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Author Topic: Rental Trip to Indiana Chain O Lakes and Potato Creek State Parks  (Read 1666 times)

camperAL

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Greetings,        (Part 1)

Thought I would outline our RV trip we just took. My Dad and Mom were RV'ers and my wife and I had a chance to do several trips with them to Michigan, Knoxville Worlds Fair, and Oregon. This took place in the 1970's though 1980's. I have always been an avid camper and have camped in tents at many locations. I have also lived out of my mini van in various locations that I have traveled to, mainly out in wilderness areas.

However this was the first practical trip to attempt to see if we like this lifestyle, get an idea if we like the Class C's or if a bigger unit is in order. Also see if the features that were in the C  were what we wanted.

We started out by renting a unit at the Elkhart, Indiana Cruse America for 8 days and left August 18th and finished on Aug. 26th. We decided that the local state parks would be a good choice as they have a lot to do.
The day of pick up went smooth and they gave us a detailed walk through with the unit. We choose a mid size class C unit about 25 feet in length. These units are pretty basic but there still are things to know before heading out on a trip. My extensive RV Forum reading help me out a great deal on knowing a number of things ahead of time. It made the jump from reading to doing a better experience.

We left our van at the rental location as it had a security fence and cameras. This allowed us to load our items into the van after we got back from the trip. We didn't load the RV at the rental location but rather took it to our house in north central Indiana. We planned ahead and had everything we wanted to take mostly in a single location with the exception of the perishables which were located in the refrigerator. The drive home in the RV was not a bad one. Control of the unit was not as easy as driving my van but still manageable. Wondering how it will be with the unit loaded.

We slowly loaded the RV up the day before departure to the Chain O Lakes State Park, finding places for everything. I was a bit worried about the RV being over weight. They listed the gross vehicle weight but not the weight of the unit. Back storage compartment listed a top weight of 200 lbs which I am sure we are about at that limit. When I got back I asked about the weight limit. The Cruise America representative said the units are built light and felt it would be hard to overload them but suggested a 1000 LBS limit.

Our first night we camped at home and we try to use the facilities to figure out if we might be needing anything for use in the Class C and on our trip. I plugged the RV into 110 to run mainly the AC. I had to use a converter plug as I don't have the regular shoreline plug in at our house. We were able to use lights in the RV and avoided running both the AC and microwave at the same time. I could have used the generator but decided the 110 power supply was enough for one day.

Both my oldest son and my daughter came over for a look at the unit. We showed them around.

CamperAL (Indiana)
(2006 Coachmen Mirada 290 KS )

camperAL

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Re: Rental Trip to Indiana Chain O Lakes and Potato Creek State Parks
« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2014, 09:43:13 AM »
RV Trip part 2,

We finished loading up the following morning. Night before we plugged the RV into 110 power and allowed the refrigerator to slowly cool. RV refrigerators take time to cool off and we wanted to load our perishables for the trip. The fridge ran some 10 hours before leaving. We set the refrigerator on auto so LP would cool things as we traveled down the road after we disconnected the electric. Surprisingly all the fresh items fit into the RV refrigerator.

The drive to the Chain O lake State Park should have taken about 40 miles but there was a detour that cost us an additional 20 miles. The drive there loaded was different than when we were empty and I allowed for more stop time as I could. The unit didn't handle as well as I thought it should. It wasn't bad but I was aware of the load and wind and trucks coming from the opposite direction sometimes had an effect on the RV. We arrived at the Chain O Lakes State Park and checked in, we had previously registered for the stay. My wife helped me back in and I had to put some boards under the one side of the camper to level better.

We settled in and got things out that were in storage. We made a run to the camp store and looked around. I bought firewood and they let you use a wagon to hull the wood back to your site. We tend to walk everywhere for exercise and exploring. We wanted to take bikes but there was no room to attach my bicycle bracket to hold them and I didn't want to rent a bike holder. They do rent bikes out you can ride at the park and that was an option. I needed to return the wagon to the store but a good rain started in just as we got back to the RV. I put the wood into the storage compartment and under the RV to keep it dry.
We ate light the first night.

Second day I got up very early in time to do some star gazing. I took a very small but effective telescope with me on the trip. I built a camp fire and made myself some coffee and just enjoyed the peace and quiet setting at the provided picnic table. I also enjoying the fire burning while it was still a bit dark out. Only lights were coming from a community shower and bathroom. Just me, the stars and beautiful night. Amazing how the simple things can be so much appreciated from the stress of everyday life. Nancy got up late and fixed her coffee and breakfast. We got things around and I put a backpack together so we could go explore the many trails they have at the campground. They also have a nature center and we visited that along the nice lake that has a beach and you can go swimming.

We were finally able to drag ourselves to homebase and rested for a bit before dinner. We decided to go gourmet and fixed hobo stew. A simple but very satisfying meal. Takes a little over an hour to cook. Sat at the picnic table and enjoyed our meal while taking in the scenery all around us. We were there during the weekdays so there were not many campers in our spot.

Third day got up a bit later but still got out to see the small crescent moon. Built a campfire again and drank my morning brew. Enjoyed the peaceful setting again. Today we have to get things around to travel to another state park so will put things up for travel. My son, daughter in law and their sons plan on joining us for a night at the next site about two hours away at Potato Creek State Park. Thursday was a rainy day and  rained quite a bit, causing some very large puddles around us. Made our site muddy and we had to take shoes off so as not to track mud in our RV. We decided it was a movie day and watched dvd's on the computer as well as checking the weather on the internet.

Fourth Day Friday. Got things around early so we could head out to our second destination. Doing a check around the camp site before departure. I also left a note on the driver's seat to unplug the electric. We plan on making a full check list in the future. On the way out I dumped our black and gray tanks. Not as bad of a job as I thought it might be. I still was careful as I did 't want my first dump to be a bad one. We resumed our trip. Driving seem easier but we had used up some of our resources, making things lighter in the RV. Before heading to our campsite we stopped at a Subway a few miles away and bought our lunch to be eaten at the new camp site location. We checked in an hour and a half early as there were no campers at our site and set up camp. Emailed my son to let him know we were close by. Got a call he would be dropping in on Saturday. As the day progressed there were lots of weekend campers coming in for their stays. Not as quiet as our first location but expected it to get busy on the weekend. We were able to do some hiking and stopped by the general store for some ice which I carried back to the RV.  Also arranged for wood to be dropped off for our campfire later.
CamperAL (Indiana)
(2006 Coachmen Mirada 290 KS )

camperAL

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Re: Rental Trip to Indiana Chain O Lakes and Potato Creek State Parks
« Reply #2 on: August 29, 2014, 08:29:46 AM »
RV Trip Part 3

Fifth day Saturday. Sort of a repeat of our first camping site. We had rain coming again. My youngest son and grandsons came at about 11 O'clock thinking they would only stay for the afternoon. He later got to thinking and said he had something to do on Sunday but then remembered it was the last Sunday of the month. So our son decided to stay the night. My wife and I got ingredients out for a crook pot beef stew. Slowly worked on thawing out the beef which we had frozen in the freezer, cutting up potatoes, carrots, and celery. Put those ingredients in crook pot along with a can of diced tomatoes and got it going using a crook pot liner. Cut up onions to put in the stew for those who like onions. Took a little while to get beef thawed, we then browned the beef and put it in the pot to cook. Did a walk with my wife, son and grandsons. They have playgrounds at the Indiana State Parks so took the grandsons to visit those.

Daughter in law was coming in at 6 p.m. and about the time the rain storm really hit us. We stayed cozy in the RV enjoying the aroma of the slow cooker. It was pouring when daughter in law got to the campsite. She had to wait a bit before rain died down enough. Brought things for our son and grandson for staying the night. We enjoyed our meal and watched the movie RV since it was wet outside. We put my son and one grandson in the overhead bunk space above the drive and passenger side of the RV. My daughter in law decided to head home for the night and left a bit before dark. After the movie it was getting very late so we retired.

Sixth day Sunday. I got up early as usual. Started a camp fire, made my morning coffee and sat on the picnic table (using boards that were dry to sit on) and watched the fire and slowly but surely the camp neighbors getting up for the day. My wife got up next, followed by my son. All of us sat by the campfire and enjoyed watching it and talking about family matters while eating breakfast. Decided to fix chicken and steaks on the grill for lunch. My son, grandson and I went in my son's car to the nature center to see their display. After word we stopped off at the camp store and bought some ice and lighter fluid. We then headed to the campsite and put the ice in the ice chest then started the grill to cook the meat. We had chicken, steak and potato salad along with desert. Probably the best eating in 24 hours of the whole camping trip. Son stayed with us until about 4 p.m. then had to leave. We did a bit more walking for exercise but grass was wet from rains previous day. We just walked along the roads too places we wanted to go. Not as good as the walking trails they have there.

After my son left my wife and I got things around in the RV in order to travel to the fresh water fill up station so we didn't run out of water. We had been keeping and eye on the tank displays. You can't always trust the levels but water, LP and gray tank were accurate. I got back and switched on the hot water heater so we could take showers. Reconnected the electric and got things back down from travel so we could use them again. Pulled up my log so I could catch things up again. We did the navy shower bit and wet ourselves up, turn the water off then soaped up, then turned water on again and washed off. If you get good at it, you only have to use a gallon or two of water. I felt as good as taking a regular shower. It is now getting late and we are going to fix hotdogs for our evening meal. Simple and quick and good. We also plan on watching the movie the Parent Trap another camp movie.

Tomorrow will be our final day and we need to re-box things for travel and clean the RV up so we can drop it off which will include the outside of the unit. I also will need to fill the propane and gasoline before drop off as well as dumping the tanks for the last time. We also plan on doing some walking around the campsites and having another fine day in the RV weather permitting.
« Last Edit: August 29, 2014, 12:17:32 PM by camperAL »
CamperAL (Indiana)
(2006 Coachmen Mirada 290 KS )

camperAL

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Re: Rental Trip to Indiana Chain O Lakes and Potato Creek State Parks
« Reply #3 on: August 29, 2014, 07:43:58 PM »
RV Trip Part 4

Monday Seventh Day. Got up today and drank morning coffee by campfire ring at picnic table. The camp is now pretty deserted with only a couple of rigs here. Talked to the owner of one of them and they said they would pull out later about check out time. I worked on cleaning the outside of the rental and Nancy cleaned on the inside of the rig. I pulled things out of the big storage compartment in the back passenger side of the rig. Plan on cleaning it and sweeping out debris that was there before we rented the unit. We still need to put things away in boxes and then put things up so we can do a good cleaning on the floor. We cooked hamburgers on the grill at lunch. We've been having our fair share of rain this RV trip and today will be no exception.

At about 4 p.m. started to get windy and there is obvious a storm coming our way. I put things back into the storage compartment and just finished when the rain hit us. We check on intellicast for radar on what was headed our way, and also turned on the NOAA Radio so we could determine if any danger exists by being in the rental unit. The State Parks have brick restrooms that can be used for shelter if things get too bad. After the wind died down we experience some heavy rain. It rained for about a half an hour. Then stopped so we could get out again. Firewood got a bit wet but the tree at our campsite protected it somewhat so it wasn't soaked. I put some lighter fluid in the pit to dry out the wood by lighting it and driving the moisture out. This worked very well as the wood looked pretty dry. Let it cool down a bit and put a tarp over the pit. Put two wood logs on top and the grill grate over to stop wind from blowing. Glad we did that as a little later on started to rain again. Looking at radar, Lake Michigan is feeding the system and adding moisture to generate more rain. Looks like another TV night for us but not a problem as we stay cozy in the RV.

We ate leftovers this evening (crook pot beef stew) and sat at the picnic table after the rains. We started to watch the classic movie Back to the Future I. It has stopped raining and it is slowly getting dark. Things are wet but we feel we can have our last campfire this evening so we have paused the movie in order to get outside again. We had covered the firewood and have some items to help with starting the fire with. Only took two tries to get the fire burning and we now sit out on the picnic tables (used wood for leveling the RV for dry seats on the picnic table) and enjoy the smell of the wood burning. I lit up a good cigar for the last evening. We spend the next couple of hours by the fire ring. Leaves on the tree above us are wet and when the wind blows we get droplets coming down on us. The fire creates some up draft and wind on the tree above us and is part of the source of the leaves blowing. Just a minor problem. After the fire we then go in and finish our movie.

One of the things we wanted on this trip is to experience a wide variety of things including rain (and boy did we get it) so we could gain knowledge on what to take on the next trip. We feel we prepared pretty well except for a couple of items that weren't all that important. Part of camping is being able to make do with what you have. We no doubt over did it on the food. We figure we could live off what we brought for another three, four weeks. Time to hit the hay again as we need to get up early so we can get started early and return the unit.
« Last Edit: August 29, 2014, 08:36:29 PM by camperAL »
CamperAL (Indiana)
(2006 Coachmen Mirada 290 KS )

camperAL

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Re: Rental Trip to Indiana Chain O Lakes and Potato Creek State Parks
« Reply #4 on: August 30, 2014, 09:32:34 AM »
RV Trip Part 5

Tuesday Eighth Day. This is the last day and we need to return the unit before 11 a.m. today. Weather forecast says rain in the afternoon. We should be able to return the unit before the rain. We have most everything in boxes or stored for travel. I need to do three things, first dump the black and gray tanks. Second fill the gas tank and third fill the LP tank before returning the unit.

Potato Creek Campground is only 20 some miles from the Cruse America rental place and our van. After putting things away and storing items for travel we check around the campground, put the electric cord back into the compartment and we head out of the camp grounds but stop to dump the tanks again. I pick up the road that will take us north and then east to state rd. 19 then up to the rental place. Just before getting there we stop for gas and I put in 24.4 gallons of gasoline. We also stop for LP at an RV place along the road that fills tanks. We used a whole gallon of LP. We then park the RV next to our van so we can unload. In the process the Cruse America guy comes out and we let him know we are trying to beat the rain as it looks stormy. Even though our efforts were to beat the rains, it rained early that day too and we had to load the van up with our stuff as it was raining. My van has a back door that lifts up and that provided protection from the RV to the Van. I packed things in there very carefully as I knew it would be tight when I got done. I had removed a couple of seats in the back for space. It all fit but we were loaded down.

After we got fully unloaded and checked all the cubbard boards for items, I went in and got the rental agent. Nancy wanted to re-clean the floor as we had made a mess from the rains again. The agent wasn't overly concerned with the wet environment. He check the various areas out, made sure the tanks were dumped, and gas and LP were filled. I told him of a couple of small problems we had experienced while on the road. He felt we had done a great job inside and out cleaning. I signed the paper that everything was in order and the unit was returned in good shape.

Cost for rental and LP of RV unit was $138.81 per day. We averaged 9.3 miles per gallon of fuel at a cost of $10.52 per day. Adding the gasoline cost the average day rental and fuel costs were $149.34 per day or just under $1200.00 for the 8 days we  had the RV. Campground costs were $168.00 for the 8 days. They charge a bit more for the weekends than the week days at these campgrounds. Adding in the campground costs we averaged $170.34 per day for everything. While this is a bit expensive, it gave us a lot of insight on RV's and what we liked and didn't like. I'll make out a list of things we learned and the things we want don't want on a rig we may buy.
CamperAL (Indiana)
(2006 Coachmen Mirada 290 KS )

camperAL

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Re: Rental Trip to Indiana Chain O Lakes and Potato Creek State Parks
« Reply #5 on: August 30, 2014, 09:35:15 AM »
Things Learned on Trip:

* An outside mat or rug is essential to keep debris out of the RV,
* we over did it on food and don't need as much as we thought,
* I used more lighter fluid than I thought as that was used for starting fires and grilling out,
* bed in back makes it rough to get in and out plus comfort wasn't there,
* toilet in this RV was tight with the wall a foot from your face making moving around hard,
* the shower wasn't bad as we were effective at taking short showers without wasting water,
* bathroom sink was usable but small,
* we can easily go a week in this unit without resupply,
* electrical hook up and sewage dumping wasn't as bad as I thought it might be,
* gas milage on these units are less than 10 miles/gallon,
* the levels control (black & gray tanks, LP, water) are fairly accurate with exception of the black tank and I understand why those can stick,
* it's important to have things to do both dry days and rainy ones,
* leveling was a small issue but I was on fairly level ground - I will need some better way to level when I purchase,
* driving the unit wasn't bad but you really need to keep your full attention on that and never be distracted - that is why shorter runs per day
  are advised,
* backing up wasn't hard but you do need someone to spot you for safety and to keep from damaging property,
* a check list of things to take for any trip is essential also for tearing down so things are not overlooked,
* awnings are very desirable our unit didn't have one,
* a TV would have been nice but mainly to check local things going on - our unit didn't have one - we used the internet,
* while we enjoyed the class C unit we are now leaning more toward the Axis,
* RV's are a great way to get families together and spend some time together and enjoy the simple things while getting away from the 
  hustle and bustle.

I'm sure we will come up with more later. Thanks for sharing our trip!
« Last Edit: August 30, 2014, 10:07:14 AM by camperAL »
CamperAL (Indiana)
(2006 Coachmen Mirada 290 KS )

Alfa38User

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Re: Rental Trip to Indiana Chain O Lakes and Potato Creek State Parks
« Reply #6 on: August 30, 2014, 11:15:57 AM »
Excellent write up and should be valuable for someone contemplating doing what you did!!!
Stu
Montréal, Canada 🍁
Snowbird, Naples Florida
Alfa Gold 38 (2000) 5ver (parked!)

"Of course I talk to myself, sometimes I need expert advise!!!"

camperAL

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Re: Rental Trip to Indiana Chain O Lakes and Potato Creek State Parks
« Reply #7 on: August 30, 2014, 12:39:16 PM »
Hi Alfa38User,

Thank you for your complement! We enjoyed the trip and it was taken on the advise of other forum members, to help us really understand what it is like to RV and to decide on the size of a unit. As you can see we noted many things while on the trip and it will give us some insight to start out with our own unit when it comes time.

I really do hope it helps others out and they can gain some useful knowledge. I also suggest reading areas of this forum to gather up information so you can apply it to your own situation. If you can't find what you need by search, don't be afraid to ask the seasoned RV travelers as they usually have the answer or can help you to find the best way to go about it.
CamperAL (Indiana)
(2006 Coachmen Mirada 290 KS )

SMR

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Re: Rental Trip to Indiana Chain O Lakes and Potato Creek State Parks
« Reply #8 on: August 30, 2014, 04:35:27 PM »
I agree a great write up- Potato Creek is one of my favorite parks- our first trip with our camper was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving 2012, we were the only one in the campground.
Gonna put the world away for a minute......
Steve
2016 Bighorn 3760 EL
2015 Ford F350
me, DW and our 2 dogs

 

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