Just one block off Main Street in Fremont, MI
Adventures - like houses - come in all shapes and sizes. Some have great curb appeal. Some have nothing notable about their exteriors at all, but require you to be inside and experience for yourself.
After so many blog posts about visiting National Parks, swimming with Manatees, snorkeling in the Florida Keys, last-minute entries into BMX races and other events that seem more adventuresome and with more curb appeal we’ve stepped into a phase that doesn’t look so exciting on the outside but will require more concentrated effort to uncover the adventure.
In short, we bought a seasonal campsite in the small lakefront farming town of Fremont, MI:
We’ve had more than a few people ask us both “why did you stop traveling for the summer?” and then “why Fremont?” so this post is to outline the thinking that brought us here.
Summer is Busy
For full-time RVers summer is a mixed blessing.
While the weather lets you visit the more northerly portions of the county that see snow in the winter, the campgrounds fill up with families and weekend warriors enjoying their vacations.
We enjoy meeting them as much as anyone but the added campground traffic requires more forethought and planning and reservation-making. The alternative could be a summer in spent in Walmart parking lots.
We’ve a few (non-threatening) health issues in the family that need addressing. While we could seek medical care anywhere it’s just easier to return to our existing and known physicians and providers.
I’ve a few work projects that require the type of thinking and attention that is tough to find while moving and exploring often.
Our kids are now 17 and 15. Our first year of travel we didn’t focus much on school, choosing the let the trip provide their education.
Now - with the oldest especially - we want to ensure that if he chooses to attend college he’ll be prepped for it. To get that done on the schedule the boy is giving us for being on his own requires that he schools through the summer. This will be easier if we aren’t moving.
Stopping down for a while lets us reconnect with family again. This location is close enough to our immediate family members that we can make daytrips to visit or they can come here.
The kids expressed interest in getting involved in some things that travel makes tough. Harrison sought out the local Little League and got a job as umpire. So far he’s had 4-5 games a week which might change once school is out - or may not.
Miranda is getting involved in the local Humane Society. She has taking their initial training and will be on the schedule more as time goes on.
I’ve submitted an application for us to volunteer as a family with a local organization where we hope to interact with local families in need.
Fremont is the home of Gerber Baby Food, and the town plays host to the National Baby Food Festival every year with all of the elements of a small town festival (runs, car shows, baby races, baby food eating contests, 3 on 3 basketball, etc). We plan to volunteer to help run it as well.
Our first week and a half here was a lot of rain
We joked they were going to charge us extra for a waterfront lot
This is when I started to worry and moved my truck to higher ground.
We got library cards and were like pot addicts arriving in Colorado.
There is an Amish presence here.
Does this look like a church built in the late 1800s?
The main claim to fame for Fremont.
Everything is in bloom
Remember how to do this?
The 'welcome coffee' at the park.
Fremont is Authentic
In Michigan tourist traffic moves South to North with people “going up North” for the weekend. Towns along North/South highways get busy with that traffic.
Fremont sits on a East/West highway that isn’t on the way to anywhere. You have to purpose to visit. While the merchants in town may lament this, I think it’s kept Fremont pure.
It doesn’t smell of money. There are some big homes on the lake but there are also unrestored tiny cottages from the 40’s.
The local high school kids get out of class and walk alongside a stream to the lakefront ice cream shop. After the heavy rains we had our first week here we saw 8 year old boys in swim trunks back-stroking through a flooded yard.
The railroad tracks and grain silos are right next to Main Street with same two stoplights it’s had for at least 30 years.
There is a Walmart but none of the other big-box retailers have landed. You can still visit a hardware store downtown.
City Owned Campground
The campground is owned by the city, is quite reasonable in cost, and is located on the lake the town settled on.
I’ll be able to wheel a kayak over and be paddling 5 minutes out my door. We can walk to buy groceries, bike to the library (which saw our seasonal campsite as enough address to issue us library cards), and bike to a farmer’s market.
There is community here. We experienced it when we camped here a couple of years ago.
As I write this there are people setting up for the “Welcome Coffee” as it’s the first big weekend of the summer and residents are greeting each other after not seeing them for the winter.
There is a group across the street from our site that has been having evening campfires and meals together for at least 12 years. Sitting and listening to them talk it’s clear they are family to each other.
But Will It Get Boring?
We worry about that. Sitting in one place for 5 months after moving so much might be tough. We are taking measures to avoid feeling trapped.
We have scoured the local newspapers for events and have put them all on our calendar. I’ve checked out books on the rivers in Michigan and want to make plans to kayak some of them. I want to kayak Pictured Rocks in the Upper Penninsula.
I’m also slowly photographing the area - just looking for anything that catches my eye. Churches, old township halls, small-town parades, and hopefully some of our neighbors.
You can follow along on Instragram as I’ll be hash-tagging this series with #lifeinfremont.
So that’s our current adventure: small town America residents. It’s not what we foresaw when we launched on this adventure.
It may not have the curb-appeal of an Airstream in the Redwoods or Mountains. But it’s what makes sense for us for now and we intend to enjoy it.
Have You Seasoned
If you are a fulltime RVer, have you seasoned somewhere? How did it go not traveling for that long?