My TT is 16' long and has dry weight around 2200 lb. Basic dinette that I leave as a bed, a gaucho to sit on, and a bathroom with tub/shower. A bit skimpy on storage and fresh water capacity, but it works for me. Cost me less than $10K new.
Better options include Casita, Scamp, Lil Snoozy, and similar molded fiberglass trailers. A TV with 3500 lb. rating should be able to handle a 16 footer and some 17s. The rounded, aero shape of these trailers makes for easier towing (less wind resistance) and better fuel economy. I get 12 mpg with mine, for example, but when I had the more egg shaped Burro I got 14 (same TV).
The thing to watch out for is exceeding tongue weight. My TT's tongue weight is about 350-360 lbs, which means if you had my TT you might have to run with no fresh water (tank is under the front dinette).
I'm looking forward to getting TL with a GS insert, seems like an improvement to me. I understand how those of you who already pay for TL or MH would feel, though. Maybe they'll do something to help you folks.
Reminds me of a story. My dad, back in the early '70s, walking back to a parking lot full of RVs and not paying attention, accidentally wound up alongside the wrong Winnie. Put his key in, unlocked the door, stepped inside, and went Whoa!
Come to find out, somehow he had wound up with a master key that could open any and every Winnie.
My V nose cargo trailer never yielded any better fuel economy than my previous flat front cargo. And I tow the cargoes a lot of miles, over 100K on this V nose.
My current travel trailer (with a front that tapers somewhat to the top), despite having a 1' wider body than the 6x12 cargo, runs about 1 mpg better than the cargo.
There are some really nutty animals out there (some on 2 legs, some on 4) and it's good to have something just in case. Ultimately, each of us is responsible for our own safety. Suppose you're out for a walk and a rabid skunk shows up? Unlikely, but strange things happen every day.
Definitely go to a gun range and rent something to see if you're comfortable with it, though, before spending money. It might save you from backtracking and buying something different later on, for example, if you decide you want a smaller caliber or a firearm that operates differently.
If for some reason you decide not to get a firearm, one alternative is to carry a can of hornet spray that shoots a thin stream a long way. Better than nothing, for sure.
Drive US 2 between St. Ignace and Engadine for some nice views of Lake Michigan.
In Mackinaw City, if you like good bread be sure to stop at the bakery a block north of the main shopping area; I always try to get a loaf of the cinnamon bread. Of course, there's plenty of fudge, caramel corn, and fish to eat around there, too.
My favorite thing to do on Mackinac Island is to ride a bike all the way around the outer perimeter, enjoying the lake views.
If you go west in the U.P., I'd suggest Palms Book SP where you can float across the Big Spring... perfectly clear water with fish 40' below that look like they're only 10' away. Also check out Fayette SP and the historic buildings and artifacts there. As previously mentioned, the Pictured Rocks Lakeshore is worth seeing by boat (pricey, but worth it... try to book the sunset cruise on a sunny day for best light on the rock cliffs). Tahquamenon Falls is worth visiting, as well as Whitefish Point's lighthouse/tiny museum.
Some days I just feel like sitting around the campsite, enjoying the smell of the woods and the feel of the breeze. I read a while, get up and ride my bike around the CG, then sit some more and watch the clouds go by. Aaaahhh, vacation! A day like this, interspersed with the sightseeing/traveling days, makes it really relaxing.
I'm glad for the info. After learning of the Air Safe hitch, I'm currently debating in my mind whether to get the Andersen or the Air Safe class 3. Definitely one or the other. I realize they are totally different animals (one is WD/sway unit, one is not). Since Air Safe is made specifically to reduce motion transmission, whereas with Andersen that reduction is more of a happy byproduct, it makes me think that the Air Safe might make the greater reduction. But how much greater, I don't know. And that weight distribution would be kind of nice just to take some of the load off the rear suspension.
What you have mapped out is a driving 'sampler platter' vacation. You hurry along and skim the surface of as great a variety of places as humanly possible in the time available. Now to be fair, for some people this might be their idea of fun. And if that is what you want, you can do it.
I have done some trips like that, and in later years I find myself saying, ok there's so much more to see here, I want to go back and spend more time in just this one place. Example: 5 years ago I zipped into Yosemite one day and zipped out the next (and felt underwhelmed by the park); this summer, I'm going back and camping in Yosemite for at least a week at one of the first-come-first-served CGs (no reservations). Might spend close to 2 weeks in the park, or might spend the extra days just east or south of the park (but still in the vicinity). Boy I can hardly wait, too.
With a totally regimented, tightly scheduled trip you have to ask yourself: what if you hit bad weather one day and can't do any of the sightseeing you planned for that day? What if the vehicle requires service? Or if someone feels carsick or otherwise ill? Or if you find something that you just would love to go see, but it wasn't in your itinerary?
Ok, here's what I think you should do. You can go with your existing plan, but allow yourself total flexibility to change the plan on the fly. No reservations anywhere. At each general location, have in mind several CG candidates as well as a couple of boondock locations just in case. Then take things as the whim strikes you each and every day of your vacation (well, up until the time when you must return home!). If you get up in the morning and everyone says, gee it would be great if we could do XYZ today, then do XYZ and never mind whatever else you were thinking of doing. It's a vacation, for pete's sake, so job 1 is to relax and enjoy! And the funny thing is, when you have that mindset and have chosen that flexibility, you can do a long drive on some days and still feel relaxed about it. It's a funny thing, how the mind works. Depending on your and your family's likes & dislikes, you just may get all the way around your route... or you may not... but either way, you'll have fun.
Oh yeah, Vernors! Fortunately we have a store in town that carries it, so we don't have to wait and stock up.
The drive along US 2 between St Ignace and Engadine has some nice views of the lake. Sounds like you haven't been to Pictured Rocks yet; the sunset cruise on a calm sunny day is worth the high ticket price. And the drive along the western shoreline of the Keweenaw Peninsula is great; try to spend a night or two at one of the state parks up that way. Ontonagon has a nice and affordable municipal CG. And of course Porcupine Mountains SP is great. Oh, and try to see Bond Falls near Paulding, I think it's prettier than Tahquamenon.
I agree with LowRyter, there's nothing really scary about towing I-70 through Colorado.