Friday, July 29, 2016

Round ‘em Up!

Long-travel sand rails on display

Last Saturday was another special event at the Silver Lake Sand Dunes – Long Travel Roundup.  Long travel dune buggies have an extended wheelbase, and are known for their fast speeds in the sand, and jumping capabilities.  There are many that come to the dunes on a regular basis, and some are really beautiful vehicles.

Enjoying the beautiful day!


Tom and I joined Dave and Kathy in their Jeep, and we ventured out on the dunes to check out the show.


Some of the dune buggies were playing in the sand, but many were gathered in the show area on display.  We parked and walked around admiring the 70+ vehicles.

Lots of sand rails at the dunes!












There were some really beautiful vehicles!

Big Dog













We all had the same favorite . . .

Ford buggy

Tom and Dave's favorite

There were some really interesting ones, too!

That's quite a lift!

It was hot and sunny on the dunes, and there was a huge crowd at the beach – I don’t think I’d ever seen it this crowded before!

Busy at the beach

We saw this monster truck being unloaded in a very interesting way – just driving off the trailer!

That's an interesting way to unload a vehicle










We explored for awhile, got our complimentary lunch, and found a spot to sit on the top of Test Hill to watch the parade of Long Travel Dune Buggies.  While we waited for the parade, we enjoyed the view from the top of Test Hill.

Looking down from Test Hill

Lake Michigan











In the midst of all the chaos, there were still Jeep Tours going on!  It was crazy enough for those of us who had been up there before, I wouldn’t have wanted to be a new driver up there!

Jeep Tour

Riding around in Dave’s Jeep, Tom was glad we hadn’t brought ours and attempted to follow him . . . we would have had a hard time keeping up with him!

Not much action on the other side of Test Hill










Quite a truck!

We had fun watching all the action from the top of Test Hill . . . at a safe distance. 

The dirtbikes are fun to watch!









We knew there was supposed to be a parade of the long-travel sand rails, but we weren’t really sure how it was going to work.  We could see an area roped off at the bottom of Test Hill, and another at the top, so we figured that the parade was going to go over Test Hill at some point.  We had a pretty good vantage point on top of the hill.

Soon, we spotted the buggies as they paraded toward us.

The Long-Travel Parade has begun

They started lining up at the base of Test Hill.


Once everyone was in place, they took a group picture.

Lined up for a photo op

With the photo complete, they started over Test Hill one at a time.  There were a few who didn’t make it up the hill on the first try (newbies!), and some that managed to get in a little jump, but for the most part it was pretty calm, since there was such a large crowd on top of the hill.

Ford Buggy

Pretty cool










Throwing sand!

With the parade complete, the crowd started breaking up and we made our way over the hills and around to the exit.  After 4 hours on the scorching hot dunes, we were ready to hit the pool!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Flashback Post–Ludington State Park and Silver Lake

I started my blog back in January of 2009, after attending the 1st RV-Dreams Rally in Branson, MO, the summer before.  I’ve documented all of our camping adventures since then, as well as our preparations for fulltiming, including the ups and downs of selling our house and purging all of our “stuff”, and the last 4 years which we have spent on the road.  Many of you have watched our boys grow from pre-teens, to teenagers, to men, and shared in their experiences on the road and all of their accomplishments.

We weren’t new to camping in 2009, though, and had, in fact, been camping for many years – all of my life, and since we married for Tom.  I’ve often thought I’d like to go back in time and document some of those memories in blog posts, so when our visit to Ludington State Park last week brought back a flood of memories, I decided it was a good place to start.

Our first visit to Ludington State Park was in 1993 – we were fresh-faced newlyweds happily camping in our tent.

1993_Ludington_Silver Lake0002

We enjoyed the beach,

1993_Ludington_Silver Lake0005

1993_Ludington_Silver Lake0007










visited the Big Sable Point and Little Sable Point Lighthouses,

Little Sable Point Lighthouse


Big Sable Point Lighthouse

and even went on a Mac Woods Dune Ride.

Taking a ride on the dunes

I don’t really remember any of that! Smile

My strongest memory from that camping trip has to do with midnight visitors.  We had been having run-ins with raccoons that summer, and this trip was no exception.  We had learned to keep our cooler under the picnic table bench so that the lid couldn’t open, but those little rascals managed to get their claws into the cooler and pulled out a bag of grapes that were on top.  They enjoyed their little treat, and then left the stems on top of the cooler, as if to say “These were good – we want more!”

Yep, we both still remember that!


Fast-forward 9 years, to June, 2002, and we were now a family of four and had upgraded to a pop-up camper.

Our little popup camper

A couple of goofballs!


Our friend from work, Todd, was frequently our “camping buddy”, along with his son, Josh.  On this trip, we also met up with a family from the boys’ daycare – starting a long tradition of camping together that still continues today!






As often is the case in June in Michigan, the weather was marginal, with cooler temperatures and a few rainstorms, but that didn’t stop the kids from enjoying the beach!

Playing at the beach


Playing at the beach










It was never too cold for them to play at the beach!  They had a lot of fun!

Enjoying the sun

Digging to China

It was the stormy skies in the background at Big Sable Lighthouse last week that reminded me of this vacation, and our most memorable trip to the lighthouse.

We set out from the campground, on the trail to the lighthouse – three adults, three boys, and a wagon full of provisions!



Little did we know, we were going to be climbing dunes on this trail!

The guys worked together, and we made our way to the lighthouse.

It was still a beautiful day at this point!






Hiking to the lighthouse



We arrived at Big Sable Point Lighthouse, and climbed the steps to the top!

 We climbed the lighthouse

Leaving the lighthouse, we decided to walk along the beach on the way back.  The sky was starting to darken, but we thought we had plenty of time to get back.

The boys were having a great time as we walked along the beach!

Crazy boys

Nicolas was 6, Bryce was 3, and Josh was 4 . . . such silly boys . . . and so much fun!  We miss those days!



As we walked along this same beach last week, I was amazed at how much smaller it it now than it was 14 years ago!  These last few snowy winters have done wonderful things for the Great Lakes – not only are the water levels high, but Lake Michigan is cleaner now than I ever remember it being!





Look at how much bigger the beach was then (and how much smaller Bryce was)!! Smile

Before the storm hit

We continued to walk as the sky over the lake got darker,











and the reason we remember this day so well is because just before we reached the main beach (and the shelter of the concession building), the sky opened up and we got drenched!!

We thought history was going to repeat itself last week, and I even texted a picture of the dark sky over the lighthouse to Todd, wondering why we always seem to get storms when we take this walk . . . he was quick to point out that at least we weren’t pulling a wagon loaded with toys this time!

Ah!  Memories!

This wasn’t the highlight of the trip for the boys, though . . . they remember something else, even to this day!


We took a drive down to Silver Lake, to the sand dunes, where went on a Jeep Tour with Sandy Korners (now known as Parrot Landing).

The boys had a blast driving around on the sand dunes,

Going on the sand dunes

and it’s a favorite memory for all of us!


This is a great area of Michigan and we continue to enjoy all that the western coast of our state has to offer.  If you haven’t been here yet, you should definitely add it to your travel plans!

I hope you enjoyed my first flashback post . . . I certainly enjoyed reliving the memories!