We left from San Luis Obispo in our 2017 Cardinal 3250RL 5th Wheel on the first of April, 2019 to start this road trip. We went down to San Diego to hang with family which ended up being 3 weeks. We left San Diego on April 21, 2019 and returned to San Diego on August 7th, 2019.
We returned home to San Luis Obispo on Sept 13, 2019. The purpose of this trip was business; meeting with RV rental companies, RV parks, and RV related industry folks to promote RVPlusYou. Along the way we have had the opportunity to illustrate the perks of technology, which allows us to work from the road in some pretty incredible places.
Joshua Tree is mind-blowing and there is plenty of great content out there to show off it’s beauty. The amazing thing to me about this location was the 4G connection on my unlimited T-Mobile plan. Super fast speeds for work; uploading, downloading, and conference calls where no problem from this beautiful location.
This location was chosen for it’s proximity to golf, I must admit. A planned golf outing with friends to Troon North as well as Quintero for 36 holes in one day, but we did manage to squeeze in some meetings with the RV folks.
As you can see from the photos, a few things stand out: 1) We had a great time golfing, 2) We ate well, and 3) we had a mishap with the 5’er. What happened you ask? Well, I’ll tell you. RV’s are not built very well, some better than others, but none are truly assembled to high standards. Our shower drain wasn’t secured properly when assembled. The 4 foot stem from the main to the shower came off in transit and drained into the basement of the rig. It shorted out 3 circuits due to loose wire never being tied up properly. The water hit the open wires and killed the rear AC unit, the space heater and electric water heater, as well as the bathroom outlets. Had to take it to a repair shop in Mesa and spend the day in a dirty lot while they took it apart and repaired the lousy workmanship at Forest River.
After getting the rig back together in Phoenix, we hit the road and made a stop at Grand Canyon to explore all we could on our way North.
What an amazing campsite we had just off the road at Long Jim Loop. Our nearest neighbor was 100 yards away and the views were spectacular. You can’t beat the location or the price.
This was a stop over location with great views and sunsets. The drive through Monument Valley was a treat.
This was our second time to Moab and Arches in Utah, but our first to Canyonlands National Park. Wow! Canyonlands doesn’t get enough press. It’s a must if you love views, hiking, and sunsets.
Salt Lake was a stop over. We over-nighted at a Sun RV Park, the Pony Express, which was fine. The property was newer and worked well for us, but after set up we headed downtown to see the Temple and get a beer. We chose the Beer Hive because it had a good selection of beer and it was near all the stuff.
Base jumping from Perrine Bridge, Balanced Rock, Shoshone Falls, Snake River, and much more. What a cool place to visit! Our stop over was just a couple days here but we could have easily extended our stay and enjoyed every minute of it.
Our Boise stop was primarily a visit with our dear friends Mike, Melissa, and Jane, an amazingly fun and loving family who left California for greener pastures and ton of outdoor activities. The Boise greenbelt runs along the river and through the city where you can bike the river, kayak white water, or fly fish during your lunch hour. The camping opportunities are endless, so it was actually a productive stop for RVPlusYou.
We had no idea this place even existed! Wow, lava tubes are cool, and this place has some great ones. If you have kids, take them to this National Monument for a weekend camping trip. We just stayed for the night, but they have some very nice campgrounds and great hiking.
The idea for a Buffalo stop was some rest before heading out to Black Hills and Mount Rushmore. We did get some good rest, and good food too, at the Winchester Steak House. Pot pie, NY steak, and martinis were on the menu… yum. But, we never made it to Mount Rushmore because they got 22 inches of snow the night we stayed in Buffalo. it was a pretty big storm, the beginning of a lot of tornadoes and flooding all over the Mid-West. So, next day we made a stop in Sturgis for a snack, then pushed on to Badlands where they received a ton of rain the night before.
Badlands was one of our favorites, but not for the hiking, because that is limited. Our campsite at Buffalo Gap dispersed camp area was crazy beautiful. Our views were spectacular and because of a recent rain, you couldn’t get out there without four-wheel drive. We barely made it out to the rim of the canyon with our heavy rig, but the risk was worth the reward as these photos show.
Sioux Falls was a stop over, but the town is super fun. Great breweries downtown and the art walk is a must. Sioux River runs through the town which is definitely up and coming. Worth a few nights to explore.
This was a stop over after leaving Sioux Falls and visiting Fargo, ND (setting of one of my favorite movies). Fargo is much bigger than the movie would have you believe. It’s got a Costco and a Duluth Trading company. Yes we stopped in for a quick shop.
We crossed over from North Dakota to Minnesota that evening and arrived at the campsite in time to paste up our USA map of states visited. Pretty cool spot. Wished we could have spent more time there. The staff was super friendly and helpful.
This RV park (resort) is family owned and mostly occupied by folks who “summer” at Leach Lake. We didn’t really understand why they had 36 mile bike trails between towns, parks, and resorts. We were thinking, wow, this place is into biking. Who rides that far? We literally passed by town after town, miles apart and the bike trails were always at our side, pristine paved trails. After some acclimation we learned that they are mostly used as snowmobile trails in the winter and in the summer, they’re used as bike trails, very cool.
The lake typically has 3 feet of ice all Winter and ice fishing is a big thing there. We loved this whole area, especially Walker. Reeds sporting goods is like a Costco but just for the outdoors; guns, fishing, kayaking, camping, boating, skiing, and more. Mind-blowing, and all in a town with less than 1,000 population.
Took a day trip to Bemidji for some lunch and beer tasting. Super cool town and great beer, then went off-roading. They have miles and miles of forested trails to explore as you pass by lake after lake and dispersed camping everywhere; just you, the ticks, and the mosquitoes.
We chose Bear Head Lake because of the proximity to Ely, a town we wanted to explore, as well as the beauty.
Jay Cooke is just 15 minutes outside of Duluth, MN and has great hiking and biking opportunities. We were only there one night but we were able to get in 3-stop brewery tour, a 4 mile hike along the river past swinging bridge, as well as a 5 mile bike ride to the dam and reservoir. Whew, not easy tasting so much beer! Favorite? Probably toss up between Bent Paddle and Thirsty Pagan, but Lake Superior Brewing wasn’t bad either.
We stayed at Apostle Islands Area Campground, just about a mile South of Bayfield, an RV park that was recently purchased by a very nice family who is completely remodeling the park. This was one of the favorites. The town is quaint and friendly, the amount of outdoor activity options are near endless, and of course the Apostle Islands are a bucket list experience. The Whitefish Livers, not so much.
Lake of the Clouds is just one of the features tucked away inside this massive state park. We camped at Union Bay Campground and got lucky with a cool spot on the lake where sunrise and sunsets were stunning. We had great hikes on the Presque Isle River, as well as interpretive hikes through old mine sites.
Took a day trip up the peninsula to Keweenah area to visit the sites: Eagle Harbor, Calumet, Eagle River Falls, Copper Falls, and the very cool town of Houghton. We stopped by some of the old mines and ghost town sites, old towns, and beautiful bays and harbors up and down the shoreline. Had a great beer at Keweenah Brewing and tasty fish lunch at 4 Suns Fish n’ Chips next to Peterson’s Fish Market.
Our stay in Munising, Michigan was one of the highlights so far. From this location, we explored North to Copper Falls area, and South to Marquette. It’s one of the most beautiful areas we’ve ever visited. The rich mining history is so interesting, the hiking beautiful, the people warm, helpful, and friendly. It’s just a great place to spend time and so understandable why everyone in Michigan and the surrounding states love the UP!
Father’s day, 2019. Didn’t have my boys with me but Mom sure came through with a great day of golf and beer. Greywalls is a tough and historic course, but features amazing greens and a design that uses the natural contours and elevations of the land in creative ways. Loved the views too. After a day on the course we hit a couple breweries in the area and had a great dinner at Lagniappe Cajun restaurant downtown. Unreal food, great service, and an amazing selection of bourbons. I recommend the pecan pie and the Elmer T. Lee single barrel sour mash to finish. What a great day spent with a wonderful wife and mom.
Sault Ste. Marie is a border town on the St. Mary’s river that shares two countries and is famous for the Soo Locks where thousand foot long ships make their way up and down the river between Superior and the other Great Lakes. We stayed at Soo Locks Campground on the Michigan side. It was a good central location to pop around and see the sites, but the main feature was the ships passing by all day. We watched the process via a viewing platform where we could see the ships rise and fall 21 feet so they could move on with their cargo. There was a smaller lock for the smaller private boats. The campground had great views and was fairly quiet. We did a day trip to Canada and explored Kinsman Park and Crystal Falls. Very pretty and fun little hike. Watched a few fly fisherman on the river. The steel-head were numerous, about 2 feet long, right below our platform and easy to see, but not having any of what the fisherman were putting out.
From Wilderness State Park we were not only able to stay at an awesome campground, but we were close enough to visit Petowsky and Mackinaw Island. Hiked and biked all over, visited a great brewery, played some golf at the local course, and of course at some good food. The cabins for rent are secluded and remote with their own well that has great tasting water. Sunsets are spectacular and the bugs were much more well-behaved than the UP.
What a perfect weather day to visit this historic island! We really got lucky as this day was absolutely perfect on the weather scale. We took a ferry with our bikes and rode all over that island, which doesn’t allow any motor or electric vehicles. Horses and bikes only, so those puddles on the road aren’t from a passing thunderstorm, and it’s not mud on your tires to be wary of.
We circled the island, then went to the interior to explore Arch rock, 18th century fort, British Landing and battlefield. Went up to Wawashkamo Golf Club, a 9 hole links course established in the late 1800’s where you can play a round with old hickory sticks. Had drinks at the Grand, and then toured this magnificent hotel. What a day!
This was a great base location for exploring some of the great destination spots in West Michigan. Traverse City, Leeland, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park, Glen Arbor, and more.
This RV park has a lot of seasonal vacationers who land back in the same RV, same spot every Spring. They button it all up in the fall when it starts to freeze over and then do it all over again the following Spring-Summer.
The harbor had full service boating facilities, slip rentals, pontoon and boat rentals, fueling station and market. The lake was ideal for all kinds of boating and fishing. Wish it were closer to California. One of thousands of amazing lakes in Michigan.
Traverse City and surrounding areas was probably one of our favorites. We biked all over that town checking out the cool homes while the Blue Angels practiced overhead for the Cherry Festival taking place that weekend. It’s a big deal and we timed our visit just right.
We went all the way up to see the lighthouse at the tip of the peninsula as we tasted at a couple wineries. Didn’t like the flies at the lighthouse. They weren’t the “devilish black flies” but they were annoying enough that we didn’t hang too long, we had wine to taste.
The wineries in the area are actually very good, this coming from two wino’s who live in wine country California. Our favorite was Mari Vineyards because they actually grow some Italian varietals; Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, cab franc and merlots that were excellent. They have a very short growing season and have to cover the grapes to get them to ripen before the first frost. These guys are pros. We highly recommend a visit.
The lake was way above normal, as you can see. It flooded some of the lower lying paths and took up a lot of shore line. In Leeland, you can see how much water was coming off of Leelandau and into Lake Michigan. The bartender who served my “chubby mary” at The Cove in Leeland said it was the highest she’s ever seen and was a “bit scary”.
The entire area is mind blowing. We went from charming fishing village, to scenic bike rides through historic neighborhoods stopping at crazy good breweries, to beautiful wineries all in the same day. You could spend a summer here and not see it all. We spent five nights in the area and got a lot in, but not all of it. We already want to go back
After staying 5 nights in the Traverse City area, we dropped down to Frankfort and set up camp at the Betsie River RV park. It’s just outside of Frankfort, about a mile and a half and just between the river and the bike path.
The river was very high, so no kayaking on the Betsie, but we did manage a float down the Platte where we cooked chicken fajitas while the kayak dried and the sun set down on the lake. What a cool spot to take out! The regional park is right where the Platte meets the lake and is well kept with grass and a boat ramp.
Frankfort is super quaint and full of history. We biked all around that town, up and down the harbor, shopped the farmers market, and hit up local breweries and great eats which are everywhere. Stormcloud was a good one. We enjoyed the nice weather with a chilly one.
We were n Frankfort just 3 nights, but long enough to get most of the site seeing done. We found a cool access road on the other side of the harbor overlooking the mouth of the Betsie and got some good shots. We also had time to meet a cool Michigan couple who had all kinds of great stories about the area.
We only had 2 nights here at this tight squeeze campground, or more accurate; parking lot. No better way to get to know your neighbors than to squeeze 35′ of trailer into a spot as wide as the fast lane.
The beach at Grand Haven was better than any ocean we’ve been to in the states. It’s on par with some of the best beaches in the Caribbean minus the warm salty water. Fresh crystal clear water, brisk but a great contrast to the warm sun. Loved it.
We hit up a couple breweries in Grand Haven, a short bike ride away. Got caught up in a nasty thunderstorm that dumped a couple inches in just an hour or so. We could have spent more time in Grand Haven, even at the parking lot, but that campground is packed. We got lucky with just our two nights.
Our home base in Grand Rapids was Steamboat RV Campground, just Southwest of Grand Rapids, Michigan and right on the Grand River. From that central location we were able to hit all of the cool spots in town, visit little townships near the lake, meet with partners in the RV rental business, and enjoy a parade and fireworks for the 4th of July in Grandville.
Saugatuck, Michigan is worth a week alone, but alas we had only one evening there. Holland, Michigan is also a great spot that we would have liked to have spent more time
We did a quick stop over in Ann Arbor. Wanted to check out the city on our way to Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio. Didn’t get to enjoy Greenfield Lake, but we did have some nice views.
Went into the city and did some walking, eating, and drinking. Good beer, as you might expect in a college town. Definitely a cool city and a great place to spend some time. Oh, well…next trip!
Really glad Cheryl insisted we hit this state park. It was absolutely beautiful. It wasn’t easy towing 16,000 lbs. over windy and narrow country roads, but well worth it.
We spent a total of two days at this park and got to hike miles and miles of trails, biked all over, and really enjoyed it a lot. You could easily spend a week at Hocking Hills and we highly recommend it for anyone traveling through the area.
Wow, Kentucky is an amazing state and we had a blast driving all over tasting, eating, and getting to know the wonderful people who live in that great state. Loved it, as our photos will attest.
Here we are at Beech Bend Park. It was an interesting stop, perfect for exploring the caves nearby. There is a race track, amusement park and a ton of campsites. No racing happening while we were there so we had the place mostly to ourselves.
BTW, our favorite cave wasn’t Mammoth Caves, as one might expect. We actually liked Crystal Onyx Cave better. It’s privately owned and you can get up close to the ‘mites’. Mammoth was cool, but very busy and way commercial. The tour was good, but a lot of rules.
Would you believe that we didn’t get one photo of Scott from Homestead Marketplace while working to fix the solar on our rig? We had such a good time chatting, then working to fix the battery bank that we didn’t stop to take photos. Sorry Scott!
Our primary objective here was to meet Scott and talk about the solar business. He suggested Dale Hollow and met us at our campsite. We’re still in discussions about a way to work together. There just aren’t many good options for consumers who want to design and install solar on their rigs.
A note about solar power on RV’s. Kits are fine, but they can be so misleading because each need and each rig is different so design is critical. A kit just doesn’t solve power problems. You really have to find a professional who understands off-grid solar to design the system. Installation is important too, but I would put design above install. Had we met Scott before hiring our dealer to install a kit, we would have saved around $5,000 and avoided hundreds of wasted hours, inconvenience, and almost burning down our brand new rig. This is not a joke. You can read about it in this blog post.
But enough about that, what about the lake? Well, probably the cleanest and coolest lake in Kentucky or Tennessee. It straddles the border and boasts amazing views, with tons of coves, islands, and flat water. Plenty of privacy and perfect for a pontoon day.
So, yes…Nashville has a lot to offer. We only stayed one night because at this point in the trip, we were on the backside heading home. We checked in early to Two Rivers (right next to Camping World) and headed straight out to the Grand Ole Opry. We had been before so this was a refresher course on how fast things change.
We visited all the crazies downtown, but it was a bit too much us to participate. We got some BBQ and watched the young persons sport for a bit, then headed back. One of the highlights was a visit to Franklin, just a bit South of Nashville. We found Mantra Brewing and the holy grail of IPA’s. At least for me.
If you know anything about saffron, you know it’s wildly expensive. To get just 1 pound of saffron, you need 170,000 flowers. It’s the most expensive and exotic spice in the world. Mantra’s flagship is a Saffron IPA and it’s unlike anything you’ve ever had in the IPA world. They keep $15 to $20,000 worth of saffron in inventory for brewing. Yes, it’s kept in a safe.
How can you visit Tennessee and not stop by to see Elvis? You can’t! We did a one night stop over at the RV park, just to say hi. The King is doing just fine, although his RV park is in need of an upgrade. No complaints mind you, but it is getting a bit dated.
Beale was just waking up from the night before. We slipped in for some BBQ and some music. What amazing talent. Pretty much any club you went to had top notch musicians blues’ing it up and the food was fantastic.
Wow, what a find! You don’t hear much about Hot Springs, but it sure was a great find. We stayed at Treasure Isle RV Park, just West of town by about 10 minutes, right on Lake Hamilton. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy all of the water sports and the staff is excellent. They’re upgrading the park daily and really putting a lot into the facilities. Highly recommended.
We enjoyed two major attractions while visiting: 1) downtown, shopping, bars, and baths, and 2) Lake Ouachita. First, the downtown experience: It’s a lot like downtown San Luis Obispo, but with hot springs all along the main street. It’s where all the mobster and baseball royalty went to call a truce and recharge with a mineral bath.
One of our highlights was the Ohio Club. It’s where Babe Ruth and Lucky Luciano hung out. The mahogany mantelpiece above the bar came from Kentucky, originally on a ship in the 1800’s. It had to travel by barge, train, and 2 days via wagon to reach Hot Springs.
We enjoyed a bath, some good food, drinks, shopping, and a lot of history. It’s definitely a destination spot for RV’ers who like rural out of the way settings for some outdoor sport and hometown hospitality.
We had heard that Lake Ouachita was the “cleanest” in the state. Not sure why everyone used clean to describe the best lakes, but we didn’t hesitate to make that our criteria for pontoon day. We ended up making it “shave day” as well, knowing we’d be back home in just a few short weeks to see the fam were missing so much.
Why Muskogee you ask? Well, we wanted to stop by and visit my Grand Daddy, Orville Estes, who now resides at Memorial Park Cemetery, just West of town. We did a one night stay at Meadowbrook RV Park, which was a good choice. Super cheap and the owner is really cool. He’s putting a lot into the park to upgrade. It had nice pull through concrete pads and great hook ups.
As great as the park was, it wasn’t the camping, nor the awesome beer at Muskogee Brewing (started by some local firemen) that was the main attraction. Both help raise the bar for the town overall, but it was the people who put it over the top. Wonderful friendly people live in Muskogee, but again, it was my grandpa who we came to see.
Grand Daddy is now with his brother, mother, and other siblings at Memorial. Muskogee is also where Cheryl’s grandmother was born. Grandma Peachy was full blooded Cherokee, born on the reservation with a number, not a name.
It’s amazing to think about how much this town has changed. I was there in the early 70’s when full on segregation and racism was obvious and on full display, even for a 9 year old to notice. Fast forward to 2019. We visited Momma C’s Soul Food Kitchen on Broadway where we witnessed all races dining and enjoying great soul food. What a transformation from 1970 and what a joy to witness.
Everyone has to be known for something, right? For us, it was the limit to how far we wanted to drive. This big van Gogh was a bonus. We stayed overnight at the KOA in Goodland. It was the perfect stop over. Kinda small sites, but hey, one night before we landed in Denver to visit friends.
The really cool thing about this campground is it’s proximity to downtown Denver. It’s a hidden gem in the city with a metro stop within walking distance of the campground. Pretty cool!
We stopped for a few days to visit friends and had a great visit. Denver is a great place to live, visit, work, and play. It’s just well designed with lot’s of amenities and something for everyone.
This was our first time to Cherry Creek Campground which was a great spot. The only bummer was that we couldn’t get a full hook up spot, and all the dry campsites were not in the sun. Our solar power had to be supplemented with a bit of generator due to shade and cloudy days.
Being new grandparents, the timing of this trip was tough. This little guy was showing up daily on text messages, facetime, and instagram. These photos were taken by Bodi’s parents in Mammoth during their camping trip. Of course by this time, Bodi is pretty much an expert at camping and all about it. Time to pick up the pace and get on home.
Talk about doing it all yourself. This little craft brewery outside of Alamosa Colorado does it all; from growing to production, brewing, and serving. It’s awesome beer too! It’s all about being local here.
We found the Colorado Farm Brewery through a local while tasting at The Square Peg in downtown Alamosa. Again, great beer, but the experience at the Co Farm Brew was really cool, really local, and really fun.
Alamosa was a stop over on our way to Durango, but it really was a cool little town. The Co Farm brew was about 4 miles out of town in the middle of a corn field. It’s literally in the middle of no where. We took wrong turns, kept driving, started doubting and almost turned back when we saw the brewery carved out of a barn and a dirt field.
We stayed for some music, some tastings, and some corn hole but we were leaving, a tall impressive and elderly statesman type cowboy stopped me to say hello. “How ya’ll doing? Thanks for stopping buy to visit, where ya’ll from?” Yeah, it was obvious we weren’t locals. We had a nice chat after explaining our trip, being from California, and heading back home.
It was so great to see community like that. He was the “town ambassador”, part of Rotary, on city council, and a few other boards I don’t remember. A proud of town fellow who really loved what he does. Reminded me of Jeff Buckingham.
Durango Colorado – Mesa Verde National Park
Durango was on the list not only because of the beauty, but also because of fond memories rafting down the Upper Animas with Cheryl’s dad in the late 80’s. It was a two day trip of technical rafting just after our first son was born. Both our dads passed away from cancer the same year, 2006.
We stayed at the Alpen Rose RV Park, although we were so busy hiking and exploring that we barely remember it. Lot’s of great photos in this album!
We left Durango and enjoyed a great drive through New Mexico into Arizona. Stopped in Four Corners and bought a bracelet for Bodi, and of course some Indian bread.
Entered the Petrified Forest from the North entrance I-40 and drove South to the 180 where we “free camped” at a souvenir shop. They park a bunch of old cars in front to make tourists think it’s a popular spot. A great trick as we watched car after car stop to use the free restrooms and buy petrified wood, arrow heads, and crystals.
If you’ve never been, I recommend starting from the North. Don’t visit the gift shops first, not until you finish the drive through the park and experience the amazing forest. You’ll have a much better appreciation for it.
Found a great spot just East of Flagstaff near Walnut Canyon National Monument. Did some exploring and hiking. The coverage was great so able to work and do my conference calls with no problem.
This is one of those places you find from Google Earth as you track your route looking for BLM or NF land near the main roads. We have a big rig and it’s not always easy to fit or get to these spots, but where there’s a will, there’s a way.
The lone Yuma photo taken August 6th, the night before heading out to San Diego. We stayed the night at Blue Sky Ranch RV Park that night and had dinner at El Charro, great Mexican food by the way. Great service, atmosphere, drinks, and food.
Left early from Yuma so we could get to San Diego in time to surprise our eldest son for his birthday. It was perfect because he wasn’t expecting us until the following week.
We arrived in Poway from Yuma around 11:30 am, in time for lunch, parked the beast around the corner and quietly rode our bikes to the Jersey Mike’s to surprise Brandon. Dayna arranged to have a “birthday lunch”. It was a great reunion. Spencer and his girlfriend Melissa were able to come over that night for birthday dinner, and Mimi didn’t let go of Bodi until bedtime.
We stayed in San Diego for three more weeks at our RV pad next to their house, and finally returned to our home in San Luis Obispo mid-September. Here we are, mid-October, and I’m finally finishing this photo journal of the 2019 trip. Yup, it was a good one, and East Coast is up next!