June 19 & 20, 2011

Trip Start Jun 02, 2011
Trip End Sep 25, 2011

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Where I stayed
Platte River Campground Traverse City
Read my review - 5/5 stars

Flag of United States  , Michigan
Sunday, June 19, 2011

This was a very busy couple of days for us, which really continued from yesterday.  We were driving from Niagara Falls to the Northwestern part of Michigan, which is over 400 miles.  It was much farther than what I normally planned to drive in a day, so my initial plan was to drive about 250 miles into the evening, stop at a Walmart at about 11pm to sleep, and then wake up before the girls and drive another 3 hours to our destination before the girls awoke.  It was a great plan...

However, what I did not take into account was that Sunday was Father's Day.  Emma in particular had been planning out every detail of this day for over a week, and had bought all sorts of small presents to support her plan.  It was actually quite cute.  She kept asking me questions like: "What is your favorite type of coffee?" and "Can you teach me how you make coffee?"  Emma was so excited for Father's Day, and her plan centered on keeping me in bed and making breakfast.  The other requirement was that we had to either stop at a store the day before, or we needed to park at a Walmart so she could go shopping before I got up.  Apparently there were fresh ingredients required for their plan!

On most days this plan would have been fine, but our challenge today is that I did not want to spend a good part of the day driving when the weather looked nice and we planned to spend the day on the Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore, which is a highly rated National Park.  So, I proposed several options to all of the girls:  1)We could do Father's day dinner instead of breakfast, or 2)We could just shift a day and they could do their breakfast the next day.  Well, when I even suggested a changed plan, Emma broke down in tears.  She told me that she worked so hard and it would be a huge failure if we tried to change it.  I did my best negotiating, but to no avail.
So, it came down to me changing my plan...I made a pot of coffee and figured that I would drive as far as I could, and then find a Walmart close to the park to they could execute their plan. The good news is that the coffee worked its magic, and I stayed alert well beyond midnight.  The bad news was that as I approached our destination in Michigan, I had a hard time finding a Walmart (For those that don't know, Walmart's are popular in the RV community because most allow RV'ers to park in their lots for the night.  This is convenient for nights like this where we don't want a campground, and we just need a place to stop.  Most other stores to not allow this.).  It took me an extra 30 minutes, and at 3:30am I was parked close to the National Park, and at 4am I was asleep.

At 7am the girls awoke, thrilled to look out the window to see a big blue Walmart.  I was supposed to stay asleep, but I had to make sure they were dressed and understood they all needed to stay together.  I then pretended to sleep as I watched the through the window proudly walk into Walmart to complete their mission.  About 15 minutes later they all came walking back out with bags in hand, and proceeded to make breakfast.  They were quite cute...I could hear "no, you need 4 scoops" and "the water doesn't go there, it goes here", etc.

It was about 7:45 when they proudly called for me to come down, and they had the table all set up with hand made place mats, cards, hot coffee, and fresh donuts and muffins.   Emma actually bought the coffee a week ago in Vermont, so that was part of the gift.  They also has several scented candles which they like to use in the RV, and a few other items.  It was great to see how excited they were to do all of this and it was a special Father's day for me!

We arrived at the Park Ranger station at about 10:30, and collected our maps and the girls obtained a new Junior Ranger book.  There were a number of activities in the park, but the biggest draw was an area where the kids (and adults) can climb the massive dunes which take you to a spectacular overview of Lake Michigan.   We figured that this was the best place to start, and would continue later with a scenic drive that listed 11 stops where you can get out and see specific sights.

The dunes were great fun for us all, and there was also a Ranger led program which satisfied one of their Junior Ranger requirements.   The dunes are natural formations of pure white sand that rise up out of Lake Michigan, and continue to shift and evolve over time.  The dunes are steep, and a real workout to climb.  Once we got to the top, where we thought we might see something new, there was just more sand and more dunes!   After about a mile of walking, we finally crossed a peak so that Lake Michigan could be seen.  It was an awesome view, and even at the top of these dunes, and in the sand, there was plenty of vegetation and animal life.

The girls had a blast going up and down, digging, burring, and tumbling.   This was another one of those places where I could have sat back and let them play for a whole afternoon.  I did that for about an hour, and then we all worked our way back to the RV so we could see the rest of the park.    We cleaned out as much sand as we could, and I thought I did a pretty good job.  What we later realized was that their pockets had much sand in them as well, and that made a mess for us later.  I couldn't figure out where all of the sand in the RV was coming from, but that was it!

We continued on to the scenic drive, which we all agreed did not match up with the drive we completed in Acadia Park in Maine!  However, there were a few nice stops, and we got captured a few good pictures.  The flies were an annoyance, but at least they did not bite! 

We got to our National Park campground at about 5:30, and it was very nice.  We had a nice space, and we got settled and I made dinner.  Every evening the Rangers lead a program at 8pm in an open air amphitheater related to some aspect of the park, and the program on this night was about bears.  The girls loved it, and received their second Junior Ranger certification as well.

Our second day at Sleeping Bear included a plan to kayak down the Platte River into Lake Michigan.   The Park Ranger said it is a nice trip that would take about 3 hours, and then the beach along Lake Michigan is nice for swimming.  Since we had not yet taken the kayak out, and the weather was nice, the girls were excited for it.

We first had to drive to the end point to drop off my bike, and then back to the start to launch the kayak.  It was a real nice trip, and the only challenge we had was with the back fin getting caught up on some rocks at low points.  I had to jump out and push, and we would be off again.  The girls alternated as front paddler, and we passed several groups and completed the trip in about 2 hours.  This gave the girls extra time to play on the beach, and allowed me to go into Lake Michigan on my own.

At the end of the ride we captured the girls in their second of the 5 Great Lakes.

As we departed Sleeping Bear and headed up to Mackinac City, we did stop for dinner.  I can still recall going to a Bob's Big Boy when I was a kid and traveling through Michigan, so we decided to give Bob's a try once again.  We had a good meal and the girls loved posing with Bob! 
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MOM on


mcgovern on

Girls will love to see that picture of me with "Bob". I was excited to take them there because I can still remember that, and they had such a good time there. I can't believe they have not changed the name!!

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