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Posted by Victor Crew on

Lesser Known But Beautiful Get Away: Lake Hope State Park Ohio

Lake Hope sits among the rolling hills of Southeast Ohio, which some consider to be the most scenic land in the state. And Hocking Hills, a very popular state park, is only 20 miles away. However, Hocking Hills is known to get quite crowded.

Lake Hope is very much a destination all its own despite its proximity to Hocking Hills. It has a lovely lake, 67 cabins (more than any other Ohio state park). It also has a very well kept, state-owned campground.

Many people find it more peaceful than some of the other state parks which tend to be more crowded. It is also completely surrounded by the massive 28,000-acre Zaleski State Forest which makes it feel even more remote (the closest gas station is about 12 miles away).

There is plenty to do at the park if one wants: mountain biking, fishing, hunting, hiking, swimming, boating and hummingbird feeding (although this service is closed do to the pandemic).

The Zaleski State Forest is also very popular with overnight backpackers. Its 29-mile trail that includes 3 primitive camping areas and smaller loops for day hiking is one of the most popular among backpackers in Ohio.

Hope Lake, however, is also a great place to sit, relax and just take it all in.

Posted by Victor Crew on

Jody Reviews Frankenmuth

Wilkommen! to Frankenmuth, Michigan. Wilkomen is German for welcome, an offer to come and join in. Something we don’t hear enough of these days. Frankenmuth, Michigan’s little Bavaria, is a place to find all the things that make time together meaningful. It’s a place of horse-drawn carrriages and covered bridges; of river boat cruises and world famous chicken dinners.

There are loads of things for you and your family to do in Frankenmuth. With festivals year round, the town welcomes visitors with Bavarian hospitality regardless of the season.  It’s a great place for a day trip for the family or a weekend retreat with friends. Activities include concerts in the park, indoor and outdoor family fun, and even pet friendly fun.

If you are a shopper, this is your perfect destination. Shops include anything from leather to silk, china to sporting goods, apparel to gifts and much more.

For dining there are breweries, coffee shops, French, German and Oriental cuisines, and plenty of fast food and sweet shops. Lodging includes hotels, motels, B&Bs, and RV/campgrounds for your convenience.

From fantastic food, eclectic shopping and entertainment, to rich historical beauty and culture, Frankenmuth is the ideal departure from the ordinary every day.

Posted by Victor Crew on

Jody Reviews Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is America’s first national park, established in 1872. It is spread out over three states; Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, and is home to a large variety of wildlife including grizzly bears, wolves, bison, and elk. Preserved within Yellowstone National Park are Old Faithful and a collection of the world’s most extraordinary geysers and hot springs, and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

Of course no trip to Yellowstone would be complete without visiting the most popular geyser in the world, Old Faithful. There are also hundreds of other geysers and hot spring in the park. Hiking, camping, fishing, enjoying exhibits and films, and attending Ranger-led programs are among the many ways to experience Yellowstone.

Be prepared for the weather – the climate is one of cold winters and moderate summers. Accommodations range from rustic cabins to luxury suites. All of the developed areas in Yellowstone offer services such as gas stations, stores, medical facilities and campgrounds. There are an array of restaurants there too. Anything from the Mammoth Hotel Dining Room to the Old Faithful Geyser Grill; full service to light meals and fast food.

Services in the park include: boat rentals and charters, camping inside and outside the park, horseback riding, stores and gift shops, bookstores, daycare and kennels. Fun things to do include: photo tours, bicycling, hiking and backpacking, nature hikes, boating, fishing, and much more.

If you are looking for a great family trip you can’t beat Yellowstone – the kids will love it and so will you!



Posted by Jody Victor's Crew on

Jody Victor Says: Try Camping

Wanted: an affordable family vacation minus encounters with typical vacation disasters.

This, undoubtedly, is always easier said than done. However, the answer might be a more traditional vacation than some new vaca-fad—a camping trip. “But wait,” you caution, “I remember the terrible time I had as a kid soaking wet in the middle of the night in a leaky tent, the terrible food, unexpected visitors of the animal variety…” Stop right there, because here a few tips on making a success out of a family camping trip.

Hold a rehearsal: Sometime within a month in advance practice, with your children, setting up the tent in the backyard or living room. Spend the night in the tent with all the gear you plan on using.  Make sure the sleeping bags are warm enough (or cool enough as the case may be!), and the bedrolls provide enough protection from cool/damp/hard ground.

Food = Fun: Make food fun. Adults often forget that meal times can make for great memories whether it’s the kids roasting marshmallows, making jiffy-pop for the first time, or the fact that dad makes some awesome pancakes. Also remember, just because you’re camping doesn’t mean you have to eat like a caveman. Look up and plan time-tested camp recipes before you go, even try cooking them at home on the grill or on a fire. Lastly, bring two coolers: one for snacks and drinks and one for meals, that way kids can grab what they want without a fuss.

Get The Kids Involved: I don’t mean plan a bunch of typical, banal activities such as they are used to; instead, teach them to camp! Have them help set up camp, prepare meals, etc. If things start to go wrong admit you’re having trouble and ask for their help. Even if something goes amiss, these little blunders will be memorable if everyone can laugh about it as it happens and after (not to mention it’ll be a valuable learning experience).

Local is Lovely: Many people believe, for some reason, you have to first annoy and stress the family with double-digit hour long car rides to ‘exotic’ parks half the country away to have a beautiful and worthwhile camping trip, when most people live less than an hour from well-maintained and gorgeous public forests and parks. You’ll reduce stress, increase quality time, and save money on fuel.

Be An Early Bird: I know, I know. The last thing you want to do on vacation is get up early, but everyone else is thinking they’ll just sleep another hour too. If you get up early you’ll have a better chance of having facilities (including nature) to yourself. Also, many animals are much more active in the cool morning hours as opposed to the middle of a 95 degree afternoon. Plus, if the camp offers swimming you’ll be to the beach or pool soon after lunch for a quick dip and relaxation while the kids (hopefully) amuse themselves.

Indulge: No one said camping had to be utterly minimalist. Bring some extras like pillows; everyone will have a much better time if they can get a good night’s sleep. A bottle of wine can turn a typical camp dinner into what feels like a five-star meal.

Over Plan, Under Worry: Call the camp manager in advance, visit the facility’s website if they have one, ask about activities such as nature hikes and children’s programs. Explore local businesses and tourist opportunities. Plan both sunny and rainy day activities. Plan more than you need too, but most importantly remember not to be over strict in trying to fit in everything, let the vacation unfold on its own. Search state-government web sources for listings of state parks and amenities

Recommended Resources:
Kampgrounds of America (KOA), www.koa.com
National Park Service, www.nps.gov