Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Little Sable Point Lighthouse

Little Sable_2

Little Sable Point Lighthouse – 1874 (oldest in Michigan)

Sunday started out nice, but in the early afternoon the clouds started rolling in and rain was threatening.  We all wanted to get out to the lighthouse, but decided we’d better drive rather than bike, just in case we got caught in a downpour.

Sure enough, it started to rain just as we started walking down the beach to the lighthouse, and we could hear thunder in the distance.  We reached the shelter of the lighthouse, and were welcomed inside by the volunteers from the Sable Point Lighthouse Keepers’ Association. 

Little Sable_1

They shared bits of information with us about the lighthouse and how it functioned in the past, and now.  The light was originally produced by three concentric wicks which burned lard oil originally, and later kerosene.  The light was then amplified by a 3rd order Fresnel lens (the inventor of which was 12 years old before he started school – a tidbit shared with our 12-year-olds, Bryce & Hannah), and could be seen 19 miles out into Lake Michigan.

Fresnel lens

 Standing out on the balcony, we could get a view of the Fresnel lens

This is a very rare type of lens, and a clockwork mechanism is used to rotate the top of the lens once every 5 seconds, creating Little Sable Point’s signature flash. 

Climbing to the top of the 130 steps, we learned that every lighthouse has a unique exterior appearance, and a unique sequence to its light.  This lighthouse flashes its light once every 5 seconds.

beach view (1)

From the balcony of the lighthouse – the clouds are so low, you can’t see where the lake ends!

We also learned that when the oil-burning wicks were replaced by incandescent light, the visibility from the lake was reduced to 17 miles, and with the current halogen lights, it’s down to 16 miles – technological advances!

92 feet up

Standing out on that balcony was dizzying – especially knowing how high up we were!


Bryce wasn’t crazy about the height!

beach view (2)

. . . but the view was spectacular!

Between 1874 and 1954, there were 14 lighthouse keepers at Little Sable Point, but now the light is completely automated.  The lighthouse was renovated and opened for tours in 2006.  We enjoyed our tour, and learned some new information about this famous landmark of the Great Lakes!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Fun at the Sand Dunes

Tom and Nick

It was pretty winding up there on top of the dunes!

The Silver Lake area is well-known for its sand dunes, and are the last dunes in Michigan that people can actually drive on still.  There are jeep, ATV and buggy rentals all over the place, and the campgrounds are full of them! 

sand rail

This guy wasn’t from our campground, but there was an orange one just like it!

Tom and Nicolas were ready to let the air out of the truck tires, stick a flag on it, and head out there with the rest of the crazies!  But No, we need to be able to depend on this truck to get us home!  So, they decided that they would have to settle for renting something, or finding somebody to take them out.


Maybe these DNR officers will let them take a spin on their ATV!

We rode bikes down to the pedestrian area of the dunes, and climbed to the top to check out the action.  The kids got to the top first (big surprise!), and headed right over to watch the trucks come down the hill.

watching ORVs

Watching the trucks, buggies and ATVs race over the hill – from a safe distance!

dune buggies

Four dune buggies – ready to race down the hill!

We found out later that this hill is the fourth in a series referred to as “Test Hill”, and you have to be pretty good to make it to this point!

We watched for awhile, and then headed back.  The kids found a dead tree that somebody had tied a rope to – they decided to try it out!

Bryce falling

Bryce took a nice spill!

They had a lot of fun competing to see who could land the furthest out from the tree.

rope swing

Stopping long enough for a picture.

Everything was going fine until the big kid decided to take a turn at the rope swing – and Nicolas brought the branch down with him!!

missing limb

No more rope swing – but at least the branch didn’t land on anybody’s head!


One last action shot before we got back on the bikes!

With all that exercise on the dunes, it’s amazing we were able to bike back to the campground!

Tom & Nick seriously had the bug to get out on those dunes in a vehicle, so Tom made it his mission to find somebody to take them!  Later in the day, he struck up a conversation with some guys in the campground with a big ‘ol Ford pickup, and they offered to come by the next morning and take them out for a ride.

dune truck

Couldn’t go out in anything but a Ford!

These young guys were really nice, and they had 4 very excited passengers!

Nick and Tom

Tom and Nick

Paul and Hannah

Paul and Hannah

Nicolas said that the roughest part of the ride was the trail to get out to the dunes!  Once they got there, they took a spin down to the Lake Michigan beach, and then past “the dragstrip”, where there were tons of people just hanging out and watching the action.


It’s like a giant tailgating party out there – tents and grills, people everywhere!

The guys they went out with had a whole array of vehicles besides the truck –

throwing sand

dirt bikes,


and ATVs, too!

They all had a great time, and really appreciated these guys taking them out to share in the whole dune experience!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Memorial Day Camping


Memorial Day

Downtown Pentwater was all decked out with flags for Memorial Day

It seemed to rain non-stop all week at home, but we were still looking forward to getting out for the weekend.  We loaded up the camper in the rain, hitched up in the rain, and drove a good part of the way in the rain!  By the time we got all the way to the west coast of Michigan, though, and made the turn to the north, we were out of the rain and starting to see blue skies ahead.

Sure enough, we arrived at the Silver Creek RV Resort under blue skies and sunshine, and got settled into our site on the corner of Coyote Lane.

Our site

Nice sites – wide concrete pads, nice grass, and decent spacing between sites

Aaahhh . . . maybe we have a shot at a nice weekend!

Friday morning was cool, but sunny, and we decided to take a little drive into Pentwater and Ludington to do a little shopping and fill the truck up with diesel.  We visited several little shops in Pentwater, including The Beachnut -- where we couldn’t resist their honey roasted pecans and almonds; the Bitchen Kitchen – lots of cool kitchen gadgets, and the Cosmic Candy Company – our favorite – where we stocked up on vintage candy like Zotz, Poprocks, Slap Sticks, Now & Laters, and candy cigarettes!


Pentwater is on a little inlet off Lake Michigan, and is a pretty little town


Officially the start of summer, we saw several boats going into the water

Our shopping finished, we filled the truck with diesel for $3.88/gallon at Meijer (not bad!), and headed back to the campground.  We stopped on the way back for some firewood, and Tom let Nick drive the rest of the way back!  He’s 2/3 of the way through Driver’s Ed now, and he’s allowed to drive with us in the vehicle!  Big step!

After dinner, we took a walk around the campground, and Tom saw somebody that he swore he knew from somewhere, but couldn’t figure out where.  That’s not an uncommon occurrence, so I tend to just ignore him, but later the same guy was walking around and he stopped at our camper because he thought he recognized us, as well!  As it turned out, it was the Dad of one of the boys that Bryce played basketball with this past winter!  We talked for quite a while, and the boys got together to play basketball and ride bikes – Bryce was really glad to have a friend to hang out with!

We had some friends coming to camp with us this weekend, so we got the fire going, and soon they arrived.  It was a nice night for a fire, and the kids played cards for awhile before going inside to watch a movie.

Playing Cards

Bryce is still in his card-playing mode!


Getting the fire going!

We had a great time getting caught-up, and sat out by the fire until after midnight – that’s a late night for us!  It’s great to be camping again!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Confirmation, Driver’s Ed, and Grandma visits


Bryce’s Confirmation was last night at church, so he and I picked my Mom up in the morning and brought her home to stay with us for a few days.

Bryce and Grandma

Bryce looks so handsome in his suit, and he’s almost as tall as Grandma!

Bryce needed to be at church an hour early, so we all got dressed and ready to leave.  But first, we took a few pictures.

Bryce with Mom and Dad

Grandma and Boys

We got Bryce settled in with his sponsor (Uncle Joe), and all the other Confirmandi, to wait for the Bishop’s arrival. 

Joe and Bryce

The mass and ceremony went smoothly, and Bryce and Joe remembered their lines!


The altar was beautifully adorned in red for the Confirmation

Mary Altar

Recently-crowned statue of Mary

Bryce and Joe joined the Bishop at the altar for a picture, before everybody gathered in the Parish Hall for a dessert reception.

Bryce with Joe and Bishop

Congratulations Bryce “Thomas Becket”!

This week was Nicolas’ first week of Driver’s Ed, too, and he’s been enjoying his class.  He even had his first driving session already, and did really well!  I can’t believe he’s getting his driver’s license already!!


We’ve had some rainy days this week, and some beautiful sunsets!

Grandma will be staying with us for a few more days, and the kids are enjoying having her around – especially Bryce – he and Grandma share a love of card-playing, so he’s got a ready opponent!

card sharks

With Grandma around, Bryce would rather play cards than X-box!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Birthdays and baseball

marci and tom 2

Happy Birthday, Tom and Marci!

Tom and I have birthdays that are just one day apart, so tonight we celebrated both of ours with a night out in Ann Arbor.  We enjoyed a delicious dinner at the Real Seafood restaurant – Tom had a seafood “blue plate special”, and I (not a seafood fan!) had a steak.  You can never be sure if steaks are going to be good at a seafood restaurant, but this one was wonderful – very tender.  We shared a chocolate mousse, and then walked around downtown, enjoying the warm evening.

We were definitely not alone tonight, with all the restaurants packed, and people walking everywhere.  On the way back to the car, we got frozen coffees at Bigbee’s, and picked up a treat for the boys at the new Cherry Republic store that just opened in Ann Arbor this week.  Cherry Republic is one of our favorite Michigan companies, and we love to visit their headquarters in Glen Arbor.  We’re really excited to have a shop close to home, now!

Bryce’s baseball season got started last week, and his team is off to a really great start!

on the bench

Bryce waiting on the bench for his next turn at bat

Last Saturday was their 1st game, and it was a lovely day for baseball.  I “borrowed” my brother’s camera a couple of weeks ago, so I’m getting some really good pictures for a change!

it's a hit

Bryce clearly has his eye on the ball!

He got three great hits in that game, and made it on base everytime!  All of the boys were having a great day, and were all getting hits, so there was lots of action!

ready to steal

Bryce is just waiting for the chance to steal!

sliding into 2nd

And there he is – sliding into second base!

They’re 2-0 right now, and looking really good.  I think it’s going to be a fun season!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Arriving home safely . . . kind of

We went ahead and left the Kentucky Horse Park after just 2 days because it was predicted to be sunny and dry, and the next day was calling for rain the whole way home.  We would have loved to spend another day, but not enough to drive 6 hours in rain!

So, we were headed north on I-75 by 10am, and enjoyed a beautiful, uneventful drive home . . . although we would have much rather been driving to our next campground, instead of the ‘ol stix & brix.  I-70 West was calling to us, but we had to keep driving north!

300 or so miles later, we arrived safely at our home.  Due to the recent rains, Tom decided the best option would be to back up the driveway so he wouldn’t have to turn around on the grass.  Things were going pretty well, and he made it most of the way up the 400 ft. driveway, until he reached the 90 degree turn between the house and the barn.  Trying to keep the RV on the pavement, he let the back wheels of the truck get onto the grass, and it wasn’t long before the tires were spinning!


In trying to correct the situation, the rest of the truck got off the pavement, and we were good and stuck!


We know enough to stop before we get in too deep, so we shut down the truck and called AAA.  Before long, the tow truck arrived and the driver assessed the situation.  It didn’t take too long, and he had us back with 4 wheels on pavement.


Tom finished the job of getting backed into the barn without any more trouble, and then he and Nick tackled the task of washing the truck and filling in the ruts!


Back home – safe & sound – no permanent damage to the truck or the yard!