBS
Old TV, 07 Toyota Tacoma, Double Cab, Factory Tow Pkg, retired towing at 229K. (Son now owns truck)