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You may not have read about it in the newspapers, but there was a chainsaw-wielding maniac at a New York campground last month. And he was camping right next door to an 8-foot tall witch. And throughout the campground were all sorts of smaller witches, ghosts, ghouls and goblins.
It was Halloween weekend at American Family Campground in Godeffroy, N.Y., and the chainsaw and witch were part of the haunted hayride and other spooky festivities. The little monsters, of course, were after the candy, and campers were all too happy to oblige.
The frightful fun weekend is a way for campground owners to extend the camping season, a growing trend all across the northern United States and southern Canada.
“Labor Day is just notorious for people not camping anymore,” said Susan Novotny of South Haven Family Campground in Michigan. “You’ll still get your diehards who absolutely love camping in the fall, but for the most part we needed something to get the families to come out.”
Many privately owned and operated campgrounds — as well as some state parks — have Halloween-, Harvest- and Oktoberfest-themed activities taking place throughout September and October, as well as other fun family activities. Some also have corn mazes and cooking competitions.
“You’d be surprised to know what campground operators are doing at this time of year,” said Linda Profaizer, president and CEO of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds. “Instead of letting Labor Day be their last hurrah, many campground owners have discovered that they can keep having busy weekends right on through September and October, particularly if they have Halloween oriented activities.”
South Haven Family Campground in Michigan, in just its third year of existence, will have three Halloween weekends this year (Oct. 8-10, 15-17 and 22-24) to go along with an Apple Festival Weekend (Sept. 17-19), a Camper Appreciation Weekend (Sept. 24-27), Harvest Weekend (Oct. 1-3) and a Last Chance Weekend (Oct. 29-31 featuring deeply discounted rates and store prices.
By far, though, the Halloween weekends are the most popular, Novotny said, crediting campers who love to decorate their RVs and campsites for making the event so enjoyable for everyone.
“We have people sign up for all three weekends,” she said. “They really like the haunted house, but I think it’s more of just a way for them to celebrate Halloween in a low economic way, and in a safe environment for the kids.”
Campgrounds affiliated with Kampgrounds of America (KOA) and Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts have been offering Halloween oriented activities for years. But independently owned and operated campgrounds are also increasingly getting into the act, including New York’s American Family Campground, which hosted its Halloween Weekend in late August.
“Halloween weekend was a real big hit with the kids,” said American Family Campground ’s Nancy Lane. “The kids get all dressed up in costumes and trick or treat at the campsites, and a lot of the people decorate their campers. One guy had a 8-foot witch, and another ran around scaring the kids with a chainsaw — all in good fun, of course.”
To be sure, these aren’t your ordinary camping enthusiasts, mind you. Many camping and RVing enthusiasts who book their sites during Halloween weekends at campgrounds come with friends and family members and create their own haunted campsites.
“Sometimes groups of people will come and they’ll use two or three campsites and invite everyone in the campground to come in and visit their haunted RVs,” said Sue Trimble, office manager for Far Horizons 49er Village RV Resort in Plymouth, Calif.
Dana Gabriel, co-owner of the Jellystone Park in Swansea, S.C., said during the last three weekends in October, the park is transformed into “Darkwood Plantation.” Guests start their adventure visiting a haunted plantation house, then proceed into the gardens, a cemetery and a swamp where there is a voodoo witch.
“We have a mix of static props, animatronics and 10 or 15 actors who make it a pretty scary place,” Gabriel said.
The Winston-Salem KOA in Statesville, N.C. has generated a similar following with its “Midway Wicked Woods,” a frightening walk in the woods. “It is very scary,” said Jocelyn Hogue, a park manager, adding that the haunted trail is open to campers as well as the general public.
Of course, campground operators aren’t limiting themselves to Halloween-themed activities. Many also offer other activities and entertainment, such as fall harvest festivals, Western-themed weekends and Oktoberfest celebrations. Some campgrounds also offer corn mazes, including the Jellystone Park in Sioux Falls, S.D., which offers a seven-acre corn maze, with an easy section for young children and a more difficult section for teenagers and adults.
Courtesy of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds, here is a sampling of some of the activities and special events taking place at campgrounds and RV parks and resorts across the country through the end of October:
• American Family Campground, Godeffroy, N.Y.: This park will celebrate Oktoberfest Oct. 8th to 11th with a krautdogs over the campfire, an evening hayride and a Bavarian dinner.
• Four Paws Kingdom, Rutherfordton, N.C.: This park will celebrate Oktoberfest Oct. 2nd and 9th with German music, a party and German food, including sauerbraten, spaetzle, knockwurst, brats, kraut, red cabbage, potato salad and more. The campground will also offer sausage bobbing for big and small dogs at its dog parks. A Mediterranean potluck is also scheduled for Oct. 16th and will feature Spanish, Greek, Italian, Croatian French and other cuisines from the Mediterranean region.
• Land-O-Pines Family Campground, Covington, La.: This park offers a wide range of activities and entertainment this fall, including “Swamp Pop” band extravaganza Sept. 24th to 26th; a “Pink Party” and walk-a-thon for breast cancer awareness month Oct. 1st to 3rd, with activities including a walk-a-thon, raffles, pink dessert, and a pink bingo party. A “not so scary” kiddie pre-Halloween activity weekend is scheduled for Oct. 15th to 17th with scary Halloween activities slated for the weekends of Oct. 22nd to 24th and Oct. 29th to 31st.
• Lazy River at Granville, Granville, Ohio: This park will host an Oktoberfest celebration on Sept. 24th with crafts, five stations of games, a DJ beer garden and German food, including brats, potato salad, apple dumplings and beer. The campground is also planning Halloween weekends, with campsite decorating contests, trick or treating and a haunted house on the weekends of Oct. 8th and 9th; 15th and 16th and 22nd and 23rd.
• Mountain Lake Campground and Cabins, Summersville, W.V.: This park will celebrate Halloween with costume and campsite decorating contests and trick or treating on the weekends of Sept. 24th to 26th; Oct. 1st to 3rd; and Oct. 8th to 11th, the latter of which will also include a “Monster Mash Dance.” A spooky haunted trail walk is also being planned for a time yet to be announced.
• Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort & Marina in Newport Beach: Special activities this fall include a Halloween party on Friday, Oct. 30th, with a costume contest, music, games and dancing for people of all ages.
• Sacred Rocks Preserve in Boulevard: This park, located at the 4,000 foot level in the mountains east of San Diego, is planning a horse camping weekend Oct. 15th to 17th, with free camping offered to those who bring a horse.
• Sea Pirate Campground, West Creek, N.J.: This park will celebrate its annual crab festival on Sept. 18th. The campground will celebrate an early Halloween on Oct. 2nd with a costume parade, trick or treating, a Halloween hayride and cupcakes and refreshments.
• Sky High Camping Resort, Portage, Wis.: This park will have Halloween costume dances and campsite decorating on the weekends of Sept. 17th to 19th, and Sept. 24th to 26th.
• Smoky Hollow Campground, Lodi, Wis.: This park will celebrate Oktoberfest Oct. 1st to 3rd with a mix of adult and kid-friendly attractions, including music, homemade ice cream, root beer, brats and sauerkrat. The campground is also organizing pre-Halloween activities, including trick or treating, costume contests, haunted wagon rides, a haunted pavilion and opportunities to make your own caramel apple on the weekends of Sept. 17th to 19th and 24th to 26th.
• South Haven Family Campground in South Haven, Mich.: This campground will have an apple festival on the weekend of Sept. 17th to 19th with apple crafts, apple juggling and opportunities to learn how to make applesauce and caramel apples. Halloween activities, including face painting, mummy wrap races, pumpkin carving contests, costume and campsite decorating contests and trick or treating are scheduled for Oct. 8th to 10th, 15th to 17th and 22nd to 24th.
• Woodland Campground in Woodland, Pa.: This park will celebrate Halloween with family activities on Oct. 1st. The park will also have an Oktoberfest celebration Oct. 9th with food, crafts and a flea market.
• The Woods Campground in Lehighton, Pa.: This park is having a country western weekend Sept. 24th to 26th with line dancing and a chili cookoff. The park will also have a “motorcycle leather weekend” Oct. 1st to 3rd with a “Mr. and Mrs. Woods Leather Competition.” An Oktoberfest lunch is planned for the weekend of Oct. 22nd to 24th with Halloween activities, including a haunted hayride and costume party on the weekend of Oct. 29th to 31st.
Of course, these are just a sampling of some the activities and special events taking place at campgrounds and RV parks across the country in the coming weeks. Consumers can find private campgrounds in their area by checking www.GoCampingAmerica.com. The site includes links to RV parks and campgrounds, which provide their own “activities” or event calendars, which can help you figure out which parks have activities your family will enjoy.
From the personal blog: Brent Peterson’s “10 Commandments of RVing” needs to be read by every RVer, and probably should be stapled to certain campers’ foreheads.
Gr8LakesCamper celebrates the world of RV Camping in the Midwest. Gather around the campfire and share tips, ideas and stories on RVing, camping and travel destinations. Follow Gr8LakesCamper on Twitter, Facebook and the personal blog.
Midwest Living magazine, one of my very favorite magazines, came out with their picks for the best state parks in the Midwest. The magazine’s May/June 2010 issue features 36 of the best state parks in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas.
I plan on highlighting some of their selections in the very near future.
It is interesting to note what states Midwest Living considers as those in the Midwest. I have been somewhat struggling with what states to include as the Midwest for this blog and it became a source of minor debate in an earlier post.
The name of the blog is Gr8LakesCamper, so the Great Lakes region is in play. But I also say that Gr8LakesCamper “celebrates the world of RV camping in the Midwest.” Are the Great Lakes region and the Midwest one in the same? Probably not.
So, in keeping with the name of the blog, I have decided that all states with shoreline on the Great Lakes — New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota — plus Ontario, Canada, will receive the most emphasis on this blog.
However, should a suitable topic present itself, I reserve the right to blog about those states in the immediate vicinity — such as West Virginia, Kentucky, Iowa and Missouri. For example, this summer my family and I will be camping at Mammoth Cave, Kentucky, and I will most definitely be blogging about that trip.
And another thing. As stated, this blog celebrates the world of RV camping in the Midwest. Obviously, this means most posts will be about camping destinations in the Great Lakes/Midwest. However, I also reserve the right to every now and then go off topic and blog about something other than a Midwest camping destination. Most of the time these will be posted on my personal blog and not here, but on very rare occasions I might want to post it here, too.
I want this blog to be enjoyable for all, me included.
There. Ground rules have been set.
On the Personal Blog — The 13th Annual Gathering of the Tin Can Tourists, an organization committed to the celebration of classic trailers and motor coaches, will honor the 100th Anniversary of the RV Industry at its Thirteenth Annual Gathering on May 20-23, 2010 at Camp Dearborn in Milford, Michigan. Click here to read the whole thing.
Gr8LakesCamper celebrates the world of RV Camping in the Midwest. Gather around the campfire and share tips, ideas and stories on RVing, camping and travel destinations. Follow Gr8LakesCamper on Twitter, Facebook and the personal blog.
By Brian Brawdy
I’ve spent just about two years now RVing full-time in my Lance Truck Camper. I’ve traveled to 48 states and three Provinces in Canada as well. Most of the TV and radio interviews I participate in, now over 150, I’m usually asked about the “coolest places” I have been. Each time I respond the same way. “It’s not the places I’ve been, but the people I’ve met that have left an indelible mark on me.”
Through the many compliments and a few criticisms, I’ve learned quite a bit. I told the audience at the Mid Atlantic Truck Camper Rally last week that I am a lot smarter now then when I first started “bringing the far away to my own front door.” RVing has taught me a ton. Sadly, I wasn’t all that bright when I first began so, I still have a bunch of catching up to do.
Perhaps my most powerful lesson comes from the common thread and underlying attitude of most RVers; THEY GET IT DONE.
It takes a certain craftiness, a unique creativity to take to the open road, to “handle” whatever comes up, and to adjust your sights along the way. I’ve also learned through countless “fireside focus groups” that RVers would make great government officials. They see a problem, they fix it; there’s not much “running from anything” in you folks. You put your seat belts on, set your gaze and you get there!
I think our Senators, Representatives and even our next President should have some full-time RVing under his/her belt. I don’t much care that McCain travelled and campaigned in one or that President Obama spent a vacation in one how ever long ago. Some in our industry do…they need to get out a little more.
There is a pulse, a certain and definite energy that comes form traveling our country, listening and learning from the people you meet along the way. You don’t get that from a White House, you only get it from living in a house on wheels.
To learn more bout Brian Brawdy, please visit BrianBrawdy.com
This week’s Lug_Nut view. Many years ago, in the early 1970’s Canada used standard measurements for things like weight, area, distance, temperature, etc. This, with the exception of the imperial gallon and similar liquid measures, matched that of the U.S. Trade between both countries could be done using the same scale and measure. Life was good.
The Canadian government, led by Pierre Trudeau, started the transition to the metric system. This took over 13 years to fully implement. Living in Canada, I can tell you it was tough. Business’s had to convert to these new measures in every aspect. New equipment, new packaging, new advertising brochures, billing changes, and shipping changes, were just some of the challenges. Consumers were equally confused. Now meat in the grocery store was priced by the kilogram and more expensive product by the 100 grams. There was absolutely no way to gauge whether you were getting a fair price or being ripped off, short of having a calculator and an accountant with you. Oh, and what’s up with badges on cars saying “3.2″ etc.? Is that a software wersion?
Well, here we are 40 years later, Canada pretty well fully metric and the U.S. using the standard North American measure. My only question is “What was Canada thinking?” U.S., our best friends and neighbors, which we share thousands of miles of border, were using the same as we did. Why did Canada change it? What were they thinking?
Personally, I would rather buy my fuel by the gallon, the American gallon, not the milk bottle sized liter. Then I can drive miles, not European kilometers. If I want to do that I will go to Switzerland. If it gets cold, I want to monitor it in Fahrenheit degrees not Celsius, centigrade, or any other nonsense. I want to live in a house that is X square feet, not square meters. I would probably have to buy metric furniture for that.
But, because of the U.S. influence and trade, Canada is really a “Pig-Metric” society. TV’s are still sold by the inch, as is automobile rims and much more. All pumps are built and rated in GPM, U.S. gallons per minute. Aircraft fly at altitudes in feet and motor homes and trailers are sold by the foot. What was Canada thinking?
So let’s take a look at a Canadian-ized motor home. First, it is probably made in the U.S. They are sold and advertised as so many feet long. The speedometer is calibrated in kilometers as is the odometer. The oil pressure is measured in kilopascals, whatever that is. It must need special metric oil because any good American oil would do pounds per square inch. Engine temperature is displayed as Celsius, I guess it takes metric glycol too.
Now, I know many screws and bolts found throughout the automotive industry are in fact metric. This little addition cost mechanics and tech’s a wheelbarrow of coin to outfit their tool chests to meet this challenge. These metric sized hardware pieces added nothing that the standard size couldn’t. It required fastening distributors to double their stock if they were to keep up with the industries needs. Using metric bolts on a U.S. made product? What were they thinking?
Well, if you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m not a metric fan. Give me inches over centimeters, foot pounds over Newton-meters, ounces over milliliters, miles per gallon over liters per 100 km, and any standard measurement over any metric nonsense.
What were they thinking?
Just My Opinion - Lug_Nut - Peter Mercer
1. Olympic parking spots for recreational vehicles sitting empty: With less than three months until the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, only 80 campers have signed up for the 350 available RV camping sites at Jericho Beach and Spanish Banks. But the Vancouver parks board says it is confident bookings will soon balloon, due to a marketing campaign it launched last week. “We’ve been getting a ton of inquiries and it’s really ramping up,” said parks board spokeswoman Barb Floden. “It’s the million-dollar view for less than $100 a night.” According to the city’s www.vancouver2010rv.com site, motorhomes, truck campers and vans up to about 9 metres long (27 ft.) can be accommodated in spaces that are 6 metres wide (18 ft.). While tap water will be available, there are no utility hookups, and sewage pumping and propane services are extra. Both parks have restrooms with showers.
General Info: Prince Albert National Park, in central Saskatchewan, preserves 388,000 hectares of a transition zone between the coniferous boreal forest and aspen parkland. The park also includes about 1,500 lakes and streams. This naturally diverse habitat houses a multitude of wildlife, including a herd of free-range plains bison and Canada’s only fully-protected nesting colony for white pelicans. The park also contains important cultural features such as the lakeside cabin of conservationist Grey Owl and the rich 8000-year history of native peoples.
Hours and Fees: The park is open year-round. The Information Centre is open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., mid-May to early September, and on Saturdays during the peak cross-country ski season. Main campgrounds are open from mid-May to early September, and winter camping areas are also available.
Daily entrance costs (in Canadian dollars) $7.80 for adults ages 17-64, $6.80 for seniors age 65+, $3.90 for youth ages 6-16 (children 5 and under get in free). Annual passes are also available.
Activities: Although Prince Albert National Park includes 150 km of hiking trails, you probably won’t need hiking boots to traverse them. Most of the trails feature good walking surfaces along gently rolling, forested hills without much change in elevation.
There are several scenic driving routes to see the park’s wonders. Wildlife can often be seen rather close to the roads, so please drive slowly near animals (but don’t stop because some animals, like elk, have been known to attack vehicles) and stay in your vehicle.
Anglers can cast a line for lake trout, northern pike and walleye. Fishing permits are required and can be purchased at visitor kiosks; daily permits are $9.80 and annual permits are $34.30.
Recreational opportunities also include canoeing, cycling, cross-country skiing, an 18-hole golf course, lawn bowling, swimming and tennis.
The Town of Waskesiu, just 5 km inside the park’s east gate, offers a range of services and amenities (post office, groceries, fuel, laundry, etc.) for your convenience.
Wildlife: Please remember that animals in the park are wild and unpredictable. Keep your distance and never feed wildlife, no matter how small or docile they may seem. Always keep your pets on a leash and under your control while in the park.
Weather: You’ll notice dramatic changes in day and night temperatures, in accordance with the cool continental climate of the region. Winters are long and cold while summers are warm. July and August are typically the warmest months, but you’ll find pleasant conditions from mid-May to mid-September.
Camping Info: Campgrounds in Waskesiu are open from mid-May to the end of September/early October, weather permitting. The fully-serviced Waskesiu Trailer Park (152 sites) offers electrical hook-ups, water, sewer, washrooms and showers. Beaver Glen Campground (213 sites) has 108 RV campsites with electrical hook-ups, washrooms, showers, hibachi grills, kitchen shelters and centralized water taps, firewood and sewer disposal. See the Waskesiu camping page for a full list of campgrounds in Prince Albert National Park.
You can also camp outside the park in the town of Prince Albert, about an hour’s drive south of Waskesui on Highway 2. The Prince Albert Exhibition RV Campground is a Good Sam Park that features 75 full hookup RV campsites and restrooms with showers.
If you’re from Saskatchewan or have visited Prince Albert National Park in the past, please chime in with your stories and tips! Your insights can help others have a fantastic trip.
General Info: Rowan’s Ravine Provincial Park covers 270 hectares along the eastern shore of Last Mountain Lake near Bulyea in southern Saskatchewan, Canada. The park is about 40 miles northwest of Regina on Highway 220.
Hours and Fees: The park is open year-round, but full facilities are available only from May to September. Call 306-725-5200 for park visitor information. Entry fees are required and daily, multi-day, weekly and annual entrance passes are available for $7, $17, $25 and $50, respectively.
Activities: With its multitude of fun outdoor activities you’ll never be bored at Rowan’s Ravine. Gather the gang for a game of baseball, mini-golf or beach volleyball. The youngsters will spend hours on the playgrounds located all around the park. The lakeside picnic area is perfect for relaxing between activities.
The 100-km-long Last Mountain Lake features opportunities for boating, swimming and trolling for trophy walleye in the warm summer sun. Take advantage of one of the biggest natural beaches in southern Saskatchewan—perfect for sunning and parasailing. There is a boat launch ramp, on-water gas pumps, and an 85-slip marina for your convenience. The marina store sells snacks, fishing tackle & licenses, and convenience supplies. You can also rent paddleboats, fishing boats and boat-slips from the marina store. Pick up groceries from the park store or enjoy a meal at the lakeside restaurant.
Wander around the native prairie hiking trail and watch for whitetail and mule deer. There’s plenty of great birding, especially at the north end of the lake at the Last Mountain Lake National Wildlife Area. Established in 1887, this bird sanctuary is the oldest in North America!
Pets: Your leashed pets are welcome to join you during your visit. Please remember to pick up after your pet and not leave pets unattended.
Camping Info: The park campground has 196 paved campsites and 98 grass sites. Twelve campsites are pull-thrus but the back-in campsites have the same 25×50’ dimensions. There are 200 sites with electricity only (30 amp) and 98 sites without any hookups. There are good paved interior roads and a dump station near the campground host. Accessible restrooms and showers are located around the park. You’ll also enjoy the on-site laundry facilities. Nightly rates range from $15 to $24 depending on type of site.
If you’re from Saskatchewan or have visited Rowan’s Ravine Provincial Park in the past, please chime in with your stories and tips! Your insights can help others have a fantastic trip.
Natural formations and attractions are truly the most marvelous of all sights, as was witnessed by the Hammonds when they visited the Luray Caverns in Luray, Virginia and detailed their adventure in their trip journal, Hammond’s Canada and US Tour.
The Luray Caverns are active caves; a term meaning that there is a stream flowing through it. A knowledgeable tour guide takes visitors through the cavernous rooms of the Luray Caves where many wonders await to provide a feast for the eyes. An immense lake of clear, pure water exists in one of the larger “rooms” of the caverns that acts as a mirror, reflecting a perfect image of the incredible cave formations that have developed on the ceiling of the cave. Read more
When we took our Long Long Honeymoon across across Canada, we stayed in a number of private campgrounds. We love staying in nice wooded campgrounds with full hookup amenities.
But we also did our share of “overnight parking” — stopping in places such as Wal-Mart, Flying J, and even a friend’s driveway. I’m grateful that we RV’ers have these options when traveling.
Even though we prefer to stay in parks, there are times when doing so simply doesn’t make sense. My wife and I often travel during the evening; sometimes we don’t stop for the night until 9 or 10 o’clock. Checking into a campground would be a lot of hassle for a short stay.
The beauty of “overnight parking” goes beyond the attractive (free) price tag. It’s also a matter of convenience. There’s no check in procedure, no check out time, and no site assignment. There’s no paperwork or red tape. It’s liberating.
If you have ever undertaken a major RV trip across the United States, you know what I mean. But have you tried it in Canada?
I’m happy to report that overnight parking works pretty much the same in Canada as it does in the United States. There’s no shortage of Wal-Marts in Canada, and they are generally quite welcoming to RV travelers. Just park in a remote corner, be a good citizen, and do a little shopping. You should also check for signs — some Wal-Marts have designated certain areas of parking lot for overnight parkers.
Flying J ups the ante on Wal-Mart just a bit. Although these parking lots are usually noisy (thanks to the ongoing presence of large trucks) they also have free dump stations and fresh water. For $5 one can purchase a 24-hour wifi access pass. Although I usually grumble about paying a surcharge for wifi, in this case I could not complain.
Yes, you can “overnight park” in Canada the same as in the United States. Given the wonderful opportunities for travel throughout our northern neighbor, this is good news for us all.
For more fun RV videos and articles, check out our AWARD-WINNING website: LongLongHoneymoon.com. It was recently named the #5 RV blog on the Internet! That merits a click, dontcha think?