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Ready for a grand fall finale?

Wednesday, October 26 2022

I think October might be my favorite month. The temps get comfortable. The bugs die down. And nature puts on the most amazing show. As I watch the geese overhead depart for warmer climates, it reminds me that I need to get my act in gear. I need to get in that last, long weekend trip before the flakes fly.

If you’re like me, you probably do all your big, bucket-list trips over the summer. But come fall, I like to keep things simple. Convenience is the name of the game. Camping close to home (within three hours for me) means I get to spend more time camping and less time driving.

But fall camping requires some smart planning. Fall is fickle. It can be 70 degrees one day (or hour!) and 30 the next. I bring clothes for layering. I pack extra blankets too. The weather doesn’t affect just me either; my rig is impacted too. Cooler temps can mean lower tire pressure. I check the tires regularly to ensure top-end performance and safety. I also keep an eye on our heating system. Before I even pull out of the driveway, I check hoses. Mice love chewing these and I don’t want any surprises, especially on a chilly morning in some remote location.

Chilly nights can also affect your water system. If the temps are going to be near freezing, I open our cabinets to allow heat to reach the pipes. I also pack some RV antifreeze. I even add a small amount to the black and gray tanks to prevent problems. I also bring an electric space heater…better safe than sorry, right?

Lastly, as we’re prepping to go home, I pull out a broom and sweep off our slide outs. It’s amazing how many leaves and pine needles can pile up here in just a couple days. This little exercise ensures that nature stays where it belongs…on the ground, not on our carpet.

If you’re headed out soon for your “grand fall finale”, I wish you all the best. Stay safe, warm and take in all the beauty that our great outdoors provides.

Enjoy!

Bob

It’s Tailgating Time!

Tuesday, September 27 2022

I grew up in a football family that also owned an RV business. This meant fall weekends were often spent surrounded by other diehard fans and RVers, cooking brats, cracking jokes and making predictions about the upcoming game. Tailgating was a weekend tradition.

Even today, the cool fall air and heated team rivalries get me fired up for some pre-game excitement. I never was much for face painting and donning all the logo wear, but I still had plenty of team spirit and could scream and cheer with the best of ‘em. The Michigan State Spartans are my team. I still remember weekends outside Spartan Stadium, the crisp fall air, the red and yellow leaves waving like banners in the breeze. And frenzied friends having far too much fun. The memories have never left me.

Today, weekends tend to be more tame. Yard/house work and everyday errands tend to take up my time. I still follow the Spartans. But it’s been more years than I care to count since I tailgated in East Lansing. My RV adventures now are usually reserved for family get-togethers, enjoying the kind of peace and quiet that only nature can provide. This suits me just fine. Although, it wouldn’t take much persuading to get me to join Spartan Nation for a tailgating trip down Memory Lane. Now if someone would just invite me….

Shameless Plug…a tailgating must!

If you are tailgating this season, give our new Base Pad Shoes a try. They slip on to your jack pad, just like a shoe, to shore up your RV’s foundation. You won’t tear up the grass or ground where you’re tailgating…the property owner will be really happy! What’s more, no more storing pads with dirt and mud caked on them. Lastly, they’re quality made with molded rubber, instead of crumb rubber that’s just glued together. Our Base Pad Shoes will last long after the season is over.

If you’re heading out this weekend to cheer your team on, enjoy!

Go Sparty!

Bob

Back to school means back on the road…

Wednesday, August 31 2022

As a kid, I always had mixed feelings about this time of year. On one hand, I looked forward to seeing all my buddies again at school. The newness of the new school year always thrilled me. On the other hand, I would miss the pure freedom of summer. The long, sunny days filled with excitement and very little expectation from the adults. My time was mostly my own.

Today, things are different. When September is staring me down, I look outside. To the open road…and I’m ready to go. The heat of summer is starting to cool. The crazy traffic is slowing down. And the parks, near and far, have more spaces for me and mine to stretch out in the great wide open.

For me, you just can’t beat that last trip before September and fall is in full swing. Here are some spots that are close enough to be convenient (for me, anyway) yet far enough away to feed my “adventure bug”.

• Porcupine Mountains (Michigan) – The Porkies are a magical place. Located in the far western part of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the area is a nature lover’s paradise. This quiet corner of the state has it all—cascading waterfalls, towering pines, breathtaking views of big water and miles of scenic hiking trails. Plan a four-day weekend and bring your binoculars and a comfortable pair of hiking shoes. Or if you prefer, a good load of firewood and a great book. Either way, you won’t be disappointed.

https://rvshare.com/state-parks/michigan/porcupine-mountains-wilderness-state-park

• Wayne National Forest (Ohio) – Located 50 minutes southeast of Columbus, Wayne National Forest feels much further away than that. Covering almost 250,000 acres, the area is a patchwork of rolling hills, open meadows and accessible forests. The area has 130 fishable ponds and lakes, so pack your rods and tackle box. The woods are laced with miles of trails too, so bring those mountain bikes. The major hubs of Ohio are all within an hour or so driving distance, so big city excitement is always an option too.

https://www.fs.usda.gov/activity/wayne/recreation/camping-cabins/?recid=6203&actid=31

• Sault St. Marie (Ontario) – It’s not often I need my passport to go camping, but it’s well worth the little extra security check to head north of the border. The Soo offers a number of camping options, so you have your choice. Several places are right on the big water; perfect for long beach strolls or even charter boat fishing. Other campgrounds are tucked into the woods, letting you enjoy some much-earned peace and quiet. Or, if you’re feeling lucky, there are a couple parks right near the casino. Make your plans early and enjoy the Soo for all it’s worth.

https://campgrounds.rvlife.com/regions/ontario/sault-ste-marie

I hope you find some time to get away before the leaves (or, gulp, the snow) starts to fall. If you do, share your stories with us on Facebook.

Enjoy!

Bob

My Summer To Do List (Camping Version)

Friday, July 29 2022

I live in the Cherry Capital of the World (Traverse City, MI). Every year, we have the National Cherry Festival (of course). The festival helps balloon our local population from about 15,000 people to 250,000. It’s a crazy, busy summer, to say the least.

The festival splits our summer in half. As I’m kicking back, watching the Blue Angels perform their impossible aeronautics, I perform a mental inventory of everything I’ve done and plan to do over the summer. In order words, I ask myself those big camping questions that will haunt me in February:

  • How about a Family Reunion?
    Does anyone else host their family reunion at an RV park? We sure do. It’s the best and most inexpensive addition I never built.  Well, okay, I did add a 50 amp plug and a 4” PVC to my septic tank with the reunion in mind, but that’s a small investment for one of the best and biggest highlights of the summer.
  • Did we get above “The Bridge”?
    No summer is complete without a trip to “Yooper Land” (The Upper Peninsula, for you out-of-towners.) My blood pressure drops every time I head north across the Mighty Mackinac Bridge. The Keweenaw Peninsula, at the northern tip of the U.P., is a hands-down favorite. The deep forests and big-water views rival Maine’s coast. McClain State Park is a great home base for exploring the area’s deep history and amazing scenery. Highlights include The Quincy Mine, Copper Harbor and Calumet (almost the capital of Michigan). https://www2.dnr.state.mi.us/parksandtrails/Details.aspx?id=423&type=SPRK
  • …what about Duluth?
    A trip to see my grandson in Duluth, or anywhere in between, usually caps off our travel season.  Hey, it’s all about family, right? We usually hunker down in Duluth and take daily trips, like hiking Gooseberry Falls State Park and stopping at Betty’s Pies in nearby Two Harbors for a slice (or more) of their heavenly fruit and custard pies. https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/park.html?id=spk00172#homepage

That’s my summer to-do list. If I can’t hit all these highlights, it’s just another excuse to get out there next year. Whatever is on your summer agenda, I hope it’s a safe and happy camping season. Hey, hit us up on Facebook and share your stories…we’d love to hear them!

Enjoy!

Bob

Tis the season…for family!

Thursday, June 23 2022

Summer is a crazy time of year. Especially here in the north. The season is so full of promise and possibility…we want to experience it all. The beach. The barbecue. The long walks in nature. The stories and laughter shared around a crackling campfire. We don’t want to miss a thing.

For me, summer isn’t so much about what I do or where I go—it’s all about who I’m with. It’s about family. This time of year, I really feel the tug of family ties. I need to see the kids. I need to spend time with them…time unfiltered by cell phones, schedules and the worry of the work day. Time we specifically set aside to regroup, reconnect and really experience what we love with the people we love.

This feeling was driven home to me this past week as I passed by our local state park. The aroma of lingering campfires hung in the air. For just a moment, the sweet smell filled my car and quickly conjured up memories. A first fish held proudly for all to see. Small hands holding a sticky marshmallow. Sleepy smiles on little faces.

Wherever you go this summer, I hope it leads you to great moments and memories with your family. Make time to make it special, with the special people in your life.

Happy Camping!

Close to home. Close to perfect…

Tuesday, May 24 2022

It’s May in the north. A time of year we celebrate the retreating snows and fast approaching camping season. I’m usually as excited as a 5th grader, counting down to summer vacation. But it feels different this year. Gas prices are up…way up. COVID keeps hanging around. It feels like another year that we’ll have to put that dream trip to Bannf on the back burner.

But then I pause…let’s think this through.  Sure, we’ve had to put a lot of plans on the shelf these past two years. My family definitely has. But when we look around us, there’s plenty to be thankful for…family, health, community. Not to mention, the beauty that beckons just outside our back door. So why not do a “Stay Close-cation”?

No matter where you live—rural Maine or urban L.A.—chances are there’s a state or national park within easy driving distance of your home. In fact, there are over 400 national parks and over 6,600 state parks within the U.S. (yes, I Googled it.)

Many of our fondest family memories were made just a stone’s throw from our driveway. A familiar place where the air was clean, the trees were tall, and the stars danced above the roaring campfire. We never felt like we were missing out. And knowing we were so close to home was an added bonus.

So this year, instead of waiting for things to “normalize”, make your own new normal. Hop online. Check out what local parks are to be had. Book now! And get excited about planning your adventure. Sure, you might not witness a majestic sunrise over Mount Columbia. But you’ll experience something even more precious…time outdoors enjoying what you love with the people you love.

Happy Camping!

Competition and COVID-19

Wednesday, January 27 2021

Bob Brammer, President of Stromberg Carlson, discusses what it takes to fend off the competition, both foreign and domestic. He also walks through the lessons his company learned from almost a full year of battling COVID-19. Lesson one: Take care of your people.

Cabin Fever

Wednesday, March 27 2019

Cabin fever… I’ve got it too… a famous line introducing a song on a video I watch with my kids when they were young – Muppet Treasure Island.  Well, northwest lower Michigan still has some snow and snow banks but we can all feel the heavy weather lifting, making way for blue skies and, yes, camping season!  What motivates you the most to get your coach out and prepare for the season?  Campfires, peace and quiet, or food and friends gathering for a progressive dinner?  All of it for me.

Checking tire pressure, flushing the pink antifreeze, adding things back in that freeze to the coach and finally filling the fridge.  My wife and I generally took one short trip around town simply to remind ourselves of our routines before we set out with friends and stumbled along – reviving the spring brain cells.

Bring the bikes, pack some games, meet some new people.  This isn’t the turn of the calendar for resolutions and yet it is a new beginning in campgrounds. Offering new opportunities to meet people, get close to each other, or escape a routine that is numbing your senses.  As the GoRVing ads say… “Find Your Away”

Happy Trails from the team at Stromberg!

Routines

Friday, May 18 2018

I need routine.  Wake, do emails, read the local paper and check out Facebook to see who has a better life than me.  Read More

Winter 2016-2017

Tuesday, December 13 2016

Winter’s coming.  That’s code for our Vice President, Plant Manager and I entertain one other with the winterization of our different RVs.  Read More

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