First, in answer to the questions/comments about t-shirt braiding, I present photo exhibits One and Two. Click either photo for an enlarged view. And, no, I can’t explain in words how to do it!
Tee shirt with braided hem trim.
Close up of the hem braiding.
We drove from Hillman to Petoskey yesterday, and settled into Magnus Park (click here to read our review), a small, city-owned campground on the shore of Lake Michigan. We visited Petoskey (and Magnus Park) during our first year of travel (2003) and returned this year because of our fond memories of that visit.
Petoskey is just as appealing as we remembered. Located in a gorgeous part of the state (known as “northwestern lower Michigan”), this small town has done a wonderful job of developing their portion of the Lake Michigan shoreline. From Magnus Park, we walk through an appealing residential area (homes along the lakeshore) to the bike trail, past the marina, through beautiful Bayfront Park, up a flight of stairs and through the pedestrian/bike tunnel under busy US 31, popping out right into downtown Petoskey.
Walking along the bike trail past the marina.
Looking over Bayfront Park to Lake Michigan.
I can’t imagine ever tiring of that walk! But, if we did… we can pick up the bike trail in the other direction and walk through sun and shade along a bluff above the lakeshore. A few stairways lead down the bluff to the beach, or we can rest on a bench or picnic table along the trail, looking out on a lake that seems as big as the ocean. Fantastic.
Flowers liven a sidewalk in Petoskey.
Well maintained buildings downtown.
Over two years ago, in March of 2008, I began a blog of campground reviews, We Called It Home. I’d been keeping detailed descriptions of the campgrounds we visited and realized that a blog would be a great way to save those reviews, with photos, in case my computer crashed (I wasn’t very diligent with computer backups at the time). Since it seemed like other travelers might be interested in the information, I made the blog public, along with an explanation of what we look for in a campground.
The reviews are personal and opinionated. Many of the things vacationers or families might like in a campground are completely unimportant to us (swimming pools, playgrounds, organized activities). Since we are “at home” in a campground, we like space, solid voltage, Verizon service or good WiFi… and I LOVE to find a local NPR station. We like open sky, views, low lighting, and quiet.
Back-to-back visits to Thunder Bay Resort in Hillman (click here to read our review) and Magnus Park in Petoskey made very clear to me the importance of location – the proximity to amenities we enjoy – in our opinion of a campground. It doesn’t end at the campground’s perimeter.
The campground at Thunder Bay Resort is superior to Magnus Park in every way. Thunder Bay’s sites are paved, landscaped, and meticulously maintained. Fifty amps of unwavering electricity, cable TV, and WiFi included in the rate. Each site has not a picnic table, but a “patio” table and chairs (with backs), something you might like to have in your backyard or on a deck at home. Recycling was made easy at a central recycling station. A community firepit and all the wood you wanted to burn was available, along with horseshoe pits and a comfortable bird blind.
Yet… unless you are a golfer, there is not much to do in the immediate vicinity. Walk or ride a bike to Hillman, a small town with no particular attractions for tourists. No nearby lake, no great views, and the nearest major grocery stores are 20 miles away. The campground is highly rated by other campers on rvparkreviews.com, but we would not return unless it was directly on our route. I rated it “Neutral” – we won’t go out of our way to return, but we wouldn’t avoid it, either.
Contrast that with Magnus Park in Petoskey, which I rated as “recommended”. Sites are sloped or lumpy, the roads are in need of (re)paving, the noise from the hospital’s climate control on the bluff above the campground is unceasing, the smell from the sewage treatment plant on the far end of the campground is beyond unappealing when the wind blows the wrong way. No cable TV, no WiFi.
Yet… our satellite TV antenna picked up a signal, and we have a great local NPR station. Electric voltage is solid, though it is only 30 amps. Our site is spacious. Strong Verizon for our phones and aircard.
Best of all: location! Petoskey is so lovely, and we’re camped right on the shore of Lake Michigan, with beautifully developed parks and paths in both directions. Views galore. Good restaurants within walking distance. A grocery store under 2 miles away. Walk to the Friday farmer’s market. Tomorrow we’ll stroll back to town for the annual “Art in the Park” festival.
So, if you read our campground reviews, be warned: we’re not objective, and our likes/dislikes don’t stop at the perimeter of the campground. Context is everything, and our last two stops have made that crystal clear to me!