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Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Kendallville and Auburn, Indiana / Hampton Inn

July 2018, Weekday, 1-night, Two-queen guestroom 305

Sunrise from Hampton Inn guestroom 305

For this trip, I initially wanted to stay at the Holiday Inn Express in Kendallville. I was unable to make a reservation online after July 17, 2018, so I called IHG to find out if the hotel was closing or what was happening. The employee I spoke with did not know anything. She transferred my call to someone at the hotel, who made my reservation. I provided my IHG member number, so I expected the reservation to show under my profile the next day. When it did not show up, I called the hotel back to ask direct questions. I found out the hotel was being transferred/purchased by a new chain. The person I spoke with said she thought it would be Choice Hotels, but did not know for sure. It seems like IHG would have known this property was leaving their brand. I decided to cancel my reservation in Kendallville a few days before July 17th, as the hotel still showed under the IHG profile, and it was not listed under Choice Hotels. When I drove by the hotel in Kendallville on my way to Auburn, Indiana, I saw that the hotel in Kendallville is now a Best Western.

Hampton Inn gold perks and Auburn check-in

I received my choice of two snacks when I checked in at the hotel. The room I was initially assigned was not on the top floor. My profile and special requests are for top floor, so I asked if there was a top floor room available. The employee said she did not have a king guestroom on the top floor, although there was a queen room available, so I said I would take that.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Muskegon, Michigan / Camping, Downtown, Events...

May and June 2018

Sunset at Fisherman's Landing
As some of you know, Muskegon is one of our favorite lakeshore towns to visit! I am sharing a few photos and some new info we discovered during our most recent visit to Muskegon. You can find additional information about items of interest by clicking on the labels at the end of this post.

Camping in Muskegon

Our two favorite campgrounds in the area are Fisherman's Landing and Muskegon State Park. We usually choose Fisherman's Landing because of its proximity to town and the bicycle trail. The state park is great when we want to do some hiking or stay closer to Lake Michigan. 

Seen from our campsite at Fisherman's Landing during D-Day weekend

Monday, July 9, 2018

Tawas Bay, Michigan / Tawas Point State Park, Brew-B-Q, Tawas Bay Bike Trail

June 2018, Weekend - weekday, three nights

You can click on any photo in this post to enlarge it, and there are more photos in the Facebook album: Tawas Point State Park

Sunset over the bay from the beach area next to campsite 42

Tawas Point State Park reservations and check-in

I had a difficult time choosing a site when I made our online reservation. There is only one photo of campsite 130 on the state website, and the photo does not show the entire site (further information below). We arrived around 11:00 AM, and check-in was very quick. The people camping on this site the day before us were packing up to leave, so we parked in the overflow lot near the office. We then walked back to get a better look at the site before we drove back to park.

Secluded fire pit on campsite 130

Tawas Point State Park campsite 130

This is a fabulous campsite, and I would definitely choose it again. It is grassy, level, private, and the size is 50 x 50. The photo on the Michigan reservation site only shows the left half of site 130. In fact, the picnic table and fire pit on the left in their photo are on site 132. 

Photo taken from under our awning facing east
before campers arrived on site 132
Looking at the campground drawing before we arrived, it had been difficult to tell if campers on site 52 would be in our backyard/right behind us. Campsite 51 is actually closer to site 130 than 52. I have included a few labeled photos in this post, and there are more in the Facebook album.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Minneapolis-Edina, Minnesota / Residence Inn by Marriott

June 2018, Weekday, 2-nights, King studio #616

Gold perks and check-in

I did not receive an upgrade, or any status recognition. My keys were ready when I arrived, and the check-in process was efficient. 

Sunset from bedroom in suite 616.
Building in photo is Centennial Lakes Office Park

Guestroom 616

There are seven floors in this hotel, and this guestroom is located on floor six. The view overlooks Edinborough Park toward the northwest. The guestroom was comfortable, spacious, and clean, although the room scent had a strong perfumed odor. Fortunately, the bedroom window opened a few inches to allow some fresh air in.

Suite 616
The kitchen area was sufficient for one or two people, and everything worked. There is a small two-burner range top next to the full size fridge. The ice maker in the freezer made ice right away after I turned it on. Coffee with condiments, popcorn, and dishwashing products were provided upon arrival. The only item not replenished during stayover was the popcorn.

Monday, June 11, 2018

5 Fabulous State of Michigan Parks!

A reader requested a list from me of the top 5 state parks in Michigan. We all have different thoughts about what makes a park great. I like parks with spacious campsites and recreation onsite or nearby. Following is a list of 5 of my favorite State of Michigan parks (in no particular order), and what makes them great. This list is based solely on State of Michigan campground parks, and does not include state forest, private, or national parks. I have been to about half of the State of Michigan campgrounds; mainly in west and northern Michigan. I have been as far south as Warren Dunes State Park and Fort Custer Recreation Area, as far east as Bay City Recreation Area and Harrisville State Park, and as far north as Copper Harbor in the Upper Peninsula.

Sunset at Fayette park from campground area 2015

Fayette Historic State Park, in Garden south of US-2 in the upper peninsula

We have visited this park by boat, and with two different campers. The park has 61 campsites with electricity, and 15 boat slips. The boat slips have undergone renovations since our last visit, and I assume they now have power. I could not find actual boat slip details on the state website; however, a few things have changed since we stayed in 2011: the rate has increased from $17 a night to $30 a night, and advance reservations can now be made for the marina, just like the campground. The campground rate is $25 a night.

Previous dockage in Fayette
Photo taken from edge of historic town in 2011
What makes this park great: The sunsets, historic town, visitor center, and hiking trails on 711 acres! 

Fort Wilkins State Park, Copper Harbor in the upper peninsula

This park is located at the northeastern tip of Michigan's upper peninsula. We have not visited since 2004, although I do not think it has changed much. The current photos and information online looks the same as I remember.
Secluded campsite #141 at Fort Wilkins State Park
Photo taken 2004

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Virginia / Dulles airport Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott

May 2018, Weekday, 1-night, Extended king guestroom 323

Gold perks and check-in

I checked in using the Marriott app, which was a first for me. I went to the front desk when I arrived, because I did not see my room number, or how to choose a room on the app. The guestroom number did not show because I needed to complete one more step after I checked in online. I think it was the "get key" step, which I mistakenly assumed I did not need to do until I was ready to enter the room. I had been pre-assigned a guestroom on the top floor, which was also an upgrade. No one told me the room was an upgrade; I realized when I entered the guestroom and saw that it is an extend king guestroom. I had booked a basic room when making my reservation. You can see the guestroom size difference in the guestroom diagram photo farther down in this post.

Guestroom 323

Guestroom 323

This is a spacious guestroom, which looked like it had been recently remodeled. The bathroom and beverage area were located at the entrance. The beverage area contained a single serve coffeemaker with supplies, an ice bucket, microwave, and small fridge.

Guestroom 323

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Frederick, Maryland / Hilton Garden Inn

May 2018, Weekday, 1-night, Guestroom 500

I checked in online the day before my arrival, and I had been assigned a guestroom that fit my profile and requests: top floor, end corner room. I stayed at the Hampton Inn in Grand Rapids the night before this stay, and when I tried online check-in for that hotel, the room assigned to me was on the bottom floor.

Gold perks and hotel check-in

The check-in process at the hotel was efficient, and I received the same room I had been assigned during online check-in. The agent told me there were two bottles of water in the guestroom for me.

View of guestroom 500 from entrance

Guestroom 500

The guestroom was comfortable, clean, and it is in a quiet location. I had an excellent night's sleep at this property.

Guestroom 500 across from bathroom
Two bottles of water were on the counter above a small fridge. A Keurig K-cup machine with coffee supplies, and a microwave oven were provided, as well. A closet with hangers, extra bedding, iron, ironing board, and a luggage rack was located between the beverage station and the entrance door, across from the bathroom.