Bear Cave will always be one of my favorite places during our travel journey so far because of the people we met. Tucked in the southwest corner of Michigan, on the skirts of a little town called Buchanan and along the banks of the Saint Joseph River, Bear Cave RV Campground is part of the Thousand Trails system and a favorite of those who live nearby. This was the longer of two stops we made in southern Michigan.
Our first stay was at a small county park in Jackson, Michigan, a popular weekend spot for the locals. We needed a place with electricity so we could operate our A/C since temps were in the mid-90s, and Swain’s Lake Campground filled the bill. While at Swain’s Lake, Carl was able to play a round of golf at the golf course across the street, and we also dined at Albion Malleable Brewing Co, (https://www.albionmalleable.com/), a brewery/restaurant that was open for indoor and outdoor dining, with appropriate social distancing and mask mandates in place. The food was delicious, and we enjoyed trying a few of the brews.
Bear Cave RV Campground was just down the road from the Redbud Motocross Track (https://redbudmx.com/), which thrilled Carl as he used to race dirt bikes when he was young (10 or so years ago … haha!).
Why will Bear Cave be at the top of my list? For the past four years, we have watched (at least weekly) various YouTube channels of full-time RVers, inviting them into our home, watching where they traveled, mining tips and tricks from their experiences, and getting ideas for storage and renovations in our Airstream. I have also been following some of them on Instagram. While at Bear Cave, we had the privilege of meeting two of these families—Less Junk More Journey (https://www.youtube.com/lessjunkmorejourney)and Finding Our Someday (https://findingoursomeday.com/).
We were walking around the RV park our first evening there. As we passed someone who was outside washing his truck, Carl said “that’s Less Junk More Journey.” When I glanced back, I saw little pink croc boots—what their 6-year-old daughter always wears—laying outside the door of their RV. So I walked back and asked the gentleman if he was Less Junk More Journey, and a new connection was born! I met Nathan’s wife, Marissa, the next morning while she was at the playground with her children and admitted to her that I was star struck. It couldn’t be helped. We have been watching their travel journey for several years, and I hoped to meet them someday, not realizing it would be so soon in our travels!
Later in the week, we met Corey and Jessie of Finding Our Someday. They often travel with Less Junk More Journey, so we were not surprised, but were still excited, to meet them while at Bear Cave. All of them are lovely, kind, and humble people—just regular RVers who vlog and photograph their adventures and share them with the masses.
Carl also met Kels and Jay (@kelsandjay), the occupants of a skoolie called Bessie. We saw Bessie at Kenisee Lake RV Campground in Ohio a couple of weeks earlier but did not have a chance to go over to meet her owners. A skoolie is a renovated school bus, and Kels and Jay also have a strong vlog and Instagram following.
In addition to these “stars,” we also met our neighbors, Charlie and Marion and Claudia and Chris. Claudia and Chris are called “annuals” at the park as their RV stays there all year. We enjoyed our evenings with them by a fire, drinking martinis and, on our last night there, making personal pizzas (they made homemade dough) in their outdoor, portable pizza oven.
While at Bear Cave, we ventured to Lake Michigan and did a two-hour boat tour through Harbor Country Adventures (#hcatours) out of Michiana, Indiana. There are mountains of sand dunes (part of a national park) along the coast of Lake Michigan, all formed by glacier ice thousands of years ago.
On another day, we drove to South Bend, Indiana to check out the campus of University of Notre Dame as well as a whitewater rafting ride/feature in downtown South Bend called East Race Waterway. It is only open on the weekends during the summer, so we could not give it a try as we were there on a Tuesday. The price seems reasonable, and someone along the way recommended it to us and said it was fun. We also visited the RV/MH Hall of Fame Museum (https://www.rvmhhalloffame.org/) in Elkhart, IN, seeing dozens of vintage campers and reading a little of the industry’s history. It was cool to see RVs that people have been camping in over the past 100 years.
Michigan is a large state, with so much more to explore. It will be at least another year, if not longer, before we venture back to this area.