Sunday, July 31, 2011

Down the coast of Lake Michigan

Sleeping Bear Dunes State Park is a beautiful spot; it is the pinky finger of the state. It was the first campsite we arrived at without a reservation.  We got a spot with no amenities (no water, electricity or sewer) that were OK as we are equipped for the wilderness. The beach was a mile away over dunes to which we never found a short cut or a road. When we got to the beach it was spectacular, isolated and almost devoid of people although we could see some people in the far distance. We needed a swim after hiking the dunes; we kept thinking the beach must be over the next dune…a touch of “Lawrence of Arabia”. The lake was cool, crystal clear, I could see little fish swimming around my feet, and the dunes were golden and stretched as far as the eye could see.   

Next day we drove further north to Sleeping Bear Dunes.  These are large dunes that are considered to look like a sleeping bear.  Dunes shift over time and it did not look like a sleeping bear to me but the dunes were big and it was a long drop down to the lake about 400 feet.  Some people were climbing up a particularly steep dune from the lake; we watched them struggle up and wondered what had possessed them to go down the dune in the first place.  This was one of the stops on the very nice Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive”.
We played our Michigan golf here on a very nice course called “Mistwood” - $43 cart included and had one of the best hamburgers in their restaurant afterwards. Generally, we like to walk but it was way too hot and muggy - we didn’t think of that when we were planning this trip

Our next stop was Grand Haven and we were able to pick our spot in the RV Park, I picked a site under a canopy of trees as by now the temperature was uncomfortably hot, the downside was we had to put up with traffic noise. Immediately after we had settled in we headed for the nearby beach.  Most of Grand Haven must have been on the beach or in the water - it was like a beach in France, pretty girls walking along the edge of the water in “almost” bikini’s and all the men dreaming their usual beach dreams!  ATM time boys?
That night we went down town for a stroll along the river and to see the Grand Haven Musical Fountain Show – Music, Water, Lights – pure magic! Since 1962 this show has been held every night from Memorial Day until Labor Day at 10pm. Wonder if Bellagio got its inspiration here? Spectators sit on bleachers on one side of the river while on the other side enormous fountains pulse water high into the night sky lit from below with changing colors all choreographed and synchronized to music. The show lasts half an hour and is an absolute must see for anyone visiting Grand Haven; it’s so good we went again the following night and saw a completely different show. 

3 people at the camp site told us that one of “bluebugs” bulbs needed replacing; the speed limit in RV Parks is 5mph enabling conversations with pedestrians at that speed.  We tried 2 nearby garages but popping the headlight out on a VW requires an expert’s touch which meant that we had to drive to a town 20 miles south called Holland which was lucky for us. We had the bulb replaced and decided to explore the town which was founded by the Dutch. To our great delight we learned that every Thursday in Holland street entertainment starts at 6pm. Literally on every street corner was a different form of entertainment, a Jazz Band, a Crooner singing my kind of music (60”s), a Barbershop group, a man making balloon animals and best of all a Magician. Holland is a lovely town.
We were quite tickled as we drove along the roads in Michigan by the sight of signs for Blarney Castle Oil on gas stations and on oil trucks, all with a big shamrock logo – Tom is from Cork, just 5 miles from The Blarney Castle.  A visit to Grand Rapids was in our plan; however it was so hot by the Lake we just couldn’t fathom how hot it must be in a big city and decided to give it a miss - another time.

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