My husband and I have been talking about an extended RV trip for so very long that I can’t remember exactly when or how the idea struck us. I just know that we have been talking to each other about this for a long, long time. We have talked to everyone we have ever met who has either lived on the road or taken a big adventure and asked them many questions about how it works. We’ve read about it. We’ve thought about where we’d want to go and what we’d want to see. We’ve talked about how we’d pull it off. So much talking and researching and thinking and planning!
This summer, everything lined up just right. The opportunity to be away was there. With a little nudge from family to come visit up north, we began planning. My husband and I spent several weekends looking into all the things we could do in the area and made a 5 week plan: three weeks to explore Michigan with a week to visit family and friends on either end of our trip.
And what did I do then? Well, of course I bought books! I found some books related to the places we planned to visit and the things we planned to see and do while we were there. I put them all in a bag and made room for them in our teeny, tiny living space.
Then, as the temperature was getting to be over 100 degrees everyday in TX, we started driving north!
Warren Dunes, Sawyer MI
When I was growing up, we went to Indiana to visit family every year. A favorite thing we often did while in the area was to visit Warren Dunes on Lake Michigan. A family tradition I wanted to share with my kids:
the trek up the dunes,
and building in the sand.
The Henry Ford Museum, Dearborn, MI
My daughter who aspires to be a “building wife” when she grows up, loves to watch Innovation Nation. She wanted to see the Henry Ford Museum, especially the Rosa Parks bus and the Wright Flier. We got to see both and so much more! We spent half a day wandering around and could easily have spent several days to see it all.
USS Edson, Bay City, MI
We stopped to visit the USS Edson. When my husband paid for the tickets, he was offered a tour guide. Who could pass that up? Our tour guide was an older gentleman who was retired Naval Reserve. He had so many stories to tell! He told the kids about living quarters, the little lockers for personal items, the timed showers, the food. His stories really helped us imagine life aboard a Navy ship.
Tawas Point State Park, MI
This may have been my favorite stop for this trip. The little beach at this state park was a lovely, lovely place to pass a few days.
It was never really warm enough that I would have wanted to get in and swim, but the kids were more than happy to swim, build sand castles and look for treasures on the beach.
St. Ignace, MI
We stayed at St. Ignace several nights. There are a lot of historical sites to visit. We spent a day at Colonial Michilimackinac. They have people dressed in period clothing available to tell you about each part of the village. About every 15 minutes there was a different demonstration (shooting a cannon, firing a musket, a children’s tour, etc.) in addition to just walking around and seeing the various buildings and exhibits.
We didn’t think we wanted to go over to Mackinac Island, but we were so impressed with Colonial Michilimackinac that we decided to go to the island to see the fort.
There were exhibits in each of the buildings, as well as guided tours and demonstrations several times each hour. Also, they had a children’s room with dress up clothes and interactive exhibits. A big hit!
Each afternoon after sightseeing, we went to this little park in St. Ignace right by the water.
The kids had hoped to swim, but the water was ice cold. Still, an incredible view and a great place for the kids to play (or draw).
Sault Ste. Marie, MI–The Soo Locks
Well, we made it to the Canadian border! A long way from central Texas! We got to see a ship go through the locks and explore the little visitor center. We had burgers and fries at a little diner by the water.
JB Wells State Park
We thought we were going to have a few more days on the beach, but the weather got pretty cool and rainy. So we ended up spending a couple days playing at the playground, reading, and drawing. I got to take some long walks with my big kids and hear all the things they are thinking about, while the little kids played at the playground. We could see and hear the water from our campsite. We had a cool breeze and some comfortable camp chairs. It was a relaxing way to end our time in Michigan.
All in all, 5 weeks, 9 states, 4,000 miles! I thought we might be tired of driving, of living in such a tiny space, but we hated to see it end. We are already thinking about a next adventure.
For the kids:
Paddle to the Sea, by Holling Clancy Holling- a story of a journey through the Great Lakes region
Under Michigan: The Story of Michigan’s Rocks and Fossils, by Charles Ferguson Barker
From the Childhood of Famous Americans series: Henry Ford, Amelia Earhart, and Wilbur and Orville Wright
Once on This Island, by Gloria Whelan: historical fiction set on Michilimackinac during the war of 1812
And some favorites from my own reading:
A Man Called Ove, by Fredrick Backman
My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, by Fredrick Backman–Both books were wonderful! I would have a hard time picking a favorite.
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, by Rachel Joyce
The Giver Quartet, by Lois Lowry