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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Muskegon, Michigan / Fisherman's Landing Campground, Lakeshore Trail, downtown, Pere Marquette Beach

June 2016, Weekday-weekend, 3-nights, Site 42 at Fisherman's Landing

Sunset from site 42

We have frequently visited the Muskegon area and we have been to Fisherman's Landing before this stay, although this was our first time camping at Fisherman's Landing.

Reservations and check-in

I had a difficult time finding campground information for this park before our stay. The City of Muskegon owns the land and operates the boat launch ramps in the park. Fisherman's Landing operates the campground area, and I could not find a campground webpage other than their Facebook page. Since the city of Muskegon is not involved in the campground operation, we were not able to make a campsite reservation until the campground opened in the spring. This was not a problem since the campground was not full during our stay, and site numbers were not assigned when reservations were made.

On the day of our arrival, the office was open until 5:00 p.m. We arrived before closing time and checked in, which took several minutes. There was a locked gate at the campground entrance, so we let our friends in, when they arrived after closing. They completed check-in the next day. A few campers arrived after hours on Saturday evening, so they must have also made arrangements with someone beforehand. Some of the people who work at the campground also stay there, so I imagine it is not difficult to make arrangements, if you will be arriving after hours.

View from site 42 when we first arrived
Bathhouse and playground in the distance

Sites 41 and 42

We stayed on site 42, and our friends camped on site 41. Both sites were spacious and grassy, although there were no trees on either site. Water and electricity hookup was available on all of the sites except in the tenting area.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Midland County, Michigan / Black Creek State Forest Campground, Sanford Lake, Pere Marquette Rail Trail

June 2016, Weekday-weekend, 3-nights, Black Creek State Forest Campground, Site #21

This was first attempt to camp in a state forest campground since we switched from camping in a pickup truck camper to a fifth wheel. It had been much easier to find a suitable site when camping in a pickup truck camper, because we did not need as much room. Black Creek State Forest Campground says that it has 15 sites that will accommodate a 40' vehicle/camper, so we decided to go on Thursday night, and we hoped for the best.
Path down to water from site 21

Arrival and check-in

Michigan State Forest Campgrounds are not staffed, and they do not take reservations. This campground has three loops with several sites on the water. After driving through all three loops, we settled on site 21 at the east end of the campground. The cost to camp was $13 a night, which we deposited in the locked pole with our registration envelope. You also need a Michigan Recreation Passport to enter this park, which is $11 a year for Michigan residents. Someone must have retrieved the registration envelopes and confirmed registered campers during our stay. Before the end of the weekend, we noticed that our departure date had been written in large lettering with marker on the registration paper we had attached to our campsite pole.

Site 21

Since site 21 is at the east end of the campground, it is the closest site to N. West River Road. This made for the easiest access to Sanford Lake by water; however, we were then also closer to the traffic on West River Road. There are many trees in the entire campground, so the traffic noise was not too bothersome. A camper running his chainsaw for over an hour Saturday evening was considerably more annoying than any traffic we heard!

View of Black Creek from site 21

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Traverse City, Michigan / Hotel Indigo

June 2016, Weekend, 1-night, King bay view guestroom #432

Sunrise from guestroom 432
I had to put forth quite a bit of effort to secure a room at the new Hotel Indigo, as the opening date had been delayed several times. I had previous reservations, which I ended up having to cancel and then re-book each time the hotel did not open. I was unsure the hotel was going to be open for this stay up until about a week before our stay.

Arrival, check-in, status perks

The address for this hotel is on W. Grandview Parkway; however, the [drive] entrance is on Hall Street. You can enter from the sidewalk on W. Grandview Parkway, if you are walking. If you are arriving by car via US-31 from the south, I suggest taking Front Street to Hall Street before you get to W. Grandview Parkway. I observed a few parking spots near the hotel entrance, when we arrived. I assume the spots are for staff members or guests visiting the restaurant, although there were no signs in the parking lot. We were told the only parking option was valet parking for $12 a night. 

I observed two agents working at the front desk when we entered the spacious lobby. One agent was assisting a guest, and the other agent was on the telephone. The check-in process was quick, after I was greeted a couple of minutes later. The agent recognized my status, and my key packet had already been prepared. She did not ask what I wanted for my Platinum perk, and I forgot about this until later. I inquired about this when I stopped at the front desk later that evening. The agent working at that time asked which perk I wanted, and I told him I wanted the points. I did not receive the points when my stay was credited to my IHG account, so I am planning to submit an inquiry, if I do not receive it in the next few days. This is not usually processed with the overnight stay; however, I usually receive the points around the same time or before I check out. This hotel did not appear to be full, and I did not receive a room upgrade.

Guestroom descriptions from website

Guestroom 432

This guestroom is located on the top floor near the east end of the hall. It felt like we had walked into an icebox when we entered the guestroom, so I quickly located the thermostat to turn off the air. The temperature had been set on 66°F!

The information on the hotel website for this room type is inaccurate (see screen shots above), as our guestroom did not have a sofa, fireplace, or dining room table. Looking at the guestroom diagram, it looks like there are three types of bay view guestrooms on the 4th floor; two king bay view rooms, one smaller room (possibly a queen), and seven bay view connecting room suites. Any picture in this blog can be enlarged by clicking on it.

Guestroom diagram

The tile bathroom in guestroom 432 was spacious. It contained a decent size vanity, toilet, and large walk-in shower. The lighting in the bathroom was not very bright; hopefully, a small lighted makeup mirror will be added to this guestroom. 

Aveda bath amenities were provided on the vanity, along with several plush towels and washcloths. A hairdryer was not provided in this guestroom. It is possible some items were still being added to the guestrooms, as the hotel had just opened the weekend before our stay.

We loved the large shower, although the water pressure from the water-saving shower head was so light that it took me a while to get the shampoo rinsed out of my long hair. The sliding wood bathroom door was trendy and cool looking. The wood door is partially visible [in the mirror] in the photo of the coffee setup.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Traverse City and Leelanau Peninsula, Michigan / Breweries, Wineries, downtown, area information

May and June 2016

L. Mawby Winery
Following is information about some of the breweries and wineries around Traverse City and Leelanau Peninsula. We visited these locations during our stay at Traverse City State Park in May, and during our stay at the new Hotel Indigo in June.

How do you decide which wineries and breweries to visit?

There are so many choices in the Grand Traverse Bay area, that it is difficult to decide which wineries and breweries to visit. Especially, in only four or five days time. We made our decisions based on value, prior visit experience (if any), and proximity to where we were staying or traveling.

Michigan Brewvine Passports and TC Ale Trail Atlases
Factors that impacted our value perception were the Michigan Brewvine Passports, Traverse City Ale Trail Atlases, and I had won free tastings for four at L. Mawby Winery via Michigan by the Bottle.

Traverse City and Leelanau Breweries

We visited Rare Bird Brew Pub by bicycle from Traverse City State Park. It was pretty easy to get to the pub, other than the ride down Eighth Street with traffic. There was a bicycle rack on the sidewalk in front of the brewery. The atmosphere inside was pleasant and comfortable. They had many brews on tap, although only a few of them were their brews. This location is listed on the Traverse City Ale Trail, and they have discounts in the Brewvine Passport. After this stop, we had planned to stop at Big Toe Brewery next door, for the extra credit stamp on the Traverse City Ale Trail; however, that brewery has gone out of business.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Traverse City, Michigan / State Park, Bicycle Trail, Downtown, Breweries, Wineries

May 2016, Weekend-weekday, 3-nights, Site 19

Park beach located across US-31

This was our first time camping in Keith J. Charters Traverse City State Park. We chose this park because of the area and paved bicycle trail behind the park.

Arrival and check-in

We observed employees working in the park, although the check-in station was not manned when we arrived. I was surprised, as it was a Friday, and the check-in booth had been staffed when we departed from Petoskey State Park earlier that day. The sign did not say we needed to check-in via the yellow telephone, if we had a reservation. We wanted to add an extra night to our stay, so I used the phone to check-in and add the extra night.

Site 19

Site 19 is located near the bicycle trail, and pretty close to one of the playgrounds. We do not usually choose a site by the playground, since we do not have young children. We chose this site because it is partially sunny, and it is one of the larger sites with privacy trees. We were not concerned about activity in the playground before Memorial weekend in May. After we arrived, we saw that there were no swings on the swing sets behind this site. I presume they had been removed over the winter and had not been hung back up yet. A few trees at the back of the site provide some privacy from the playground.

Site 19