Two Favorite Parks to Go Camping and a Bit of Our History

by Fred Lux
(Ida, Michigan)

Two Of Our Favorite Campgrounds

Two Of Our Favorite Campgrounds

Editor's Note This story was submitted on our What Is Your Favorite RVing Or Camping Destination Page

Every summer for years in the late '50s and early '60s, my parents took my two siblings and me tent camping for a couple of weeks each summer. Newly married and just out of college in 1970 I decided to introduce my wife to the joys of the outdoors. Not having much money, we visited the local army surplus store and bought the cheapest tent we could find.

Armed with the tent, a Coleman lantern, and a Coleman stove (just like my parents had) we set out to enjoy the great outdoors. After one weekend, and numerous offers of help to take our tent down and put it back up, we headed home ... and straight to the local RV dealer where we purchased our first tent camper. We joined a local chapter of the now-defunct (I think) Travel Trailer Clubs of the Midwest and went on monthly campouts, plus pulled our little Starcraft over much of the Midwest.

Fast forward 40 years. Kids have come, grown-up, and left. Over the years we have towed a total of 3 pop-up campers, a 24 ft travel trailer, and a 30-foot travel trailer.

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After we both retired from teaching, my wife was offered a curatorship at Sauder Historic Village in Archbold, OH. The Village has a campground with spacious sites and full hook-ups. The village itself is a destination, with varied activities throughout the summer. As her job responsibilities for festivals and such evolved, we found ourselves parking the RV on a lot for weeks at a time, so she didn't have to make the 120-mile round trip every day to and from home. She has since retired a second time, but Sauder Village Campground remains one of our favorite camping spots.

Because we have friends and family in the Traverse City, Michigan area, we have found ourselves making multiple trips there each summer. We sampled several of the campgrounds in the area, and even transferred our Coast-to-Coast membership to a park about 80 miles from T.C., the closest we could find in the network.

Eventually, we discovered Timberline Campground Website in Benzonia, Michigan. The campground has over two hundred sites, the majority of which have full hook-ups. The sites are spacious, there is a nice pool and playground area for the kids, and there is lots to do in the area. This became our destination of choice.

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About 4 years ago, we realized that this was the only park we were going to, multiple times during camping season. We found that we could store our rig there for $120 a year, and for a nominal fee they would spot the rig on a campsite for us when we called to make a reservation and have it all leveled and ready to go. All we had to do was hook up the electric, water, and sewer when we arrived. Considering that keeping the RV at home meant towing the rig 500 miles up and back (at 10 mpg) and 5 - 6 hours drive time each way, it seemed like a deal to us, especially since we could drive a fuel-efficient vehicle up and back without the hassle of towing a large travel trailer. So, in 2008, our 30-foot Shasta that was now 10 years old, made what would be its last road trip
from home up to Benzonia, Michigan.

A couple of years ago, we got a call from the park management informing us that a permanent site had become available. Would we like to rent it and have our travel trailer spotted there permanently. We could have a storage shed, even build a deck along one side. Most importantly, we could come and go as the spirit moved us, without having to call and see if a site was available. And of course, we could always pull it off to go on a trip, if we desired, and the site would be there for us when we returned. What a deal. With grandkids that my wife wanted to be around for, and two elderly parents that were our responsibility, being able to take a few days here and there and dash up to the trailer for a few days was just the ticket. I have found that I spend more and more time at the rig during the season than at home. Instead of dashing up to the rig for a few days, I dash home for a few days every couple of weeks. My wife comes when she can work it into her schedule.

The park is family-friendly and pet-friendly. About half of the lots are reserved for full-time lease, and the other half are for those who are looking for an overnight stay, or a week or two. You can spend the evening around your campfire roasting hot dogs or dress up and go to one of the many fine-dining locations in the area. I spend most of the season there now, mid-April to the end of October. There are always things to do from art festivals to the Traverse City Cherry Festival, from Morel Mushroom festivals and asparagus festivals to winery tours and film festivals. And of course, let us not forget some of the best walleye and salmon fishing in the mid-west.

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I went up to Timberline Campground this spring to see how the rig fared in the winter. While there, I drove into Traverse City to the local RV store to pick up some supplies. As I paid for my purchases, the salesman offered to show me a new fifth wheel they had just gotten in. I explained that I used my rig as a destination and wasn't looking for a new rig, but it is always fun to look. Later he asked how I liked it and I allowed that it was nice, but my old 96 1/2-ton pickup wasn't up to the job of pulling it. No problem, he said, we will take it out to your campground and spot it on your lot for you." We will even take your old 1998 travel trailer on trade. I told him that I would have to talk to my wife and if she was interested, I would bring her back to look. There is now a brand-spanking-new 35-foot fifth wheel sitting on my lot. It may never be on the road, which remains to be seen.

If your road ever brings you to Timberline Campground in Benzonia, Michigan, stop by and say Hi. The 35-foot Sabre 5th wheel, with the little Prius parked in front, will be me.

Editor's Note: For more information on The Sauder Village Campground visit the Sauder Village Campground Website. For more information on the Timberline Campground visit the Timberline Campground Website.

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