Grand Canyon – A Winter Wonderland with Snow!

January 2019 – Even though we have a new Polaris RZR waiting to take us on lots of exciting back road adventures, we’ve had a hankering to do a National Parks Snowstorm Tour for several years now. Our snowy day trip to Jerome a few weeks ago further whetted our appetites, so this week when a blizzard was predicted for the Grand Canyon, we hit the road!

Grand Canyon National Park in snow-min

Grand Canyon National Park is a Winter Wonderland when it snows!

We drove up from Phoenix to Flagstaff, Arizona, and when we got there we had to laugh at all the signs by the road advertising hats and gloves. Desert dwellers love to go to Flagstaff to see snow in the wintertime, and sometimes they forget their winter duds (or don’t even own any!).

Snow had been in the forecast for Grand Canyon, but we saw only dustings and flurries until we climbed the last few miles to Grand Canyon’s South Rim about 75 miles north of Flagstaff. Then it began to snow hard, as it had been doing there for the last 24 hours.

It was a little difficult to tell what was where under all the snow!

Snowed in at Grand Canyon National Park-min

Things looked a little different at the Grand Canyon than we’re used to seeing !

But much to our surprise, despite the snow, Grand Canyon National Park was hopping. Cars zipped here and there, the shuttle buses from the hotels to the rim were packed, and as usual, the languages we heard around us were from all over the world.

Exhilarated, we bundled up and hustled out to the closest overlook we could find on the Rim Trail.

Ready to walk the snow trails at Grand Canyon National Park-min

There was a lot of snow, but we were ready for it!

What a shock it was to find that fog filled the entire Grand Canyon! We could barely see from one overlook to the next, never mind across the whole Grand Canyon to the other side 10 miles away.

Drifts and blowing snow at Grand Canyon National Park overlook in snow-min

Fog filled the Canyon and even obscured one viewpoint from the next!

Nevertheless, tourists slipped and slid down the icy trails and out onto the overlooks to see what they could see — which was nothing!

Grand Canyon overlook in snow-min

Tourists filled the overlooks even though there was nothing to see!

Despite the lack of a real Grand Canyon view, the fresh snow was beautiful and gave the Canyon a mystique we don’t often see.

Fresh snow in Grand Canyon National Park-min

Fresh snow, fog and mist gave the Grand Canyon a special beauty.

Grand Canyon National Park snow and fog-min

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The fog blew in and out and the snow began to fall harder and harder. A woman standing next to me wondered why I was hanging over the edge taking photos.

Photographer in snow at Grand Canyon National Park-min

A photographer takes photos of…fog?

This was her first trip to the Grand Canyon, and although the snow and mist was lovely, she was really disappointed not to see the real view. “What does it usually look like?” She asked forlornly.

Snow at Grand Canyon National Park in snow-min

When you’ve come all the way to the Grand Canyon, you’ve gotta get out on an overlook,
even if there’s nothing to see!

Grand Canyon National Park overlook in snow-min

Usually this tree has a great view!

If only she’d been able to stay another day. When we got to the rim the next day, the snow had stopped falling and sunlight had begun to shine through.

Rim Trail Grand Canyon National Park in snow-min

The sun came out and cast shadows across the Rim Trail.

And what an appearance it made. The light show across the canyon was spectacular!

Clouds and snow at Grand Canyon National Park in snow-min

The sun and clouds chased each other across the Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon National Park stormy sky-min

What a glorious light show!

We were blown away, and so was everyone else. A crowd began to form, and the usual dance of tourist antics and selfies began.

Tourists at Grand Canyon National Park in snow-min

Word got out that the Canyon was on display again, and the tourists lined up!

Views and snow at Grand Canyon National Park-min

Embracing the view.

video

This Aussie/American couple was narrating a video about visiting the Grand Canyon in a snowstorm.

We were mesmerized watching the light and shadows chasing each other through the billowing curtains of mist and fog.

Light and shadow at Grand Canyon National Park-min

Meanwhile the light show went on.

Fog and clouds Grand Canyon National Park-min

Puffs of misty clouds swept by.

Snow at Grand Canyon National Park-min

The Grand Canyon is magical at any time of year, but this was a special moment.

Everyone was taking selfies and handing their cameras around, so we joined right in and did the same.

Happy campers at Grand Canyon National Park-min

We joined the selfie mania. Why not?!

Puppy in snow at Grand Canyon National Park in snow-min-min

Buddy loved the view and being part of the view too!
Fortunately for him, leashed pets are allowed on the trails above the rim.

Most of the Grand Canyon overlooks were closed because the road to them hadn’t been plowed. The whole drive to Hermit’s Rest on the west side of the South Rim was closed and the road to Desert View on the east side was closed as well.

Grand Canyon National Park after a snowstorm-min

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Great Crevasse Grand Canyon National Park-min

The canyon walls in that crack are thousands of feet high!

So, everyone stayed on the Rim Trail and visited just one or two viewpoints. The funny thing is that even though the total number of tourists at the Grand Canyon was a tiny fraction of what you’d see midsummer, because we were all concentrated in one small area it was still packed!

But it didn’t matter and the makeshift nature of things kind of added to the fun. This was a very special moment to be in this place, and everyone was thrilled to be here.

Blizzard at Grand Canyon National Park-min

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Virgin snow Grand Canyon National Park-min

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We all knew the sun would last for only a short while this afternoon because more snow was on its way. So the mood was almost giddy.

Grand Canyon National Park after snow storm-min

What a view!

Grand Canyon National Park snowy view-min

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Grand Canyon National Park snow-min

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We had buzzed up from Phoenix in our truck and left our fifth wheel trailer behind. Even though the trailer camground was open at Grand Canyon and we saw some rigs with snow on their roofs, we’d decided to take a vacation from our vacation and stay in a hotel.

Snow at Grand Canyon National Park-min

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Grand Canyon National Park snow view-min

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The fantastic thing about the Grand Canyon in the wintertime is that a lot of folks cancel at the last minute when they see snow in the forecast. So rooms were available for 50 cents on the dollar.

Clouds and snow at Grand Canyon National Park-min

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Grand Canyon National Park snow at overlook-min

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If you’re in Arizona for the winter and you want to see something very special, watch the weather forecast at the Grand Canyon and head there when the snow falls!

Clouds and fog Grand Canyon National Park-min

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Puppy plays in snow in Flagstaff Arizona-min

Next time you see snow in the forecast for the Grand Canyon, go for it!

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Jerome, Arizona – A New Year’s Getaway in the Snow!

January 2019 – Most people come to the Arizona desert in January to get out of the snow and ice and enjoy some balmy weather. But when snow and ice blew into central Arizona on New Year’s Eve this week, we jumped at the chance to get out on New Year’s Day to enjoy the fluffy white stuff while it lasted.

Snowy highway I-17 to Jerome AZ-min

We drove north on I-17 to see the snow!

We headed north on I-17 which takes travelers from the Sonoran Desert in Phoenix at about 1,200′ elevation to the ponderosa pine forests of Flagstaff at about 7,500′ elevation in just two hours of highway driving. Not far from the northern boundaries of Phoenix we began seeing patches of snow along the highway.

Snow on the rocks in Arizona-min

The rocks on the side of the highway were all capped in snow.

Snow had collected on the rock formations and in the forests by the side of the highway as we climbed higher and higher in elevation.

Snow in the trees in Arizona-min

Soon we saw woods filled with snow-covered trees.

Our goal had just been to go see some snow, but we soon realized our afternoon New Year’s snow drive needed a destination.

We wanted to see a quaint town full of holiday cheer along with ice and snow, so we cut off from I-70 onto Route 260 and 89A to go to the historic copper mining town of Jerome.

Hotel on the way into Jerome AZ-min

Rounding the first switchback on our way up Mingus Mountain to Jerome.

Jerome is perched halfway up towering Mingus Mountain, and it clings to the hillside with tenacity as it looks out over the valley below. The views are vast, and when we arrived storm clouds and golden sunlight were taking turns shading and lighting the valley.

Light and shadow in the valley view from erome Arizona-min

Light and shadow played hide and seek across the valley.

The town was built along several steep switchbacks in the road that crosses Mingus Mountain, and houses and shops stand at several different levels on the mountain road. A few staircases take shortcuts between each level, leading from one road up to the next.

Old stone stairway Jerome Arizona-min

The town of Jerome is multi-leveled and has lots of stairways.

Jerome is something of a rediscovered ghost town, and there are ghostly themes all over the place. We noticed a skeleton was about to join a family eating outside on a restaurant deck.

Eating on the deck with a skeleton Jerome Arizona-min

Dinner with a view — and a surprise guest!

Another skeleton was climbing the sign at the Haunted Hamburger.

Haunted Hamburger skeleton sign Jerome Arizona-min

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Jerome is a really popular destination in the summertime because it is an easy drive from baking hot Phoenix, and the temps are cool and refreshing because it lies halfway up a tall mountain. But it makes a delightful wintertime destination too, especially around the holidays. Christmas decorations were everywhere.

Icicles and Christmas ornament Jerome Arizona-min

If you don’t feel the Christmas spirit in the warm desert, come to Jerome for real icicles and ornaments.

Spiked peppermint hot chocolate sign Jerome Arizona-min

What could be better than this after a cold walk in Jerome on a wintry day?

Walking the streets of Jerome, we saw beautiful views across the valley. The red rocks of Sedona were nearby, and they lit up in the distance as the sun began to sink lower in the sky.

Red rocks of Sedona Arizona-min

The red rocks of Sedona glowed in the distance.

All the buildings were covered with a layer of snow, which made for a fun change of scenery after weeks in the dusty dry deserts of New Mexico and Arizona.

Valley view from Jerome Arizona-min

The views went on forever and were especially lovely as the sun went down.

We followed the switchbacks to the top of town.

Curvy uphill street Jerome Arizona-min

The streets were quiet, and the town was as quaint as can be!

The Jerome Grand Hotel stood proudly overlooking the valley.

Jerome Grand Hotel Arizona sunset-min

The Jerome Grand Hotel is haunted.

Inside the lobby of the Jerome Grand Hotel we read some of the guests’ hand written ghost stories that have been collected in a notebook. All kinds of things go bump in the night at this hotel, and visitors have some hair raising tales to tell. Just ask the person at the front desk if you can see the guestbook of stories about this haunted hotel!

Jerome Grand Hotel Arizona-min

We read a few of the guests’ ghost stories…sleep with one eye open if you stay here!

The sun set in pastel shades of peach and pink and blue as we walked back down into town.

Streets of Jerome Arizona at sunset-min

We’ve loved Jerome at warmer times of year, but the snow and cold gave it a special kind of intimacy.

Pink and blue sunset Jerome Arizona-min

Pink and blue sunset.

As we made our way back to the parking area at the bottom of town we saw lots of Christmas lights on the houses.

Christmas lights Jerome Arizona-min

Christmas lights came on all over town — very pretty!

All the trees in the small town park were decorated with lights, but it was the lights on the ground blinking under the snow that caught our attention.

Christmas lights buried under the snow-min

In the town park Christmas lights blinked under the snow!

Jerome is a cute town and a lovely spot to for a change of pace from the desert, especially during the holidays when it snows!

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Cross-Country Highlights on an RV trip from Indiana to Texas

November 2018 – After we left the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Indiana, it was late fall and high time to head to the southwest to warm up and dry off. Buddy has written about our stay in New Mexico, but there were some highlights before that I’d like to fill in.

Fifth wheel RV at sunset-min

A beautiful sunset filled the sky as we headed west and south.

The first was along I-70 between Indianapolis and St. Louis. Most interstate rest areas are nothing to write home about, but we’ve found a few in our travels that are unique, and such was the case at the Cumberland Road Rest Area in Marshall, Illinois.

Cumberland Road Rest Area Marshall Illinois-min

Cumberland Road Rest Area in Marshall, Illinois

As we walked towards the building we noticed a small group of people staring at something on the ground right by the entrance door — with smiles on their faces. When we got closer we realized they were all looking at a beautiful black cat.

Ghost rest area cat Cumberland Road Rest Area Marshall Illinois-min

A small crowd by the entrance was admiring this beautiful black cat.

The cat was just sitting there by the door, blinking slowly in the bright morning sunlight. People were wondering aloud if he was a lost pet or a runaway or if he was waiting for his owner to finish up in the bathroom.

Ghost the Rest Area Employee at Cumberland Road in Marshall Illinois-min

He seemed very calm and quietly sat there blinking in the bright morning sun.

Then a fellow joined the group and explained that as a trucker who had come to the rest area many times before, he knew this beautiful feline.

His name was Ghost, the Rest Area Cat. Just like the trucker, the cat had a regular route, going from one farm house to the next in the area.

But he seemed to like the digs (and mice) at the rest area best, so he hung around the rest area a lot and made friends with the regulars and the transients. His human friends kept a good eye on him, though, and gave him a collar and a very cool nametag.

Ghost the Rest Area Cat Cumberland Road Rest Area Marshall Illinois-min

His nametag says: “Ghost – Rest Area Employee.”

If your travels ever take you on I-70 westbound, stop at the rest area that’s about 10 miles west of Terre Haute and say hello to Ghost!

We got back on the interstate and the scenery buzzed by our windows in a blur. We all got white line fever and the places we drove by all began to blend together.

But a brief stop at Fort Gibson Lake in Oklahoma stood out. This is a popular boating and fishing spot for local sailors and anglers and it’s a lovely spot for photography.

In the midst of enjoying the views, we suddenly heard the whoosh of madly flapping wings and rapidly slapping webbed feet on the water. We looked up to see a huge flock of cormorants flying in from around the point and landing in the bay in front of us.

Wave upon wave of cormorants kept flying around the point and splash landing in the water. We’ve never seen so many cormorants in a single flock.

For at least five minutes the birds kept coming, until the whole bay in front of us was completely filled with birds bobbing in the water.

And then after another vigorous round of splashing and flapping, they flew off and the water became calm again!

Cormorant Rush Fort Gibson Lake Oklahoma-min

Throngs of cormorants flew into the bay. This is just a few of them!

We got off the interstate and traveled on a slew of secondary roads that took us through lots of small towns. As we approached Albany, Texas, we decided to have a look around. What a neat little find this town turned out to be!

We’d crossed a few states since leaving Indiana, but we knew we were in Texas when we saw the big Texas star on the side of a building.

The building turned out to be the Whitney Theater, home of the Dance Theater Company. Albany is a small town in size but it is big into the arts!

Texas star in Albany Texas-min

The Texas star!

Whitney Theater in Albany Texas RV trip-min

Whitney Theater, home of the Dance Theater Company.

The old jail house in Albany is now a modern art museum with a renowned collection. Outside the Old Jail Art Center there were lots of interesting sculptures. One was “Tex the Roustabout.” He got Buddy’s attention!

Tex the Roustabout sculpture Albany Texas Jail Museum-min

The Old Jail House Art Center has a well renowned collection of modern art. Tex the Roustabout stood outside, pipe wrench in hand.

Albany is is the county seat for Shackleford County and has a pretty courthouse.

Shackleford County Courthouse in Albany Texas-min

The county courthouse for Shackleford County is in Albany, Texas.

Our favorite spot in Albany was Sander’s Drug Store. As we walked across the antique mosaic sign on the ground, we felt like we were walking into another era.

Entrance to Sander's Drug Store in Albany Texas-min

Sander’s Drug Store was the highlight of our visit and gave us a glimpse of another time.

Inside there were people enjoying refreshments at tables and the antique looking pharmacy was out back.

Inside Sander's Drug Store Albany Texas RV trip-min

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Pharmacy counter Sander's Drug Store Albany Texas RV trip-min

Not just “Prescriptions” but “Radio Phonographs” too!

We got a latte and took a seat outside the store to watch the world go by on Main Street. The couple at the next table started chatting with us and telling us how much they love this little town and that it’s their favorite weekend getaway spot from their home in Abilene 35 miles away.

Sitting outside Sander's Drug Store Albany Texas RV trip-min

A nice spot out front to while away the hours.

Albany may be a cute and artsy town today, but its roots are in cattle and oil. High up on a wall inside Sander’s Drug Store a Texas Longhorn looked down at us.

Texas Longhorn at Sander's Drug Store Albany Texas RV trip-min

A Texas Longhorn.

When we began wandering the streets of town again we found a metal sculpture of a Texas longhorn too as well as a plaque memorializing the Texas Cattle Trails of 1875 to 1890. Cattle herds from Texas were driven up to the railheads in Kansas along these routes.

Texas Longhorn sculpture Albany Texas RV trip-min

The arts in Albany pay homage to the Texas Cattle Trail history of the area.

Petroleum production was the other big industry in the area and still is. A replica oil pump outside an oilfield services office sported the high school Albany Lions football team helmet.

Oil pumper Albany Texas RV trip-min

An oil services company has a huge oil pumper out front with a football helmet on top!

As we walked around town we came to a stand of trees that had dropped the most enormous acorns we had ever seen. These things were huuuuge!

Well, as they say, everything is bigger in Texas, even the acorns!

Huge acorns Albany Texas RV trip-min

Everything is bigger in Texas!

Even though we blasted across a few states to get back to the warm and dry southwest quickly, these few stops along the way made for some great memories.

RV camping in Oklahoma-min

We scooted along pretty quickly for a thousand miles, but we’ll remember these special places and moments!

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Our RV travels in Oklahoma and Texas


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Oliver Lee Memorial State Park, New Mexico – A Dog’s Eye View!

November 2018 – Hi Everyone. This is Buddy here.

I’m writing our blog post this week because Emily (she’s Mumma to me) has been very busy all week long working on a project for something called Tail or Life!

Puppy writes an RV blog post-min

She left her chair and her laptop, so I’m blogging this week!

Oh, wait. She just made a face at me and is saying something really slowly.

Oops! Ahem. It’s for something called Trailer Life.

Anyway, she has been glued to her computer for days to get it done, and she says she doesn’t want to sit in her chair or stare at her computer any more for a while.

But we recently spent a week at a really nice state park that you’ve just gotta go see. It’s called Oliver Lee Memorial State Park and it is about 12 miles southeast of Alamagordo in New Mexico, kinda near White Sands National Monument.

So, I want to tell you about it.

Riparian nature trail Oliver Lee State Park New Mexico-min

The Riparian Nature Trail in Oliver Lee State Park

The best part about this park is that the main attraction — a beautiful hiking trail — goes into a place called Dog Canyon.

Oliver Lee State Park New Mexico Riparian Nature Trail-min

Dog Canyon is made for dogs!

If you run (or hike) past the picnic table that seems to be the end of the trail, you’ll find some fabulous rocks and a little stream that flows through them all. We didn’t find it the first time we ran this trail because we didn’t know the trail went beyond that picnic table, but it does. So don’t miss it!

Water in ravine Riparian Nature Trail Oliver Lee State Park New Mexico-min

There’s a trickle of a stream in this pretty ravine.

One time we hiked this trail we saw a huge tarantula crawling around on the rocks. We found out later that the tarantulas were in their mating season, so they were on the prowl trying to find each other.

Mark takes a photo of a tarantula-min

A tarantula!

tarantula in Oliver Lee Memorial State Park New Mexico

Looking for love!

Photo shoot Oliver Lee State Park New Mexico Riparian Nature Trail-min

I’m more lovable than a tarantula.

This is such a great trail. Every dog that visits Oliver Lee Memorial State Park loves it. And why not? It’s Dog Canyon!

Puppy on Riparian Nature Trail Oliver Lee State Park New Mexico-min

We hiked this trail everyday.

The other hiking trail goes up the side of a huge mountain. There are lots of switchbacks and some really fun scrambles. You can see the campground from some of the lookouts.

View on mountain hike Oliver Lee State Park New Mexico-min

The hike up the mountain is steep and can be hot — bring water — but the view is wonderful!

About 0.6 miles into the hike the map said there was a place called the “First Bench.” So we went looking all over for a park bench. Little did we know that the “bench” was just a quarter mile long plateau with a fabulous view looking into Dog Canyon!

Canyon view on mountain hike Oliver Lee State Park New Mexico-min

A dog’s eye view of Dog Canyon.

One day when we were out walking we came across a big snake.

Puppy sees a rattlesnake Oliver Lee State Park New Mexico-min

A snake!!

While I was looking at it I cast my shadow across him.

Puppy sees a snake Oliver Lee State Park New Mexico-min

What does that snake think of my shadow?!

If you go to Oliver Lee Memorial State Park in November, it can be warm and it can be very cold too. On the cold days I hung out in my fort.

Puppy plays house in RV-min

We had some rainy days and even got a dusting of snow. So I played house inside.

And sometimes I played peekaboo.

Peekaboo

Peekaboo!

Sometimes in the morning it was only 42 degrees inside. So Mumma made me a special superman outfit from an old sweatshirt to keep me warm all night long.

Cold nights puppy wears superman outfit-min

My superman outfit keeps me warm on those cold nights.

One of the best things at the end of the day was watching the sunsets. They were spectacular.

Sunset over RV Oliver Lee State Park New Mexico-min

We saw some incredible sunsets.

Puppy watches sunset Oliver Lee State Park New Mexico-min

I like watching the sun go down.

Sunset over RV campground Oliver Lee State Park New Mexico-min

Fire in the sky!

In the very early morning, the whole desert would glow pink and blue. Smoke from big wildfires in California arrived just as the moon got full, making it hazy near the horizon.

Full moon in California wildfire smoke Oliver Lee State Park New Mexico-min

We had a full moon and it set just as the sky did its pink-and-blue magic in the early morning.

Full moon with wildfire smoke Oliver Lee State Park New Mexico-min

The skies had been totally clear, but wildfire smoke that blew in made the moon a little hazy.

Desert sunset skyline Oliver Lee State Park New Mexico-min

The New Mexico desert at dawn.

I’ve heard there was a famous photographer named Ansel Adams who took a photo in New Mexico that he called Moonrise over Hernandez. I don’t know where Hernandez is, but Dada got a cool shot of Moonrise over Alamagordo.

Moonrise over Alamagordo New Mexico

Moonrise over Alamagordo New Mexico

When the moon rose the next night it was huge and you could see lots of detail.

Full moon Oliver Lee Memorial State Park New Mexico-min

I’ve heard the moon is made of cheese… maybe so!

I’m a little bit of a fussy eater, and we have a huge bag of dog food I don’t like. One night I was told if I wasn’t going to eat it then it would go to someone else who would.

In the pitch dark I heard something outside and I woofed a little to let them know that the “someone” had showed up to eat my food.

It was a gray fox!

She didn’t stop eating, even with a flashlight on her. Later on in the night we went outside and I sniffed around and found out she had tiny baby cubs in the rocks on the edge of our campsite.

I’ve been told I look like a fox. I don’t know about that, but her cubs looked just like her, only much smaller.

Gray Fox at Oliver Lee State Park New Mexico-min

We found out a gray fox lived in our campsite and had some really cute cubs in the rocks!

Well, that’s my story. I hope you liked it.

I’m going to take a nap now!

Puppy sleeping

Thanks for reading!

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RVing Through History – 80 Years of RV Travel!

October 2018 – While the most famous and beloved part of the RV/MH Hall of Fame and Museum in Elkhart, Indiana, is the fabulous display of antique trailers and motorhomes downstairs, the library upstairs is an equally outstanding (if less flashy) gem.

RV-MH Hall of Fame Elkhart Indiana-min

The RV/MH Hall of Fame and Museum antique trailer display downstairs is fabulous.
But you’ve gotta check out the library upstairs too!

Every year notable people in the RV and Manufactured Housing industries are inducted into the Hall of Fame, and when you head upstairs in the museum you can find walls filled with plaques commemorating the work of each inductee.

RV-MH Hall of Fame Inductees Elkhart Indiana-min

The “Hall of Fame” dignitaries in the RV and Manufactured Home industries.

Around the bend there is a library that is open to all visitors. This sizeable room is filled with several rows of bookshelves that house all the periodicals and publications in the RV and Manufactured Housing industries since its inception.

There’s bit of whimsy in this library: the tops of the bookshelves are decorated with toy RVs!

RV-MH Hall of Fame Library Elkhart Indiana-min

The library upstairs is a wonderful place to kick back and learn a little history.

I find the history of RVing very interesting because it is a hobby and a lifestyle that has rolled through our nation’s history for over a century, a time that has included two world wars, economic booms and depressions, baby booms and boomlets, energy crises and more.

As a columnist for and avid reader of Trailer Life Magazine, I was especially eager to look at some of the earliest editions of its predecessor publication, Trailer Travel Magazine.

High up on a bookshelf I found a row of the earliest Trailer Travel magazines the museum owns, all nicely bound by year.

Woodall's Trailer Travel Magazine 1930s and 1940s issues RV-MH Hall of Fame and Museum Library Elkhart Indiana-min

Bound volumes of Trailer Travel Magazine from the 1930s to the 1960s

I randomly took one volume down and flipped it open to the January 1959 issue. The little girl in diapers could have been an older sister of mine or a younger sister of Mark’s. How fun!

Woodall's Trailer Travel Magazine Cover January 1959 RV-MH Hall of Fame and Museum-min

Trailer Travel Magazine – January 1959 – 25 cents an issue

Flipping the magazine open to a random page, I found a fantastic two page advertisement for Airstream trailers called “Land Yachting.” The accompanying photo showed a motor yacht tied up at a dock where an Airstream was parked. Very cool!

Land Yachting Woodall's Trailer Travel Magazine Cover January 1959 RV-MH Hall of Fame and Museum-min

Awesome!

Thumbing through a little more, I found an article about a fellow who loved the trailer lifestyle so much he had built a custom home that he could back his trailer into. While the house had a full kitchen, living room, bedrooms and bathrooms, he could also use all of the trailers amenities when it was parked inside the house!

This fellow had been involved in the RV industry for a long time, towing trailers since 1924, and he confessed that he and his wife preferred the bedroom in the trailer to any of the bedrooms in the house!

Have Trailer Will Travel Woodall's Trailer Travel Magazine Cover January 1959 RV-MH Hall of Fame and Museum-min

This guy liked to back his trailer right into his custom home and use it inside the house!

I picked up the volume for the 1937 issues of Trailer Travel (the magazine started in 1935 but I didn’t see that volume there).

The January 1937 issue cost just 15 cents and it featured a photo of a palm tree lined street on the cover and the promise of an article about “Trailing Through the Land of Thrills” inside.

Trailer Travel Magazine 1937 Cover photo RV-MH Hall of Fame and Museum Elkhart IN-min

Trailer Travel Magazine – January 1937 – 15 cents an issue

Like today’s Trailer Life, the magazine was filled with advertisements. Of course, as with any media publication, including this website, the ads make it possible to pay the bills. But I loved each and every one of the ads because they said so much about the life and times and interest and concerns of the RV industry back in 1937.

We had seen several Covered Wagon trailers in the museum downstairs, and here was an ad for the 1937 model. By the looks of the lady in her evening gown, this was a trailer for the well-to-do. Boasting “superb perfection of design” and “eight years of quality trailer building,” this rolling home would set you back $1,295.

Trailer Travel Magazine 1937 Covered Wagon Ad RV-MH Hall of Fame and Museum Elkhart IN-min

At $1,295, this trailer must have been quite a luxury during the Great Depression.

In 1937 America was still deep in the throes of the Great Depression, and $1,295 was an exorbitant amount of money. No wonder the lady was in such an elegant gown as she prepared for a night on the town. She was a woman of means who had somehow escaped the worst of the economic woes that the Great Depression wrought.

Trailer Travel Magazine 1937 Silver Dome Ad RV-MH Hall of Fame and Museum Elkhart IN-min

The Silver Dome had a caster type wheel under the hitch pin.

It struck me that owning a trailer was not something that was probably possible for most families, as many families didn’t have a car in 1937. “Trailerites,” as the early RVers were called, must have been a fairly exclusive crowd, especially when the country was in the grip of the Great Depression.

1937 Trailer Travel Magazine Club Car Ad RV-MH Hall of Fame and Museum Elkhart IN-min

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1937 Trailer Travel Magazine Royal Coach Ad RV-MH Hall of Fame and Museum Elkhart IN-min

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But there were trailer builders out there who were aiming at a more budget oriented crowd. The 17′ Indian “Scout” started at a mere $395, just 1/3 of the cost of that fancy 22′ Covered Wagon model.

1937 Trailer Travel Magazine RV-MH Hall of Fame and Museum Elkhart IN Indian Scout Trailer Ad-min

A smaller, simpler trailer for just $395.

Another big surprise was that many of the trailers in 1937 (model year 1938) offered most of the household comforts we have built into our trailers today, from water tanks to kitchen stoves to insulation and more.

One ad for the Bender Travel Mansion boasted air conditioning and heat which they said marked “a new era in trailer life!”

Not only did the 1937 Bender Travel Mansion feature climate control, it also had a hot and cold water shower, a flush toilet and an automatic electric and marine water system. The foundation was the Bender Tandem Axle and Spring suspension system, and the interior was walnut.

All this for a base price of just $447.

Trailer Travel Magazine 1937 Bender Travel Mansion Ad RV-MH Hall of Fame and Museum Elkhart IN-min

Air conditioning, heat, hot and cold shower and flush toilet — in 1937!

I was also surprised that most trailer ads stressed that their units were all steel construction. This didn’t mean just the frame, as it does today. The studs and rafters were welded steel too.

When we had looked at the units in the museum downstairs, Mark had noted that even the aluminum sided models of the early years had tack welds rather than rivets.

These early trailers were solidly built and heavy!

Trailer Travel Magazine 1937 Hayes Ad RV-MH Hall of Fame and Museum Elkhart IN-min

These trailers were super rugged and all steel.

The 1938 Hayes trailer featured not only a complete steel cage — chassis, frame, sides, roof were all “electric welded into one rigid piece” — but it also had five kinds of insulating materials.

One insulating material mentioned was “Reflect-O-Cel aluminum air cell insulation” used in the roof.

This sounded a lot like our modern product Reflectix that many RVers use to block heat and cold in their RV windows. It also sounded a little like the “radiant barrier” that trailer manufacturers use today (although some radiant barriers we saw on factory tours resembled aluminum foil while others were a foil product that had some kind padding).

1937 Trailer Travel Magazine 1938 Hayes Trailer Ad RV-MH Hall of Fame and Museum Elkhart IN-min

A steel cage frame and 5 materials for insulation including “Reflect-O-Cel.”

I was intrigued that while today there are many industry publications for people who work in the RV industry and a few magazines geared towards consumers who buy RVs, the early Trailer Travel magazine had a very wide audience that included not only the manufacturers but the “trailerites” who bought them, the campground and trailer park owners who were hosting them and the dealerships who were selling the manufacturers’ products.

So, there were ads for everything from Coleman stoves to trailer windows, a new folding trailer step, Foreman trailer axles, Bendix power brakes and a Red Top Gas-O-Lectric AC/DC Power Plant to give the trailer electricity when it was parked off the grid.

Coleman Stove Ad 1937 Trailer Travel Magazine RV-MH Hall of Fame and Museum Elkhart IN-min

1937 Coleman stoves.

Trailer Window Ad 1937 Trailer Travel Magazine RV-MH Hall of Fame and Museum Elkhart IN-min

Trailer windows… not very different from today.

Folding Trailer Step Ad 1937 Trailer Travel Magazine RV-MH Hall of Fame and Museum Elkhart IN-min

A fold-out step!

Foreman Trailer Axles Ad 1937 Trailer Travel Magazine RV-MH Hall of Fame and Museum Elkhart IN-min

Trailer axles.

Bendix Trailer Brakes Ad Foreman Trailer Axles Ad 1937 Trailer Travel Magazine RV-MH Hall of Fame and Museum Elkhart IN-min

Bendix Power Brakes save your car’s brakes…same thing today!

Red Top Gas-O-Lectric Power Plant Ad Foreman Trailer Axles Ad 1937 Trailer Travel Magazine RV-MH Hall of Fame and Museum Elkhart IN-min

AC and DC power for the trailer when it’s not plugged in.

I was also fascinated to see that companies had emerged to rent out trailers to folks on vacation. Western Trailways Service offered trailers for $5 a day for one or two people or $6.50 for three or four people. Why spend $400 or more buying a trailer when you could rent one for a weeklong honeymoon for just $35?

1937 Trailer Travel Magazine Ad RV-MH Hall of Fame and Museum Elkhart IN Western Trailways Rental Plan-min

Why not rent a trailer for a week before going all in and buying one?

Just as fascinating, or perhaps even more so, was reading the articles about where people took their trailers in 1937. An ad for Covered Wagon explaining their sales method of selling a base model plus options showed a young couple dressed up for camping in nature.

It was a different era!

Covered Wagon Pacemaker Trailer Ad 1937 Trailer Travel Magazine RV-MH Hall of Fame and Museum Elkhart IN-min

Camping in style.

One photo showed several riders on horseback and a trailer parked on the side of a dirt road, a glimpse of the transition still taking place in the 1930s in the most rural areas from horse to motorized travel.

Trailer and horseback riders Durango Colorado Foreman Trailer Axles Ad 1937 Trailer Travel Magazine RV-MH Hall of Fame and Museum Elkhart IN-min

Old and new modes of transportation on the dirt road to Durango Colorado

An article entitled, “Yellowstone Parking – A Trailer Travel Thrill!” described a trailer trip to Yellowstone National Park.

Some things have changed quite a bit since 1937. A photo showed a black bear eyeing up a car towing a trailer. In those days feeding the bears was a popular activity at Yellowstone. Fortunately, from what I understand, grizzlies were extremely rare in the Park back then since they were not a protected species.

Trailer driving past Bear in Yellowstone National Park 1937 Trailer Travel Magazine RV-MH Hall of Fame and Museum Elkhart IN-min

It was common practice to feed the bears at Yellowstone back in 1937

But the fishing on Fire Hole River (“Fire Hole” was two words in those days) seems like it was much the same, excellent both then and now.

Fire Hole River with trailer at Yellowstone National Park 1937 Trailer Travel Magazine RV-MH Hall of Fame and Museum Elkhart IN-min

Fire Hole River in Yellowstone.

And photography was as important to Yellowstone visitors in 1937 as it is to all of us today.

Photography with trailer 1937 Trailer Travel Magazine RV-MH Hall of Fame and Museum Elkhart IN-min

A “trailerite” family enjoys a meal together in their campsite while dad snaps a pic.

As I perused the January 1937 issue, I discovered that the feature article, “Trailing Through the Land of Thrills,” was all about taking your trailer on a fabulous adventure down to Mexico City.

The new 1,000 mile long international highway had been completed in July, 1936, and Americans were taking their cars and trailers down the highway and loving it.

Interestingly, that was not the only travel destination feature article about going to Mexico in 1937. In the August issue of Trailer Travel Magazine there was an article about taking your trailer down to the fabulous tropical destination of Acapulco!

Mark and I spent some time in Acapulco on our sailboat, and although Acapulco is sadly very dangerous in many areas today, it was easy to see how extraordinarily charming it must have been years ago.

When we anchored there we heard whales singing in the water around our hull at night, and we saw a seahorse attached to our anchor chain when we hauled the anchor up. The water just outside the populated area was the bluest blue we’d ever seen, and at night Acapulco Bay looked like a bowl full of diamonds as all the homes on the steep hills around the bay lit up.

I can only imagine how exotic it would have been to take a trailer down to Acapulco for a tropical winter vacation in 1937.

Acapulco Mexico Town Beach

Acapulco’s town beach

Another fascinating article was entitled, “What is Happening to the Trailer Industry?”

Apparently for the first half of 1937 trailers flew off the shelves, so the manufacturers ratcheted production up to high gear. By May, however, trailers had stopped moving and there were surpluses everywhere.

The article pondered whether the sudden slowdown was because President Roosevelt had tampered with the Supreme Court as he tried to push through his New Deal legislation. Or perhaps the Housing Act of 1937 (Wagner Act) which provided government funding for public housing agencies to assist low income families was the cultprit.

The writer also mused that the problem might be plain old competition. He noted that for every one trailer being built by a manufacturer in 1937, four were being built at home. I guess in 1937 “trailerites” were looking for affordable trailers that were customized to their own needs and preferences.

Boy, does that sound familiar!

Trailer Travel Magazine September 1937 What is Happening to the Trailer Industry?

The RV industry has always been cyclical,
but even so, a sudden downturn in 1937 prompted some soul searching.

On the positive side, another article in the January 1937 issue discussed how Hollywood was becoming more and more enamored of using trailers on movie sets.

Downstairs in the museum of antique trailers we’d seen a fabulous House Car on display that belonged to Mae West. However, it wasn’t until the 1930s that the stars in Hollywood routinely began to use luxury trailers as mobile dressing rooms and places to relax on set.

One article entitled “Trailer Trails to Health: Water” discussed the importance of finding good drinking water in your travels. The article opened with a cute reference to Samuel Coleridge’s poem in which the Ancient Mariner lamented, “Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink.”

Today we all rely on bottled water that is in abundant supply everywhere, but in 1937 the only choices were city water, which was filtered, chlorinated if necessary, and approved by the State Department of Health, and well water or spring water which was a gamble.

“Trailerites” were advised to seek out city water supplies and to use spring or well water only if it had a certificate on it from the State Board of Health.

Trailer Travel magazine 1937 Trailer Trails to Health - Water-min

Finding safe drinking water was a big concern for “trailerites” in 1937

I grabbed the Trailer Travel volume for 1940 and flipped through a few issues.

The price of the magazine had dropped from 15 cents in 1937 to 10 cents in 1940, and it was now called Automobile & Trailer Travel Magazine.

Automobile and Trailer Travel Magazine 1940-min

Automobile & Trailer Travel Magazine – August 1940 – Now 10 cents an issue!

What a neat surprise it was when I saw an ad for a 4.8 cubic foot electric refrigerator!

This RV fridge was a combination electric refrigerator and ice box. When you took your trailer off grid, rather than relying on propane, which came later, you could pack 50 lbs. of ice in the ice box and still enjoy a cold beer.

In 1940 there were still rural folks who didn’t have running water or electricity, but the finest trailers had electric refrigeration!

Marvel Trailer 4.8 cubic foot Ice and Electric refrigerator ad from 1940 Trailer Travel Magazine-min

A 4.8 cubic foot electric fridge with a big ice box for off-grid camping.

The October 1940 issue featured an article, “How To Use Your Camera,” that explained how to take advantage of different film speeds. Of course, film cameras have gone the way of the ice box!

Trailer Travel magazine 1940 How to Use Your Camera-min

Photography and travel have always gone hand-in-hand, whether the camera is film or digital.

I jumped ahead a few shelves and pulled out the March 1977 issue. The magazine was now called Woodall’s Trailer & RV Travel, and the cover showed a pop-top van as one of the best new designs of the year.

Water was still covered in this issue in 1977, but the focus in this particular article was on how the RV’s water system works and what to do when it doesn’t.

March 1977 Woodall's Trailer and RV Travel Magazine RV-MH Hall of Fame and Museum Elkhart IN-min

Woodall’s Trailer & RV Travel – March 1977

My jaw just about hit the floor, however, when I opened another issue from 1977 and discovered that finding safe drinking water was just as big a concern in 1977 as it had been 40 years prior in 1937.

Not only did the article, “The Traveler’s Guide to Water,” warn RVers not to trust random wells and springs for drinking water, but it also opened with the same quote from Coleridge’s poem The Ancient Mariner: “Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink.”

How funny.

Ironically, when I wrote an article for Cruising World Magazine a few years ago about our sailboat’s water desalination system that converted ocean water to drinking water, the editors titled it, “Water, water everywhere…”

Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner is timeless!

Trailer Travel magazine 1977 The Traveler's Guide to Water-min

Finding safe drinking water was still a big concern in 1977, some 40 years later!

In 1977 there was also a lot of concern about the safety of taking an RV into Mexico. Several articles discussed rising crime in Mexico, but the writers expressed hope that it was a temporary problem that might abate in the near future.

John and the motorhome

Camping on the beach in Mexico!

When we were in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, on our sailboat, we were very fortunate to meet a young German man who had been raised in a Class C motorhome by his adventurous parents as they traveled all over North America. While showing us his photo albums of family photos, he described camping on the beach in Mexico as a kid in the 1980s. How fun!

At one point, his dad had gotten the clever idea to ask a train conductor heading through Copper Canyon if they could put their motorhome on one of the empty flatbed train cars. Soon, a whole generation of adventurous RVers were riding flatbed cars on that train and enjoying a trip of a lifetime.

Blog posts about meeting this special fellow here and here.

Another big topic of concern in Woodall’s Trailer & RV Travel in the late 1970’s was the future of the Alaskan wilderness. The public land debate goes back over a century and is very complex, but the Alaska Pipeline spawned much debate in the late 1970s, and Woodall’s Trailer and RV Travel weighed in with their thoughts.

Who Gets the Alaskan Wilderness 1977 Trailer Travel Magazine RV-MH Hall of Fame and Museum Elkhart IN-min

Public land debates were as hot in 1977 as they are today.

Alaskan Wilderness quote 1977 Trailer Travel Magazine RV-MH Hall of Fame and Museum Elkhart IN-min

Interesting to look back on this comment 40 years later.

By the 1970s, Woodall’s Trailer and RV Travel Magazine was published solely for RVers — the consumer side of the RV industry — and was no longer a trade magazine for the RV industry itself. But one amusing business-oriented article headline caught my eye: “Renting Your RV – It Could Put 10 Grand in your pocket.”

There has been an effort in recent years to put potential RV renters together with people who’d like to make a little side income from renting out there RV. I had no idea that this business model dated back 40 years, but there it was in 1977!!

Renting Your RV 1977 Trailer Travel Magazine RV-MH Hall of Fame and Museum Elkhart IN-min

Renting your RV is not a new concept. Heck, folks were putting 10 grand in their pockets doing it in 1977!

I had a hard time leaving the RV/MH Hall of Fame Library and could easily have stayed a few more hours. But the volunteer at the front desk downstairs came up to me at closing time and told me very kindly that she was going to shut off the lights in a few minutes!

She let me hunt down one last magazine from August 2010, an issue of Good Sam Club’s Highways Magazine. The cover of this magazine featured our little buggy in a streamside setting. She smiled as I snapped a photo of the cover and told her that the very same trailer was parked out in their parking lot right now.

Looking at the Highways Magazine cover more closely a little later, I noticed that besides my article about Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains, there were articles on water filtration and brakes and there was even a photo contest.

So many themes in RVing have stayed the same, all the way from 1937 to now.

August 2010 Highways Magazine Cover 1977 Trailer Travel Magazine RV-MH Hall of Fame and Museum Elkhart IN-min

Water, brakes and photography were all in this issue too!

If you have a chance to visit the RV/MH Hall of Fame and Museum, allow a little extra time to sit in one of the comfy chairs upstairs in the library and thumb through a few RVing magazines of yesteryear. It is a heartwarming journey.

You can subscribe to the modern day Trailer Life Magazine here and see our photos and stories in its pages almost every month!

More info about the RV/MH Hall of Fame Museum and Library:

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RV/MH Hall of Fame + Elkhart (RV Heart) Indiana

October 2018 – The region around Elkhart, Goshen and Shipshewana in the northern part of Indiana is the heart of the RV industry, and a trip there is a must for everyone who loves RVing. One of the coolest things to see is the RV/MH Hall of Fame and Museum (“MH stands for Manufactured Housing, not “Motor Home”).

RV-MH Hall of Fame tells RV History about RVing industry in Elkhart Indiana

The RV/MH Hall of Fame and Museum is at the heart of the RV industry’s heart in Elkhart Indiana

We visited Elkhart, Indiana, back in 2009. That visit was during the very dark days of the recession, and the entire RV industry was in total free fall as it plunged to miserable depths in a very steep nose dive. RV manufacturers that had been around for as long as forty or fifty years were dropping like flies.

At that point, unfortunately, darker days were still to come. It was hard to imagine when or how the economy, especially the RV manufacturing industry, would ever recover.

So, what a marvelous shock it was this year to arrive in Elkhart and find the place absolutely humming with activity. The economic rocketship ride has taken Elkhart and the RV industry by storm, and there were help wanted signs in front of every manufacturing plant and on every street corner.

Elkhart Indiana is hiring in economic boom-min

There were jobs aplenty in Elkhart, Indiana

Hiring signs in Elkhart Indiana as economy booms-min

We saw hiring signs in front of every business.

When the RV manufacturers are running at full tilt, everything around them takes off at a sprint too.

There were RV transport trucks towing sparkling new trailers everywhere we turned. Each transporter was embarking on a trip to haul the attached trailer to a dealership in some far corner of the country, and every RV manufacturer’s lot was filled with rows and rows of rigs waiting their turn to be shipped out.

Jobs jobs jobs and hiring in Elkhart indiana-min

RV transporters were busy busy busy!

Now hiring in Elkhart Indiana during economic recovery-min

Warehouse – Yes! Sewers, not so much.

The mood was almost giddy, and there were help wanted signs at all the supermarkets, restaurants and fast food joints. I don’t think there was a company anywhere that was suffering. One coffee company even cracked a joke about needing new hires right on their sign.

Of course we are hiring who is not-min

Of course… Who isn’t??

Wages were ticking upwards too. One small manufacturer of specialty trailers told us the starting wage for assembly line workers at their plant — once they’ve proven themselves for a month — is $27 per hour. Wow!!

But besides the exuberantly happy mood we felt around town, we were having a blast just being right smack in the heart of the RV industry where something like 90% of the RV-related corporations have their headquarters. Every direction we looked we saw a familiar brand of something.

Lippert Components freight truck in Elkhart Indiana-min

Lippert Components… we have a lot of their stuff… Hey, is that a help wanted ad on their truck?!

Keystone Drive Elkhart Indiana-min

You can’t get far from the RV industry here.

The manufacturing plants go on for miles, and all the big corporations have many many plants.

LCI Plant 85 Elkhart Indiana-min

The various plants for the big manufacturers go on for miles and miles.

R-Pod Plant 37 Elkhart Indiana heart of RV industry-min

R-Pod too.

The companies and the residents are all very much tied in with each other, so it was no surprise to see familiar names on the Adopt-A-Highway signs too.

Adopt-a-Highway Lippert Components Inc Elkhart Indiana-min

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XLR toy hauler plant Elkhart Indiana RV industry-min

Drive a block and see another familiar manufacturer’s plant!

XLR Thunderbolt toy haulers lined up in Elkhart Indiana RV plant-min

Ready for outdoor adventure.

Every RV manufacturer offers factory tours of some kind, and we made it a point to do quite a few. But just driving around Elkhart, Goshen, Shipshewana, Middlebury and Nappannee, it was amazing to discover how enormous this industry is and how vast its many manufacturing plants are.

Keystone RV Company Headquarters Goshen Indiana-min

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Of course, lots of other kinds of vehicles are made in the Elkhart area too. How cool to see a zillion shuttle buses hot off the assembly line out gleaming in the sun.

Shuttle buses lined up in Elkhart Indiana-min

This region makes more than just RVs.

Much of this area is Amish country, and every so often we would come across signs letting us know their horses and buggies were in the area. How fun to see the horse tie-ups at the supermarkets and to see the horses and buggies waiting patiently outside various businesses. We saw the Amish working in the plants too.

Goshen and Shipshewana Indiana are Amish country-min

Something old and something new – Rooftop solar panels, horses and buggies and electronic controls.

It was also the peak of fall. At a cider mill the pumpkins were stacked high and the cider was selling fast (yum!).

Pumpkin display Elkhart Indiana-min

Fall was in the air and the cider was delicious!

Even though we had visited the RV/MH Hall of Fame Museum the last time we were here back in 2009, we wanted to see it again this time. It is unusual for an industry to celebrate itself and its products with so fabulous a showcase in such an impressive building.

Don’t miss it if you drive by on I-90 (you can see it from the highway!).

RV-MH Hall of Fame Museum-min

Buddy couldn’t wait to visit the museum!

Out in front of RV/MH Hall of Fame Museum there’s a statue of a star spangled elk. He’s decorated with the painting of an RV, and very close to his heart is the RV’s front door. Perfect!

The RV industry is the heart of Elkhart Indiana-min

The heart of Elkhart is the RV industry, and the heart of the RV industry is Elkhart.

There is a lot to see inside the museum, but the coolest attraction is the Go RVing Hall which houses an incredible collection of vintage RVs.

Entering the GoRVing Hall in RV-MH Hall of Fame Museum-min

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The RVs are lined up along a road that is painted on the floor, and this road winds all around a huge room and even goes over a small bridge. At the beginning of the road the RVs are arrayed in more-or-less chronological order, so you can see how the RV industry developed as you move from one rig to the next.

One of the first rigs is a 1913 Ford Model T towing a 1913 Earl Trailer.

1913 Model T Ford and Earl Travel Trailer-min

1913 Model T Ford towing an Earl Travel Trailer

Another early rig was a “Collapsible Automobile Camping Outfit” that could be attached or detached from any roadster.

1916 Telescoping camping unit on a roadster at RV:MH Hall of Fame and Museum Elkhart Indiana

1916 Telescoping camping unit on a roadster

The museum shows a page from the May 1916 issue of Popular Mechanics Magazine that has photos of this inventive contraption in action. Note that they’d already figured out how to get hot water for showers… over a century ago!

Popular Mechanics May 1916 Telescoping roadster attachment

Popular Mechanics Magazine, May 1916

The early days of RVing was a time of enormous creativity as people tried building all kinds of crazy contraptions to get themselves up off the ground while camping and have a little storage space for clothes and food as well.

Some were simple popup (folding) tent trailers that were obvious precursors to today’s popups. Others were very high end and fancy “house cars” that were early versions of motorhomes for the wealthy.

1931 Model AA Ford House Car-min

1931 Model AA Ford House Car

Some of those early companies were wildly successful. Covered Wagon was one of the most successful. At their peak they turned out 40-50 trailers every day.

World War II put a quick end to that success, however, and by the end of the war the RV industry had virtually collapsed. Almost every manufacturer went out of business, including Covered Wagon.

1935 Covered Wagon Travel Trailer-min

1935 Covered Wagon Travel Trailer

Interior 1935 Covered Wagon Travel Trailer-min

Interior of the 1935 Covered Wagon Travel Trailer

1937 Hunt Housecar-min

The very cool 1937 Hunt Housecar

That meteoric rise and sudden crash of the RV industry seemed eerily familiar to what we saw happen after 2008, especially in the trailer industry.

All of the wonderful trailer manufacturers that had built good quality, solid trailers for a modest price for decades up until 2008 were gone by 2015. The rest consolidated under two main conglomerates. At the same time, all the suppliers save a few also consolidated under a single conglomerate.

Sadly, this has left the current trailer customer with a million different models of trailers to choose from that are all extremely similar except for the graphics and the name on the outside of the trailer.

But so go the wheels of invention and maturity in every industry. The great fun of the RV/MH Hall of Fame Museum is seeing things like the first trailer that Fleetwood built in 1950.

1950 Fleetwood Sporter travel trailer first Fleetwood built-min

The 1950 Fleetwood Sporter travel trailer was the first Fleetwood RV ever built

Interior 1950 Fleetwood Sporter travel trailer first Fleetwood built-min

Interior of the 1950 Fleetwood Sporter travel trailer

And an elegant trailer by Yellowstone Trailer built in 1954.

1954 Yellowstone Travel Trailer-min

1954 Yellowstone Travel Trailer

Early trailers had all kinds of interesting shapes. The 1967 FAN trailer had a flip tail at the back end.

1967 FAN Luxury Liner travel trailer RV-MH Hall of Fame Museum Elkhart Indiana-min

1967 FAN Luxury Liner travel trailer

Underneath the trailer, tucked between the two wheels, was an early version of MORryde’s rubber equalizer system. When we toured the MORryde plant we learned that they had spray painted the equalizer on this trailer silver to match the trailer and to make sure people could see it.

1967 FAN Luxury Liner MORryde equalizer early version-min

One of the first MORryde equalizers on a 1967 FAN Luxury Liner travel trailer.

We savored every minute in the museum, and I went back again a second time for more.

Mark loved the early mechanical systems — imagine a regular shower head screwed onto the outside of your trailer or an air-hose system to pump air into the water tank to pressurize it — and I loved imagining people of an earlier era taking these fun and crazy travel pods out to the National Parks to breathe the fresh air and see the wonders there.

I’ll have more for you from this trip to the RV/MH Hall of Fame Museum. In the meantime you can see more cool antique RVs in our 2009 blog post about the museum. They’ve moved a few rigs around, but they are all still there.

Most important, if you are planning a trip that will take you anywhere near Elkhart, Indiana, check your favorite RV manufacturer’s website for their factory tour schedule, and be sure to visit to this special museum.

A walk back in time at RV-MH Hall of Fame Museum Elkhart Indiana-min

A walk back in time at the RV-MH Hall of Fame and Museum

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More info about the Elkhart Area and RV/MH Hall of Fame aand Museum:

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Halloween Camping – RV Witches & Goblins at Michigan State Parks!

October 2018 – After enjoying several weeks of waterfalls and fall foliage in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and a delightful day on Mackinac Island, we stopped to camp at Metamora-Hadley Recreation Area in the Lower Peninsula. Despite cold rain and drizzle in mid-October, we were shocked to see that the campground was packed to the gills when we arrived on a Sunday morning. It turned out that the State Park campgrounds in Michigan celebrate Halloween each weekend in late September and October, and the festivities were in full swing.

RV halloween camping-min

Ghouls and goblins pose for a selfie in front of their trailer home!

Families were shivering in the rain and huddled around the campfires, but nothing could dampen their spirits as they showed off their wild Halloween campsite decorations.

Campsite decorate for Halloween-min

Grrrrr….Happy Halloween!

Camping Halloween travel trailer RV with pumpkin decoration-min

Smile for the camera!

After we quickly set up camp, we walked around the campground loops and were floored by how elaborate the campsite decorations were.

Campground Halloween decorations-min

Some folks set up their displays under easy-up shelters!

RV Campsite decorate for Halloween-min

Some were arranged under the fifth wheel overhang too.

Families had gone all out with witches riding broomsticks, ghosts twisting in the wind, pumpkins grinning wickedly and skeletons perched on everything.

Fifth wheel RV Halloween decorations-min

Witches and skeletons hang out on a camper’s fifth wheel.

Motorhome campsite with Halloween decorations-min

A skeleton couple took over the picnic table at this motorhome’s campsite.

The night before we got there, all of the displays had been lit up. There were power cords running every this way and that between the campsites and the displays. But even in the bitter morning air without any glow-in-the-dark spookiness, we still caught Halloween fever as we walked the campground loops and admired the decorations.

RV camper with Halloween pumpkins-min

One RV was sitting in a pumpkin patch.

Pumpkin spilling its guts at Halloween-min

This pumpkin partied too much last night and got sick.

Every Saturday night in September/October at all the Michigan State Park campgrounds — and in many other midwest campgrounds too — the kids get dressed up in Halloween costumes and go from campsite door to campsite door all around the campground trick-or-treating.

Camping Halloween travel trailer RV with pumpkin decoration-min

An evil looking Mickey Mouse greets trick-or-treaters at the back door of an RV.

Home Sweet Haunted Home RV door-min

What evil lurks inside??

I don’t know who loves it more, the kids or the parents and grandparents. One older fellow told us he went Halloween camping every year for 15 or so years as he raised his kids (the youngest was now 24!), but he still comes out because it is so much fun to see the kids in their costumes and give out candy.

Ghosts pumpkins skeletons camping at an RV campground-min

A ghost’s eyes lit up red as we go by.

Travel trailer RV with Halloween ghost-min

Spooky!

He kinda laughed as he told me that if you time it right, you can hit all six State Park campgrounds in this area from late September through October and experience the fun over and over in different settings!

Popup tent trailer at Halloween-min

Dead babies… is that Alice Cooper‘s popup tent trailer?

Halloween cemetery at an RV campsite-min

A trailer’s front yard turned into a graveyard.

Every campsite had decorations, and some were very complex. Pumpkins and ghosts were popular themes, but it was the carefully laid out headstones in the Halloween graveyards that caught our attention!

Fifth wheel RV campsite with Halloween cemetery-min

Gravestones and skulls, a good Halloween combo!

Graveyard campground campsite Halloween decorations-min

Fresh graves – keep out! Folks who come to this trailer wind up under headstones!

The front end of a travel trailer is an ideal place to set a few ornaments, and sure enough we found skeletons and ghosts and pumpkins aplenty.

Trailer propane bottle with Halloween trick-or-treat decorations-min

The trailer’s hitch and propane tanks make good perches for ghoulish things.

Ghosts and pumpkins with RV at campground on Halloween-min

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There were lots of skeletons hanging around too.

Pumpkins and skeletons on a travel trailer RV-min

Skeletons hanging around everywhere!

Campground campsite Halloween decorations-min

A skeleton hangs in a tree.

Other skeletons sat in kayaks and cackled as they paddled and fished alongside their toy hauler.

Skeletons in kayaks Halloween Toy hauler campsite decorations-min

Skeletons laugh ghoulishly as they fish from their kayaks.

Halloween skeleton in kayak at toy hauler RV campsite-min

Catch of the day – a fish skeleton!

One campsite had a big skeleton of an animal standing out in front of a cute retro trailer.

Retro trailer camper and horse skeleton at Halloween-min

What kind of creature is this?

Upon closer inspection we realized it was the skeleton of a horse pulling a carriage. Inside the carriage were the skeletons of a bride and groom.

Campground RV campsite with retro trailer and skeleton horse and buggy-min

A horse skeleton pulling a buggy with a bride and groom skeleton inside.

Another campsite featured a skeleton bride and groom getting married in the grass under a trellis.

Halloween skeleton wedding camping in a travel trailer-min

Newlywed skeletons.

The bodies of a pair of old retired skeletons had given up the ghost. All that remained was their skulls which peered out of the front windshield of a motorhome.

Skulls in motorhome on halloween in a campground-min

Retiree skulls in a motorhome.

As I walked around the campground loop taking photos, Buddy did his usual sniffing and socializing. Suddenly, I felt him stiffen at the end of his leash. I looked down and he was staring at a corpse sticking halfway out of the ground. He crouched really low and gingerly sniffed at the corpse. Suddenly, he jumped back in fright. Then he slowly crept in and got another sniff.

Puppy spooked by scary Halloween monster-min

Buddy jumped when he saw this bloody corpse in the grass.

We had missed the big trick-or-treat night, so we never saw the kids in their costumes. But what a super fun way for families to celebrate Halloween and extend their camping season past the end of summer.

Spooky Halloween decorations at RV campground-min

Witch skeletons hang from a tree.

Lots of families knew each other from previous years and there was a fantastic spirit of celebration everywhere as kids ran between the trailers and parents and grandparents unwound by the campfire.

Spiders ghosts and goblins at RV campground campsite-min

Spiders, ghosts and goblin eyes.

Metamora-Hadley Recreation Area campground is a wonderful place to camp that sits on the shores of a small lake.

Fall leaves at Metamora campground in Michigan-min

Beautiful fall colors across the lake made a great backdrop for the campground festivities.

Happy Halloween!

Spooky Halloween night shadows at the lake-min

Walk softly out there and watch out for things that go bump in the night!

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Mackinac Island, Michigan – A Precious Walk Back in Time!

October 2018 – After enjoying some wonderful fall foliage in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, we made our way to the town of St. Ignace that peers over the Mackinac Bridge at Michigan’s Lower Peninsua.

Mackinac Bridge at sunset RV trip-min

Mackinac Bridge at sunset.

The Mackinac Bridge is a beautiful suspension bridge that sits between Lake Michigan on one side and Lake Huron on the other side. On a hunch we headed out at sunset to see if we could get some pics as the sky changed color and the lights on the bridge were lit.

Using slow shutter speeds we captured the traffic crawling across the bridge.

Mackinac Bridge at night Michigan RV trip-min

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During our RV travels this year we managed to hit Michigan’s Upper Peninsula during a three week long spate of miserable rainy cold days, and a look at the forecast showed more thunderstorms, rain and cold for the next week. But there was one day that had a mere 20% chance of rain, so we decided to hop on Sheppler’s Ferry and head out to Mackinac Island for a day. (“Mackinac” is pronounced “Mackinaw” by the way).

Sheppler's Ferry arrives Mackinac Island Michigan-min

Sheppler’s Ferry brings tourists to Mackinac Island.

The surf was up and big waves hit the side of the ferry in blasts of spray. The captain took us over to the Mackinac Bridge so we could let Lake Michigan’s waves lap the hull for a moment, and then we headed over to Mackinac Island which sits in Lake Huron.

Sheppler's Ferry under the Mackinac Bridge in a storm-min

Water from the waves rolled off the ferry windows as we slipped under Mackinac Bridge.

Mackinac Island Michigan lighthouse-min

The water calmed down a bit when we passed the lighthouse marking the harbor entrance.

As the ferry pulled into the dock at Mackinac Island we got our first glimpse of the pretty buildings by the shore.

First view of Mackinac Island from the Sheppler's Ferry-min

The pretty Victorian buildings of Mackinac Island came into view as we pulled into the harbor.

Mackinac Island is unique because even though the island has lots of paved roads, there are no cars or motorized vehicles allowed anywhere. So, as we stepped off the ferry we were greeted by horses and carriages waiting to take passengers to their hotel destinations or on a ride around town.

Grand Hotel chauffeur Mackinac Island Michigan-min

An old time horse and carriage waits to take arriving passengers to the Grand Hotel.

Mackinac Island horse drawn wagon in Michigan-min

Horse drawn buggies were everywhere.

Mark had been to Mackinac Island many times before, but this was my first visit, and the quaint charm of the horses and buggies all around us captivated me. I could barely walk down the street for all the photos I was snapping of the teams of horses carrying tourists here and there.

Horse drawn wagon Mackinac Island Michigan-min

These buggy rides are the local taxis!

Quaint horse drawn wagon Mackinac Island Michigan-min

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Horse drawn wagon on Mackinac Island Michigan main street-min

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Returning horse drawn wagon Mackinac Island Michigan-min

Heading home… Wow!

Even though it was cold and wet and miserable out, the mood on the street was festive and we quickly got into tourist mode.

Tourist at Mackinac Island Michigan fudge shop-min

We quickly got into tourist mode at the fudge shop!

When we poked our heads into an ice cream shop, we noticed that ice cream wasn’t selling quite as well as it does on hot summer days.

Ice cream line begins here fudge shop Mackinac Island Michigan-min

“Line begins here” … no line today!

We walked down the main drag and watched the comings and goings of the community. Mackinac Island has been a tourist destination since the Victorian era, and the behind-the-scenes work of serving tourists hums along smoothly. Peering down a back alley, we saw an open horse drawn wagon that was hauling some cargo. How neat to have a community where goods are carried by horses and wagons!

Working horses and wagon Mackinac Island Michigan-min

A team of horses pulls a wagon of cargo.

Working horse drawn wagon Mackinac Island Michigan-min

Images like this gave us a glimpse of yesteryear.

If you ride a horse around town you can tie him up at a little post with a horse head on top. Folks with bikes like to lock them to these posts too.

Bike stand like horse head on Mackinac Island Michigan-min

A decorative place to tie up your horse or your bike.

Bicycles are the most popular means of individual transportation, and there were cyclists, bicycles for rent and parked bikes absolutely everywhere.

Horse drawn wagons and bicycles on Mackinac Island Michigan-min

Bicycles were as common as horses, even in the cold weather.

Bicycles everywhere Mackinac Island Michigan-min

Bicycles were parked all over the place.

Bikes on Mackinac Island Michigan main street-min

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Main Street Mackinac Island Michigan-min

No fear of cars here!

Mackinac Island is a destination for cruise ships too, and we saw one pulled up to the dock.

Cruise ship under storm clouds Mackinac Island Michigan-min

A cruise ship waits at the dock.

We wandered beyond the downtown area and found some gorgeous mansions. Standing in front of one with an ornate roof, we were soon deep in conversation with the gray haired owner of the place. It turned out his dad had picked up the property when it was condemned in the 1960s, and he had spent his childhood summers living in this picturesque house just steps from the beach.

Decorative roof on Mackinac Island Michigan-min

We met the man who spent summers in this beautiful house as a kid. Now he operates it as a B&B.

Private residence mansion Mackinac Island Michigan-min

A nice summer cottage!

Elegant house Mackinac Island Michigan-min

Beautiful (with Buddy streaking past)

Bike in the yard Mackinac Island Michigan-min

Tranquility — even on a blustery day.

Some of the homes are perched right on the edge of Lake Huron. Walking a little further on, we found a huge resort that has a slew of Adirondack chairs set out on a lawn facing the lake.

Summer chairs under storm clouds Mackinac Island Michigan-min

A spot to watch the sunset — when there is one!

Mackinac Island State Park Michigan stormy day-min

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Mackinac Island must be a true delight in July, but we were getting a big kick out of it on this dreary October day too. The wind was whipping and the waves were pounding.

Storm clouds and waves Mackinac Island Michigan-min

Storm and fury on Lake Huron.

Wandering back into town, we came across Lady Liberty and some pretty churches.

Mackinac Island statue of liberty in Michigan-min

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Church at Mackinac Island Michigan-min

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But it was the horse drawn wagons and buggies that captured my imagination all day long. How wonderful that there is a place where motorized vehicles aren’t allowed and visitors can experience a vivid immersion in another era.

Fall color and horse drawn wagon Mackinac Island Michigan-min

We couldn’t stop taking pics of the horse drawn wagons.

Carriage ride Mackinac Island Michigan-min

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Mackinac Island would be a fantastic place to spend a few days during the holidays! Even though the ferry ride might be rough, the island has ongoing celebrations throughout the holiday season, and some of the hotels and restaurants remain open.

Horse drawn wagon Mackinac Island Michigan-min

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We won’t be there when the snow flies, but we loved our day trip to Mackinac Island in October!

Carriage Ride Mackinac Island Michigan-min

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If your RV travels take you to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (or the northern tip of the Lower Peninsula), set aside a day to spend on Mackinac Island. No matter what the weather forecast is, it’s a very fun excursion!

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Fall Foliage in Michigan’s U.P. + Lake Superior at Sunset

September 2018 – In mid-September we traveled in our RV to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to see the fall colors and to experience the beauty of the shores of Lake Superior. In the small coastal town of Ontonagon we wandered down to the beach just as the sun was setting.

WOW!

Sunset Ontonagon Michigan Upper Peninsula-min

The sun says goodnight to us across Lake Superior at Ontonagon in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

We were both in seventh heaven as we snapped one gorgeous image after another of the sun giving us its final winks before it slipped out of sight below the horizon.

Lake Superior Sunset in Ontonagon Michigan Upper Peninsula-min

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The waves rolled in and pounded the shore relentlessly while the clouds moved quickly across the sky. The dark blanket of storm clouds turned a vivid pink for a few minutes as they passed.

Ontonagon Michigan Upper Peninsula Sunset_-min

The clouds turned pink for a moment as they marched across the sky.

These kinds of moments are our favorites in our traveling lives: admiring Nature in all her glory and trying to capture what we see on camera. We each stake out a spot that looks appealing and fire away.

When we were contemplating whether we should introduce a puppy to our crazy lifestyle one of our biggest concerns was what he would do while we were busy taking pics. It turns out that he loves these moments too. He keeps himself busy running between us and sniffing everything there is to sniff around us.

Sunset at Lake Superior Ontonagon Michigan Upper Peninsula-min

Buddy loves these sunset outings as much as we do (and he photo bombs a lot of our pics too!).

After the sun disappeared and most of the color had faded a storm appeared on the horizon.

Lake Superior Storm Ontonagon Michigan Upper Peninsula-min

Storm clouds gather in the distance and pour rain on Lake Superior.

Until this season I had seen Lake Superior for just a brief visit years ago. I had dipped my toe in the frigid water in early May and said, “Okay, that’s enough. We’re outta here!”

Mark had told me stories over the years of visiting Lake Superior one winter long ago and seeing huge waves standing bolt upright, frozen solid mid-curl. The whole lake had looked like a lemon meringue pie!

Yet so far in our travels along Lake Superior this fall the lake had been as calm as could be, giving us one wonderful beach experience after another as we skirted along the coast in Wisconsin and in Michigan’s U.P.

However, that sensational sunset we had just witnessed in Ontonagon was the last we’d see of the sun for the next three weeks! Lake Superior started to snarl and the whole Upper Peninsula snarled with it, delivering clouds and rain and nasty cold windy temps day after day after day.

Lake Superior waves Ontonagon Beach Michigan-min

Lake Superior waves dwarf a lighthouse in the distance.

Lake Superior was still fabulous, even in its bad mood. We just had to wear a lot more layers of clothing, that’s all!

Lake Superior surf Michigan Upper Peninsula-min

The waves were enormous and neverending.

We traveled up the Keweenaw Peninsula to Copper Harbor where we got a whiff of what a fantastic summer spot this is. There was a haunting beauty in the cold gray autumn air, but what a place this must be in July!

Kayaks at Copper Harbor Michigan-min

Kayaks wait for better weather at Copper Harbor.

Eagle Harbor Lighthouse Keweenaw Peninsula Michigan-min

Eagle Harbor Lighthouse has assisted mariners for over a century.

Eagle Harbor Lighthouse Keweenaw Peninsula Michigan-min

Eagle Harbor Lighthouse.

In our mission to see the fall color we had seen lots of hardwood trees starting to change, but hadn’t yet witnessed the peak anywhere. When we first arrived in Michigan we stopped at a visitors center that had a wonderful Fall Color Map on the wall. They didn’t have a printed version so I took a photo to help us with our travel planning as we zig-zagged around the U.P.

Fall foliage color map for Michigan-min

The peak fall colors in Michigan occur from late September to late October depending on where you are.

It was bitterly cold, but we just bundled up and had a ball, even though it drizzled off and on for days, in between vicious downpours that pummeled us and our trailer!

Dressed for cold weather leaf peeping in Michigan UP-min

These were One Dog Nights and we were glad to have him!

In planning which areas to visit in the U.P. we had seen spectacular photos of fall color captured in reflections across small lakes and ponds, so we started heading down small twisting dirt roads to get to a few lakes and were well rewarded for our efforts. The wind didn’t die down for a while, so our earlier pics were simple lakeside shots without reflections.

Fall foliage Worm Lake Michigan Upper Peninsula-min

A brilliant maple tree lights up a dreary morning at Worm Lake.

Fall foliage Michigan Upper Peninsula-min

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We took many walks in the woods where the trees were starting to show off their most vibrant shades.

Fall foliage Ottowa National Forest Michigan Upper Peninsula-min

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Autumn leaves Ottowa National Forest Michigan Upper Peninsula-min

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Up close it is amazing to see the color patterns on each leaf.

Hiawatha National Forest Michigan Upper Peninsula-min

Pretty patterns.

Autumn leaves Hiawatha National Forest Michigan Upper Peninsula-min

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The colors were absolutely yummy. Buddy thought so too!

Fall foliage is yummy to a puppy-min

Buddy samples the fall colors.

Fall color Hiawatha National Forest Michigan Upper Peninsula-min

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As we walked around we saw other fun woodsy things like bright red berries and pure white fungus.

Fall berries Michigan Upper Peninsula Ottowa National Forest-min

A hint of Christmas to come!

Ferns and mushrooms Michigan Upper Peninsula forest-min

These bright white fungi were shaped like miniature willow trees, each one about an inch tall!

We made our way back to the coast to visit the Miner’s Castle Overlook which is part of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Lake Superior is shockingly clear in this spot, and if you didn’t know you had to wear a winter jacket to enjoy the view, the turquoise color would make you think the water was as warm as the tropics!

Miner's Castle Pictured Rocks National Park Michigan Upper Peninsula-min

Miner’s Castle at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Some of the best color we found was in Hiawatha National Forest on the small ponds and lakes scattered in the woods south of Munising.

Fall foliage Ottowa National Forest Michigan Upper Peninsula-min

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Fall foliage Hiawatha National Forest Michigan Upper Peninsula-min

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At Moccasin Lake and Red Jack Lake we saw some wonderful mirror reflections in the early morning before the wind picked up.

Autumn leaves Hiawatha National Forest Michigan Upper Peninsula-min

Colorful reflections at Moccasin Lake in Hiawatha National Forest.

Autumn leaves Hiawatha National Forest Michigan Upper Peninsula-min

Red Jack Lake

One day was particularly cold and when we got to the edge of the lake mist was rising off the glassy surface.

Autumn Hiawatha National Forest Michigan Upper Peninsula_-min

Mist at Moccasin Lake

East Lake fall foliage Michigan Upper Peninsula-min

Mist at East Lake

Another fantastic spot we bumped into that doesn’t get any press and isn’t even labeled on Google Maps is Mequisten Recreation Area just a few miles south of Munising on National Forest Road H-13. A beautiful boardwalk takes you all around a series of small ponds with lookouts positioned every few hundred yards. We loved this little jewel so much we went back three times. Buddy had a blast running on the boardwalk. He sounded like a herd of elephants as he tore around, especially when he met another dog and they tore around together!

Mequisten Recreation Area Munising Michigan Upper Peninsula-min-2

Mequisten Recreation Area has a wonderful boardwalk with benches and overlooks.

We didn’t get the crisp sunny air that we had expected during our Upper Peninsula fall foliage tour, but the autumn colors were everything we had hoped they would be!

Puppy at Red Jack Lake in Autumn Michigan Upper Peninsula Hiawatha National Forest-min

Buddy framed by autumn leaves at Red Jack Lake.

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Waterfalls in Michigan’s U.P. – Taquamenon, Bond Falls & Black River Jewels

September 2018 – After taking our RV along the southern shore of Lake Superior in Wisconsin, we arrived in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, a place known for spectacular waterfalls.

Happy campers at Bond Falls Waterfall Michigan Upper Peninsula cascade

Three happy campers at Bond Falls in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula


There are so many waterfalls in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan that it is really hard to decide which ones to see. We started with a cluster of small waterfalls that lie along the Black River in the northwest corner of the U.P. next to the shores of Lake Superior.

The five waterfalls — Rainbow, Gorge, Sandstone, Potawatomi and Conglomerate — are all within a few miles of each other and there is a rustic dry camping campground nearby.

The hike to each waterfall is a very short jaunt through the woods, and we headed to Gorge Falls first.

Hike to Gorge Falls at Black River Michigan-min

Buddy waits for the picture taking slow pokes that are hiking behind him on the way to Gorge Falls.

GORGE FALLS

After a brief hike through the woods, we heard the roar of Gorge Falls as we descended the long staircase down to its base. Then we saw a beautiful rush of water falling down the rocks in front of us.

Hike to Gorge Falls Black River Michigan-min

Gorgeous Gorge Falls

Gorge Falls Black River Michigan-min

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SANDSTONE FALLS

Gorge Falls is right next door to Potawatomi Falls, but it was Sandstone Falls just a short ways away that we liked most of this group of waterfalls on the Black River.

Sandstone Falls is special because rather than a vertical hike to the top or bottom of a steep waterfall you can climb all over the wonderful flat and wide rocks to view the multiple smaller cascades from many angles. A hiker we met on the trail told us his kids love to swim at Sandstone Falls.

As soon as we got there and began clambering around on the rocks I was entranced by the millions of white bubbles that were floating downstream.

The bubbles had come from the froth and foam of a bigger waterfall upstream, and they floated at varying speeds down the river. A slow shutter speed showed the magic of this bubbly dance.

Sandstone Falls Black River Michigan-min

Cool bubble patterns at Sandstone Falls.

Sandstone Falls Black River Michigan-min

In one part of the falls the bubbles were swirling in a circle like a pin wheel.

A little further downstream a series of cascades flowed between the rocks.

Sandstone Falls Black River Michigan-min

Sandstone Falls.

Sandstone Falls Black River Michigan-min

We loved climbing on the flat rocks along these cascades at Sandstone Falls.

Black River Michigan Sandstone Falls-min

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After an exhilarating waterfall hike (or two) there’s nothing like a nice cold frosty brew. It didn’t take us long to discover the many flavorful craft beers made in the Upper Peninsula by Upper Hand Brewery. One of our favorites was a pale ale called Yooper which is the local term for people who live in the U.P.

Yooper Beer by Upper Hand Brewery-min

Yooper is a yummy pale ale named for the people who live in the U.P. !



RAINBOW FALLS

At the mouth of the Black River where it dumps its inky brown tannin-filled water into the blue water of Lake Superior there’s a small marina at Black River Harbor and a cool suspension bridge that crosses the river.

Suspension bridge Black River Harbor Michigan-min

There’s a fun suspension foot bridge over the Black River near the harbor.

The best views of Rainbow Falls are reached by hiking through the woods from the suspension bridge at Black River Harbor. We headed into the woods one morning as mist still hung heavy in the air.

Woods hiking trail Black River Harbor Michigan-min

Our trail through the woods on the way to Rainbow Falls.

This trail from Black River Harbor to Rainbow Falls is part of the 4,600 mile long North Country Trail that stretches through seven northern states from North Dakota to New York. Like the more famous Appalachian Trail and Pacific Crest Trail, this is a trail that can be hiked in tiny sections — like going from Black River Harbor to Rainbow Falls as we were doing — or can be through-hiked from one end to the other over the course of many weeks.

We passed a trail box that contained maps and info and a sign-in book for hikers doing big adventurous hikes on this trail. We got a thrill looking into the box and imagining what it takes to do such a hike.

A few years back when we were doing a waterfall hike that crossed the Appalachian Trail, we met a fellow at the intersection of the two trails who was doing a through-hike on the Appalachian Trail. We’d been intrigued to see him carrying a very small pack for his four month adventure and to discover that his hiking boots were still holding up after hiking a third of the Appalachian Trail (700 miles) so far (blog post here).

Trail box North Country Trail Black River Harbor Michigan-min

The Black River Harbor to Rainbow Falls hiking trail is part of the 4,600 mile North Country Trail.
This weather-proof metal trail box held goodies for through-hikers.

Hiking the North Country Trail sounds very exciting, but we were content with a brief mile and a half hike out to Rainbow Falls.

Rainbow Waterfall Black River Michigan-min

Rainbow Falls

As we stood taking photos of the falls a woman appeared across from us on the other side of the cascade at the top of the falls, phone in hand. She took a selfie and then she suddenly jumped from one rock to another over a part of the waterfall.

Holy smokes!

She seemed to think nothing of it, but this is a remote spot and the bottom of the falls was a long way down. We were the only ones in the area, and I doubt she knew we were there because the woods were very thick and we weren’t standing near the edge.

Brave jumper Rainbow Falls Black River Michigan-min

This could have been the last photo of this woman.

Closer to the ground, and much more rooted to it, Mark found a cluster of mushrooms standing between some red leaves that had fallen.

Toadstools and fall leaves Black River Harbor Michigan-min

Mark discovered a cluster of mushrooms on the ground.

Lying on the ground and shooting up at the undersides of the mushroom caps gave a wonderful effect.

Mushrooms in the forest near Black River Michigan-min

Shooting up at the bottoms of the mushroom caps seemed to capture their mushroom essence better than shooting down on them from above.

Even though all these cool woodsy things like waterfalls and mushrooms were just steps from Lake Superior, we hadn’t felt the lake’s presence at all during our stay.

However, a leisurely walk around nearby Black River Harbor took us to a nice sandy beach that was a delightful contrast to the thick woods that had dominated our lives for a few days.

Lake Superior Black River Harbor Recreation Area-min

Once you get clear of the woods, Lake Superior is right there.

The water in Lake Superior was surprisingly warm, and we tossed a stick out a little ways to see if Buddy would swim out to retrieve it. Sure enough, he did a few dog paddle strokes, but rather than swim back to shore he swam over to a nearby log and climbed out of the water as quickly as he could and walked on the log back on it to the sand!

Puppy climbs out of Lake Superior with stick x

Smart pup took a shortcut and climbed up on a log to walk back rather than swim to shore!

BOND FALLS

The Black River waterfalls are not well known, but Bond Falls, about 75 miles away, is one of the most popular destinations in Michigan’s entire Upper Peninsula. And rightfully so.

Bond Falls is one of the most popular waterfalls in Michigan Upper Peninsula-min

Bond Falls is one of the most famous waterfalls in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.


A walking path and boardwalk takes visitors from the base of the falls up along one side to several smaller cascades. It is these cozier spots that attract photographers, and many a Michigan travel brochure or waterfall field guide sports a cover or centerfold photo from here.

Michigan Upper Peninsula Waterfalls Bond Falls_-min

A smaller cascade above the main waterfall is a beautiful little spot.

Even though Mark and I often take photos standing shoulder to shoulder, our results are usually very different. This time we each instinctively gravitated to different shutter speeds…

Bond Falls Waterfall Michigan Upper Peninsula cascade-min

I kept the shutter open for 2.5 seconds for a super silky and fluffy look.

Bond Falls Michigan Upper Peninsula-min

Mark used a shutter speed of 1/6 second for a more crisp impression of the scene.

We loved Bond Falls and visited several times at different hours of the day. Families with kids and old folks made their way up and down the path alongside the falls all the time, and most had been there before.

One older gal stopped to talk with me and told me she had grown up in the area 65 years ago and that she and her siblings had swum in the calmer parts of Bond Falls as kids. That wouldn’t be allowed today, but her eyes twinkled as she reminisced about being a little girl and calling this place home.

Peace in Bond Falls in Autumn Michigan Upper Peninsula-min

We met a woman who grew up swimming here above the waterfall at Bond Falls. How wonderful!

TAQUAMENON FALLS

One of the most dramatic waterfalls in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is Taquamenon Falls over in the northeast corner of the peninsula. When we walked out on the path to the falls and got our first glimpse through the autumn leaves, my jaw dropped and I set up to take a shot immediately.

A young couple coming back from the hike down to the falls saw my tripod and camera gear and asked me if this was the best place to photograph the falls.

I laughed and said I had no idea. This was the first I’d seen of them! But it was very beautiful…

Taquamenon Falls Michigan Upper Peninsula-min

Our first glimpse of Taquamenon Falls

A little further on there was another view of the waterfall wrapped in fall colors.

Taquamenon Falls waterfall Michigan Upper Peninsula-min

Taquamenon Falls

We followed the path towards the falls and came across a sign that explained what to expect as we descended a long ways down to get a close-up view of Taquamenon Falls. We had to laugh when we read it!

94 Steps to the Brink of Taquamenon Falls-min

If only we always got such a simple warning when we’re about to face disaster!

At The Brink we got a lovely sidelong view of Taquamenon Falls.

Taquamenon Falls Michigan Upper Peninsula-min

Taquamenon Falls at The Brink

We climbed back up the 94 steps from The Brink and headed out on the path to The Gorge. This gave us a wonderful view of the falls from another vantage point.

Taquamenon Falls Michigan Upper Peninsula Waterfall-min

Taquamenon Falls as seen from The Gorge.

If you are a fan of waterfalls, as we are, the U.P. is a fantastic place to go waterfall hunting. These were just a few of dozens of waterfalls we could have seen, and I know we missed some beauties that we’ll have to check out another time. But we were delighted by the variety of the falls we saw and the fun hikes and walks we took to get to them.

Fifth wheel RV Black River Harbor Campground Michigan-min

Black River Campground.

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