Central Lake Michigan

11 Jun

The small town of Pentwater north of Muskegon and Charles Mears State Park were our next port of call along the West Michigan coastline. The campground lay behind a dune right next to the beach and alongside an inlet which took watercraft into the Marina very close to the town centre. We strolled along the waterway into the town whilst others floated down to the lake in boats and on jet skis.

Whilst we are in a lakeside location the feeling is very much of a beachside resort, small gift shops, art shops and restaurants lined the main street and we were happy to browse awhile then stroll back. We wandered through part of the residential area musing on property with great lake views discussing the merits of one over the other but ever mindful that on a sunny day it all looks idyllic.

As the day drew to a close the sky seemed to be getting darker and darker, eventually we have to pay the penalty for lovely weather. When the rain arrives it tends to come with vengeance and for around three hours it poured. We were grateful to be in our Motor Home and not camping in a tent as some were.

As I mentioned before it is our intention to use the State Parks as much as possible while working away up the coast, each one is unique with its own feel but generally they give us more space between sites and a more open feel than the private campgrounds, this we like. When we arrived at Luddington the morning after the torrential rain we discussed our requirements with the ranger checking us in, he gave us a site he thought would suit. The campground was around three miles from the office, we were on the third and farthest away, also at the farthest end of this section, but, we had a water view site.

We discovered we had also been given a site with a distinct gradient to the rear and a soft area of ground where our back wheels needed to be. The view was great, so, we attempted to site ourselves, first one way then the other. After an hour we gave up and rang the office to ask for a transfer. We moved about three spaces on, lost our water view and gained one of the woody bank, different but still pretty.

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A few steps from our door a trail head started out which split in several directions.

With the grey skies clearing we set off to walk to the lighthouse on the shores of Lake Michigan.

The first part of the trail led through pretty woodland, there seemed to be a lot of diseased trees fallen and lying on the forest floor, we read on an information board that this was due to a beetle which attacks the beech trees native to the area. We were reminded of the devastation caused by the pine beetle in Canada, different trees different beetle same end results. Is this evolution or the results of mans manipulation of nature?

As the trail opened out from the woodland its surface became softer and soon we were P1130469slithering through soft sand, this seemed to go on for a very long time but eventually we spotted the lighthouse and knew we were almost there!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

P1130480Little did we know that we had to walk on past this point before the trail changed direction to end at the lighthouse. Probably 20 minutes later we slithered our way on to the hard surface of the gravel road at its base. All worth the effort to view such a pretty lighthouse which has stood on the shoreline here since 1867.

 

 

 

 

 

After a chat with the knowledgeable volunteers and viewing a short video, we climbed the 130 stairs to the top of the tower, and what a view! The sun had emerged from behind the grey sky of the morning, the water of the lake reflecting the blue from above, the wind was strong at the top of the tower but as long as you stood on the correct side it was warm enough.

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We took an easier route back along the road then cutting up into the woods, thus avoiding most of the soft sandy trail, why didn’t we come this way????

Next morning, feeling just a little muscle weary we decided a nice stroll around the inner lake (Lost Lake) would get us going again. It wasn’t quite as flat as we expected but a fairly easy walk and very pretty as the low morning sun was glinting off the water and through the trees. As we have now travelled north again we have caught up with late Spring/early Summer and once again are enjoying the wild flowers. Blue and yellow Iris were growing in the shallow waters edge and as I was trying to take some pictures of these I spotted deer on a small point of land. As we watched they became agitated, they could here humans approaching from the opposite direction and see us too. What to do?

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Why, swim of course…… safely to the other side!

and the iris….

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                                                                     I got that too!

Towards the end of the trail and almost back at the campground yet another ‘nature’ event stopped us. This one less unusual but still worthy of a picture.

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En route to our next park we called to refuel and pick up a few provisions at Wal Mart in Luddington. Pulling on to the car park we could not miss a colourful elderly cousin of haRVey’s parked in front of us

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We could not pass by without a chat to its owner who thought one day he might like to aspire to a vehicle like ours… we told him whilst haRVey is great he is not unique.

Just thirty miles or so north we arrived in the town of Manistee walked along the River Walk where once large warehouses were serviced by big boats which travelled up and P1130549down the lake moving various cargo. Now a marina for pleasure craft and smart apartments overlook the water, the town centres’ Victorian property, well maintained and elegant, houses various stores and a hotel with distinctive architecture.

The round turret is supported at ground level by one marble column.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next State Park on our route was Orchard Beach which from its name I had expected to have another dune side location. It actually sits on top of a bluff about 50ft above the sand beach. Having come from a park who’s campground of almost 300 sites was more than half full we were most surprised to find this one all but empty.We were able to drive around and choose our own spot thus avoiding the manoeuvrings of the previous campground. It did not take us long to decide on a lovely spot which gave a 180degree view of the water in front of us.

Five flights of steps took us down the bluff to the beach and enabled a walk to the north. We met a local man walking who pointed out to us a trail which led from the beach to an P1130557Audubon bird sanctuary which he told us was well worth a visit. Mown trails between marked trees took us around the pretty garden and led us to a small information kiosk. The highlight of the garden for us was a Giant Sequoia which normally grow in California’s Sierra Nevada region. Although not as big as its relatives there it proved difficult to capture its entirety within one picture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Our vantage point overlooking the water allowed us to end the day with a splendid view of the setting sun.

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2 Responses to “Central Lake Michigan”

  1. Jennie June 11, 2010 at 3:12 pm #

    “We took an easier route back along the road then cutting up into the woods, thus avoiding most of the soft sandy trail, why didn’t we come this way????”
    your travelling with dad…you know he likes to go ‘the pretty way!’

    xxx

  2. Susan June 11, 2010 at 8:18 pm #

    Elaine, great pictures, especially the deer!
    Did you notice the “singing” on the beach in Luddington?

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