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August 5, 2020

Startup Issues

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See the itinerary of this trip, and details about each destination.

Why is it that everything that can go wrong occurs on the departure date? The name of the van is a constant reminder that this is the rule rather than the exception. We had found the perfect DC to DC charger made by Victron. Most of our components are Victron, so this would be a nice addition, unfortunately it was only made available this past June. We ordered all the parts back in July but there were delivery delays that caused our inline fuses to be delivered the day of departure. We had everything set to insert the fuses and go. However, the signal wire that was supposed to control the charger refused to drop below 4v. Without a full investigation, we inserted a manual switch, attached the kayak trailer, loaded up the dogs and turned right out of the driveway.

Yup, you read that correctly, we are now attached to a 20' trailer and we have a puppy. The kayak trailer and the Murphy meme came about as a result of us ordering two folding Tucktec kayaks back in April. To poke fun at the frustration caused by supply chain and delivery delays, Tucktec came up with a photo contest with the winner receiving a kayak. Obviously we did not win the kayak, nor did we receive our kayaks before our departure date. However, the kayaks and trailer are causing less concern than Bodie, our 3 month old puppy. His nickname is the "Urinator" and it is a well deserved moniker. So we are now traveling without a heater, but have kayaking equipment, a dog crate, and a 2 hour potty count-down. 20200729_081726.jpgTucktec.jpg
We made it to West Branch State Park in Ohio without problem and found our site overlooking the water with a walk down to the rock strewn beach. Even Sera was a little daunted by all the rocks. We walked the park and found it to be fairly nice with some large and private sites. Quiet night with plans to visit Cuyahoga NP tomorrow

Posted by LifeWithMurphy 07:00 Archived in USA Comments (0)

August 6, 2020

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With this being the first time we have towed a trailer, I was somewhat concerned about finding RV parking. Turns out that Cuyahoga has RV parking at the Boston Mills Visitor Center and we were the only ones there at 8:30 in the morning. The main facilities were closed, but an open air pavilion would be open at 10:00, complete with Park Rangers. We parked the kayak trailer and drove over to Brandywine Falls. The falls were pretty, but nothing spectacular (we have many beautiful waterfalls in the Finger Lakes). We drove over to the Ledges and enjoyed that hike much more. It reminded me of Kentucky's Carter Caves. It had rock ledges, with lots of trees and conifers growing in the most unexpected places. The coolness was restful and the views were pleasant. We drove back to the Boston Mills Visitor Center and decided to work on the Jr. Ranger program. They have a really cool scavenger hunt that helps to educate about Cuyahoga Valley which includes a canal towpath, historic villages, a railroad and scenic drives. Once I finished the packet, I found the park rangers stationed in an open air pavilion with masks and social distancing in place. It was great fun to rekindle the excitement of completing the packet and swearing the Jr. Ranger pledge. With a smile on my face, we drove over to East Harbor State Park and found our campsite had low hanging trees which, while beautiful, would make a mess of our Sprinter. We checked with the front desk and hopped over to the next site and all was good. This is a beautiful park right on Lake Erie with wonderful hiking trails. Looking forward to more exploration tomorrow.

Posted by LifeWithMurphy 07:01 Archived in USA Comments (0)

August 7, 2020

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It was a spectacular morning, so we decided to hike the Lakeshore Trail. This trail surrounds the campground. It was nice, but we found an amazing trail that followed the Lake Erie shoreline that allowed dogs on the beach. Walking, wading, and splashing through the hike, we enjoyed the water and the views that were afforded by this path. Afterwards, we packed up the wet and tired pups and drove to Michigan's Bay City State Park.


Nice campground when we showed up, but it filled up fast as it was a Friday night and Michigan families like to have fun. I think there were only about 10 sites that had one vehicle. The rest had 2 or more and/or boats and/or tents. Most people were quite friendly, and had similar opinions concerning their governor as we do with ours. The site was huge so we put out our awning and tablecloth and considered ourselves as posh as the next bunch of campers. Lots of campfires and laughter, but as darkness fell and the mosquitoes started hunting, everything settled down quickly.


Posted by LifeWithMurphy 07:02 Archived in USA Comments (0)

August 8-14, 2020

Lake Ann, Michigan

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Left Bay City State Park with no regrets as it was quite crowded and masks were getting more infrequent. The drive to Granny and Papas was quiet, but the welcoming committee at their house was not. There were three dogs at the Baxter House and they were wildly excited to meet new playmates. Bodie was in heaven, while Sera was a little more tepid about the mass influx of 4 legged friendlies. She is used to a three foot bubble as her personal space, and that went right out the window. It was a new day in the dog park. While the dogs were getting acquainted, CJ went and picked up John and Kim at the airport and the Baxter clan was reunited for a fun filled week.

For the most part, we camped out in the driveway and spent much of our time being entertained by 5 dogs. We did make a side trip to the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes, but the sand flies were miserable. We spoke with a local docent, and they recommended the Empire Bluff Trail, so off we went. The trail was well traveled, but everyone was polite and spread out. There were some amazing views at the top, but the sand was heating up and so were we, so back down the trail we went. Bodie was acting tired, so Eric carried him for awhile. It was a very short nap, and Bodie was back in action. One of the best things about van life is the ability to be home with all your creature comforts when you finish your hike. Cold water, food, dry clothes, shoes, and soap are immediately available, as well as shade. The dogs powered down after more water and snacks, and we drove back to the homestead with the AC cranked.


Posted by LifeWithMurphy 07:03 Archived in USA Comments (0)

August 15, 2020

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Started to pull things together at Granny and Papa's as we wanted to leave after lunch. We had packed up the kayaks the night before so that was one less headache, but we were somewhat reluctant to leave as it was such a nice get together. We decided to stick to the Michigan coastline on our way up to the Upper Peninsula. It started pouring when we were on the Mackinac Bridge, but the view of the storm moving over the bridge was deeply engrossing. We found Soldier Lake after only 1 recalculation and were amazed at how nice it was. It was also very wet as most of our trip had been done in rain. We got set up and decided to unload the tandem. We dragged it all the way from NY, and we were determined to use it at every opportunity. The site was right on the lake, and there was a easy path down to the water, so it was go time!! The dogs got loaded up and we took a relaxing ride around the lake. The lake was relatively small, clear and the bottom was not disgusting, so a big win for put in and pull out. The area was full of pines, cedar, maples, birch and smelled delightful after the rain. We were excited to use the kayaks after towing them all through Ohio. All in all, a nice ending to a relatively sad day saying goodbye to family.


Posted by LifeWithMurphy 07:05 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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