I rank everything. Top TV characters (I say Archie Bunker and Hawkeye Pierce). Best road trip songs (“Me and Bobby McGee” heads my list). Paragons of cool (I’m going with Bruce Springsteen and Paul Newman). And, of course, American places.

I know I’m enchanted by a particular swath of the American scene when I’m driving through the region RV-style and I’m thinking to myself: This has to rank WAY up there. The thought always comes to mind while cruising through California’s redwood country and beneath Montana’s big sky and alongside the horse farms of Kentucky and past the charming hamlets of Vermont.

And northwestern Michigan, too. Every time.

What was the best part this time around? Well, maybe it was the stroll around the almost unfathomably charming yet unexpectedly bustling town of Glen Arbor, just north of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. As an author, my favorite business establishment was the Cottage Book Shop, housed in a 96-year-old log cabin. They even had a couple of my picture books facing out. Or did I do that?

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UntitledAnticipation filled the truck of our cab as we drove the two-lane highway north from Havre, Montana towards the Canadian border. How would the border crossing go? Would our RV be searched as we had heard happened to other RVers? Not that we had anything to hide, but the thought of having to unpack everything and open up the slides for a search seemed daunting.

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Rock has been accompanying our roll for 45 days now. We’ve been calling our epic summer RV excursion the Summer of Love 2.0. We’re driving a retro-design RV known as the Tribute, an homage to the Winnebago of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. We bought a throw rug depicting the peace symbol. We’ve been lugging around a Fifth Dimension record album, for crying out loud.

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My wife’s birthday always comes along during our summer RV excursions. So Amy has flipped the calendar in places as varied as South Dakota and Wisconsin, Grand Rapids and San Francisco. This year, it fell at—appropriately—Niagara Falls.

We simply parked our RV on the New York side—at Goat Island for $10. Then we walked over Rainbow Bridge and into another country.

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Sometimes RV excursions have a purposeful theme. You want to visit national parks or battlefields or ballparks. And sometimes that theme emerges rather organically. That’s what has happened to us this summer as we’ve passed through university towns like Hanover (New Hampshire) and Middlebury and Bennington (Vermont). So amid this Summer of Love 2.0 tour in our retro-designed Tribute from Winnebago, we’ve gone back to college.

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