Spring forward to daylight savings time – ugh! I really dislike when we switch to daylight savings time. Just when we were starting to emerge from the dark of winter with some morning light, the time changes and sets us back a whole hour. The change impacts my sleep as well as my overall wellbeing! Apparently it isn’t just me - scientists believe that a neurobiological phenomenon called "circadian desynchronization" contributes to worsening changes in physical and mental health following the time change. Increased strokes and heart attacks, car crashes, and prolonged sleep deprivation have all been attributed to the change to DST. There is a big discussion about doing away with the time change, but folks can't seem to figure out which is better Standard Time or DST. From my perspective the disruption comes from the time change itself, not necessarily the time zone.
To cheer myself up, I thought I would plan a camping and biking trip. It takes me a long time to plan trips, especially if they have multiple stops. I usually start with a bike path that we want to explore and go from there. We have been interested in checking out the Pumpkinvine Trail in northern Indiana and since that trail will take us close to Michigan we want to continue on to South Haven and Sleeping Bear Dunes for a 10-day trip in late July.
My world changed when I discovered that you can see bike paths on google maps.
As you look at a map, the dark lines are bike paths. If you zoom in enough you can find the name of the path. I start with finding the trail on google maps so I can see what towns are nearby. You can also find the trails at the Rails-to-Trails website or their TrailLink app. This is a really helpful resource if you want to read a description of the trail or user reviews.
Ideally if the trail is a long one, I try to find a campground in the center of the trail so we can ride one direction one day and on another day bike the opposite direction.
Next I plug in the towns on or near the bike path to an app like Dyrt.com. There are other apps out there, but I’ve always had good luck with the Dyrt. Our camping experiences have generally been in sync with those campers who submit Dyrt reviews. It’s ideal to find a campground right on the bike path but this seldom happens. So I check out campgrounds near the bike trails by reading the reviews on Dyrt and select a campground with good reviews. Since we have a travel trailer I try to find a site with a full hook-up, but a site with electricity and water hook-up are next best.
For this trip I found a campground in Shipshewana, Indiana which is the eastern endpoint of the Pumpkinvine Trail. Since we have flexibility in our dates, I’m going to look for places to stay in Michigan first to check on availability for the end of July.
At this point I decide to map the trip in google maps. I try to arrange our trips so that we don’t have to drive longer than four hours or about 200 miles on any given day. After mapping the trip, I decide to head north to Sleeping Bear Dunes from northern Indiana and hit South Haven on the return trip. I figured I was too late to get a reservation in the national park itself (and I was), so I looked for campgrounds near Sleeping Bear Dunes. I found one in Empire that gets good reviews. It is also very accessible to Sleeping Bear Dunes Heritage Trail and the small towns that make this area so great. The campground is available, but only for three nights in the middle of the week.
Before I do final reservations, I check on the campground we typically stay at near the Kal-Haven Trail. The Kal-Haven Outpost is right on the bike path and is available for the dates we need. At this point I go back, make reservations at the three campgrounds and add the trip to a google doc. I do this so I have a place to record confirmation numbers and names of the campgrounds. I also make note of the bike trails and other things to do in the area.
Below is a map of our 10-day trip to northern Indiana and Michigan in July. I'll let you know how it was later in the summer!