Workamping at Pere Marquette RV Park – Baldwin Mich

We’re coming to the end of our first year as full-time RV’ers and Kathy and I have taken stock of the decision we made to leave the stix-n-bricks world of home ownership and hit the road as Workampers.

We left our family and friends back in Ohio on Labor Day 2016 and headed west to Arizona for our first Workamping experience.  This position was for Sept 15th to March 15th, 2017.  I’ve written many posts about our experiences while working in Arizona, you can find them elsewhere on this blog.  Here’s a link to a post on our workamping experience there.

We had a great time and made some great new friendships there and we’d like to go back to Arizona again in the near future.  If you’re contemplating visiting Arizona, we highly recommend the central portion of the state near cities like Cottonwood, Camp Verde, Clarkdale, Sedona, & Jerome.

Central Arizona – Not too hot in the summer, not too cold in the winter

These spots are far enough north of Phoenix to be a little cooler and less looking like desert, but in the winter you’re far enough south of cities like Flagstaff so the chances of snow are pretty slim.

Our 2nd and most recent gig is where we’re presently working and about to depart from (Sept 15th).  We’ve had the pleasure of working at Pere Marquette Oaks RV Resort in (of all places) BALDWIN, Michigan.

Baldwin, MI

This video below takes you on a bicycle tour of the park.  It’s a beautiful lush green RV park full of towering oak trees, an in-ground heated pool, hot tub, picnic pavilion, laundry room, and club house.

We don’t have to park new arrivals, answer the phone, or take reservations.  There is a rental manager for that.  Kathy and I are responsible for maintaining the rest rooms, showers, pool, hot tub, club house and laundry areas.

Take the tour and find out a little more.

Although it’s only been a year, we’ve come to realize that we are really enjoying this lifestyle change.  We have sold our home in Ohio (to our daughter and son-in-law), and will be registering as Texas residents this winter when we are there for our next (winter) workamping position.  Texas is viewed by “those in the know” as one of the 3 best states to domicile in for full-time RV’ers.

We hope to continue this lifestyle as long as our health allows and recommend to anyone considering some sort of lifestyle change to think about hitting the road in an RV and workamping along the way, both to help keep active and contribute to the household budget.  We look for employers/positions that ask for about 10-20 hours per week in exchange for a full hook-up site along with water, sewer, electric, cable, wifi, and laundry allowance.  We don’t want to work 40 hours+, we’ve been there / done that.

Thanks for reading … don’t be afraid to ask questions …we’d love to hear from you.

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Part 2 – N’West Michigan Road Trip – Mushrooms, Tunnels, Bears, and Indians – Oh My!

Part 2 – N’West Michigan Road Trip – Mushrooms, Tunnels, Bears, and Indians – Oh My!

We left Charlevoix the next morning after a comfortable stay at the Maple Leaf Inn and continued north on M-31 toward Petoskey.  We had an opportunity to go along Lake Charlevoix on our way to Urgent Care (that’s another story altogether) when we happened along some of the famous “Mushroom Houses” we had heard about.  You can read more about these famous homes and the self-taught architect that designed and built these beautiful homes by clicking here.

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Heading out of Charlevoix on M-31 along the south edge of Little Traverse Bay, we arrived in Petoskey (famous for Petoskey Stones) and we happened across their Farmer’s Market.  Since we don’t have a lot of room for storage, nor do we have a large refrigerator, the only thing Kathy bought was a bar of hand made soap. Here’s a few pictures from the market, everything was so colorful and attractive!

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Moving on up the road out of Petoskey, some friends of ours here at the park told us about State Route 119 and the “Tunnel of Trees“.  It sounded fascinating and we wanted to stay along the lake shore, so off we went due north on SR 119.  Video below.

The Tunnel of Trees starts at about Harbor Springs and ends at a small hamlet called Cross Village where we found the famous (and out of the way) “Legs Inn” restaurant.  Unfortunately for us, the restaurant doesn’t open until noon and we got there just a little too early, but we did take the opportunity to walk the grounds and check out some of the history of the place.  There are beautiful gardens out back with patio seating and the original designer, Stanley Smolak had an eclectic flair and utilized the local Odawa Indians to help him build the Legs Inn.  See more about the Legs Inn at this link.

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Beyond Cross Village (on M-119) we worked our way east and north on up to The Headlands International Dark Sky Park, McGulpin Point Lighthouse, stopped for ice cream in Mackinaw City and then on over the bridge.  Although the day was clear and sunny in the city, the fog was heavy at the bridge and visibility was poor if not non-existent.

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We ended up the day heading on down I-75, then over to Kalkaska where my folks had lived in their retirement years and are buried at the Garfield Twp Cemetery.  Kathy and I drove around the area reminiscing how we used to come up here to see them when the kids were toddlers (they’re now 39 & 40).

All in all it was a great trip.  Seeing new sites along with revisiting some places we used to frequent and bringing back pleasant memories.  A great way to spend a few days in northern Michigan.

 

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Workampers Northwest Michigan Road Trip

One of the nice advantages of the workamping lifestyle is that we work (at the RV park) part time in exchange for our site and utilities.  “Part Time” is key for two reasons.  First, we’ve worked full-time for forty years or so and don’t want to do that any longer … after all, we are “retired” in that we quit working full time, started collecting our Social Security and pensions earlier than most (at a reduced rate) so that we could change our lifestyle and explore this great country of ours.

Secondly, working part time allows us a few days a week to hit the road and explore what’s around us.  If you’ve been following the blog, you’ve seen; the beach and state park at Ludington, the Pere Marquette River, the Village of Idlewild, Bitely, and more.

This week we headed out Thursday morning for a three day trip along the “baby finger” of Michigan bordering Lake Michigan where we enjoyed towns and villages like Manistee, Glen Arbor, Charlevoix, Petoskey, Cross Village, Mackinac City and finally back down through Kalkaska and Cadillac.  The map of our three day trip is below.

If you’d like an interactive link to the map so you can zoom and pan on any specific area, here’s the link.

Day 1 – Manistee to Charlevoix

Our first stop was at Manistee.  We didn’t walk the town, but we did head to the beach and on the way back through town, we stopped to admire the Ramsdell Theatre.  Unfortunately we couldn’t get inside to see, but got a couple of outside pix.  I wouldn’t have stopped there, but was curious about the large brick windowless tower poking up out the back of the building.  Once we stopped and found that it was a theater, the tower to the rear made sense.

Pigs really DO Fly (at the Ramsdell Theatre sidewalk in front of the box office)
Coming attractions at the Ramsdell Theatre
Ramsdell Theater, Manistee, MI – On the National Register of Historic Places
The Ramsdell streetside .. Note the high tower at the rear where they pull up the curtains and backdrops
The public beach along Lake Michigan at Manistee, MI
Our selfie at Manistee Public Beach Park
This is a decommissioned rail car ferry. It’s hard to see, but it has train tracks inside for the cars to ride on
The stern of the ferry opens wide to allow the train cars to be rolled on to the deck
Relaxing along the Lake Michigan shoreline at Orchard Beach State Park just north of Manistee
Historical marker at Onekema on the east side of Portage Lake
The park at Onekema overlooking Portage Lake

We continued north along M-22, often catching glimpses of the mighty Lake Michigan

Selfie at Inspiration Point (Arcadia Dunes Beach at Arcadia)
The Kindness Rocks Project at Arcadia Beach

It was a beautiful drive up M-22 along the lake.  Since it was a weekday, very little traffic and almost nobody else on the beaches we stopped to check out.

We continued up M-22 out of Arcadia, through Watervale and Alberta and on into Frankfort where we were able to pull in to the public park at the marina, break out our cooler and have a light lunch of tuna salad on crackers along with some cottage cheese and washed it all down with a few gulps of ice cold lemonade while watching the boats bobbing in the water and the sea gulls dive for their lunch (in the harbor, not at our picnic table!).

Leaving Frankfort, we headed on up through Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore across Glen Lake into and out of Glen Arbor and into Leland where we knew from previous visits we would find the historic “Fishtown“.  It’s mostly just a tourist trap now with lots of shops filled with collectibles and souvenirs, along with a few cafes but also is an active harbor for pleasure vessels and charter fishing operations as well.  You can easily spend a lot of money in Leland.

Years ago we had continued north on M-22 all the way to the Grand Traverse Light adjacent to the Lelanau State Park at the tip of the baby finger.  It’s a nice trip up with a wonderful little museum in the lighthouse and I’d recommend this to anyone visiting the area.

Now, I KNEW that Leland was a tourist spot, but we thought maybe we’d get a room there for the night and be able to walk the sidewalks and rub elbows with those further up the economic ladder from us.  NOT!  We found a motel online and our smartphone said that they had only one room left, so we darted up the street to get there and check in.  The nice young lady behind the desk told us the rate was $391 (per night!) and NO, that did NOT include a few rounds of golf!

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Soooooo, we headed out of Leland, through Sutton’s Bay and on to Charlevoix where we hoped to find a room for the night.

We found the Maple Leaf Motel (only 10 rooms) on the south end of town where our host Cindy welcomed us to the last room available, and as promised we found the room to be clean.  I asked Cindy where we should have dinner tonight and she recommended the new “Cantina” restaurant located in an alley off the beaten track.  She also told us about the 80th annual Venetian Festival going on in downtown this week.  We decided that all sounded like a great night so off we went …

The harbor at Charlevoix, getting ready for the band at the Venetian Festival
The Venetian Festival at Charlevoix
Dinner menu from the Cantina restaurant where we had dinner
Cantina “Street Corn” grilled, rolled in Chipotle Mayo, then rolled in cheese – Yummy!
Kathy’s Chicken and Shrimp Tacos
My beef and bean burrito
Mural on Rexall Drugs downtown Charlevoix
A man and his dog on the paddle board in the harbor
A 2 hour cruise out into Lake Michigan on a catamaran

Some shots of folks enjoying the festival food at the harbor and listening to the live band in the amphitheater

This ferry coming in from Beaver Island (watch the video below)

 

Kathy wanted to go on the Ferris Wheel.  But she also wanted ME to GO ALONG!

If you’ve known me for any length of time, you know that I’m “skeered of heights”.  I can’t even climb up on top of the motor home.  I can handle a six foot ladder, but that’s about all.

It might not look it, but I’m shakin’ in my shoes
A shot from atop the wheel (Skeered)
A street performer downtown Charlevoix during the Venetian Festival

The video below shows a group of kids having a ball on the hill.  It would be a really tough climb with a sled in the snow.

We got the last room in town, $85 / nite. Not a lot of fluff, but a clean room
Resting back in the room after dinner and the festival downtown

That’s it for now, the next post will be from Charlevoix through Petoskey, Cross Village and the Tunnel of Trees and then up across the bridge (and back) and then down to Kalkaska.

 

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Idlewild & The End of Segregation

Idlewild & The End of Segregation

We’re working at Pere Marquette Oaks RV Park just south of Baldwin, MI.  Just a few short miles east of Baldwin is the little Village of Idlewild.

From 1912 through the mid-60’s Idlewild was known as “The Black Eden” where scores of famous black entertainers from around the mid-west (and further) would come to entertain their fellow African-Americans in a classy resort community.  This became a very popular spot for the well-to-do where they could unwind and enjoy their idle time.  Folklore says the name may have originated from “Idle men and wild women”.

The Idlewild development was started in 1912 by four white land developers (2 from this area and 2 from Chicago) who marketed excursion trips from the African-American neighborhoods of Detroit, Chicago and other mid-west cities to this area.  They sold home sites to visitors looking for the peace and serenity that they didn’t have in the big city.

In it’s heyday, Idlewild’s summer population would grow to over 25,000 as folks came from far and wide to enjoy camping, swimming, boating, fishing, hunting, horseback riding, roller skating, and night-time entertainment.

Over the years, the area grew by leaps and bounds because of all the top-end entertainment that was featured at the Dance House and other watering holes that had opened.  This was a resort where black folks could come to where they felt welcome.

However, the end of an era came when the Civil Rights Act was enacted in 1964 and thereafter the folks who had traveled to Idlewild, could now enjoy leisure entertainment wherever they wished, often closer to home, due to the end of segregation.

Now Idlewild is a sleepy little village that still offers a lake, a post office, a bar/tavern but little else.  Many of the old cottages built in the 30’s and 40’s are now in disrepair although many folks still live here and thankfully there is an effort underway to revive Idlewild to attract new residents.

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I was only a boy of 10 when the Civil Rights Act was passed.  Growing up in Detroit, I really hadn’t a clue about segregation, integration had already begun.  Although I believe in equal rights for every human being, still, it’s a shame to see that the end of segregation, so good and right for everyone, put an end to what was once a thriving economy for those that had the opportunity to travel here.

I hope that their efforts to revitalize the area are successful.  To see a short video about the history of Idlewild and the efforts to bring it back to life, see the Detroit Free Press story (written in 2014) by following this link.

To learn more about Idlewild, follow this link to the Wikipedia page

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Down to The Little Bitely Tavern

Our first night out of the park, we decided to run down the road a few miles to The Bitely Tavern where, on Thursdays, they offer their $2.00 hamburger.

THIS is where you’ll find Bitely

Bitely is a small village that currently boasts a gas station/convenience store, township hall, the “Bitely Boys” Motorcycle Club, a post office, and it’s most popular inhabitant …. The Bitely Tavern.  It used to be a station on the Chicago and Michigan Lake Shore Railroad in 1889.

The place was PACKED with folks that obviously knew each other … those that live nearby and those that come “up north” on the weekends.

Even though it was packed, we were served quickly and enjoyed our burgers AND liquid refreshment as well.  One of the fellas at the bar put money in the juke box and it blared country tunes of Johnny Cash and Jim Reeves.  The little 94 year old lady at the table next to us (right under the juke box) was there with her daughter and son-in-law.  Although she was sitting right UNDER the speakers, the bar maid had to keep turning UP THE VOLUME so she could hear!

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The service was great, the food was good enough to come back again and try something else on the menu (what the hell does that mean?) and everyone there was having a good time.  We’ll go back and try the pizza next time.

In our next post, we’ll share with you the “suburb” of Baldwin that was famous for top black entertainers from back in the 20’s to the mid-60’s.  Stay tuned …

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Fisherman’s Paradise at Pere Marquette

Since we’ve been here just a few days in the “up north” area of Michigan, we’ve been able to do a little exploring.  We arrived at Pere Marquette Oaks RV Park on Sunday the 7th of May and our official work start date is not until the 15th.

Right after we arrived Sunday night, we noticed a leak in the kitchen sink area.  First thing Monday, a trip to the local ACE Hardware in Baldwin.  WOW!  What a store.

Baldwin ACE Hardware

Large store with ample supply of what seemed to be anything anyone might need or want without the need to drive to Big Rapids or Ludington for one of the big box stores.

Just a small length of plastic pipe strap fixed the problem in a jiffy. The slip joint on the “p” trap had come loose from the jiggling as we travel down the road.

While we were in town we decided to check out some of the Pere Marquette River boat launch sites AND OF COURSE one of the local restaurants for a late morning breakfast.

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After breakfast we walked across the street to see the famous JONES Ice Cream Shop.  They have been making their private recipe ice cream in the back room for 75 years.  The parlor’s walls are lined with hundreds of black and white photos showing Lake County history from the mid 1800’s forward.  Take a look at the photos below and see the old time ice cream parlor chairs and stools at the counter.

After breakfast we decided we wanted to look around town a bit check out the river that this area is so famous for.  I’ve put together a video (below) showing some of the different walk-in sites and boat launch sites to the river and some of the lakes in the nearby area.

So far, we are impressed by the beauty of the water and the quiet that abounds.  It’s so peaceful and calming.  Our next post will be a little about the park we’re living at for the summer.  Stay tuned for more.

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Old Home Week in S.E. Michigan

We left our “old” home in Mount Gilead, OH on May 1st and headed north to Wixom, MI area where we stayed at Proud Lake Recreation Area State Park for the week.  Our intent was to relax and enjoy the spring weather and see some long-time friends while we were there.  I wrote this earlier post with some pictures of the park.  It was COLD and RAINY nearly all week, but we had a great time nonetheless because we were able to hook up with friends from WAY BACK.

Sandy is the first little girl in the bottom row, I’m the kid in the top row, 3rd from the right, striped long sleeve shirt

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We had wonderful visits with old friends.  Some of these folks we haven’t seen in 30 or 40+ years.  Thanks to Facebook, we’ve been able to reconnect to lost friendships.  It’s so easy as we get busy with our; jobs/kids/school/sports/hobbies/parents/ etc.  to lose touch with those we once considered “very good” if not “best” friends.

We left Proud Lake on Sunday May 7th and had two more visits on our agenda as we continued our travel north to Baldwin, MI for our summer workamping job.

Trip Map From Proud Lake Rec Area to Delton, Spring Lake, Baldwin, MI

Who’s in Delton you ask?  Thanks to Facebook, I was able to find George Williston.  I hadn’t seen or even talked to George since 1960 when my family moved from Detroit out to Redford Township.  I had attended Kindergarten and first grade in Detroit, where I met George.  I lived with my folks and two older sisters on Monte Vista and George lived with his family on Pinehurst, next street over on the other side of the alley.  George and I used the alley as the shortcut from his house to mine.

13116 Monte Vista, Detroit
The home I grew up in from 1954 to 1960 – Now just a shell

It’s a shame to see what the house and the neighborhood have become.  I have some great memories of that home, our neighbors (the McGraw family) where there’s now just an empty lot, and my time playing (and causing a little trouble I’m sure) with my best friend George Williston.

Kathy and I met George and his wonderful wife Kelly where we enjoyed a light lunch in their beautiful home nestled in the woods.  In addition to having been a Wood Shop Industrial Arts teacher, George is also an accomplished writer.   You can order his book “This Tribe of Mine” on Amazon.

After our lunch and a nice walk around the property, we said goodbye to George and Kelly and headed further west and north to Spring Lake, Michigan where we met up with Brian Barker and his wife Connie.  Kathy and I went to Junior High and High School with Brian and we had a lot of great memories to talk about.  I had seen Brian and Connie when they lived in the Cincinnati area back a while but it’s been at least 20 years.  Kathy had never met Connie and hadn’t seen Brian in at least 35 years.

Herb, Kathy, Brian, and Connie

Brian and Connie live in a beautiful home just across from Spring Lake.  Great view and it’s easy to carry their kayaks over for an afternoon cruise.

Again, it was great to spend time with old friends and catch up on some mutual memories.

My next post will be an introduction to Baldwin, MI and Pere Marquette Oaks RV Resort.

That’s all for now.  Stay happy.

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy
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