A Great Lake – Michigan

On June 22, we moved to Ohio.  We stayed at National Road Campground in Zanesville, Ohio for a week, visiting with some friends, the Hoffmans.  We had met the Hoffmans over 4 years ago in 2016 while we lived in McKinney, Texas and they lived nearby in Richardson, Texas.  They recently moved to Ohio a few years ago to be closer to family.  We went over to their house a few times, and they came over to our RV park once.  The RV park had a playground with swings and a cornhole (bean bag toss game) area, so we played there.  Mr. Josh made his famous bacon grease popcorn.

We also saw our first Tim Horton’s here in Zanesville since Canada last year in 2019.  We didn’t realize Tim Horton’s was in the states and were thrilled to get coffee there!

On June 28, we moved to Bear Cave RV Campground in Buchanan, Michigan.  This general area is known to locals as Michiana (a combination of Michigan and Indiana) because the areas blend into each other around the state boarder here.  Locals go back and forth to shop, eat out, and recreate.  In this area, there are lots of fruit farms (blueberries were in season when we were there as well as cherries) as well as fruit farm stands and U-picks.  It’s a very pretty area but also very crowded as many locals and tourists flock to the beach along the shores of Lake Michigan during the summer heat.

On July 3, we went to an Indiana Dunes National Park in nearby Indiana.  The national park stretches 15 miles around the southern shore of Lake Michigan and is known for its sand dunes.  The state park area with beach access (which is within the national park) was packed this holiday weekend with a huge line of cars down the main road, so we opted to drive to a different area of the national park: the Paul H. Douglas Center for Environmental Education.  Here we learned more about Indiana Dunes and did junior ranger books.  Later in the day, we took a scenic shoreline drive within the national park and got to see the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair Century of Progress Homes, which were built at that time to show the modern houses that could be built, with materials like glass, and with things like dishwashers and air conditioners.

After that, we went to Pullman National Monument in Chicago, Illinois.  We were given a tour by a ranger and learned about the Pullman area.  George Pullman designed sleeping cars that were comfortable and luxurious for railroads.  As demand for his cars grew, Pullman bought land and started a model town.  He designed his town to be beautiful, clean, and orderly, and he allowed only his workers to live there (while paying rent).  By the day’s standards, it was a very nice town, far above other towns’ standards.  However, Pullman put strict rules over the town, even to where tenants had to ask permission to plant flowers in their front yard.

When the demand for Pullman’s cars went down, Pullman decreased his workers’ wages without decreasing their rent.  This led to strikes and boycotts, which were sometimes violent, and they spread across America.  Pullman died in 1897, the Pullman Company was ordered to sell all non-industrial holdings, and Robert Todd Lincoln became the new president of the company.  Eventually, sleeping cars on railroads were no longer needed.  Pullman’s model town was a failure.

At the town, we looked at the historic homes and some of the old buildings.  We didn’t go inside, however.  The houses were being rented out.

On July 4, we visited Grand Mere State Park in Stevensville, Michigan.  We took a hike through a marshy forest, over hot sand dunes, and finally arriving at the shores of Lake Michigan.  The sand dunes were really big, and they were also super hot.  Climbing up them was difficult, but running down was fun.  The water of Lake Michigan was refreshingly cool and there were fun waves to swim in (just like the ocean).  However, unlike the ocean, it was freshwater, meaning that it didn’t sting my eyes.  The sand here was very fine and soft.

When we were going back home to our RV park, we found people doing fireworks right outside the park entrance in the residential area.  We were able to pull over and watched them set off tons of big aerial fireworks for about an hour.  There must have been thousands of dollars’ worth of fireworks.  It was like a professional firework show.  At the end, they did a grand finale, which is the video below.  It was a nice ending to our Independence Day.

The next day, July 5, we went to Local Harvest Michigan Fruit Stand, where we bought some local Michigan vegetables, blueberries, and cherries.  (We recently tried the Michigan grown onions from there, and they were super sweet and delicious!)  After that, we went to Warren Dunes State Park in Sawyer, Michigan and stayed on the beach for a few hours.  Just like Indiana Dunes and Grand Mere, Warren Dunes is known for its huge sand dunes and the cool waters of Lake  Michigan.  The sand here was more rocky than the last beach, with small pebble-sized rocks mixed into the sand.