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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Petoskey, Michigan / State Park Tannery Creek Campground & Area Information

May 2016, Weekdays, 3-nights, Site 164

View from site 164
I shared information about our stay when we camped in Petoskey State Park on lots 138 and 168 in September 2015. In this post, I am providing information about site 164, and additional area information, such as Bay Harbor, Oden Fish Hatchery Visitor's Center, Little Traverse Wheelway, and North Western State Trail. You can find more park information and bicycle trail maps at the following links: September 2015 - Petoskey, Michigan Facebook albumSeptember 2015 - State Park post, and  September 2015 - bicycle trails post.

Arrival and check-in

Someone had site 164 reserved the day before our arrival, so we were not sure how early the site would be available. Check out time is 1:00 p.m., and we arrived around 1:00 p.m. When we checked in via the yellow telephone, the employee told us that check-in time was not until 3:00 p.m., and that we could not set up until the previous campers had completely vacated the site. Fortunately for us, the site was available by the time we got to it. The check-in process took several minutes, and it took several more minutes to get to Tannery Creek Campground from the entrance. We checked in at the first park entrance booth because we had seen check-in information posted there. I noticed staff members were working at the second entrance booth in front of the campgrounds the day we departed.

Site 164 (and others) - Tannery Creek Campground

Site 164 is the only site in Tannery Creek campground that is close to the water, and is described as accommodating a 30' RV. The only other two sites with similar criteria are sites 166 and 167. Site 166 is on the opposite side of the loop, so the camper door and awning would not be facing Little Traverse Bay after parking. The camper would be facing the bay on site 167; however, this site is at the end of the loop, so the road runs between the site and the beach. Sites 133 and 137 also look like good choices for this kind of setup, although they are only listed as accommodating a 25' camper. We thought both sites looked big enough for a 30' camper, and the site lengths are listed as 35' and 40'. I am not sure why they are designated for only 25' campers.
View of site 164 from beach area

Friday, May 27, 2016

Northern Lower Michigan / Wilderness State Park in Carp Lake, Michigan

May 2016, Weekend-Weekdays, 3-nights, Lakeshore site 88

View NE from site 88
This was our first visit to Wilderness State Park. It looked like there were several great campsites in the Lakeshore section, and we had a difficult time choosing one. I initially looked at the east Lakeshore section, as there are more 30' sites in that area. We then decided upon site 88 in the west section, and made a reservation online a few months in advance. You can find more photos and information about campsites and this park in the Wilderness Park Facebook album.

Arrival and check-in

Getting to Wilderness State Park was about a 10-mile drive along the straits from Mackinaw City. The road from Mackinaw City/I-75 was in pretty good condition, although Cecil Bay Road and M-31 south when we departed were in deplorable condition! 

The office was not staffed when we arrived, and we used the yellow phone to check-in. A sign posted on the building said something about the water not being on, and that water could be obtained from headquarters. We had a full tank of fresh water, so I did not pay much attention to the information during check-in. The sign had been removed when we walked by a couple of days later.

View NW from site 88

Site 88

All of the waterfront sites in the Lakeshore sections have a great view of the straits. Site 88 is sandy with a bit of grass. It is slightly unlevel, although not unmanageable. There was one tree located near the road, which did not present a problem, as the site is wide enough to park sideways. The tree is visible in photos on the Michigan DNR reservation web page.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Grayling, Michigan / Hartwick Pines State Park - campground and hiking trails, Grayling Bicycle Trail, and Downtown Breweries

May 2016, Weekday-weekend, 2-nights, Site 12

We stayed in Hartwick Pines State Park on lot 99 in October 2015. Additional campground, hiking, and area information can be found at the following links: state park blog post, bicycle turnpike blog post, and Grayling, Michigan Facebook album. Following is new and/or different information that I did not provide before. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Cadillac, Michigan / William Mitchell State Park, lakes, trails, Clam Lake Beer Company in downtown Cadillac

May 2016, Weekend, 2-nights, Lot 41

Sunrise view from inside camper on lot 41
We camped in William Mitchell State Park on lot 102 in September 2014. You can find more state park information in that blog post, and in the Cadillac, Michigan Facebook album. In this post, I am sharing more details about lot 41, and information that was new or different than we experienced in 2014.


I have learned that check-in is not the same at all State of Michigan campgrounds during the off-season. When the ranger station is not staffed upon arrival, you need to read the posted instructions to see how to proceed. Some campground instructions say to use the yellow phone to check-in, even when you have a reservation, and some have a list of incoming campers posted with instructions to proceed to your site. I think that is why we encountered confusion when we camped in Fayette! I must have missed the instructions when we arrived at that campground. This time, our reservation was posted with instructions telling us to proceed to our lot.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Sacramento, California - SMF Airport / Holiday Inn Express & Suites Sacramento Airport Natomas

April 2016, Weekday, 1-night, 2-Queen beds guestroom 313

I have previously stayed in two SMF airport hotels: Fairfield Inn & Suites, not located near this hotel, and Homewood Suites, which is located next to this Holiday Inn Express. I chose Holiday Inn Express this time because they offered 24-hour shuttle service, and they had the best rate.
Sunset from guestroom over Homewood Suites - where I stayed in 2012

Arrival and status perks

I do not expect to receive a guestroom upgrade every time I stay in a hotel, and that is not the factor the most affects my satisfaction. I did not receive an upgraded guestroom during this stay, and my experience at this hotel was better than it had been at the other hotels I have stayed in in this area. 

Sign where I waited for the shuttle

Sacramento, California / Embassy Suites by Hilton Sacramento Riverfront Promenade

April 2016, Weekend/weekday, 3 nights, 2 double beds - guestroom #712

View from guestroom 712

Arrival and status perks

I arrived at the Embassy Suites from the airport after dark (around 10:00 p.m.) on a Sunday evening. My updated Garmin GPS could not find the hotel address when I entered it; however, after I did a search for the hotel name, it came up--with the exact same address I had been inputting! Go figure.

My key packet had not been prepared, and the front desk agent did not tell me what kind of guestroom she was assigning me. I inquired about the guestroom and floor, and she said she was assigning me a double bed suite on the 5th floor. I asked if this hotel has a Hilton Honors floor, or if a guestroom was available on the top floor. She reassigned me a room on the 7th floor (this hotel has 8 floors), although she did not answer my question about a Hilton Honors floor. When I asked about a different guestroom type, she curtly said, "That's the room type you reserved." Wow! She did not even offer me the option to pay for an upgrade. I would have reserved a king bed guestroom to begin with, if the cost had not been ridiculously high for my 3-night stay. It was almost $200 a night for a room with two double beds, and $28 more for a king guestroom.

I received the 500 bonus points in my profile for my on-property Gold perk; however, I did not receive two bottles of water. I should have asked for them the next morning, as the employee working in the early mornings was more accommodating than the employee who assisted me at check-in.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada ~ Attraction Information and Photos

April 2016, Weekend visit, 2 days


I am sharing information from our April visit to Niagara Falls in Ontario, Canada. Some of the sights we visited were Queen Victoria Park, The Stranded Scow, Hornblower Niagara Cruise,  Journey Behind the Falls, and Oakes Garden.

More information and photos can be found in the Niagara Falls Facebook album, and pictures can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Holiday Inn and Quality Hotel 
located across Murray Street from casino 


We stayed in the Hilton Niagara Falls - Fallsview Hotel & Suites. Other than the steep hike back up Murray Street, it was an easy walk to the falls and excursions from this hotel. The walk up the hill was a lot steeper than it looks in the photo below. We walked up and down this street a few times, and we never saw many others going uphill.

View of American Falls from pedestrian bridge across
Murray St. - between Fallsview Casino and Skylon Tower 
Some of the other hotels in this area include: Four Points by SheratonFallsview Casino Resort (across Fallsview Blvd. from the Hilton with a covered walkway to the Hilton and Sheraton on level 5), Embassy Suites, Marriott Fallsview & Spa, Marriott on the FallsComfort Inn (not sure about the view), Holiday Inn (no view), and Quality Hotel (no view).