Summer Trip Planning

I don’t know about you, but our winter whizzed by. Even though the weather here in Phoenix was cooler and wetter than usual, we still had a very fun and active season. This was the longest stretch of time that we remained camped in one place since Al and I moved into the RV full-time back in June of 2013. Wow, just saying that … I can’t believe we’re close to completing six years of full-time RV living. So much for doing this for just a year or two!

wildflowers in Arizona, summertime, spring flowers

Although we have slowed down our travels, we are in no way close to giving up the RV lifestyle. And as much as our seven-month stay in Phoenix was awesome, that hitch itch is starting to set in and summer trip planning is in full swing.

Our plans for the summer

So, where are we going this summer? We’ll be working our way from Arizona toward northern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. We have a few stops in mind, but our main destination will be visiting family in Wisconsin. We had such a great, albeit short, visit with family when they came out to Arizona for our son’s wedding, that we all realized a lengthier family reunion needs to be arranged.

For our excursion, there won’t be any advanced RV reservations made on our part. Instead, we’ll travel in our preferred winging it fashion. I already know that staying in picturesque state parks probably won’t be in the plans unless we get lucky snagging a last-minute cancellation. There really is a method to my madness and reasoning behind not making reservations – we don’t want a schedule. The whole reason we travel via our RV is the freedom it affords us, and making commitments takes some of the fluidity out of the equation.

Monument Valley, road trip, summer trip planning

Since we expect most RV parks and campgrounds to be full during the summer months (I did try making some reservations to no avail. State Parks are already all booked up), we’re counting on staying with family, friends, casinos, and wherever else we can find a place to park. I assure you, that first year out on the road, there was no way I could’ve traveled like this. I had such a fear of being homeless … fear of not finding a place to camp that I had a well-planned calendar complete with reservations for the first six months and beyond.

First stop Colorado

distance between two cities, our summer road trip, trip planningOur first two days on the road will include more driving than Al and I have done in over a year. We do have a reason or two for our plan to drive from Phoenix, Arizona to Pueblo, Colorado in two days (752 miles/1210 km)

First off, we know this route like the back of our hands. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve traveled this very route ever since our son moved to Phoenix, Arizona back in 2009, and we still lived in Pueblo West, Colorado. We used to make the drive in one long day, but that was without pulling the RV. With the RV in tow, we’ll definitely break it up into a two-day drive.

We won’t have time to dilly or dally along the way since our main focus will be dealing with our storage units (plural, unfortunately) in Pueblo, Colorado. The goal is to purge our stuff down to one unit. And who knows how much time we’ll need to deal with this daunting task. 😕

Fingers crossed that we get the work out-of-the-way quickly and we can get on with the summer fun!

Slowing down

With the storage unit task behind us, we’ll slow our travels down to a more enjoyable pace and work our way up to South Dakota where we hope to mooch-dock on private property with fellow RVers, Jim and Barb. Treats are in their future. 🥧🍹🍪

Jim and I have followed each other’s blogs for several years and have also communicated via email and Facebook. For now, they remain cyber friends with plans to finally meet in person. I love these internet connections, and we’ve developed some amazing friendships via this lifestyle and social media platform.

pronghorn aka antelope

Our length of stay with Jim and Barb will kind of be up to them, but I promise, it won’t be more than a week. What’s that saying … Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days! However, Jim and Barb are avid angler’s and probably aren’t bothered by the smell of fish and therefore, hopefully, we won’t be kicked off their property at that three-day mark. 🐟

Moving on

summer road trip, trip planning, distance between citiesAfter our Black Hills, South Dakota visit, we’ll meander our way toward Hayward, Wisconsin with the intent of arriving before the long 4th of July weekend. Yeah, we don’t want to get stuck out on the road somewhere without reservations over this busy travel time of year.

See, I still do stress about traveling without reservations especially when heading east. Somehow my free-spirited western mind reverts back to that Chicago gal who plans every detail down to the last minute. Oh, and let’s not get into my German heritage where we vill be on time! Boy, I’ve changed. Let me count the ways, I love thee, RV life 😏

So, the plan is to be comfortably parked on Al’s sister’s property in Wisconsin where we’ll be on and off from early July until sometime in mid to late September.

Again, not wanting to overstay our welcome, Al and I plan to do a little out and back from sister’s property to explore in this part of the Midwest all summer long. It has been many, many years since we were last in this area, and we’re looking forward to revisiting some favorite spots along with exploring new ones.

Preparing the RV for travel

Considering the past twelve months we’ve driven very little, Al and I are in serious road travel preparation mode and that includes making sure the RV and truck are in tip-top shape for our anticipated 5,000-mile (guesstimate) road trip.

RV warranty, Will your RV break down, do RV's breakdown, RV repairs

The truck has already had some major work completed and the RV is being spruced up including a new set of shoes. She’s been outfitted with four new tires and two new spare tires. Unfortunately, Al and I are experienced when it comes to blown tires. Seems to be our thing! Experience has taught us to travel with two spares. 😆 I’m sure glad we can laugh about it!

Our long list of to-dos is slowly dwindling and with the southwest weather starting to heat up with temperatures already nearing the 100-degree Fahrenheit range (37c), we’ll be more than ready to roll come the end of May. If it weren’t for a few lingering appointments, i.e. dental, etc., we’d be on the road today.

Recommendations, suggestions from you?

Okay, now that you know what our tentative plans are for the summer, I’d love your help. I’d appreciate any recommendations for places to camp especially any Indian Casinos in Wisconsin and upper Michigan or other options to camp that might have openings … boondocking, mooch-docking, parking lots, we’re not picky. We just don’t like heavily wooded sites, or shall I say, our RV roof doesn’t like trees. Speaking from experience, RV roof boo-boos are no fun. They can be costly and time-consuming. So, we’ll pass on the trees and leave them for everyone else to enjoy 🌳🌲🍃

Also, I’m in that time gate where I don’t mind making reservations since I have a better handle on our schedule (August, September, and late July – we’ll need parking just for a few days here and there because we plan on returning to stay with family in Hayward, WI).

How about things to see and do in northern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula? I do know, we’ll want to revisit Mackinac Island and may want to overnight at a B&B on the island. Last time Al and I did that was in the early 1980s. 😳 Am I really that old? I revisited Mackinac Island with my daughter in 2011 and we regretted not overnighting on the island.

Mackinac Island, summer road trip, visit Michigan, island vacation
Me biking on Mackinac Island in 2011

Pictured Rocks and Tahquamenon Falls are a couple of places I’d like to visit, but not sure where we’ll find an available campsite.

I’m all ears! Please leave your suggestions in the comments below or feel free to email me anytime at livelaughrv@hotmail.com.  Thanks in advance AND if anyone is interested in meeting up, let’s see if our schedules can match up.

Happy travels everyone! Anyone have an epic trip planned this summer?

South Dakota badlands, summer road trip, RVing in South Dakota
Camped in the Badlands, South Dakota 2015

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68 thoughts on “Summer Trip Planning

    1. Thank you. I’m really looking forward to the summer excursion but am glad we’re still in the valley. I love seeing the saguaro bloom! 🌵

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  1. My only recommendation is don’t come to Florida during summer unless you like oppressive heat and humidity, lol. I’m still dreaming of seeing the desert in springtime. Wherever you go what ever you do, enjoy.

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  2. For our summer visits to Pictured Rocks we use Jack’s Pine Lodge Campground. We have always been able to get in on short notice during the week. The weekends can take a week or two of advanced notice. Nice park in a very remote location but only 25 minutes to the park. Hope you have a great summer!

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  3. We too are about to finish our 6th year fulltime. And here I have our summer all planned out, you’re a lot braver in winging it than I am. But we’ve reaped the rewards of advance planning in some great sites this spring. We have 2 weeks reserved at Cheyenne Mtn SP in October, that’s the furthest out we have reservations. Jim and Barb are fun people, one day we’ll get a longer visit in with them, be careful, they may put you to work. Sounds like a great summer planned without planning.

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    1. There are times it is definitely worth all the planning and reservation making and if we weren’t staying with family and friends, I would’ve made at least a few reservations. It’s laying out to be a fun summer, let’s hope it is! You know how RV life can be …. full of unexpected surprises 😄

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  4. Another vote here for visiting the headwaters of the Mississippi in Itasca State Park, MN. Memorable experience, awesome state park and excellent dinner at the Douglas Lodge there. Hit the headwaters really early in the morning or early evening for a magical (uncrowded) visit. A couple of Michigan don’t misses in my opinion (aside from Pictured Rocks, of course) – the Soo Locks in Sault St. Marie (fascinating and impressive) and Sleeping Bear Dunes on the state’s west coast (just gorgeous and lots of fun). If you go to SBD and stop in the lovely little town of Glen Arbor, be sure to visit the Cherry Republic (lots of tasty samples of everything cherry and a delicious and creative lunch menu). Another vote, too, for Bay Furnace Campground on the U.P. It’s beautifully situated right on Lake Superior. I know you prefer open sites but I think you’d be pleased with the one we had. It’s a National Forest campground and can be reserved via recreation.gov. Traveling for business today but, if you’re interested, I’ll see if I can identify our site number when I get home – just let me know if you want it. Bay Furnace is near Munising and I remember there being a casino just down the road – don’t know whether or not overnight parking is allowed. Sounds like a spectacular summer is in the works for you and Al, Ingrid – already can’t wait to read your posts!

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    1. Thank you Mary. I always appreciate your input. We won’t be crossing the Mackinac Bridge during this excursion, but I concur, Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes and Glen Arbor are lovely. I’ll check the website for Bay Furnace and Itasca SP shortly. 🙏

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  5. Hey Ingrid, glad to see you are back on the move. A good option for the Pictured Rocks is the Bay Furnace National Forest Campground. It’s first come, first served and is all dry camping. You should have a good chance of getting in there. It’s wooded, but we fit with our 38 foot fifth wheel. If you can get into Tahquamenon Falls State Park, that is your best bet. You really have to swim in the Lower Falls, you can swim right under the waterfall! Have fun!

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  6. Looks like a wonderful summer in Wisconsin, one of my favorite state. If looking for campgrounds and reviews, be sure to check Steve’s map with corresponding notes of the park we stayed when we were in those areas you plan to visit.
    Jim and Barb will be happy to have a few helpers or supervisors for a few days 🙂

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    1. Ah, good advice about Steve’s map. I will check it out. I remember you guys warning us about the trees at Devils Lake SP … we still managed to incur roof damage 😥 It’s always fun connecting with fellow bloggers. I have no doubt we’ll have a great time.

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  7. Looking forward to finally meeting the two of you! Although we will be busy building we will for sure be able to sneak away for some adventures and perhaps a photography lesson or two!

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  8. Your summer plans sound fun and I have to agree with you wholeheartedly about leaving an open schedule while traveling, Ingrid. Had we not had those reservations in Sedona on our trip, we could have avoided the snow and stayed in your area a few more days. A good lesson and our trailer can boondock with the best of them. Say hi to Al and have a great week!

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    1. Yep, I love being flexible. Although these days with RVing being so popular, reservations have become a necessity under most circumstances. I’m glad we have family property as our main place to stay. And hi to Hans 😃

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    1. Thank you so much for the suggestions. We’ll definitely look into visiting Ashland. Seems like you had another fun stay at Betty’s. Safe travels and thanks again!

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  9. Sounds like your Summer plans are in motion. I love seeing all the places you adventure to and cannot wait for updates/photos. We are actually traveling back to MN (where we grew up) for a Family Wedding in July. It has been too long. Some family and friends we have not seen since our Wedding in June 2004. Amazing that much time has passed! Mister Man stated we may need to wear name tags so they know who we are – ha! – funny one he is. Happy Traveling – Be Safe – ADVENTURE ON!!!

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    1. Yes, you are LONG overdue for a family gathering. Where does the time go? Hopefully you’ll share your MN visit with us. Thank goodness the wedding is in July and not January 😆

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  10. Sounds like you have some wonderful plans for the summer & I love that you are kind of winging it! Toronto is only another 9-10 hour drive from Mackinac Island….just sayin!

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    1. Haha … only a 10 hour drive! I’ll pass it by hubby 😆 I’m already pushing it with Mackinac and now I’m thinking of a Lake Superior loop. But shhh, let’s keep that between us for now!

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  11. Ingrid, what a fun summer you have planned. I love that you don’t want to have a schedule. You will be following a similar route to one we took from the Black Hills to St. Paul a few years ago. We spent one night at Oasis RV Park in Oacoma, SD. Just a gravel parking lot near the interstate but it was available at the last minute. From there we went north to Mina Lake SRA in Aberdeen. The campground was almost empty and we enjoyed it there. Next we discovered Buffalo River SP in Glyndon, MN. It was small but good for an overnight. On another trip we liked Blue Mounds SP in Luverne, MN. Have you been to Itasca State Park in Minnesota to see the headwaters of the Mississippi? In the UP we loved Porcupine Mountains SP.

    If there are any corps of engineers parks along the way you might be able to get a site during the week.

    Looking forward to following you along in your adventures!

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    1. Awesome Beth! Thanks so much for the ideas. I’ll be sure and jot them down in my travel notebook. I have not seen the Mississippi River headwaters – great idea. My list is growing and my husband’s eyes are rolling 😆

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  12. We whittled our two storage units down to one last year. I don’t envy you that task, although it does feel good after the fact. I also don’t have any suggestions for your upcoming travels since we haven’t made it to those states yet (we’re super slow travelers), but I do look forward to seeing where you end up.

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    1. We too are slow travelers … nothing wrong with that. Just thinking about the storage units gets me emotional. I’m hoping I’m finally able to let go of some things – most centered around the kids being little.

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  13. Well, there’s always iOverlander for boondocking. 🙂 It’ll be our trusty companion this summer as we never make reservations (or pay for camping). Like you, we love our freedom and loose schedules. Our goal is to make it to Massachusetts by July 10th. Maybe we will swing by some friends over 4th July weekend as well. But, that would require planning. 🙂

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    1. Thanks, I think you told me about iOverlander once before. I just signed up and already discovered some options. Hope you’re enjoying NM. I’m still awed (jealous) that you hiked The Wave!

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  14. Sounds like a lot of fun! My friend and I are winging it in June for a photography trip to the Badlands, SD and the Black Hills area. No reservations! Keeps things interesting for sure. Can’t wait to hear about your summer travels!

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    1. I love the Badlands. Last time we were there, the sky was covered in a dull haze from forest fires in Montana. I’m hoping for better photo-ops this time around. Will you be camping or hoteling during your trip?

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  15. I’ll keep an eye out for your posts this summer. We’ve not traveled east yet so I’m interested in all there is to see and do. Have a safe and trouble free adventure.

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  16. Sounds like a plan. Especially like that you’re going to wing in a bit on the way without reservations. A bit daunting I know, but having a reservation and then coming across the ideal place to stay for a while is such a pain. Not having a firm schedule is what it’s all about…. Good luck with the storage sheds, and travel safe.

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  17. Six years of full timing is great! We are inspired by you and others who have been full timing for years. We just parked next to a couple who have been on the road 19 years. We are getting close to two years and loving it. We are constantly asked “how long?” We just answer, “till we don’t”.

    Can’t help much for your summer plans. We have little experience with Wisconsin and Michigan. I have backpacked on Isle Royale NP on Lake Superior but you can’t take your camper and you must take a boat or seaplane to the island. Look forward to see where you end up visiting.

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    1. Congrats on the two years. Yeah, we thought we’d only full-time a year or two but the lifestyle can be addicting. Everytime we think we’re ready for a sticks and bricks, we realize we’re not 😆
      It’s funny, I’m working on my list of places to visit up there and wondering if 2 1/2 months will be enough time. May have to go back next summer too!

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  18. Ingrid, concerning camping in the U.P.; there’s a small township campground on Carp lake in Trout Lake, MI ( Trout Lake Township Park) that may work for you. The sites have 30 amp hookups. There’s a place to take on water &/or dump your tanks. It also has modern restrooms. It’s a favorite campground of my family’s. It’s a convenient location for day trips to Tahquamenon Falls, the Soo Locks, Kitch-iti-kipi, or to St. Ignace to catch a ferry to Mackinac Island. It will also work for a trip to Pictured Rocks Nat.’l Lakeshore but it’ll take a little longer to get there. ( We have done it in the past). You shouldn’t have a problem securing a site Sunday night through Friday morning. Weekends are trickier because the locals like to camp there. However depending on who answers the phone, you may be able to secure a reservation. You may need to keep calling to get someone as the office isn’t manned regularly & leaving a call back # won’t net you a return call.
    FYI since you’re coming from WI to MI if you’ve never toured Michigan’s Keewenaw peninsula it’s worth seeing. The rugged beauty of Lake Superior’s coastline is breathtaking, especially around Eagle Harbor & Copper Harbor. Be advised, WiFi & cell phones may not work in most areas.
    – Gayle from As Time Goes….Bye

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    1. Thank you Gayle. I appreciate the information and have made notes in my travel notebook. I’m really looking forward to exploring some new territory this summer and revisiting some favorites. Hope you have a great summer and be sure and let me know if you’ll be in the area.

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  19. Do you belong to Boondocker s and RV GOLF Club–both are great sites for over night camping. Dont miss Door Peninsula near Green Bay–but camping is a premium. Also tour of the green Bay Packers Stadium is very interesting. We went north from there and toured the Upper Peninsula and really enjoyed the Sioux Locks and the museum. Down the other side into Grand Forks and tour Jerry Ford Presidential Museum. Love following you!

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    1. Thank you Cindy. I appreciate the ideas. We toured Door County in 2015 and loved it. We’re Elks Lodge Members and have used them a lot. When joining other sites, we always need to weigh how frequently we’ll use the membership. So, we’re still pondering our options 😊 Thanks again!

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  20. I haven’t been through that area when it was warm enough to have a campground open. I recall there being many of them, including many state parks when we passed through. If you are felling adventurous you might want to consider a drive around Lake Superior. It’s mostly wild and free not he Canadian side and there are many places to stop for pictures. If you do, be certain to take in two things near Nipigon. One is the amethyst mines where you can pick your own amethysts from the slag piles or buy stunningly beautiful carved amethyst relatively inexpensively. Also follow be sure to follow the number 11 north of Nipigon for a bit and you’ll see a stunning beautiful rift valley with some of the finest palisade cliffs I have ever seen. And don’t miss Kakebeca falls near Thunder Bay. There’s lots of camping including many places that you can boondock in and many wonderful sites and sounds. You could do it inside of week and still see a lot.

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    1. Amethysts? Well, you caught my attention. We love Ontario and actually honeymooned near Eagle-Dogtooth Provincial Park. When we lived in IL, our summer vacations were spent along the Canadian border north of Grand Marais MN. I’d love to re-explore the northern shores of Lake Superior. Thanks for the great ideas 😀

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      1. Our favourite mine is called Amethyst Mine Panorama and our son found an amethyst as big as his fist in the slag heap one trip. He got it professional cut and polished and it is stunningly beautiful. There is more than one mine. There is also a government publication on the various palisades in the area.

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  21. Hi, Ingrid – Your summer travel plans sound perfect! I love having an open and flexible schedule, so I also avoid making too many reservations in advance. Unfortunately, I do not have any recommendations for you. Do you follow Liesbet and Mark at Roaming About? They may have some great suggestions for you!

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    1. I’m hopeful it’ll be a fun summer exploring some new and old places alike. I’ve got a notebook of ideas started. We met Liesbet and Mark in March and had a great time visiting. Your trip sounds amazing!

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    1. Please do! I’ve already spent some time on your site refreshing myself with some of your UP explorations. A meet up (or two) in person would be awesome. Our next two weeks are pretty busy so PM me as soon as you know what you’re doing in northern AZ and we’ll try and coordinate a get together.

      Liked by 1 person

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