Only feet from the street

We are wheeled explorers, because Ross and Ryan really can’t walk much distance.

Yesterday and today we explored a small portion of the countryside between Sleeping Bear Dunes and Traverse City. Small, because it was just one loop, and because the exploration occurred within just steps of the pavement!

We’ll let the photos speak for themselves, with one exception.

The bird behind the wire fence is an endangered Piping Plover sitting on its nest. The Forest Service has placed a cage over the nest, but its wire grid is just large enough for the parent birds to get through…but not for predators. The nest is right in the path of the public access from our campground to Lake Michigan, and a large area has been cordoned off around the cage. Fascinating to see such conservation!

These are half the photos; we’ll post the other half tomorrow.

Advertisements

The sleeping bear

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore was called by Good Morning America “the most beautiful place in America.”

We toured much of its 35 mile length yesterday in the rain.

Fun variety of terrain. The shoreline always ends in sand, the dunes might run a mile inland, and sand is almost always seen the whole length and breadth.

But there will be heavy woods in the midst of the dunes on their lee side from the lake where they drop and form protected canyons.

Several times, the road along the shoreline gradually rises hundreds of feet through the trees, then drops down to a narrow isthmus between Lake Michigan and an inland lake.

Because of the rain, we mostly stayed in the car….but we just had to get out and walk several hundred yards to the observation deck that towers on the edge of the dunes….to give you the panorama shot below!

The cottonwood tree below gives evidence of the risk you take when you grow in sand dunes.

The final picture below is across one of the numerous inland lakes.

Just around the corner

Our friends Rich and Laura live on their farm in Coopersville, MI, just west of Grand Rapids. They’ve done hay for over 40 years, and used to raise hogs and beef cattle.

DSC_1068_aAll around them are farms, and we visited one just around the corner to see their cheese operation.

DSC_1075_aButh Green Vale Farm used to milk over 200 cows every day in this large and glorious green barn. Today they have just enough cows to support a cheese operation that emphasizes fresh cheese curd.

DSC_1071_aWe found the patriarch and the younger generation seated out front, and we peeked inside the barn at its newest occupant.

DSC_1088_aThe cheese operation was concluded for the day, and we tasted some garlic & dill curd…..it was heavenly.

Down the road with another Buth barn were a few horses. This one with the grey eyelashes really wanted to put his nose in my camera!

Today was the day for us to continue our travels. Laura sent us off with a hug and a card with some words to live by:

“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there!”

“Tourists: don’t know where they’ve been. Travelers: don’t know where they’re going.”

“It’s better to travel and get lost, than to never travel at all!”

You can see why we’ve had so much fun with Rich and Laura!

Ah, the next chapter: Sleeping Bear Dunes!

Even though it was 6pm by the time we arrived and parked in our site, we had to make a run to the shoreline….
DSC_1160_a

Sunny beaches

What a great place to be….near the beach, temperatures in the high 70s.

Truth be told, Rich and Laura….and the rest of Michigan….are having a bumper crop of mosquitos this year. This is a particular problem for Ross and Ryan, because they don’t have the understanding to brush away those little pests, neither do they have the understanding to avoid scratching the itchy bites! Hoo boy, bug bites become huge problems for us with the boys!

But the beach has none of them! Well let’s get going!

We headed to the shore yesterday….only 14 miles away….and by the time we got there, we got this.
DSC_0992_a
Ah, Michigan: if you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes.

So we drove, exploring areas of Muskegon we’ve not seen before. North Muskegon was fun. Mostly a peninsula just a couple blocks wide.

DSC_1003_aCaught a glimpse of sailboats across the bay….dedicated sailors….apparently a practice class for the first race of the season this coming weekend.

And then, the clouds parted and the sun shone brightly!

DSC_1050_aWe found ourselves in the midst of some grand dunes, and we just HAD to get Ross and Ryan up on a big one! Notice our jackets? It was still quite cool…just the mid-50s, and quite a breeze.

DSC_1020_aBut the view was awesome, and so dramatically different than just minutes before!

Got another shot of the lighthouse, from the north side, in the late afternoon sun.

We thought of hanging around atop the big dune to see how the view changed as the sun went down….and then we looked around.

Whoa, another big change: the fog was coming in on little cat feet! Hurry to the car.
DSC_1065_a

What a grand time!

All day the weather threatened us with bodily harm, but nothing developed here.

However, 25 miles east of us in Grand Rapids they had flash flooding up to the door handles of cars parked downtown, and hail like golf balls!

Sheesh, we went west to the beach again….

DSC_0879_aOn the way there, we passed this lovely barn and had to stop for a photo. The farm has been operated by the same family for over 150 years!

Grand Haven was even more grand than yesterday….what with only a tenth of the people! Weekday evenings are almost lonely.

DSC_0883_aWe like Grand Haven because it has a lovely and lengthy walkway beside the Grand River all the way from downtown out to the end of the pier and its lighthouse. Ross and Ryan enjoy the sections of wood planks along part of it, and then the areas of blown sand that make walking more interesting.

DSC_0914_aThe lake wave action was more than Sunday, and was cooler….perfect temperature and a nice breeze.

Lovely day….a good time was had by all….

On the way home, we saw this unusual yard collection….much more high-brow than the usual flamingos and deer….
DSC_0989_a

Back in Michigan!

We survived two weeks of parking in parking lots, getting interior changes and upgrades, and getting annual chassis maintenance and some upgrades. Both shops were wonderful to deal with, and we’re really smiling after these changes!

And we’re near Lake Michigan again, parked at the farm of our friends Rich and Laura. You may recall we first met them two Christmases ago on the South Carolina coast, and arranged to spend this past Christmas with them at a campground off Pensacola, FL.

Their farm is only 13 miles from the Lake Michigan shoreline at Grand Haven, MI, so we’re having a good time running over to the beach for this and that. Crowded there yesterday, for the first really nice weekend of the summer. Ha, but we found a nice out-of-the-way area that gave us the views and sand and nearby parking, without all the crowds!

And a park on the Grand River also offered a fun walkway through some wetlands and waterfowl!

Ahhhhhhh!

We sure love our mothers!

My mother, Eva Lynne Ashlock Herdman Huff, who passed away in 2004:
ELH 93-11

My wife, the love of my life, and the sweetest mother to my boys, Robyn Lynette Fell:
DSC_0002_a

My first wife, and the mother of Jared, Ross, and Ryan, Sharon Martelle Tyson Herdman Dustin:
DSC_9147_a

I remind you of the post just previous to this one, with the picture of Robyn’s mother, Kathleen Fell.