Indiana is full of many hidden treasure from the shores of Lake Michigan to the banks of the Ohio River. One of them is a little known train trestle in southern Indiana, southwest of Bloomington in Greene County. But “little” is the last word that should describe the Greene County Viaduct, affectionately known as “Tulip Trestle”. I first heard about Tulip Trestle some 15 years ago when a car club I was in made a trip to view the 2295 foot long structure.
Tulip Trestle was completed in 1906 at a cost of $246,000, or over $6 million in today’s dollars. It was built by the New York Bridge Company using mainly Italian immigrants making some 30 cents an hour, which was an above average wage for the times. And considering it took just 18 months to build, it makes their efforts even more impressive. All told the 2295 foot trestle stands 157 feet tall at its highest point and is supported by 18 towers.
Tulip Trestle is still used some 110 years after the first locomotive crossed it high above Richland Creek. Initially used to haul coal from Greene County mines, the Indiana Rail Road Company still makes several runs across it on a daily basis, and even shows off one of their trains crossing it on their website.
I’ve visited Tulip Trestle several times over the past 15 years to soak in an incredible product of the early 20th Century engineering. However, I’ve yet to be there at a time when a freight train has crossed. But recently some locals have created an observation deck on the north side where visitors can view a passing train, or just stand there to view the expansive viaduct. A Facebook page has been started by the group aiming to beautify the area around Tulip Trestle. You can join that page by clicking here.
The Green County Viaduct, Tulip Trestle, Tulip Viaduct, or whatever you’d like to call it, is about a 40 minute drive southwest from Bloomington, Indiana. You can view a map on how to get there by clicking on the Google Maps link here. And when you make the trip there and aren’t fortunate enough to see a train cross with a typical load of coal, here’s a fantastic drone video, complete with an Indiana Rail Road train crossing. Enjoy!
Various photos taken at the Jingle Rails Exhibit in Indianapolis, Indiana. Jingle Rails is a display of various locations, primarily of the West, but also a few local, including downtown Indianapolis and the Indiana State Fair. New this year is a tribute to the Las Vegas Strip. Others include national parks such as Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, etc. Exhibits are made of natural materials, such as twigs, moss, and nuts.
January 17, 2016: Jingle Rails
Knowing October is going to be a busy month, we decided to head out for a RVing weekend. We weren’t sure which park we wanted to go to, so Pat had the Indiana State Parks website open to their reservations page, showing all available campsites, periodically refreshing it. Two sites came up that were not previously available, so they were probably reserved and canceled.
Both sites were at Prophetstown State Park in Battle Ground, near West Lafayette. The park is primarily on flat prairie land, which is being restored and landscaped to include native prairie plantings. It has a very different feel than the parks in southern Indiana, which have more woods and forests. One part of the park is fairly open (electric only site numbers beginning at 200), but with some young trees in between sites. Depending upon one’s preferences, that may or may not be suitable, but it is still nicely manicured and maintained, with a very nice comfort station / shower house in that area.
The sites that became available were in the area with campsite numbers starting at 100. Pat selected 108, which was a pull-through with full hook ups, so we had water, sewer, and electric, for a total of $40. What was really nice about all of the sites in this area, was the trees! It was a very different feel than the 200-numbered sites. Both the pull-through and back-in sites all had a very generous number of trees surrounding the roomy sites, creating a nice little enclave of privacy one doesn’t usually find many parks. Commercial RV parks are usually close, and state parks are usually spaced farther apart – and this one did quite well! The back-in sites all had three sides of tree coverage, and obviously having a pull-through, we had just two sides – but it was nice to look out and see just trees instead of other rigs and to have a delineation of our site.
We arrived in the dark Friday night and I wasn’t inclined to do much but go to sleep, but the next day we basically lazed around until we felt like getting up (that feels good!) and had some coffee and breakfast before heading out for a walk. First, we walked around the campground for about a mile. We went back to the campsite to check out the trails for our next walk…I’d say hike but the area is pretty flat, no hills, no stairs or ladders to climb – so it was walking. But the layout of the two trails we wanted to take ensured that it was going to be a long walk. Turns out it was 6 miles!
The weather was typical October, meaning chilly at night and warm during the day – but warmer in the sun and cooler in the shade. In many of the open prairie portions of trail 3, it got a little warm with no shade to be found, but trail 4 offered a good mix of shade.
After trekking 6 miles, we rested a bit and decided to have an early dinner to replenish some of the calories we burned (and to avoid the post-game Purdue traffic), so we headed to the Dog n’ Suds on US 52 in West Lafayette.
We indulged in a little frozen yogurt at Urban Swirl Frozen Yogurt and headed back to the campsite.
The Indiana DNR had a fall campfire event in the other area of the campground and was offering free s’mores so we headed over and found that they were for everyone, not just kids. Woo hoo! Not too many took advantage of it, so there were plenty for the small crowd. I only had one though! We were treated to a beautiful sunset as well – though as good as a camera as the iPhone 6 Plus has, didn’t get the deep red colors correct (should have brought the Sony!).
I fell asleep very early and to my surprise slept very late (for me) – 9:15! That was every bit of 12 hours. Yeah, that felt good. We wanted to have breakfast out and already knew we were going to the Route 66 Diner in West Lafayette. It is 115 miles from the closest part of the actual Route 66 (which would be Normal, Illinois) but as the sister restaurant to the popular local favorite the Triple XXX (featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives) the Route 66 Diner serves up some great food and friendly service. We had a bit of a wait, with the after church crowd, but it was worth it!
Next, on to burn off some of those calories with a bike ride. The park had a paved bike trail where they set up a “Scarecrow Trail” for October. Various civic groups set up scarecrow displays along the trail. See images in my photo gallery below.
After the 7+ mile bike ride, we had a couple hours left until Indiana’s most generous 5PM Sunday check out time. We rested for a bit, then set to the task of putting everything away and heading home. Until next time…
October 9-11, 2015: Prophetstown State Park
Our latest journey is another trip on Route 66. We decided to take our new Shasta Oasis travel trailer on this trip, rather than our typical road trip by car.
Saturday, September 12, 2015
We initially planned to start on Friday evening after work, but due to a late schedule, needed to wait until morning. We left early to ensure we could meet the schedule we had planned. That was another different aspect of this trip, that we would have some anticipated stopping points; travel less time per day, and spend a little more time in the overnight location.
For the first day, our destination was Springfield, Missouri to the KOA where we stayed for the Birthplace of Route 66 Festival a couple of weeks ago. After we passed St. Louis, we took 66 mainly through Missouri, except in a spot or two.
We stopped by Paris Springs to see Gary Turner’s replica filling station, Gay Parita. Sad to hear that vandals have been stealing signs and memorabilia after his death. His sons have taken down many of the signs to prevent further thefts. Gary’s daughter will be purchasing the property and opening it once again – hopefully, that will deter the vandals when someone is on site!
We went next door to visit Teresa and John – fellow Corvair enthusiasts we met during the Springfield 66 festival last month after conversing on several 66 Facebook groups. Nice visit with new friends!
Once we arrived at the KOA and he’d had some playtime at the KOA’s playground, we took our grandson to the Steak n’ Shake on Route 66 and then to Andy’s Frozen Custard.
We enjoyed this KOA just as we had previously. There is a nearby train tracks and it is pretty close to a crossing, so when the train goes by, you do get the loud whistle sound. Whether that disturbs one is strictly personal preference. I can sleep with it, and fall right back if I wake up…plus I enjoy the sound. Your results may vary, but it’s good to know!
Sunday, September 13, 2015
We moved on the next day to the Tulsa area. We continued taking 66 as much as we could, stopping at as many places as practical given our combined total of 48 feet. Of course, we stopped at Afton Station to visit our friends Laurel and Ron. Jameson enjoyed the station and exploring the Packards and the old motorhome.
Next, we stopped at the Blue Whale in Catoosa, which went well. Luckily, a year later, our grandson has a better understanding that leaving one place doesn’t mean the fun is over and he knows that there is more fun down the road!
Unfortunately, on this day there would be a little less fun than we had planned. First, we ran out of gas in Tulsa. So much for the “Distance to Empty” feature on the truck, which still read 50 miles! Our Shasta came with a year of Coach Net from Forest River, the parent company of Shasta. They did very well, giving us an estimate of an hour but the service provider delivered the gas and we were on our way within 45 minutes. Two thumbs up!
That was great service though the experience was still annoying and we were a bit cranky…and then to make matters worse, we found that our RV park for the night (Cross Trails RV Park) was not at all what we expected.
Here is the description from their website:
“Sapulpa’s newest RV Park located on 7 Scenic acres with all the amentities that you need to feel at home. We are located in the scenic hill country on the Southwest side of the Tulsa metro area. We use the Eaton Powerhouse Pedestal that has 50/30/20 Amp electrical plugs, TV cable jack as well sewer, trash and free WiFi internet access. Our clubhouse offers a Laundry Room, Showers , a Playground area for the kids, a Dog Park, Picnic Area and Storm Shelter.”
Let me first say the good. The manager was very responsive and friendly by telephone (I did not see him in person, though). It was unusual, though, for him to tell us to meet his son by the dumpster along the fence after dark. Not exactly a usual or comfortable “check-in” experience.
The park is very new and to some extent, that is a plus. The concrete pads are very new and in excellent condition, same for the electrical pedestal. And for what it’s worth, it was on Route 66.
Beyond that, I have very little other positive things to say about this RV park. None of the other amenities appeared to be built or ready…no playground or dog park. The only building that was listed as the office and laundry was closed and peeking in the windows, it was still very much under construction. The grounds were similar, with piles of dirt and rocks everywhere. Many of the other trailers were in various ages and physical condition, with some having flat tires (along with their vehicles). All around, it was not a comfortable place to stay and I wanted to leave as soon as we could in the morning. I do hope that someday this park builds or makes available all of the amenities it has advertised….but as of September 2015, it does not.
We did manage to sneak in a very short visit to the very cool playground in Sapulpa where we took our grandson last year. It got dark pretty quickly but he enjoyed it anyway!
Monday, September 14, 2015
Our next day was to be a bit longer day, trying to get to Amarillo, Texas. Unfortunately, in western Oklahoma, the wind picked up considerably and we were getting a lot more sway with the trailer than we felt comfortable. We heard it was worse in Texas, so we decided to stop and stay at the KOA between Clinton and Elk City, Oklahoma. Not too much to do in the area but they had a playground and what more does a 4 year old boy need. This park isn’t bad (the grounds), though there are better KOAs. It doesn’t have much around it to do, except if one drives 12 miles in either direction to Clinton or Elk City (I did cruise Route 66 to Elk City to get some groceries and it was very peaceful!). It’s very good for an overnight stop, but maybe at other times there are amenities and activities? Many KOAs have kids activities, but my feeling is this one is geared more to overnight stops. For that, it is very adequate.
We would then have an easier day getting to Amarillo tomorrow!
Below is a gallery of photos from these three days of the trip. Enjoy, and stayed tuned for the remainder of our journey!
September 12-14, 2015: Route 66 RV Trip
As online chatter started among Route 66 roadies about the Birthplace of Route 66 Festival in Springfield, Missouri, we thought it might be fun to attend, especially since we weren’t able to attend the festival in Kingman last year and not able to attend LA next year.
When we thought of attending, we debated on a car trip vs. RV, but after purchasing a new (to us) truck to haul the Shasta Oasis, we didn’t want to leave that costly combo sitting at home collecting dust. If it’s going to collect dust, it had better be road dust! The Rail Haven was booked, and being on Nutrisystem, taking the trailer and eating mainly our own food would be easier and keep me on track.
Thursday, August 13, 2015
We left Thursday afternoon after work, and our plan was to get to the St. Louis area. We did a lot of research on RV overnight parking (Walmart, Flying J, Cracker Barrel, etc.). Parking options in the area were slim, as most municipalities had ordinances against it, and we didn’t want to risk staying in unsafe areas. Rivers recommended against the Alorton Flying J as very unsafe. Highland, Illinois was recommended as a much better area, but it was pretty warm that day, so we decided to stay at the Red Barn Rendezvous RV Park in Edwardsville, Illinois. It had good ratings as an inexpensive place to stay ($35), especially for overnights. We called to make sure they could accommodate us, especially since we’d be arriving a little after dark. They said that would be no problem. We arrived and they were ready to greet us from their home at the camp entrance (the Red Barn) and were very friendly! We had a pull through site, never unhitched, just needed a slight level, and hookup to electric.
Friday, August 14, 2015
We had a quick breakfast at the campground and got ready to hit the road.
As I was getting things ready, I was thinking about the pros and cons of car travel vs. RV travel. We have not done much RV travel (mainly just weekend camp) but there is a lot of appeal to RV travel. I know that in the future when we either full-time or at least, part time extended travel, it will be fun, but with our limited weeklong vacations, I was hesitant because we only have so much time, hauling the trailer is slower, and you can’t stop as much and certainly not on a whim to grab a shot of a cool neon sign, roadside relics or other offbeat treasures. Especially now, with a truck and trailer combo that’s pushing 48 feet total! So that is a downside; but stopping at places along the way is not totally impossible. Most whims are difficult and like all good roadies, we do like to travel the odd alignments. However, with some planning, we can stop at many attractions and locations. We also can concentrate more on certain locations than we normally do, by stopping earlier and setting up the RV at a place, then exploring the area for the remainder of the day (or longer if we want).
So we set sail for the day and made our way around the south side of St. Louis. We picked up Route 66 in Pacific and took as much of the route as we felt comfortable with. Where we knew the road would be too narrow or curvy for the trailer, we took the Evil I but that wasn’t too much. Made a few stops too! Fanning 66 Outpost for some Route 66 Soda, a Route 66 coloring book for our grandson – and bonus, a stand outside selling local honey from Fanning Apiary. Bought a bottle and some flavored honey sticks. Redmon’s Candy Factory is always a must stop for us too. Bulk candy and fresh fudge!
Tri-County Truck Stop, Villa Ridge, Missouri
Phillips 66 – Cuba, Missouri
Fanning 66 Outpost
Crossing the Devil’s Elbow Bridge
All Photos from the Journey to the Festival
August 13 & 14, 2015: Birthplace Of Route 66 Festival – Getting There
We arrived in Springfield, and made our way to the Springfield Route 66 KOA. It’s not on an alignment of Route 66 – it’s actually a couple of scant miles south of 266 (Route 66) on the west side of Springfield. They very much support Route 66, too. When we checked in, they told us about the Birthplace of Route 66 Festival and handed us a festival postcard – we said we were in town for the event. They have a lot of great Route 66 merchandise including souvenirs, shirts, maps (including Jim Ross and Jerry McClanahan’s “Here It Is” map series) and books (including Jerry’s excellent EZ 66 Guide for Travelers). The campground is fairly smaller than a few of the other KOAs we’ve been to (St. Louis, MO, Dayton, OH and Louisville, KY) but nice and quiet…except for the trains. It was close to train tracks, which for some people might be an issue. It’s not a far off sound in the distance, it’s pretty close and loud. I didn’t find it a problem, personally – others’ results may vary. I enjoyed it there and would stay again!
Arriving at the Springfield Route 66 KOA
As we were setting up, Pat met a fellow Route 66 roadie, Chery, who was staying at the KOA in one of the cabins. Most of the other roadies were staying in hotels and motels, particularly, the Route 66 Rail Haven, so it was nice to see a fellow roadie already!
We were a little tired from the long drive, and we didn’t think we’d make it to the parade, so we stayed at the campground and relaxed. We also were to meet up with fellow Route 66 roadies and Corsair enthusiasts, Teresa and John. Pat had talked to Teresa on the Route 66 Pictures Facebook Group when she posted photos of some of their Corvairs. Pat offered them a few Corvair wheels, that they were happy to take off of his hands! We chatted for a while about 66, Corvairs and trailers and said good night. I decided to play around with the cable TV setup and managed to differentiate between the satellite / cable / antenna hookups. We didn’t really plan on watching it, but it was there and I had nothing else to do before bed.
August 2015: Springfield Route 66 KOA
Saturday, August 15, 2015
Today’s the big day of the festival for us – we would have to leave early tomorrow and not attend any of the festival. Getting ready in a bigger trailer is pretty nice. There’s still a little orchestration required but far less than with the Scotty and everything does have a place – even though I’m still getting used to where those places are! We made our way over to the festival area and started with the car show and local vendors – we made our way to The Glass Place, which was where many of our roadie friends – authors, artists, photographers, and collectors – would be. We met up with plenty of longtime friends, as well as many new that we know through Facebook – Jim & Shellee, Jane, Bob, Fred, Chery, Mike & Sharon, Joe, Jerry, Tonya, Bob, Rhys & Samantha, Ron, Joe, Don, Jason & Woody with the Road Crew and met new folks we know online – KC, Nick, Amy, Dora, Geoffrey and even more – Mike & Dean, Steve! It was great seeing and talking to everyone! I helped Jim & Shellee at their booth for a bit while they had lunch and even sold a couple Tourist Trap Tees! I was wearing mine of the Spooklight, so I already had on the uniform. We saw a few more booths at the exhibit but needed to head out to see The Road Crew show and would come back later.
Photos from The Road Crew Show
August 15, 2015: Birthplace Of Route 66 Festival – The Road Crew
Here’s a couple of videos from the show too! Check out our YouTube Channel for more!
The festival was very well done. In its fifth year, they had a car show, the authors / artists / collectors exhibit, concerts, local vendors, a motorcycle show, and kids area with a ton of bounce houses (I can only imagine if we brought our grandson, we’d have to impose a strict limit!). We went back to the Glass Place to see everyone we didn’t see earlier. We headed back to the KOA and debated about dinner – I thought it would be good to have a meal out, and we managed to figure out where everyone was gathering thanks to Facebook posts. We discovered everyone was at Colton’s, so we headed over there and were seated pretty quickly. We enjoyed some “onion tanglers” and steak. Remembering that I had a refrigerator on this trip, I opted to do the right thing for my sensitive stomach and save some for later. Good choice. We then headed over to the Rail Haven, where many (most?) of the roadies were staying and the Road Crew was going to perform an acoustic set. Awesome, especially since we couldn’t stay for their Sunday show. When we first arrived, it was just a notch past the “golden hour” but I still had enough ambient light for some photos of the recently installed replica of the old Rail Haven Motel sign. How awesome to have an owner who honors the past and the uniqueness of the original sign. Holiday Inn, are you listening?
I headed over to the pavilion just in time to find Pat and we set up our chairs as The Road Crew got ready for their show. Here is a video of them performing “That Ol’ 66″. Check out my YouTube channel for two others!
Sunday, August 16, 2015
Not too much to say about today, really…we start the journey home early. Break down camp, pack up the trailer and haul it east to Indy all day! No festival attendance for us – yesterday was the big day. We took 66 most of the way out, but would have to take the Evil-I home. However, we did stop at the Route 66 Rest Area and Visitor’s Center – which is a great stop to get not only some info on Missouri but Route 66 too. The rest area is very much themed to Route 66. Here are a few examples, see the gallery below for more!
I also enjoyed a new app called iExit. It’s mainly for interstate travel, but could also serve 66 travelers as it quickly brings up services “nearby” based on geolocation from your smartphone. It does very well when traveling on the sometimes necessary Evil-I, by showing you what services are available at upcoming exits and the distance to them. It’s so handy to see at a glance that the next rest area is 58.7 miles, so if you have to “go” sooner, a stop at a restaurant or gas station may be required, and which ones are coming up. Here’s a link to iExit, available for iOS and Android.
The other thing that made the time pass easy is we knew our RV friends, Dane and Elaine, would be traveling home from a trip to Michigan – so after texting them to see what route they were taking, they replied I-70. So we played a game for an hour and a half where we estimated when our paths might cross and if we could see each other and snap a pic! We did so well as we got to the 113 and 108 mile markers, leaving us only minutes apart. Then, my fear happened when a semi passed us…and slowly, which would block our view. He creeped along, barely passing us. It would have been too risky for us to slow down, as we already cruise at a steady 60 MPH when towing, so we held steady and hoped he’d just move on up and pass us already. Once he did, I gathered myself back up, turned my head to look past Pat and out the driver’s window for a split second as I saw a small silver car that looked like a Toyota RAV4 in the passing line westbound. I thought it might be them…and it turns out it was. Too bad I missed getting a photo, but they got one of us!
We set off on our next adventure in a month, a road trip again with the trailer. Plans are sketchy right now, unsure whether we’re going to Michigan or on Route 66. But either way, we’ll be sure to have fun and make more road trip memories!
Pat & Jennifer
This was my first time attending the National Citizens Police Academy Association’s conference, which was hosted by the Lexington Police Department and Lexington Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association.
It was a great time, I learned a lot of new things that will assist my community and our police department. I also had a good time touring some of the Lexington area’s attractions: Keeneland Race Course, Calumet Horse Farm, Buffalo Trace Bourbon Distillery, and Kentucky Horse Park.
I was introduced to the delicacies of bourbon candy (not so good for my waistline though!) and bourbon cream (mixed with root beer makes a really good “adult” root beer float!).
Click on any photo below to launch the photo gallery.
It was a great day to go on a road trip for the day, so we decided to take our grandson to lunch over at the Cozy Dog Drive-in on Route 66 in Springfield, Illinois!
Click on any photo below to launch the photo gallery.
June 20, 2015: Cozy Dog Run
Sometimes I sit and wonder when I became addicted to road trips and all of the memories they create. Growing up, we frequently vacationed in northern Minnesota and drove some 800 miles each way from Indianapolis to our destination, which was a cabin at a resort on one of 10,000 lakes.
But I think I can point to a trip 30 years ago in July of 1985 that really opened my eyes to what a road trip vacation is all about. It was July 4th weekend of 1985 when my mom, dad, and I loaded up in my folks’ 1977 Chevrolet Impala. I was getting ready to head into my senior year in high school and my five older brothers were all out of high school and working jobs, so we had moved beyond the full family vacation. I was the last one in school, wasn’t working a part time job, so it was natural for just the three of us to hit the road.
Granted, my memory on the events of that week 30 years ago isn’t complete, but that trip made an impact on me to where I remember more about it than most people would. Our destination was an area mom wanted to go to, the northern most part of the upper peninsula of Michigan, specifically Copper Harbor, Michigan. We left on Saturday, July 6, 1985. We cruised north out of Indianapolis and went through Chicago via US 41.
We didn’t stop in Chicago, but we took the two lanes out of Chicago and into Wisconsin. We continued on through Milwaukee and finally that first night we started to look for a place to stay for the night. Unfortunately we were running out of luck the darker it got. We got into Green Bay, Wisconsin in the 11pm hour that night, and we couldn’t find a motel with rooms to save our lives. We found out we were passing through that part of Wisconsin where everyone stayed who were in for the annual Oshkosh air show, which brought hundreds of thousands in from all parts of the world.
So there we sat at midnight in the parking lot of the Holiday Inn in downtown Green Bay. No Vacancy. At this point, mom was pretty hot, in every sense of the word. We were all tired and cranky, and at that point mom told my dad, “Oh, let’s just go home!” to which my normally mild mannered dad quickly shot back with “I’m not driving back tonight!”. Mind you, Indianapolis was some 400 miles back south. Once cooler heads prevailed, it was decided the farther we get away from the Oshkosh airshow, the better luck we’d have finding a room. So we decided to make the best of it and head north out of Green Bay. We motored up US 141, a 2-lane US highway that cut through the woods and pastures of northeastern Wisconsin. Back in 1985, there were very few 24 hour gas stations, and at one point we had to pull off so mom could visit a field so she could relieve her bladder. We still hadn’t found a place to stay, but before we got to the border of Michigan, we found a 24 hour roadside cafe where we pulled in around 1am to grab a bite to eat.
I don’t recall the name of the place, but we were all tired, hungry, and half asleep. The one thing I remember about the place is that it was the first time I had a burger that had BBQ sauce and bacon on it. Other than that, I was ready for bed. Fortunately just a few miles up the road, we crossed into Michigan and into the town of Iron Mountain. FINALLY! It was 2am and there was vacancy at the Holiday Motel.
After doing some homework, I’ve found that is no longer called the Holiday Motel, but it is still currently in business operating as an Econolodge.
After our short night’s stay, we forged north into the upper peninsula at Houghton. Cool little town with a neat little draw bridge that still functions today.
On Day 2 we forged ahead and headed towards Copper Harbor, which is at the very tip of the peninsula. We stayed that night at Eagle Harbor at the Shoreline Motel. Loved this place! Situated right at the harbor, it’s a little mom & pop motel resort with an onsite restaurant. And much to my surprise, it’s still open with the onsite restaurant. There’s a lighthouse on the other side of the harbor, and I vividly remember laying in bed with the window open listening to the waters of Lake Superior splashing against the beach while the bell on the buoy in the harbor occasionally rang. And a little pesky mosquito buzzed around my ear while I tried to get to sleep. How’s that for a memory? It looks like we stayed in Room 4, as I took a picture with my mom waving at me from inside.
The Brockway Mountain Drive offers some incredible views of not only Copper Harbor, but also Lake Superior for as far as the eye can see. One thing that was different for me was how late the sun set up there. The picture above was taken somewhere in the 9pm hour, and the sunset close to 10pm. That night we stayed at a motel in Copper Harbor, but I can’t for the life of me remember the name. It was situated back into some trees not far from the end (or beginning) point of US 41. The last time I was up there, the motel was closed, but the building was still standing.
That night we ate at a restaurant that still is there today called the Harbor Haus. Great seafood they had with a great view of the harbor. One of the locals told us if we really wanted to experience Copper Harbor, we needed to head to the city dump at sunset. Apparently black bears made there appearance at the dump and it was quite the tourist attraction. The dump is now closed and the bears find their food by other means, but it was one of the highlights of the entire trip.
For the remainder of our trip, we headed west and went into our old vacation spot of Park Rapids for a couple of nights before working our way back home. Not to say that leg of the trip wasn’t fun, it wasn’t new and adventurous as the first 3 days were.
So as the 30th anniversary of that trip approaches in a few weeks, I look back on it with great memories, especially knowing it was the last trip I’d take with both of my parents, as my mom passed away a little over a year later. Her passing made the trip that much more special. And as a 17 year old, it made an impression on me that shaped me as a traveler.
I hope to get back up there and retrace as much of that trip as I can. Perhaps even stay at one or more of the rooms we stayed in. There’s a lot of my soul as a road warrior up there. My passion for hitting the road is deeply rooted in the memories of that trip, and those roots are alive and well in the Keweenaw Peninsula of northern Michigan.
**All photos above were from the trip.
As indicated in my previous blog post, we are selling our Serro Scotty HiLander travel trailer. We are having growing pains (or at least, the beginning of them), and it’s a good time for us to move on up…to a bigger travel trailer!
We started out with our first travel trailer being a small T@B, which was good for a couple, but yet we actually quickly outgrew that, even without additional family!
Just switching the bed back and forth to a dinette, orchestrating who would get dressed first, leave the trailer, so the other person could make the bed back into a dinette and get dressed…
And not to mention: no bathroom! But we made “do”…
After buying the T@B in September 2009 and camping throughout the fall and winter into 2010, we realized that while we loved camping and the T@B, it was too small to be comfortable (yeah, I know it’s not roughing it compared to tent camping, but in the RVing spectrum, it is!).
After researching options that would suit us (roomy, with a separate bed and dinette, bath/shower, etc.), we settled upon the 2010 Serro Scotty HiLander, which fit all the criteria we wanted and was retro and very unique! It was (and still is) a great little trailer, but there is a certain irony about buying a small camper and within a few weeks discovering that there will be a grandchild coming (our first!). We knew the Scotty would have some room for him or her because of the two dinettes, both converting into beds, so no matter.
Sure enough, a year later, in June 2011, we took our 4-month old grandson on his first camping trip. Being a happy baby, he loved everything…so of course, we didn’t know whether he’d grow to love camping. We hoped he would, and his enthusiasm for our little Scotty grew as we continued to take him camping (or even sleeping in it at home too – come on, RVers…we know you do too…). As he became mobile throughout 2012 and started getting into everything, we decided to hold off camping with him for a while. Obviously, kids don’t always “settle down” for a while, but he was at an in between time where it was hard to keep him from getting into everything, so he was relegated to driveway camping (subsequently referred to as garage camping when we built a garage suited to house the Scotty).
Fast forward to 2015. Much better weather than 2014 – so far, not as much snow or subzero temps afforded us the ability to get the Scotty out a couple of times. Still a bit chilly to take a young child (he’s almost 4 now), so it was just Pat and me. And as we found out last summer, we are expecting grandson number 2 in March! So our thoughts this trip revolved around envisioning us and two little guys in the trailer. Pat and I were feeling a bit crowded ourselves…not to mention adding my grandson (this is going to be the year he finally gets to resume camping with us!). But now, to add a baby to the tiny trailer too? I just couldn’t imagine how we were all going to fit, plus our stuff…and we don’t even bring that much! But kids and babies just necessitate so much stuff of their own.
As an aside, since becoming RVers, we have also thought much more about our future retirement plans, and whether we would spend them fulltiming or part time/snowbirding / extended traveling. Either way, we want the flexibility to see more of the country than we can now and some sort of RV will be a part of that experience. Most of our visits to RV shows involve looking for the rig of the future, and ironically, we just made several visits to the January RV show looking mainly at rigs for that purpose.
On the way home, I had the idea of updating to a larger travel trailer now…not as large as the one we’d think about in the future, but large enough to comfortably accommodate us, the grandsons, and even my daughter if she’d like to join us. Too bad, we hadn’t looked at too many in that size range at the shows. I didn’t say anything to Pat about it, and then he suddenly posed the very question to me! I laughed and told him I was thinking the same thing!
As we talked about it, we knew that because we’re debt free, and in a fairly frugal mode, we’d not spend alot of money or incur too much debt. Debt makes me really bristle!! So we needed something fairly inexpensive and even more so, that we would sell our Serro Scotty HiLander. We absolutely adore that trailer (and I’m sure many RVers know this feeling of attachment well). We had it customized to suit our imagination, and even built a garage with dimensions that allowed it to fit inside, protected from the elements. But to justify the upsize, I need to sell it to reduce the new loan, and to minimize maintenance, insurance, etc. Just can’t see having two trailers. So here’s hoping that there’s a buyer out there to LOVE our Scotty as much as we do.
So on to the new trailer. We really struggled with the idea of a generic box, but when it comes down to it, it’s going to be the memories and experiences – the family time together – that are most important. We still love the cool factor of our Scotty and always will, but we need to move up and be comfortable. We looked at many brands, dealers, styles, etc. and found a layout that we liked and will work for us.
As to brand, the Shasta is an iconic brand, though the trailer itself is modern in style and design, as well as standard RV materials. We settled upon the Shasta Oasis 25BH model, which we ordered from Mt. Comfort RV – great working with them and negotiating on a good price.
Shasta 25BH Floorplan
This is the same interior fabric, countertop and floor materials as we selected. The only differences from this model and the one we ordered, are that we added the following options: a full top bunk, instead of the single; oven, exterior shower, and aluminum wheels.
Our new Shasta Oasis should arrive in late March or early April, so for now we’re not camping (yeah, we do camp in winter and enjoy it!). And the irony is that the weather this winter isn’t as bad as last year’s Polar Vortex and constant snow, which scarcely enabled us to camp.
Change can be tough in some ways, but great in others. We’re sad to see the Scotty go, but know its new owners will enjoy her very much. We’ll enjoy fun times with our grandsons in the Shasta Oasis…and it’s always best to enjoy life, no matter what!
Pat & Jennifer
***WE HAVE NOW SOLD OUR SERRO SCOTTY HILANDER TRAVEL TRAILER***
Due to a growing family tree (one grandson now and his little brother is coming soon), we are selling our beloved Serro Scotty HiLander and upgrading to a larger trailer with a bunkhouse, etc. We just ordered a 2015 Shasta Oasis and are very excited to get it.
That said, if I could keep and maintain two trailers, we’d keep the Scotty…but we’re working toward early retirement, so it makes more financial sense to sell. So, we are looking for a good home for our Scotty.
At the bottom of this post is the standard information from Serro Scotty’s website with regard to the HiLander. Even though this model is currently listed on their site, the Serro Scotty HiLander has not been manufactured since 2012.
We ordered our 2010 Serro Scotty from Kerola Campers in April 2010 and picked it up in June 2010 from the factory, Sierra Interiors in Bristol, Indiana. Here is a link to photos we took that day during a tour with the warranty manager, John. These photos will give you some insight as to the construction.
When we ordered it, we requested a few changes to the interior materials to make it look as retro on the inside as the outside. We selected a neutral fabric for the seat cushions, because we swapped the standard beige curtains for ones we had custom made with a Route 66 theme (fabric called Historic Highway by Alexander Henry). We also had the curtains made with room darkening / blackout fabric to prevent fading from UVs, as well as to allow us to sleep in late if we want to!
We requested black & white checkered floor, as can be seen in the photo of the front dinette below.
Here is a closeup of the fabric, Historic Highway, used for the curtains and pillows.
We also requested aqua “boomerang” by Formica and aluminum trim for the sink and dinette countertops.
Our Serro Scotty is the floor plan on the right, which is the model that has a large U-shaped dinette in the back (rather than a bed). Of course, the dinette converts into a FULL bed, and we have actually primarily kept it in that configuration, rather than switching back and forth. for two of us, we have used the front dinette to eat. Depending upon your needs, you can switch it back and forth, however you want.
The front dinette also converts into a single bed, and there is storage underneath the booth closest to the door (which is shown in the photo toward the beginning of this post).
There is also a shelf and storage behind the other side of the front dinette, as shown in the photo below, and behind the dinette cushion.
In addition to the custom interior materials, our HiLander differs from other new models, in that we had the factory add a 110 outlet underneath the front dinette – in the photo above, taken when ours was brand new, it’s not there, but we had it installed just to the right of the converter box. Much more convenient for charging devices, using a laptop, a fan, or small appliance – we have cooked using our Griddler (grill/griddle/panini) or a crock pot, or using our Keurig. Nice addition!!
The overhead cabinet (above the rear dinette) also coverts into a single bed, if that works for you. It wasn’t necessary for us, and I used the cabinet space instead. I currently keep my items in “Thirty-one” bags that fit very well inside the cabinets. We will have the mattresses back in the Scotty for its new owner.
Kitchen features a microwave, two burner cooktop and sink. There’s an overhead cabinet and one below the sink, as well as a bank of drawers, and a fold-up counter top on the side. There’s a GFCI outlet, spice rack, and range hood fan which vents to the outside. We also have a cover that fits over the stovetop to use that space better.
The thermostat, hot water heater switch, and tank / battery monitor panel is located here too.
There is also a drawer underneath the 3.0 cu ft fridge. Speaking of the fridge, I requested that the fridge be a 3-way model, so this one runs on battery, electric and propane. I have not used it in propane mode, only battery and electric. There is a freezer compartment inside. The air conditioner is located there, and below that is an access panel which has a small storage area (I put an RV broom and brush/dustpan there).
It is equipped with a boomerang antenna and cable TV hookup; however, we did not add a TV ourselves – but there is space for one, along with cable input on the inside and a 12 V outlet.
The HiLander features a wet bath (shower & toilet combo). See the specs below for the tank capacities. However, I see that the specs do not reference the hot water heater, which is a standard feature on the HiLander. It’s a standard 6 gallon, DSI gas water heater, and configured to be able to be bypassed during winterization (no antifreeze should ever go into the hot water heater!).
We ordered the deluxe package, which includes 5,000 BTU air conditioner (shown above), Fantastic Fan, and 12,000 BTU furnace. Other than testing it, we actually haven’t used the furnace. Instead, we use a small electric space heater when we winter camp.
In keeping with the aqua/turquoise color scheme, we coordinated our new Keurig Mini in turquoise with the Scotty…someone even commented that we’re “glamping.” LOL I never thought of it that way, but if you think this retro cool Scotty is glamping, go for it!
The little model Scotty (balsa wood) will be included with the trailer. The turquoise Keurig is negotiable.
Exterior features a diamond plate rock guard, front window cover, storage (accessible also from the rear dinette). Bumper storage for the sewer hoses.
We purchased the coordinating aqua striped 3-pole awning to go with the trailer as well.
Here is a video we made of the Serro Scotty HiLander:
FROM THE SERRO SCOTTY WEBSITE
Legendary style meets everyday life. Stand apart from the crowd with this timeless classic.
All the features of home are found in your HiLander. A shower/toilet combination saves those late night hikes. It is designed to comfortably sleep four with a single front and full sized rear bed with an overhead bunk.
Safety is always first with a full frame underneath, fire extinguisher, escape hatch and a deadbolt door lock.
Perfect for family adventures! Standards include; sink, stove, furnace, refrigerator, hot water heater and spare tire.
Add even more creature comforts with optional A/C, microwave, awning and TV/DVD.
|HiLander Specs||Interior Plan Choices||Appliances|
|Total Length …………….15’9”
Exterior Height ………….92”
Interior Height ………….73”
Hitch Weight …………….280lbs
Dry Weight ………………2490lbs
Standard (u-shaped dinette) (OUR MODEL!)
Rear Bed (inner spring mattress)
Deluxe Pkg Standards (WE HAVE THIS OPTION)