2010 Trips

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Camped  Camped | 28 places | 60 nights | 12,694 km


Camped Mallorytown KOA (Mallorytown, ON)

Park | Map | Photos | This location: 7/10 | Our experience: 7/10

April 30 to May 2, site 85. This KOA was our season opener for this year, and our first trip to this park. One of our camping friends was there with his daughter and we had a great time. We all took a 1-hour boat tour out of nearby Rockport, hoping to stop at Heart Island to see Boldt Castle. Alas, it wasn't yet open for the season, though there was still plenty to see.

The park was a pleasant surprise. 22-year owners Richard and Susan Marcoux were very hospitable. Susan led us to our site and helped us back in, then showed us where the hookups were. Turns out it was a big site, with a "lawn" from the door of our trailer to the road about 20 feet away. There were several seasonal campers and a few passers-through, and the other campers were occasionally seen but rarely heard. Of course, there were other noises... we were within a kilometre of the 401 and the hum of traffic was constant, though I didn't really notice it after a couple of hours. There's a railroad track a few km north and we could hear the horns and the rumble of locomotives, but it wasn't a bother. And for about fifteen minutes at regular intervals on Saturday night in the fog we heard the horn of one of the big ships on the seaway.

At first it appeared to be a typical KOA, and in need of a little TLC. The mini-golf course was pretty run-down and the structures in the playground were old and worn (though that didn't stop our daughter from enjoying them). Turns out, however, that there was more to the place than first met the eye. We took a walk along Meadow Trail, a grassy slope that led into a large field with several trailer sites, though few were occupied. We found an Inukshuk on a dog trail, then spotted the carcass of a 60s-era convertible a little deeper in the woods. Walking back towards the main building we made another discovery - a chair carved out of a tree stump. Follow the photo link above to check this stuff out.

All in all, a very nice stay at a nice park. We'd return, and we recommend it to others.

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Camped Cedar Point State Park (Clayton, NY)

Park | Map | Photos | This location: 9/10 | Our experience: 4/10

May 21 to 24, Site 155. A nice park on the St Lawrence seaway close to where it opens into Lake Ontario, Cedar Point is a great place for a group camping event. There's lots of room and plenty of safe places for the kids to run around... and Emily did! With great weather and friends old and new, we had the recipe for the perfect long weekend. And it would have been, except for health issues for both Dawn and John. Dawn came down with Strep Throat and we had to take her to River Hospital in nearby Alexandria Bay. On the bright side, treatment was competent, easy and quick. By Sunday afternoon John was feeling ill too, but in both cases we decided to stay put because there was nothing to be gained by returning home early. We departed early on Monday and were happy to be back home.

Despite the setbacks, we're looking forward to another visit!

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Summer Trip

This year we're taking an eight-week camping trip that will lead us as far west as the Pacific shores of Vancouver Island. We'll be meeting friends and family as we travel westwards through Canada, and we'll head south from Alberta into the US on the way back east.

Summer trip map

We've planned 28 stops and will be travelling 11,500 km through five provinces and eight states. All of our stops are now booked, as are the ferry crossings to and from Vancouver Island. We'll be updating the website as we go, and will also be posting photos to our Flickr site.

For this trip the distance travelled to each stop is included.

First Leg - Ottawa, ON to Drumheller, AB

Camped Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park (Mattawa, ON)

Park | Map | Photos | This location: 7/10 | Our experience: 7/10

314 km, June 25 to 26, Babawasse CG, Site 35. Well, we got here. Plenty of mishaps this day! Dad had a bicycle accident - he's OK, thank God, but his custom bike is a writeoff. When I brought Dad and his bike home, the liftgate latch handle on the Sequoia broke. The window powers down, so we got it out through there. Four hours at the Toyota dealership later and a lot lighter in the pocket, we were ready to go. The trip went well, though later in the day than we planned.

When we stopped at the water filling station inside the park I noticed the new Ontario Parks fresh water nozzle, apparently designed to fight bacteria. Also designed, I'm afraid, to poke the freshwater tank hose off of the fill spout insidiously enough for us not to notice... until we had pumped a couple of gallons of water into the interior of the trailer! Luckily, we had seven or eight towels with us and were able to dry everything off.

I am hoping that we've now experienced all of the misadventures that we are going to see on this trip. However, I am not foolish enough to expect that. And, incidentally, this first stop marks our second visit to this park.

Site 35 was a pull through, but a pretty small one. Either of the two adjacent sites would have been a better choice.

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Camped Chutes Provincial Park (Massey, ON)

Park | Map | Photos | This location: 7/10 | Our experience: 7/10

270 km, June 26 to 27, Loop B, Site 54. This park is located within the town of Massey (pop: 1000), west of Sudbury. Our site was excellent with a good mix of shade and sun, large and flat.

There is a swimming area with a coarse, sandy beach and a sandy island. The water is yellowy-brown but clear and not especially cold. What really sets off this area is a picturesque waterfall at the north end of the swimming area.

Because the park is within the town, several day users were seen walking in.

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Camped Lake Superior Provincial Park - Rabbit Blanket (Wawa, ON)

Park | Map | Photos | This location: 6/10 | Our experience: 6/10

382 km, June 27 to 28, Rabbit Blanket CG, Site 25. A midway stop between Sault Ste Marie and Thunder Bay, this campground is actually sited on Rabbit Blanket Lake, not the shores of Lake Superior (as I had mistakenly assumed). It's a small campground within the very large boundaries of the park - in fact, it's about 50km north of the park entrance.

Site 25 has an elevated pad (about 2 feet above the rest of the site), secured by a restraining wall and with a similarly constructed step. It's angled towards the road so it was easy to back in. And it was long enough (just) and level enough (just) for us to stay hitched up for this one-nighter.

We took a walk to the small beach while it drizzled. Later on it rained steadily and we spent the evening inside.

A nice place for a stopover... maybe as a destination too, but we weren't there long enough to make a real estimate.

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Camped Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park (Thunder Bay, ON)

Park | Map | Photos | This location: 9/10 | Our experience: 9/10

558 km, June 28 to 30, Whispering Hills CG, site 37. Kakabeka Falls is a beautiful park, named for the town in which it's located and the beautiful waterfall within the park itself... the highest in Northern Ontario. After three overnight stops it's nice to do a two-nighter here, with a full day to explore Thunder Bay. For dinner we're hosting guests who live in the area - friends we haven't seen in over five years.

There were reports of bears within the campground as early as two days before we arrived, but they were sighted at the other end of the loop and were reported to be skittish, running away as soon as they detected humans. We are still trying to decide how far we need to go to be "Bearwise". For example, at our last stop one of the park staff pointed out a poster that stated you shouldn't sleep in the same clothes you cooked in. Here, a park ranger told me that unless we splattered a whole lot of food on us while cooking it wouldn't be a problem - even for tenters. And Dawn's parents have camped their way out west and back three times, cooking in their travel trailer all the while... and have never seen a bear while camping. In the meantime we are practicing good campsite etiquette. We don't leave food or garbage outside and though we're not carrying a cooler we would keep it in the truck or trailer (covered to keep it hidden from sight) if we were.

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Camped Whiteshell Provincial Park (Falcon Beach, MB)

Park | Map | Photos | This location: 7/10 | Our experience: 7/10

532 km, June 30 to July 1, Falcon Beach CG, Site X-3E. We got here late in the afternoon. At Falcon Beach they really pack 'em in and it looks like a party campground... but a brochure that every camper gets makes it clear that rowdy campers will not be tolerated. During a brief discussion with a couple of Manitoba Parks resource officers we learned that there have indeed been problems at this location in the past... but they are under control now.

During the night there was a two-hour thunderstorm with lots of rain. A neighbour in a pop-up had a flooded campsite but he was able to drain it. We would have liked to stay longer but it's a popular spot and was booked up for the Canada Day weekend. We packed up and headed for our next stop.

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Camped Howard Johnson (Yorkton, SK)

Park | Map | Photos

July, 551 km, 1 night. We were planning to stay at the Churchbridge Municipal Park, but when we arrived the campground was unstaffed and highly disorganized. The sites were not clearly marked and the whole place had an air of disrepair. Besides, we were swarmed by mosquitoes the moment we stepped from the truck.

Emily was already asleep so we decided to continue half an hour down the road to Yorkton. We considered spending the night in the local Wal Mart parking lot but there was a serious thunderstorm underway... and a tornado warning clinched it. We stayed at a run-down local HoJo where the advertised WiFi didn't have an internet connection and the air conditioner quit working during the night. We got them to comp us breakfast, though.

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Camped Saskatoon Inn (Saskatoon, SK)

Park | Map | Photos

July, 388 km, 3 nights. At the HoJo in Yorkton in the morning we considered this stage of the trip. We called Gordon Howe Municipal Park in Saskatoon - our next planned destination - to see if we could arrive a day early and leave a day late, making it a three night stay instead of one. No go, unfortunately. They were fully booked. We tried another campground but many of their sites were flooded and the mosquitoes were bad... so we opted for a hotel - the Saskatoon Inn - for three nights. It's not camping, but it is very nice. And we had a great time touring the beautiful city of Saskatoon.

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Camped The Hoodoo RV Park and Resort (Drumheller, AB)

Park | Map | Photos | This location: 10/10 | Our experience: 10/10

468 km, July 5 to 6, Site 61. Back on track with the camping! We were going to make it a short driving day with a stopover in Oyen, AB, 299 km away. When we got to Oyen (in the rain) we stopped at the Alberta Information Centre and found out about The Hoodoo, a private campground just 12 km east of Drumheller. The setting is idyllic, the park is very clean and the rates are excellent. This is our first look at the Badlands of Alberta and it's incredibly beautiful.

Sites are typically gravel parking pad with a decent strip of grass, a small tree and a firepit.

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Second Leg - Drumheller, AB to Tofino, BC

Camped River Grove Campground (Drumheller, AB)

Park | Map | Photos | This location: 7/10 | Our experience: 9/10

12 km, July 6 to 7, Site 75. Probably the shortest drive of the trip. We checked into this park right in the town. It's a little run-down, the campers are packed in and there are cash grabs everywhere ($3.00 for 15 minutes of internet usage, $1.00 for 5 minutes of shower time, $3.00 each to wash and dry a load of clothes). But it seems to be a nice place overall, and pretty peaceful. The other occupants we've met are nice, and there are trees everywhere.

The roads and site pads are gravel, with the occasional strip of grass. Site dimensions and size vary widely. And because I don't want to damage the trailer's air conditioner or power converter (and because it's really easy to do) I've started to check voltage at the post at every site we set up on. Here it was a very reasonable 118VAC. I'll try to remember to post it in all upcoming entries.

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Camped River Grove Campground (Drumheller, AB)

0 km, July 7 to 10, Site 8. Okay, definitely the shortest drive of the trip... changing sites within the same campground. Last night's location was just a temporary one, with the camp staff accommodating our arrival one day earlier than originally booked. Our new site has power, water and sewer. Turns out it was in a quieter corner of the park, too.

Drumheller is a pretty small town (less than 8000 residents) but just about all of the amenities are here... Canadian Tire, Wal Mart, several grocery stores and several fast food joints. Laundromat too, where we did some business (a lot cheaper than if we had used the CG's facilities).

There are plenty of attractions in and close to the town. If I had to pick three, they would be (1) The Royal Tyrrell Museum, (2) The Hoodoos protected site, and (3) The Dinosaur Trail loop north of town. We did also go to Fossil World, but I would advise against it - too little value for the money.

Site 8 is a wide gravel pad with a decent grass area, lots of shade trees (no awning needed) and a firepit (which we didn't use). Site electrical supply: 120VAC.

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Camped Nature's Hideaway Family Campground (Calgary, AB)

Park | Map | Photos | This location: 7/10 | Our experience: 8/10

180 km, July 10 to 13, Site 23. John has fond memories of living in Calgary when he was a kid. We have sights to see anew and people to reconnect with. We visited the Calgary Zoo and the Okotoks Erratic (aka "Big Rock").

The park is about 20 minutes south of Calgary but quite off the beaten path and in a very quiet setting. There are plenty of sites, including very large and wooded seasonals. River rock is the predominant ground cover, though there is some grass and some underbrush and plenty of mature trees. The park runs along the Highwood River just south of where it joins the Bow River. The river is farily narrow but moves fast; there is a "beach" of smooth river rock on the campground side and steep cliff on the other. Showers are free and laundry is a reasonable $1.50 each for washers and dryers. For some reason there is a $10.00 dumping fee that appears to apply even to paying clients - no sweat for us because we had a full service site. I'm guessing they've had problems with guest behaviour in the past because there are stern warnings about excess noise and security is present overnight on weekends and to check campers into the park after hours. There don't appear to be any problems now - the park goes dead quiet at night and when we've awakened the only sounds have been wind and birdsong. The entire park is 20A service, so no A/C. Site electrical supply: 114VAC.

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Camped Lake Louise Trailer Park (Lake Louise, AB)

Park | Map | Photos | This location: 9/10 | Our experience: 10/10

249 km, July 13 to 15, Site 144. This park is right off the Trans-Canada and close to well-used railroad tracks. Nestled among the nearby mountains, the scenery is stunning and beautiful lakes Louise and Moraine are nearby. The park was very busy, even during the week - by the time we returned from touring at a little after 5 pm, the "full" sign was on display. There is a separate area within the park for tents and soft-sided trailers, segregated from nature by an electric fence.

The parking pads are gravel and most seem to be fairly level. Each pad is shared by two occupants, one to a side. In our section there are no firepits, and the picnic tables are built of concrete and in a fixed position. There is a common drinking water fill station and a common dump station but no water or sewer on the sites. Site electrical supply: 122 VAC.

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Camped Hiawatha RV Park (Kelowna, BC)

Park | Map | Photos | This location: 7/10 | Our experience: 10/10

431 km, July 15 to 18, Site C9. This park is right near the lakeshore in Kelowna, which is where Dawn's brother lives - he just happens to be celebrating a birthday while we're there. The drive from Lake Louise over the Rogers Pass and the Kicking Horse Pass was breathtaking. We stopped for lunch in Revelstoke at an excellent little spot called Mountain Meals - reasonably priced and very tasty scratch-made food, and great service.

Good:

Not so good:

Overall, we liked the park and would stay here again. We didn't spend a lot of time at the trailer but when we did it was pleasant and relaxing. We tended to avoid the pool (too warm, too crowded) in favour of the nearby beach. Kelowna is a great city in a beautiful area of BC and we found the park to be a great jumping-off point for seeing it.

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Camped Parkcanada RV Park (Delta, BC)

Park | Photos | This location: 6/10 | Our experience: 10/10

393 km, July 18 to 21, Site 8. This park is just down the road from the Tsawwassen ferry terminal, our connection point to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. We reconnected with friends in Vancouver, and we visited the Vancouver Aquarium and Stanley Park (including some time at the enormous Second Beach pool) and toured to Horseshoe Bay. We had great weather and a great time in Vancouver.

Good:

Not so good:

The verdict - Overall, the condition of the park was not so important as its location, so it worked well for us... especially since we spent so little time here.

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Camped Courtenay, BC

Photos | This location: 10/10 | Our experience: 10/10

201 km, July 21 to 25, Site 1 (of 1). This campground had a 15A connection and city water but no sewer. Pretty good for the driveway of my Uncle and Aunt's house in Courtenay!

I lived in neighbouring Comox nearly thirty years ago and had lots of fun showing the girls around, even though I'd forgotten most of it. My Mom and Dad were there for a time too so we spent some of it together... and on their last evening my uncle took Dad and me up for an hour in a Cessna 172 and we got great views of the mountains, Comox Glacier, Comox, Courtenay and Port Alberni. The girls and I toured around a lot, including trips to Mount Washington and Campbell River... and we got to spend a lot of time with my Uncle and Aunt too. A great time was had by all!

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Camped Crystal Cove Beach Resort (Tofino, BC)

Park | Map | Photos | This location: 10/10 | Our experience: 10/10

225 km, July 25 to 28, Site 22. 30A electrical (voltage unchecked), water, sewer, WiFi and firewood. Our westernmost point! We've had time to check out nearby Tofino and Ucluelet (pronounced you-CLUE-lit), take a whale-watching tour and go for dip in the Pacific. We even had warm and sunny weather for most of the time!

Good:

Not so good:

The verdict - Without a doubt the nicest campground we have stayed at to date. Without a doubt, we will be back. And there was no 15A outlet so we did not take a voltage reading.

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Third leg - Tofino, BC to Hill City, SD

Camped Westbay Marine Village RV Park (Victoria, BC)

Park | Map | Photos | This location: 10/10 | Our experience: 10/10

313 km, July 28 to 31, Site 22. From this small but attractive park on the harbour in Victoria we've had some time to take in the sites, including a stroll through Chinatown and a trip on the harbour ferry. We also took the time to reconnect with friends we haven't seen in 17 years... they live in Edmonton but were vacationing here so it was easy to connect. Seaplanes - Otters and Twin Otters - are constantly taking off and landing in the harbour during the day, which I enjoy watching.

Good:

Not so good:

Overall, we really like this park. We'll be back when the opportunity presents itself. And power at the post was a respectable 113 VAC.

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Camped Wild Rose RV Park (Hope, BC)

Park | Map | Photos | This location: 7/10 | Our experience: 7/10

229 km, July 31 to August 1, Site 45. A one-night stop in Hope, BC, this campground was a pleasant place to pass some time. It's sandwiched between the Trans-Canada and a well-used railroad line, but for some reason the trains aren't using their horns at the nearby crossing - we just heard the locomotives. It's also near a small airfield that's actively used for glider flights. I enquired as to the cost of a trip and was quoted a stiff $150 for 30 minutes. I watched from the campsite instead. And the next morning we were on our way to Castlegar just after 8 AM... after having CAA come to change a flat tire on the truck!

Pluses - (1) Sites are spacious and private. (2) Campground staff are friendly and helpful. (3) Campground is well-treed with lots of grass. (4) There is a common room with book exchange and TV, within range for a good WiFi connection.

On the other hand - (1) The traffic on the Trans-Canada is audible (though not overly intrusive). (2) There's WiFi for the sites close to the office, but it doesn't reach the whole campground.

Overall, a nice little place for a stopover. We'd stay here again. And the power at the post was a reasonable 114VAC.

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Camped Kootenay River Campground (Castlegar, BC)

Park | Map | Photos | This location: 8/10 | Our experience: 9/10

477 km, August 1 to 3, Site 7. A travel break in the Kootenays that gave us a day to enjoy our surroundings and take a trip to nearby Nelson.

Good:

Not so good:

The verdict - good place for a stopover. Not sure about an extended stay.

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Camped Mountain Shadows Campground (Sparwood, BC)

Park | Map | Photos | This location: 7/10 | Our experience: 6/10

353 km, August 3 to 4, Site 23. We stopped in Sparwood to get our flat tire patched and decided to stay at the campground across the road on the recommendation of a camping neighbour we met in Castlegar. I think this is the first time we have ever showed up at a campground without a reservation... and I think we got the last available site. The campground office is open from 3pm to 10pm and they post the available sites on the door. You pick one (if there are any left) and show up after 3 at the office to register.

Pluses:

Not so good:

The verdict - nice enough, but not extraordinary.

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Camped Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park (Elkwater, AB)

Park | Map | Photos | This location: 8/10 | Our experience: 10/10

410 km, August 4 to 6, Lakeview CG, Site 9. Cypress Hills is the only interprovincial park in Canada, spanning the border between Alberta and Saskatchewan. Enroute we passed through the town of Frank, Alberta, which was partially buried under 82 millions tons of rock in the Frank Slide of 1903.

Enroute to the park (and the next day) we spent some time with good friends in Medicine Hat, AB.

Pluses:

Not so good:

The verdict - a very nice place. We wish we had more time to explore the park itself. We'll be back!

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Billings KOA (Billings, MT)

Park | Map | Photos | This location: 8/10 | Our experience: 7/10

564 km, August 6 to 7, Site 32. An overnight at the world's very first KOA, located along the Yellowstone River. Site 32 is a pull-through with water and electrical (114VAC).

Good:

Not so good:

The verdict - Very nice, very clean. It was just an overnight for us but I can see it as longer stop. For many folks it was a staging point for Bike Week at Sturgis, SD. Dozens upon dozens of very nice, very expensive rigs and motorcycles.

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Camped Rafter J-Bar Ranch (Hill City, SD)

Park | Map | Photos | This location: 9/10 | Our experience: 9/10

574 km, August 7 to 10, Ranch Campground, Site 132. 30/15A electrical (113VAC), water, sewer and WiFi. Comfort stations in each campground with laundry and free showers. This is a beautiful park with several campgrounds separated by large meadows. Clean and quiet, though even in our campground 500m from the road we could hear the constant roar of motorcycles... but that's what we get for camping in the Black Hills while Bike Week is on in nearby Sturgis! We selected this park in the Black Hills of South Dakota on the advice of some camping friends who had been here before... it's just a few km from Mount Rushmore. Booking early was a good plan, especially since we were here during the 70th annual Sturgis Motorcyle Rally.

Good:

Not so good:

The verdict - A beautiful park in a beautiful setting. We would happily return... just not during bike week!

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Fourth leg - Hill City, SD to Ottawa, ON

Camped Sioux Falls KOA (Sioux Falls, SD)

Park | Map | Photos | This location: 4/10 | Our experience: 4/10

598 km, August 10th to 11th, site D9. Our site had power (50/30/15A at 112 VAC), water and sewer. An unremarkable overnight at an unremarkable campground.

Good:

Not so good:

The verdict - Not one of the highlights of our trip. Em slept like a log, but neither Dawn nor I got more than a couple of hours. We wouldn't hurry back.

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Camped Lake Farm County Park (Madison, WI)

Park | Map | Photos | This location: 8/10 | Our experience: 10/10

424 km, August 11 to 14, Site 22. USD 23.00 for 50/30/15A electrical (119VAC). We "stayed" at this nice park in Madison, the state capital of Wisconsin. In reality, we camped there the first night and spent the rest of our time (including two comfortable overnights) with dear friends in nearby Middleton. Especially nice because the weather was very hot and very humid.

I can't say a whole lot about the good and bad points of this park because we weren't here long enough to assess it. But what little we saw was very nice... nice enough to stay again next time we're visiting Madison.

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Camped Vacation Station RV Resort (Ludington, MI)

Park | Map | Photos | This location: 9/10 | Our experience: 9/10

320 km, August 14 to 15, Site 38. USD 40.00 for 50/30/15A electrical (120VAC), water, sewer, cable and WiFi. Sites are reasonably sized for a private park and the park is very clean. The staff is friendly and very helpful. The pool is clean, but bathwater-warm. There are ice cream socials with soft-serve sundaes for $1.25 on Friday and Saturday evenings, and a an all-you-can-eat pancake, egg and sausage breakfast on Sunday mornings. Overall a very nice RV Park - we wouldn't hesitate to stay here again. And Ludington MI is where the Lake Michigan car ferry docks (there are two car ferries but the one further south doesn't accommodate rigs as big as ours). We took the ferry across Lake Michigan from Manitowoc WI to avoid driving through Chicago.

A few words about the ferry: The S.S. Badger was built in 1953 and is the last coal-fired steamship still operating in the United States. There are, however, several things about the ferry that the website doesn't mention... things we only found out after arriving at the ship:

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Camped Pinery Provincial Park (Grand Bend, ON)

Park | Map | Photos | This location: 9/10 | Our experience: 9/10

481 km, August 15 to 18, Dunes Campground, Site 7. 30/15A electrical (120VAC). This was our first time at this park and it's obvious why it's so popular - the location is great and the nearby beach is amazing. On the advice of friends we booked in the Dunes campground and it was an excellent choice. Site 7 is large with ample parking for both trailer and tow vehicle, and the beach is less than ten minutes away on foot. The water is relatively warm and we enjoyed some large waves during our stay.

This is a popular park, so reserving the full five months in advance is necessary.

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Camped Presqu'ile Provincial Park (Brighton, ON)

Park | Map | Photos | This location: 9/10 | Our experience: 9/10

371 km, August 18 to 20, High Bluffs campground, site 80. 30/15A electrical (116VAC). We camped on this site last year... just an overnight between home and a destination further west in Ontario. It was nice to spend some daylight time in the High Bluffs campground. We enjoyed a nature walk that focused on dragonflies, and as always at Presqu'ile a trip to the Nature Centre and to the lighthouse were in order.

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So ends the summer trip. It was an incredible eight weeks and now that we've done one epic journey we can't wait to plan another!

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Camped Sandbanks Provincial Park (Picton, ON)

Park | Photos | 10/10

October 8 to 11, site 650. Our third annual Thanksgiving at Sandbanks and a good time at that.

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