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Rick Kessler Talks with Lost in the Woods About Camping in the Midwest

by Liz Childers

It’s incredibly easy to forget how diverse America’s landscapes and ecosystems are. For outdoor lovers, this is a luxury that allows nearly infinite exploration. The vast diversity of America’s landscapes and ecosystems ensures camping can be a completely new experience depending on where you go. In an ongoing effort to cull information on different regions’ camping, I contacted Rick Kessler. Rick is an avid RV camper who runs Gr8LakesCamper. As you can probably infer, Rick lives in the Midwest and his blog “celebrates the world of RV camping” in the region.

Rick lives in Temperance, Michigan, a sleepy suburb of Toledo, Ohio. I was told that Temperance is a “great place to raise a family,” and I easily got the impression that it is also the perfect outpost for enthusiastic campers. The small town is located near the western shore of Lake Erie and within an hour and a half of ten state parks.

Rick comes from a family of campers – his grandparents took their motor home as far south as the Panama Canal and as far north as Alaska – so its no wonder he caught the camping bug. Rick and his wife camped for several summers on their own, and brought their three children along once they were born.

The switch to RV camping occurred when the Kesslers had their third child. As anyone who has camped with their family knows, tents get crowded, and the Kesslers’ cabin tent was no different.

“When we looked across the campground at our family sleeping comfortably in their RVs,” explains Rick, “it was a pretty easy decision to buy a travel trailer and get ourselves up off the ground.”

The Kesslers bought a hybrid travel trailer and, with the exception of a few wistful pangs over poor gas mileage, have never looked back towards their days of tent camping.

Rick and his family typically look for lakeside campgrounds, where they can pull up their “cottage on wheels” and enjoy the view from the shore. Luckily for them, shores are abundant in Michigan. A favorite campsite of theirs is Maumee Bay State Park, a picturesque, beach-like stop along Lake Erie. Albert E. Sleeper State Park, a beautiful spot on Lake Huron’s Saginaw Bay, is another regular campsite for the Kesslers.

When asked what makes camping in the area unique, he joked, “the Midwest offers a temperate climate, enormous mosquitos and mostly flat landscapes so towing an RV isn’t so bad.”

All kidding aside, the way Rick describes his region made me feel like an RV is the ideal way to see the Midwest.

Sunset over Saginaw Bay at Albert E. Sleeper State Park
“Actually like anywhere in North America, the Midwest has a lot to offer, just waiting to be discovered. It could be the perfect ice cream shoppe, a corner antique store or a family owned diner with the best homemade pies of all times,” he added. “Or, it could be sand dunes taller than a roller coaster, canyons that appear from nowhere as you’re driving alongside prairie, or a cave so big it’s mammoth. From big cities to friendly small towns, the Midwest offers a slice of genuine Americana no matter where the road takes you.”

If you want to come explore this bit of America, Rick says to never forget your insect repellant or layers of clothing – the weather in the area is known to change significantly from one day to the next.

Despite this weather warning, Rick adds that camping is great in the Midwest summer, spring, and fall.

“I enjoy the spring because after a long winter of shoveling snow and dealing with bad drives and bad driving conditions, there’s nothing like camping to put all that behind you. I enjoy the summer because camping and warm weather go together as well as marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers,” Rick explains. “I enjoy autumn because the days are made for shorts and maybe a sweatshirt, while at night the campfire’s heat is just as important as its role as a mesmerizing conversation piece.”

Feel inspired to hitch up your RV and hit the open road to explore all that the Midwest has to offer? Check out our full interview with Rick. He has some great tips for those considering making the switch to RV camping.