We were starting to get antsy to get to Michigan, which was actually the very first stop we planned back in January before we ever left home! In our minds, this was our “destination,” even though we kept saying we didn’t have one! We had 9 days to get there, and it was a balancing act between gaining ground and not rushing! We compromised by one 5 night stay and two 2-night stays. That turned out to be the right balance for us, but as usual, we wished we had had a bit more time everywhere!
Our first 2-night stay was in Celina, Ohio where we stayed just 2 nights at a wonderful Boondockers Welcome. We literally picked this place because it was about a 3-hr drive (our daily limit) in the right direction, and because the home offered 30 amp electric, which is the minimum we need to run our air conditioner. And boy, did we hit the jackpot!! Our hosts, Rich & Janelle, could NOT have been more charming or helpful! ! They also had a ton of wildlife there on their farmland, and we were fascinated by the baby birds in the birdhouses they had built.
There is a gorgeous lake in Celina, but we didn’t get a chance to do any watersports because we had some routine RV maintenance to take care of while we had all the amenities of a town. We did find a great car wash that also had a self-serve dog wash, so the Jeep and Pongo both got baths!
We were VERY excited about our next stop, because we were meeting our dear friends Pam & Tracy Thiel at Pokagon State Park in Indiana for a few nights! Their son Kevin went to school with Alison in Ohio, and we met them on her very first day there and we’ve been fast friends ever since! Pam likes to say we are “hair sisters” You can see why! We had so much fun exploring the area, and the guys broke out the kayak for an afternoon while it wasn’t raining. Of course, just after we took the group photo the skies opened up and poured, but that didn’t stop us from having a blast!
David could never remember the name of the park, so he began calling it Pokémon State Park and that’s what it’s been in our minds ever since! We pulled in the night before our friends arrived and got all set up. We were the ONLY people in our section of the campground and it was SO peaceful!
We had one more day after Pam & Tracy left, and we decided to rent a small boat and go out on the lake. I really wanted to swim, and we wanted to get Pongo out in the water, and it turned out to be a perfect day! There were such gorgeous homes around the lake and we got to see them from the best vantage point! Pongo had to be physically lifted into the boat because he’s terrified of water, but once he was settled in he did fine.
We read later that you’re not supposed to swim from these little boats, but oh, well! Turns out there’s a pretty good reason. It’s nearly impossible to get in and out of these fishing boats! We finally sidled up to a swimming platform the belonged to a local campground and I used that to get myself in and out of the water and back into the boat! I felt like such a trespasser!! Fortunately, no one protested, or I probably would have had a heart attack! This is the only pic we got and it’s terrible, but I did want to prove that I actually went in!
When Alison was in college in Ohio, she spent 2 summers in Warsaw, Indiana performing at the Wagon Wheel Center for the Arts. We had made the trek there both times to see some of her shows, and just loved the town and the theatre.
We were thrilled to learn that the theatre was just an hour away from where we were, so on a whim, we drove out to catch their production of The Wizard of Oz! It was SO GREAT to be seeing a live musical theatre production again! They had a rather unique take on the show, which made it fun. That’s what the arts are all about, right?
The next day we were finally in Michigan! I felt like we had reached the Promised Land! It’s a long state, and our goal was Mackinaw City, right at the tip of the “mitten” that shapes Michigan. We knew we didn’t want to drive it all in one day so we had arranged for another Boondockers Welcome stay in Clare, Michigan.
Unfortunately, there had been a TON of rain, and the spot we were supposed to park was on soft grass, AND David would have had to back down a pretty steep bank to get into the spot. Needless to say, ever since the Great Mud Disaster of 2021, we are extra careful, so we opted not to stay there.
The host was very understanding, and suggested a nearby city park where we would likely find availability. Sure enough, it was the perfect solution. They had 16 sites with water and electric, and it was only $25 per night!
The best part was that it was just down the street from the famous bakery: Cops & Donuts! Theirs is such a great story. The bakery that had been in operation at that location since 1896 had been about to close its doors forever after the economic downturn in 2008, when the entire (9-member) Clare City Police Department banded together to save it. They purchased it and have been continuously operating it ever since. Needless to say, the have incorporated all of the Cop & Donut jokes into the merch they sell and have a great time poking fun at themselves!
They also opened up the alleyway behind the shop to be a public art space, and we spent a lovely morning there eating our confections and enjoying the artwork!
So that’s our mad dash through Ohio, Indiana, and the lower half of Michigan! We kept saying, “It’s okay, we’ll be back!” Are you sick of hearing that yet? Seriously, we already know that Michigan will be the site of a future entire summer. And we cannot WAIT!
Up Next: FINALLY there! Now what?