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Rave: Hoffmaster State Park

We finished our 2014 camping season with a trip to Hoffmaster State Park on Lake Michigan between Grand Haven and Muskegon.

We had beautiful weather for our fall camp. It was warm and sunny. We also enjoyed a serious element of solitude and privacy. We camped in one of the loops that offered electricity. Camping in late-September, early-October can be unpredictable in terms of temperatures. We figured if we had extreme lows, we would best have power for our other comforts. Actually, the overnight lows only dropped to the mid-fifties or so. While it was pretty brisk in the mornings, sleeping was very comfortable. Further, there were only two other campsites in use on our loop. A loop of about 40 campsites. And our “neighbors” were parked pretty far away. We chose to camp on a couple weekdays, which definitely allowed for choice spot availability, clean bathrooms, and some serious peace and quiet.

Hoffmaster was a great choice for hiking. They offered three separate trails with varying degrees of difficulty. Since they all passed near the beach and dunes, there was a climb and descent on each trail. And some sand. And some woods. The park was divided by a creek, so there was opportunity for drop-fishing too. Dune climbing took some work and, more than once, my legs felt pretty rubbery. But, we were able to catch some beautiful sunsets over the Lake and Duck enjoyed some time on the beach.

The sites were pretty rustic. Our campsite was in the midst of an oak stand. It was great because it provided the perfect balance of shade and warmth. However, fall does just that; “fall.” We were a couple weeks ahead of the leaves but, Oh. My. Acorns. We had to spend a lot of time under our awning because the falling acorns were bombing us. I swear, the squirrels were trying to chase us out by pelting us with acorns. Seriously. I got a welt from one that hit me in the back of the neck. Both the Den and our truck suffered from the noisy bombardment. We made Duck wear her winter hat so she would have some protection. Fortunately, it was her “Let It Go” hat…

And, Queen Elsa serenaded the campground quite thoroughly.

We all enjoyed the trip and it was a great way to close out our camping season. It is important to note, however, that Hoffmaster is usually under alcohol restrictions during the high season. After Labor Day, the restrictions are lifted. Thus, it would not be an option for us during the peak times. Camping sans beer? Haha. That’s like camping without baked beans. Never. Now, to winterize the Den for next year. It’s bumming me out. Winter is coming…

Hoffmaster State Park, Muskegon, MI- 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Here are some additional recent campground reviews:

**I would like to note that we try to support the State Park system (regardless of their intolerance toward a wee tippling) because: 1. It is generally less expensive. With a $14 annual Park Passport, you can enter the parks for free. And, depending on the amenities, campsites usually range from around $14 per night to about $28 per night. In the high season, you can usually save between $10 to $20 per night by avoiding the franchised or private campgrounds. 2. Also, it has been our experience, the campgrounds are often situated in a more secluded locale. Less traffic = more privacy, more wildlife, more serenity. 3. Pure Michigan, duh.**

Newaygo State Park, Newaygo, MI- 4 out of 5 stars.
Very rustic and woodsy. Nice, private sites. Clean pit pots (vault toilets) and hand pump wells. Disc golf course. Access to Hardy Dam Pond (which is pretty big water, surprisingly). Small sandy, gradual beach area. Personal note: When we went, we stayed in a tent over a Memorial weekend. It was freezing. Seriously. Coldest camp ever. Newaygo itself is, um, “quaint.” We took a backwoods route to the park and passed a neighborhood that could kindly be referred to as “Little Meth Town.” Ok. Probably not. But, there were paradoxically many trailers and many BMWs. Something fishy, methinks… We really enjoyed the wooded sites and the lack of amenities. There is something to be said for properly “roughing it.” No alcohol restrictions!

Van Buren State Park, South Haven, MI- 3 out of 5 stars.
Meh. A nice beach area on Lake Michigan that’s an easy walk from the campground. But, during our stay, there was some concern about nuclear run-off in the water. No biggie… NOT. The campsites were pretty open and pretty small, lacking in privacy. The bathroom facilities offered showers but needed updating. That said, South Haven is absolutely lovely and totally makes the stay worthwhile. No alcohol restrictions!

Allendale KOA, Allendale, MI- 3.5 out of 5 stars. See my previous review, here. No alcohol restrictions!

Hungry Horse, Dorr, MI- 3 out of 5 stars. Pool, laundry, game room, bouncy thing, playgrounds, nice camp store. Some meadow areas, some wooded areas. Electric and water. The decor was a wee outdated, but kitschy. They offered nightly movies in the Gazebo. Beer Bear really liked this campground, but I thought it was sort of a “concrete campground.” They did have a few nice trails around the property but I mostly felt that it was an outdoor motel more than anything. Definitely a family-friendly choice and very near Grand Rapids while remaining off-the-beaten-path. Not much to Dorr though. No alcohol restrictions!

Huh… “No alcohol restrictions!” features prominently as a characteristic of our choices. Weird. Chug-a-lug.


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Happy Campering: The Interior

I have finished all of the major updates to our new camper. I posted about the exterior already, here. Custom paint job = amaze-balls. Since then, I have finished painting the brown areas (the step and the hitch). They are a burgundy/maroon color. To match my (new) car and our truck. Because those match. Yup. My husband and I are matchies. Blech. With the coordinating accent color, the den really fits in with the rest of our fleet. I would still like to add another smaller constellation to the back. I was thinking, Ursa Minor. Otherwise, I’m very satisfied.

The interior took some time. Particularly because I have absolutely no talent at sewing, crafting, reupholstering, etc. It’s amazing what you can do with a little pin-spiration and a hot glue gun. The major renovation to the interior was painting and recovering the existing pads. I also tore out the curtain rods and replaced them. I sewed new curtains. I recovered the accent panels. And, I crafted, crafted, crafted. Seriously. I have callouses on my fingers from needles, burns on my hands from hot glue, etc.

Unfortunately, I lost the pictures I had taken of the original interior. But, a couple remain…

As you can see, the interior is finished with faux-wood laminate cabinetry. I actually really liked this aspect of the design and we have maintained it. I did not, however, like the existing wallpaper- a dated, floral design. The curtains were nice but didn’t speak to my aesthetic. They had to go too. I would have really liked the pattern on the padding if it were slightly more vintage-looking. As it was, it reminded me too much of a couch we had in the nineties. Finally, I wanted to create some permanent camper fixtures. Pictures, crafts, etc. but also things that would match my chief design and still vibe with the camping-den theme. I also had to employ my little camper here. She’s a much better crafter than me. And so, the results…




I covered the pads with painter’s canvas from the hardware store. It was a cheap and effective way to reupholster them. I still plan on spraying the canvas with a waterproofing agent to prevent stains. I also sewed coordinating pillow covers and curtains. I love the look of a bunting and used some scrap fabric and ribbon to create a neat window trim. I had received a coupon for a free 16 x 20 photo print, so I used that to create the bear poster with some custom photo-editing. I had Duckers color some empty frames from IKEA for the wall. I modge-podged a map to foam board to keep a record of the campgrounds we visit. I even tried my hand at cross-stitching.




Strictly speaking, the green “Eat, Sleep, Camp” sign and the patriotic doll in the picture above were gifts. I did not make them. But, they are part of the permanent decor. Also, the blue “Camper Sweet Camper” sign and the hearts were gifted with the camper from my aunt. Again, we are eternally grateful! I did paint the hearts to match my scheme. I will take pictures of the complete set-up on our next adventure. I couldn’t be happier with our progress so far. I am a very happy camper.

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