“A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9
The year of our 25th wedding anniversary and Bill’s retirement! We talked about several possible trips, back to Europe – Italy, Greek Isles, Hawaii — how would we spend celebrating our 25th anniversary in 2014? We both thoroughly enjoy country music and we both thoroughly enjoy road trips in our RV. I began searching for country music festivals across the country and ran across “Country Fest” a 4-day country musical festival held annually in Cadott, Wisconsin with the dates in June, our anniversary month.
Our first inquiries for tickets and camp sites was in December 2013 and we were that the campsites with electricity were already sold out, the best concert tickets were in the VIP Gold area and they too were sold out. There were a few VIP concert tickets available. My husband’s determination and diligence was successful for within a few days of our original inquiry, we were contacted with news that an open camp spot with electrical became available with a person moving from the electrical site to a non-electrical site allowing him to camp close to his friends. We were also able to purchase VIP tickets which turned out okay, although we would have liked to have the better seating with VIP Gold tickets.
We learned that all VIP Gold Ticket-holders have the ability to purchase (renew) their next year’s concert tickets at the end of the concert they are currently attending which many do, so by the time the tickets are open to the public, the VIP Gold tickets are sold out. There is a chance of getting VIP tickets that do have great benefits, and there are lawn tickets available. The VIP tickets offer:
- VIP Parking (not really necessary if camping with RV)
- Reserved seating (Sections A, B, C, D, R1 and R2; our seats were to the left of the stage)
- Close-up picture taking
- Private permanent restrooms (versus porta cans scattered throughout lawn area)
- Includes free lunch and dinner at the VIP Café
- Includes various free beverages, beer, bottled water, coffee, soft drinks, wine spritzers and cash bar for specialty cocktails.
For more information on Country Fest, check out the website: www.Countryfest.com
Our road trip begins on June 8, the day before our anniversary. This road trip we planned driving shorter daily distances, with highlighted stops along our way, taking our time to get to Cadott.
Durant, Oklahoma – Choctaw Casino-KOA Camp, 3650 Enterprise Dr. (1-Night Stay)
We drove 67 miles to the KOA Campgrounds across the street from the Choctaw Casino for our first night’s stay. It was 6:30 pm on Sunday when we were finally able to get out-of-town, so we decided to make a short drive to Choctaw to get our vacation started.
Gore, Oklahoma – Marval Resort, 445140 E. 1011 Road (3-Night’s Stay)
We drove approximately 157 miles from Durant to Gore, Oklahoma which was a preplanned scheduled stop. It was Monday, June 9, our actual anniversary and we wanted to settle into our campsite then find a nice restaurant to have our anniversary dinner.
Okay, well we had looked at Marval Resort online, read about their great fishing, their shaded campsites, all the things we like when looking for a campsite; however, what we failed to do when planning to celebrate our anniversary with a nice dinner was to see what nice restaurants were in the Gore area. In checking with the guest center at Marval Resort, we were told about “Fin and Feather Resort,” what we learned after driving to Fin and Feather is that they are not open during the week, only open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Soda Steve’s was open and is a casual, snack-bar type dining also located at this resort, but we were determined to have a nicer dinner atmosphere. We left Fin and Feather Resort, driving to Gore’s downtown area, only to find there are only two restaurants in the town, a pizzeria and Jimbo’s. Jimbo’s has pretty good food, great home-made desserts, however, the atmosphere is similar to a small coffee-shop, diner. What Jimbo’s did offer Bill and I for our 25th wedding anniversary was a fond, funny memory that we still laugh about!
Marval Resort was a place we determined we would like to visit again with the family, bringing our grandchildren. We spent one day touring Tenkiller State Park with a nice lake, checking out their campsites and then drove to Tahlequah, a place we had visited before to float the river with friends. We spent another day fishing at the dam after learning from a neighboring camper that on Monday they had stocked the dam with trout. Most of the fish we caught were caught and released, although we did keep 3-good sized trout that we cooked at our campsite the same day for lunch. Lunch Menu: grilled trout, Rice-A-Roni and peas, great eating!
Check out their website for more information: www.marvalresort.com
Pineville, Missouri – Kozy Kamp, 71 Elk River Road (3-Night’s Stay)
We drove 145 miles from Gore to Pineville, a preplanned scheduled stop, highlighting “river floating,” one of our favorite things to do. We arrived late afternoon, set-up camp and drove around looking for somewhere to eat dinner.
Okay, well you might see a pattern here . . . restaurant searches when looking for campsites is not a priority for us . . . we typically enjoy home-cooked meals at our campsite, but there is always those few times we want to go out to eat because we’re too tired to cook or just don’t feel like cooking. We drove around for quite some time, getting hungrier as we searched to no avail. We finally came across Pineville Bowling Center with signage there was a grill/food. Yes, we ate dinner at a bowling alley and it was actually pretty good. They actually have 4.6 stars out of 5 stars with many comments about their good food.
Kozy Kamp offered us a nice back-up campsite with views of the Elk River. Our love for river floating, rafting, canoeing began many years ago where we spent many family vacations/family reunions on the Comal/Guadalupe River in New Braunfels, TX. Watching young people and old alike enjoying floating down the river brought back so many fond memories. We decided to rent a canoe since we wanted to bring Gabby, our adored Toy Fox Terrier. It was a fun 8-mile canoe float on the Elk River, stopping for a dip in the water from time-to-time to cool off. You can rent canoes, rafts, tubes, etc. at Kozy Kamp, you are taken by bus to a drop-off point to begin your float and we stopped when we arrived back at Kozy Kamp.
We sat outside watching the campground fill up over the weekend and were glad we had floated early on Friday before the crowds hit Friday evening throughout Sunday. On Saturday evening we sat around our campsite, listening to a live band across the river, grilling steak and salmon with baked potatoes for dinner. Our departure was Sunday, June 15, Father’s Day, and were woke-up by a heavy rain storm. I made a nice breakfast for Bill and we departed at approximately 1 pm when the rain stopped.
Check out their website for more information: www.kozykamp.com
Blue Springs, Missouri – Jacomo Campground, 9200 Beach Road, Lee’s Summit, MO (1-Night’s Stay)
Drove 171 miles from Pineville to Lee’s Summit (suburb of Blue Springs). This is a small campground that is seasonal, open only April 1 through October 21. Jacomo campground is located close to Kansas City. We set-up camp and continued our celebration of Father’s
Day that evening by going to see the newly released Tom Cruise movie “Edge of Tomorrow.” The next day we drove to the downtown area of Kansas City, known as Country Club Plaza. Thoroughly enjoying walking around the shops, street lamp-posts decorated with beautiful flowering hanging baskets, and enjoying a wonderful lunch at The Classic Cup Café (301 W. 47th Street). It was June 16, approximately 1-week since our anniversary, but we toasted celebrating in a much nicer atmosphere!
Osceola, Iowa – Lakeside Casino-Hotel, 777 Casino Dr. (1-Night’s Stay)
Drove 160 miles from Lee’s Summit to Osceola. We were listening to radio broadcasting of bad weather reports, as well as family members and friends contacting us to warn us of tornado warnings in the area we were traveling. The winds became so strong (25-30 miles per hour), it was difficult driving pulling our trailer (Kodiak 24-ft bumper pull), so without any reservations in Osceola, we decided to pull over and stay over-night the hotel versus their campground. There were reports that a tornado had hit a town not far from Osceola with severe damages, it was a safety precaution we took under the circumstances. Fortunately, the hotel allowed dogs, so Gabby was allowed to stay in our hotel room.
The next morning, we woke up to clear weather but still slightly windy, so we continued our trip heading towards Minnesota.
Apple Valley, (suburb of St. Paul) Minnesota – Lebanon Hills Regional Park Campground, 12100 Johnny Cake Ridge Road (2-Night’s Stay)
Drove 282 miles from Osceola to St. Paul. This was beautiful country-side and we thoroughly enjoyed our first time driving this area of the country. The farms and windmills along the highways, mostly all well-maintained beautiful homes with matching barns.
Lebanon Hills Campground was not pre-arranged, we stopped by the Visitor Center just inside the Minnesota state line to gather brochures for possible over-night stays. We were going to visit Carl, brother, on this leg of the trip, but learned he was in Houston at the time. We had already planned to spend the July 4 weekend with them, after the Country Fest on the backside of our road trip.
After heavy rainfall throughout our first night, the next morning was a beautiful, crisp-cool day. I took Gabby for a nice long walk on a trail that runs through the park, along-side a lake, with beautiful wild flowers growing everywhere. This park was absolutely breath-taking, filled with the splendor of nature. We visited Mall of America, another great new adventure that we would like to share with our grandchildren on a future visit.
Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin – Lake Wissota State Park, 18127 Highway O (4-Night’s Stay)
Drove 110 miles from St. Paul to Chippewa Falls. The earliest day you can check into the campsites in Cadott for Country Fest is the Monday before the actual concert begins and we arrived at Lake Wissota State Park on Thursday, June 19 allowing us time to enjoy the park, only a short driving distance to Cadott.
This was another really nice state park with hiking trails, a beautiful lake with fishing pier and wild turkeys were throughout the park which we do not see much of in Texas. The lake has a swim beach and picnic tables, but no dogs are allowed in the park nor on the beach.
Lake Wissota Golf Club was close-by and we played golf on Sunday. We drove to historic Chippewa Falls touring the Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Co., founded in 1867, currently on 5th generation of family owned business.
They offered a 5-sample of various flavors of beer in glasses a little larger than a shot glass. I explained to the bartender that typically I did not like beer, so they gave me samples of weaker flavors that people who are not beer drinkers do like, unfortunately, I sipped them and did not like any of them, and Bill ended up drinking my samples and his samples. We had dinner at Loopy’s Bar & Grill with a nice ambience, view of river, although the food was not great.
Cadott, Wisconsin – Country Fest Festival Campgrounds, 24447 County Highway S (7-Night’s Stay)
Drove a short distance (11 miles) from Chippewa Falls and were at the concert campgrounds. It was Monday afternoon and there were a few campers starting to arrive, but we were very happy we decided to arrive Monday. As campers started arriving, it soon became apparent that we would have difficulty pulling into these tight spaces.
It was amazing walking around this huge campground watching the set-ups being built. There was a large above ground swimming pool with swim-up bar, gazebo being built. We stopped and asked the guys building it if this was a temporary structure and they said “yes,” it will be built then taken down immediately after the 4-day concert. We saw large groups of campers who evidently knew each other (friends) setting up their campsites in a square with the center being their own private area and we were sure wishing we had family or friends with us to share this experience.
There are limited number of camp sites with electric and none of the campsites have sewer or water hookups. There are water tank trucks that come through the campgrounds and fill your water tank and there are sewer trucks that will empty your sewer tank, if necessary. There is a large 18-wheel truck that is equipped with showers for those tent campers or people who need public shower access.
We were surprised to see how tightly the campers are parked together, we witnessed many having to park their rigs in tight-tight spaces with a small area of parking for your vehicles. A group of single girls had their father bring their RV to the campground, parking right next to us, rented their own porta-potty that was set-up in between our campsites which was a little surprising. But the girls were nice and they explained that it was a borrowed RV which they knew the one-toilet would not accommodate the group of them.
Although there were a few less desirable surprises for us in this first experience, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and will probably go again one day, especially if we can get a few more couples to go with us.
In our opinion, this 2014 line-up will be difficult to beat:
|Carrie Underwood||Tyler Farr|
|Blake Shelton||Dan + Shay|
|Brad Paisley||Eric Paslay|
|Florida Georgia Line||Casy James|
|Eli Young Band||Jon Pardi|
|Rodney Atkins||Will Hoge|
|Gary Allan||Joel Crouse|
|The Charlie Daniels Band||Maiden Dixie|
|Craig Morgan||New Black|
|Love & Theft||Big Back Yard|
|Jana Kramer||Back Home Boys|
People we met, many who have been attending this concert for many years, were giving us recommendations of other places we should visit. Repeatedly we heard that we should visit Door County and Duluth, so we decided to add these places to our road trip after celebrating July 4th with Carl.
Anoka, Minnesota – Visit & Spend July 4th with Carl, 3305 Shasta Ave. (4-Night’s Stay)
Drove 134 miles from the Concert Campgrounds to my brother’s house to visit a few days and spend July 4th with him, Shelly (his girlfriend) and her family, as planned. We pulled our Kodiak bumper-pull camper up in his driveway and slept in our camper during the stay.
It was a fun few days, visiting downtown Anoka, taking Gabby to an agility class at Total Recall Dog Agility. Spent the July 4th at Shelly’s parents’ lake house and watched phenomenal fireworks exhibit. One neighbor actually fires off a canon. We did learn for the first time this year that Gabby is frightened of fireworks.
Vadnais Heights (suburb of St. Paul), Minnesota – Vadnais Sports Arena, 1490 County Road E., Agility Competition (1-Night’s Stay in parking lot)
Drove 25 miles from Carl’s house to the agility competition that we had pre-registered Gabby, knowing we would be in this area during the dates of the competition. We spent the night in the Sports Arena parking lot July 4th after the fireworks, in preparation for the runs Saturday morning. Gabby did not make any Q’s on the runs, but we had fun.
Saginaw, Minnesota (suburb of Duluth) – Ogston’s RV Park, 5020 Ogston Dr. (3-Night’s Stay)
Drove 147 miles from Vadnais Heights to Ogston’s RV Park which is a Good Sam’s park,
offering a discounts to Good Sam members. This was a really nice RV park we found on the Internet while driving. It has several small lakes surrounding the property and they allow you to use their paddle boats, there’s a laundry room, playground and the property is well-maintained. They have a Schwan’s truck that comes through the park, allowing campers to purchase product directly from the truck. We couldn’t resist buying a ½ gallon of ice cream and really good-fresh asparagus.
One day was spent driving the Northern Shore Scenic route of Lake Superior. Wow, it is an amazingly beautiful area to visit and this was our first time. We went through Knife River, Two Harbors & Gooseberry Falls, stopping to see the light house at Two Harbors. We stopped also at Bettye’s Kitchen for candy, stopping again to buy smoked sugar cured Wild Alaskan King Salmon, and we drove through the downtown area of Duluth and loved it!
Highly recommend you visiting this area of the Country!
Egg Harbor, Wisconsin (Door County) – Egg Harbor Campground & RV Resort, 8164 State Hwy. 42 (4-Night’s Stay)
Drove 407 miles from Ogston’s Campground to Egg Harbor. This was our longest driving day since beginning this road trip, driving approximately 9-hours. Temperatures were wonderful for outdoor activities, in the low 60’s and 70’s. The water, however, was too cold for us to swim although there were people with small children swimming in the very cold lake. We felt we had found a real treasure at this park and another area we highly recommend you visiting.
This town has all the charm of coastal charm and is actually known as the “Cape Code” of the Midwest. There is 300 miles of shoreline, 11 miles wide with Lake Michigan to the East, the bay of Green Bay to the West.
We learned quickly that many of the local restaurants allow dogs, indicated by a set of paws printed on the brochures/Dining Guide provided at the campground. We ate at the Shipwrecked Restaurant with beautiful coastal views. A drive through Peninsula State Park was essential since we had originally wanted to stay at this park, but learned they had no open sites. We drove to Fish Creek, Ephraim, Sister Bay, Ellison Bay and Gills Rock which has a ferry over to Washington Island. We considered taking the ferry over for a tour of Washington Island, but it was getting late and decided to spend a little time walking around town.
There was a day I played golf at the Peninsula State Park, Bill didn’t feel like playing so he just rode along in the cart. What a beautiful course and no pictures can capture the real beauty, but do serve as reminders with fond memories.
We rented mopeds and rode them through Peninsula State Park, another fun, fun activity. Gabby was securely fastened in the basket of the moped and seemed to enjoy the ride with the wind hitting her in the face, the occasional squirrel running along the road, and just being with us.
This is a place we may visit again one day because we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
Middlebury, Indiana – KOA Campground, 52867 IN-13 (4-Night’s Stay)
386 miles from Egg Harbor to the KOA Campground in Middlebury. Bill had desperately wanted to visit the RV manufacturers in Shipshewana with his desire to upgrade from our bumper-pull to a 5th wheel. Middlebury is in the center of the RV Capital of the world, surrounded by Elkhart, Goshen and Bristol. This KOA offered nice amenities with a pond, recreational center, shaded, but it was a very noisy park. The highway that our site backed up to has large 18-wheel trucks traveling all throughout the night, and it was non-stop. We tried to move, but there were no other available sites.
Our entire visit was spent touring RV manufacturers, visiting a few RV sales offices. We did have dinner at the highly recommended Das Dutchman Essenhaus family-style Amish restaurant. It was our first experience being around so many Amish and seeing their beautifully maintained farms; witnessing their driving their horse-driven buggy’s everywhere, and having the opportunity to observe their large gathering under a large white-tent as their church service was being conducted on a Sunday afternoon. Bill dropped me off to visit the large Flea Market that people from all over the country come to shop, but I personally didn’t find it all that impressive, of course, I’m not much of a flea market person anyways.
St. Robert (suburb of Ft. Leonard Wood), Missouri – Cracker Barrel, 128 St. Robert Blvd. (Return Trip Home, 1-Night’s Stay)
Drove 525 miles from the KOA Campground to a Cracker Barrel in St. Robert just to spend the night. This was another long day of driving and hitting rush hour in St. Louis made an already tiring day, stressful. Our drives home are usually driven with more miles per day than going out on a road trip because we’re ready to be home.
We woke up the next morning, having breakfast at Cracker Barrel, then proceeded with driving 583 miles, mostly driving in rain to arrive back home.
Total of 40 days, 39 over-nights on this road trip!