Posted in: Food, National Park, National Parks, Sightseeing

Frankfort, Michigan

Although we stayed in Bear Lake, we frequently went into Frankfort, Michigan. Frankfort was about 15 minutes away and was a cute town. There was a grocery store and gas stations near town. The main street had several restaurants, a bookstore, bakeries, and a neat beach area with a lighthouse. We found a Little Library and a Little Art Library.

There were several ice cream places in town as well, and the two we tried were both good. The bagels from L’Chayim were delicious, the ice cream cake from Kilwin’s was amazing (but expensive), and The Bookstore was fun to explore.

On Nick and Mom Day, we walked the jetty to the lighthouse. It was very foggy and you couldn’t see the lighthouse from the shore when we started. We spent some time on the beach at the swings. After telling Ben about the fun things at the beach, we all headed there the next clear day. The benches and swings all face the Lake! There were also a few sand volleyball nets. Restrooms were near the parking lot. It was a great place to relax. You could swim there, and some people were, but the water was too cold for us.

Frankfort was a nice walking town. If you are in the area, I would check it out!

Posted in: Hiking, National Park, National Parks

Sleeping Bear Dunes: Sleeping Bear Point Trail

We picked the Sleeping Bear Point Trail to hike in the park. It was listed as a moderate trail, but less strenuous than the Dune Hill Climb. It was a 2.8 mile trail loop. We did the trail clockwise, as the app stated that it was a little easier that way.

We started in a grassy forest type of area. I would wear long socks or stay in the middle of the trail, as there was poison ivy along most of that part of the trail.

We did see some great views of the water along the hike. One of the reasons we picked this trail was the “ghost forest”. The dunes shift and over time the trees that become covered in sand will die. There were a handful of trees, but not what I would think of a forest.

Hiking on sand is no joke! We were all pretty tired at the end, but the kids of course had a lot more energy. If you take this hike, bring water, a hat, and sunscreen. Once you leave the tree area, there is no shade.

Posted in: Animal Sightings, Hiking, National Park, National Parks, Sightseeing

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

This was the last National Park on our current route. The name of the park seems sweet, but it is a horribly sad tale. I read two different versions. A mother and her cubs are forced to flee from wildfire into the Lake and have to swim to the other side. The cubs do not make it. The mother bear lays down waiting for her cubs. The other version is that there was a food shortage, and to keep from starving they had to cross the lake. The cubs do not make it. The two small islands pop up as monuments for the cubs.

The main visitor center, Phillip A Hart Visitor Center, was located in Empire, Michigan. It was not in the park. The park boundaries are actually made of 3 sections of land with towns in between and 2 islands. We drove around the park in a few locations, but only saw a ticket/pass booth at the Dune Climb parking lot.

On our first visit, we drove the Pierce Stocking Scenic Dr. I’m sure it had wonderful views, but all we could see was fog! (It hadn’t been foggy at our campground, about 30 minutes away). There was a small covered bridge that was fun to see.

There were several hiking and bike trails in the park, along with beach areas.

Posted in: Campground Review, Internet, National Park, National Parks, Sightseeing

Kenisee Lake RV Campground (Thousand Trails)

We stayed about an hour outside of Cleveland in Jefferson, Ohio at Kenisee Lake RV Campground.

Kenisee Lake RV Resort Map
Click to enlarge

The check-in area was not well laid out for larger RVs. It looks like you used to be able to pull straight forward, but now they have you turn into a parking lot. It has not been redesigned for larger RVs. The campground itself has a pond and a lake. There was a laundry room, a few planned activities, a basketball hoop, Snack Shack, putt-putt, playground, and a pool. Fishing was allowed in the pond and lake, but no swimming. The lake by the office had boats available for use. There were also horseshoes and a small baseball diamond.

Office building, snack signs at office window, laundry room

The laundry room had a lot of machines. There was no change machine, but I was able to get change at the office. Washers were $1.75/load, dryers were $1.50.

The Snack Shack had some ice cream products, shaved ice, and some drinks. It was only open on the weekends when we were there.

Our hotspot and phones worked…kind of. If it was cloudy we lost a lot of reception on all 3 networks. Some spots were better than others in the park for getting a signal. We ended up buying the campground WiFi for the week ($19.95). Phone calls seemed ok for the most part, but internet was definitely spotty.

The campground did have a lot of nice amenities. The boys really enjoyed the putt putt and basketball hoop. It was a nice destination campground and there were grocery stores within a 20-30 minute drive. Cleveland was about an hour drive and Cuyahoga Valley National Park was also about an hour drive.

NOTE: The campground was included in our Thousand Trails membership, but charged us a 50 amp fee at check-in (not stated ahead of time).

VIDEO: Kenisee RV Campground Walk Through

SUMMARY OF CAMPGROUND:

Our rating: 2.5 out of 5 hitches. Great amenities, but farther out and bad internet signal. Would be good for destination camping if you do not need reliable internet.

Cell Phone Reception: AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile. All were spotty. We ended up buying WiFi.

Laundry: Yes

Bathrooms/Showers: Yes

RV Sites: A few Pull Through, mostly Back-in (grass)

Pop Up Tents/Gazebos/Outdoor Rugs On-Site: Yes

Amenities: picnic table/fire pit at site, playground, pool, snack bar, putt-putt, basketball, baseball, horseshoes, pavilion

Cabins: 2

Tent Camping: Yes

Full Hook-ups: Yes

            Amps: 20/30/50

Pool: Yes

Food On-Site: No

Camp Store: Yes, very limited. Office was closed, you have to ask if they have items at the walk-up window.

WiFi: Free at office and pool, otherwise pay for internet

Accepts Mail: unknown

Fishing: Yes

Posted in: Museums & Tours, National Park, National Parks, School, Sightseeing

James A. Garfield National Historic Site

Hey guys here’s another blog post with Will! Today I will be talking about the James A. Garfield National Historic Site! For those of you that don’t know who James A. Garfield was, don’t worry I didn’t either! Apparently he was the 20th president of the United States of America. We learned all about him from the park center that is actually located inside of the carriage house of Garfield’s farm.

Garfield was the last president known as a log cabin president which means that his family were settlers and built their house themselves. He grew up on the land his father had bought for two dollars and fifty cents an acre. His father was a farmer and a canal construction man, but sadly his father died when Garfield was just 2 years old. His mother tried to educate Garfield and his siblings, and convinced Garfield to go to the nearby school. Garfield learned of his love of education and earned money to go to college and high school through odd jobs, teaching, and working on the farm. He stayed at the school teaching and learning for 4-5 years and then went to college for 2 years. After that he became president of the school he went to originally, but soon grew bored. This was how he started his career with politics. He was in the House of Representatives for 17 years. He was then nominated as president by surprise. He was visiting to nominate a fellow senator when he found out he had become nominated. He immediately rushed home to tell his family and get started.

This is where I am going to pause in the story for a minute to tell you about his house as most of the story after this involves his house. James A. Garfield rented houses for his family, but soon realized that they needed a stable home where they could set up home base. He also wanted his children to learn the morals that he had when living on a farm, and so he bought 160 acres of land out in the countryside. The farm he had bought was run down, but with some hard work he and his family fixed up the house and grew it. He started growing orchards and plants to sell, and he also was very interested in making his farm a modern farm. He bought the latest equipment and pure bred cows to make his farm the most modern farm around. He expanded the old house that had originally been on the property and added new rooms for him, and his wife, and 5 children, and his mom. Once he was nominated for President, he went into the craziness of trying to win. He was told by a former president that to win you sit back, cross your legs, and look wise. This was how most presidents did it. They let the speakers of their party run their election campaign and sat there looking wise. Garfield felt this was not good enough because he was one of the best speakers in his party, so he started having campaign speeches on his porch. Many different people started coming to his house, and since he was near both the road and the railroad many people had access to his house. This caused the railroad company to make a new stop that was right on his property. Over 17,000 people came to see him talk and he won the election! The problem with having so many people come to see his speeches on a working farm, was that when people got hungry they would eat his crops. This left the farmer devastated and he had to re-sod all of the grass that had been trampled.

Now we come to sad part of the story. 120 days into his presidency on his way back home, the president was shot twice in the back. One only clipped his shoulder, but the other buried itself deep into the president’s back. 200 days into his presidency the President died. A memorial train carried his body to the graveyard and thousands of Americans lined up to grieve the death of the late President. Another late mourner of her husband sent her regards to his wife Lucretia. That person was Queen Victoria. Her husband had also died and the Queen had sent a letter of regards and a wreath for the late president’s coffin. Lucretia had the wreath laid on the coffin and then had it dipped in wax to preserve the wreath. Sadly, back then the president’s job was not as good as it is now. The President, when he was alive, couldn’t even afford a carriage for the White House horse shed. The White House was also in tatters. The Garfields had planned on fixing it up during the presidency, but he was not able to fix it up before his assassination. His wife’s friend realized that Garfield’s wife would not receive any payment, as there were no advantages or benefits the president received back then. He started a fund raiser for the wife and raised about 350 thousand dollars ,which today would be equal to about 10 million dollars. With that money his wife added extra renovations including gas powered lights and fireplaces, water running into the house powered by the windmill, and additions to the house. She also paid for her children to go to college, and bought a second house and rented it out to make easy income. She also added to the farm and kept it as modern as she could with the help of her children and brother who came to live in the house with her.

Whiling adding the extra house renovations, the team of carpenters and labor discovered natural gas which was then used to power the house by lighting the house and providing heat. This allowed the family to be entirely self reliant through having water brought to the house from the windmill, crops from the farm, milk, meat, and hide from the animals, and heating and lighting from the gas. She also finished all of the indoors of the house and later built playrooms and areas for her grandchildren to play at. Soon after her death, the house and the farm became a financial burden on the rest of the family and they eventually sold it.

Thank you guys for reading this blog post from me and please keep reading our blog for more cool stuff from around the country, and watch our YouTube channel for some cool places! Thank you guys and have a good day!

Posted in: Hiking, National Park, National Parks, Sightseeing

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

During our first stay back in Ohio in a year, we stayed up north near Cleveland. We visited the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. After the scenic train ride, we drove around for a little bit and stopped at the Boston Mill Visitor Center. This was a nice Visitor Center and the boys picked up their Junior Ranger books.

Maps via Google and NPS

Cuyahoga Valley is a little bit weird in its shape. It is a long, narrow park that exists around private property and state parks.

Cuyahoga NP Signs
click to enlarge

We went to the Brandywine Falls and managed to find a parking spot in the lot. We walked the boardwalk to the Falls. It was a beautiful area and you could see the remains of a small power plant. It was mostly just the foundations, but still neat to read about.

Brandwine and Champion Electric Signs
click to enlarge

It started to rain on us, so we head back home.

DETAILS:*

  • TICKETS: Free. Some activities have a fee. COVID Restrictions: masks required if not vaccinated
  • HOURS: Open daily
  • PARKING: Yes
  • BATHROOM: Yes
  • TIME RECOMMENDED: 1-3 hours
  • *Details correct at the time of posting, but please double check before you go.
Posted in: Museums & Tours, National Park, National Parks, Sightseeing, YouTube Video Link

Riding Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad

For Father’s Day we took a train ride through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. We had heard it was a good way to see the park, but the only tickets available when I looked were the Donuts With Dad for Father’s Day.

We had a friend in town visiting, so I booked tickets for all of us. The ride was 2 hours long and everyone got a drink and a donut.

Masks were “required”, but it seemed like most of the passengers took them off as soon as they boarded the train.

The train was neat looking and had a variety of different seating arrangements based on the cars. We were in a table car, but I would have loved to have been in one of the other cars. I think it would have made the train ride more enjoyable. You can purchase an all-day pass to get on and off the train. There is also an app where you can track the train and listen to audio clips. When we tried it, it did track the train pretty well, but we could not get the audio tour to work. However, it was a free app, so we weren’t too disappointed. If you are a runner/biker/kayaker/hiker, you can purchase a one way Explorer Pass ($5/bike/hiker, $10/single kayak) and jump on at a stop.

There were several seat types: Coach (padded seats of 4 looking at each other), Table Top (4-seater table and chairs), and Executive Class (this one looked really nice, padded seats, more room). All seating was assigned.

The train also had a snack car that sold drinks (even some alcoholic drinks, but not on Sundays until after 1:00), bagged snacks, granola bars, candy, popcorn, hot dogs. The snack car also sold some souvenir type of items (key chains, shirts, train hats, train whistles, toys).

We did see some things along the way. We went by a state park, a neighborhood, a farm, parts of the National Park.

VIDEO: WALKING DOWN THE TRAIN

DETAILS:*

  • TICKETS: Prices vary based on ride and seat selection. Tickets start at $15/adult, $10/child. COVID Restrictions: Masks required.
  • HOURS: Vary based on ride schedule and pick-up location.
  • PARKING: Parking on street or nearby lots.
  • BATHROOM: Yes
  • TIME RECOMMENDED: 2-3.5 hours
  • *Details correct at the time of posting, but please double check before you go.
Posted in: Museums & Tours, National Park, National Parks, Sightseeing

Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site (Buffalo, New York)

Hey guys, this is another blog post with Will! I am here today to talk about something I love…HISTORY! Today we are going to be talking about the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site, where President Roosevelt was sworn in as president. You have to make a reservation for the site because of Covid, but if you are fine with that I would recommend going. The front of the building is much like it was except with the addition of a modern stairway so that guests don’t ruin the old stairway of the house. The house originally belonged to Roosevelt’s friend who was living in Buffalo at the time. The entrance to the building is where the National Park Service set up their office and reception area.

To start off the tour they play a little introduction with an actor playing Theodore Roosevelt. After that you are allowed to enter the room to the left which is an exhibit for the “Rainbow City”. This is an exhibit on the Pan-American Exposition featuring Edison’s light bulbs, the finished monograph and other wonders of the modern world. See how Americans have welcomed immigrants into the workforce, and how we have tamed the natives of these lands. See our power over nature, and visit the moon in our exhibit: Visit the Moon! Sadly when President Mckinley visited our great city it would be for the last time. While talking to the crowds of onlookers an anarchist shot our fair president. Vice-President Roosevelt has left the city after being told that the President would live bringing his family into the wilds to explore. Sadly I bring news that our president has died. Roosevelt is hurrying back to Buffalo to mourn with the rest of the city over the president’s death, but he is still somewhere in the wild back roads of America.

This is the spiel of the guide as he walks us through the exhibits and shows us several pictures and videos that have been gathered by the park service. Next we walk through a narrow corridor to the right of the entrance to the room, and come into the main part of the house. To the left is the dining room where Roosevelt dined with his friend’s family, and up ahead is the front door. To the left of the front door is a room that our guide brings us to, but first we must go to the room on the right. This room features the problems that Roosevelt faced as the new president, such as what to do with the military, how to face racism, and the problems of the working class. Then we watch a short video on president Roosevelt’s inauguration, or swearing in, as president. Then we get to walk in to the room on the left which is where all of the action really happened. This is the recreation of the room that Roosevelt was sworn in as president. There are even some original pieces such as the book shelf in the right hand corner of the room which was originally going to be thrown in the garbage, but was saved by the neighbors. They also have books from before the 1900’s that might have been featured in this room. Sadly, there are no photographs of the inauguration as Roosevelt wanted the attention to be more on McKinley’s death rather than the new president.

Next the guide led us up the steps and through a barren room with a fireplace, and through another room decorated as a parlor. Next we are led briefly through another corridor filled with signs, which I wish we could read, but our guide had other ideas. Lastly, we enter an interactive room where we can pretend to be president and make decisions and see what Roosevelt did instead. We also got our pictures taken in the president’s chair, and got it sent to our emails.

After the tour we got our National Park passport stamps, and left. Thank you guys for reading my blog and make sure to check out our YouTube videos where we have a lot of good content. See you guys next time!

DETAILS:*

  • TICKETS: $12/adults, $7/child. Included in the America the Beautiful pass. COVID Restrictions: masks required, prepay/timed entrance (does require a $1 fee if you are an America the Beautiful pass holder)
  • HOURS: W-F (10:30am-3:30pm, tour every hour), S-U (11:30am-3:30pm, tour every hour)
  • PARKING: Yes
  • BATHROOM: Yes
  • TIME RECOMMENDED: 1 hour
  • *Details correct at the time of posting, but please double check before you go.
Posted in: Campground Review, Museums & Tours, National Park, National Parks, Sightseeing, YouTube Video Link

Quechee/Pine Valley KOA: Campground Review

We had one goal in Vermont: maple syrup.

This campground wasn’t too far from a working maple syrup farm, a National Historic Park and Site, the Quechee Gorge, and New Hampshire.

The campground had an office camp store, laundry room, playground, a dog park, a fishing pond, and a pool. Trash was placed at the end of your site for pick-up. Recycling could be placed in a separate bag for pickup as well. The office sold ice, firewood, and bait. There were banana bikes for rent. They did a nice job communicating by text!

The KOA was 18 minutes from Sugarbush Farm, 7 minutes from New Hampshire, and from 4 minutes from Quechee Gorge. It took 18 minutes to get to the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Park. There were two Walmarts at 8 and 18 minutes away, and a Hannaford’s 9 minutes (in New Hampshire).

VIDEO: Quechee/Pine Valley KOA Walk Through

SUMMARY OF CAMPGROUND:

Our rating: 3 out of 5 hitches

Cell Phone Reception: AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile

Laundry: Yes

Bathrooms/Showers: Yes

RV Sites: Pull Through, Back-in (grass/gravel)

Pop Up Tents/Gazebos/Outdoor Rugs On-Site:

Amenities: picnic table/fire pit/grill/cable/playground/dog park

Cabins: Yes

Tent Camping: No

Full Hook-ups: Yes

            Amps: 20/30, 20/50

Pool: Yes

Food On-Site: No (some grocery type items in store)

Camp Store: Yes

WiFi: Yes

Accepts Mail:

Fishing: Yes (catch and release)

Posted in: Hiking, Museums & Tours, National Park, National Parks, Sightseeing

Saint-Gaudens National Historical Site

Will and I explored the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site. This park was located across the river in New Hampshire, but was only about a half hour drive from our campground in Vermont.

Saint-Gaudens was a sculptor and the grounds contained information about his pieces and life. The house was closed, but the other buildings were open. I would not recommend this one for younger kids, as it was a lot of reading and not really interactive. There were some trails, including the Ravine Trail (which the Ranger told us was really more of a moderate path). However, since there was a heat advisory out (92℉), we did not do that trail.

The park also had a phone audio tour available, which was a nice feature to learn a little more about the pieces shown. Will completed the Junior Ranger program there, and they had a neat looking badge.

DETAILS:*

  • TICKETS: $10/adults, children 15 and under free. Can use America The Beautiful Pass. COVID Restrictions: masks required, House closed
  • HOURS: May 29-October 31 (9am-4pm)
  • PARKING: Yes
  • BATHROOM: Yes
  • TIME RECOMMENDED: 1-3 hours
  • *Details correct at the time of posting, but please double check before you go.