Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Busy Labor Day Weekend

OK, so I can’t remember what we did on Friday . . . but I’m sure we had fun!! LOL

The Spartans had a football game that night, so the rest of our gang (Bryce & Hannah, her parents and brother) all showed up Saturday morning.

Bryce was anxious to get out on the dunes, so they got busy getting the Jeep ready as soon as they got here.  They like to take the doors off the Jeep, but the one rear door was giving them some trouble – Stephanie wondered just how many Gimmarro’s it takes to dis-assemble a Jeep!!

Nothing they tried would get that door off – so their options were to go out with 3 doors off and 1 on, or all doors on.  They didn’t want to look like goofs, so they put the other 3 doors back on!

They all headed to the dunes then, along with our friends Dave & Kathy, while Tom and I stayed back at the RV.  Hannah’s parents came over after they finished setting up their camper, and we all enjoyed drinks and appetizers.  The kids spent a couple hours on the dunes – Nick said it was MUCH busier!  Dave took Nick & Stephanie for a ride in his Jeep, too – his is set up specifically for the dunes, and he really knows how to have fun out there.  He took them for a wild ride!

They came back and finished off the appetizers we had out, and then Bryce & Hannah went down to the other campground to set up their tent before we went to dinner.  We decided on pizza at the Bucket Bar, and it was a great evening for eating outside.  After dinner, we had a fire back at our site and the kids played cards.

We were treated to a beautiful sunset!

On Sunday morning, Tom & I and the boys went to church, and when we got back Paul and Tari suggested a hike on the dunes to Lake Michigan.  Tom & I weren’t really up for it, but the kids were, so they all headed over to the pedestrian dune, and Tom & I went up on the dunes with Dave & Kathy, in their Jeep.

Another busy day – look at that line of vehicles waiting to get onto the dunes!

We made it out there, and I was amazed at the lineup waiting to go up test hill!  I’ve never seen it so crowded!

The first challenge is getting through the people just parked along the bottom of the hill, then you have to find an opening at the top to aim for!  Dave’s a pro at it!

He squeezed his way in, and we made it to the top!  I have no idea what the “Taco” flags mean . . . LOL

There’s always such a great view from the top of Test Hill!  Lots of people down by the beach!

We continued over the hills beyond Test Hill,

climbing each hill at the steepest possible point Dave could find!!

At least we never got stuck or had to back down!

Photographers were set up at one of the last hills, so there were lots of people jumping.

There were lots of people standing along the edge of the pedestrian area, but we didn’t see Paul & Tari and the kids.

They made it all the way to the lake, though, and sent me a few pictures.

Bryce & Hannah

Nick & Stephanie,

and my two handsome boys!

We continued on through the trails and down to the beach, where Dave likes to play in the water!

Tom never takes our Jeep in the water, but Dave likes the cool the engine down by driving through the water . . . at least that’s what he tells us he’s doing!! LOL

There’s not much beach for parking on this year!

But plenty of puddles to play in!

We circled back around, and looked for another path to the top of Test Hill – still crowded!

Parked at the top, we watched the action around us while we waited for the kids to show up.  They had finished their hike and were headed up in Nick’s truck.

These guys were interesting . . . not sure why they were trying to go up backwards!

They had a little better luck when they turned around . . .

Then there was this one that looked like a homemade vehicle,

a few sand rails,

and Trump guy!

We were having way too much fun!!

The kids arrived then, and Nicolas was not able only to find us (not too hard to spot Dave’s Jeep with all his flags!), but also to get a spot next to us on the peak!

They joined us in people-watching,

Lots of people enjoying a beautiful day!

Then it was time for a little “Follow the Leader”

with Dave in the lead!  (I’m sure Bryce & Hannah & Jensen were just loving following that maize and blue flag around!)

Dave once again chose the steepest spot to climb the next hill, and Nicolas had a little trouble with his truck,

He picked a new spot and made it up that time!

His truck was doing pretty good up there!

Following us through the trails,

and then Nick took the lead . . .

as we headed for home.  They were hungry, so we made plans to meet Paul & Tari at the Big Hart Brewery for and early dinner, and the kids went to play mini golf afterwards.  When they got back to the RV, Nicolas decided he’d had enough dune time, so he cleaned up his truck and got it ready for the drive back to Virginia the next day.  While he did that, Bryce and Hannah and Jensen went back on the dunes for sunset with Dave & Kathy, and then cleaned up the Jeep when they got back.

We wrapped up the weekend with ice cream at Whippy Dip,

and everybody said their good-byes, as Bryce & Hannah would be heading back to school in the morning, and Nick & Stephanie would be getting an early start on their trip back to Virginia.

One last picture of my boys – I just loved having them together for one more weekend this summer!

We don’t know how long it will be before they are able to see each other again – Nick has a very busy year coming up, and Bryce graduates this spring and will move on to Graduate School somewhere . . .

I’m so glad Nicolas was able to get this time off, and we were able to get everyone together here – they had a lot of fun, and I think Stephanie really enjoyed her first visit to Michigan.  It also gave us time to catch up with some great friends, and we always love that!

It was a busy weekend, and the time went by so quickly . . . but I loved every minute of it!

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Enjoying a beach day in Pentwater

Nicolas was looking forward to some time at the beach during his vacation, and we told Stephanie that no trip to Michigan was complete without taking a swim in the big lake – no salt, and no critters that’ll eat you!

Thursday was looking like our best day, so we packed up a lunch and headed to the beach at Mears State Park in Pentwater.  It was a warm, sunny day, but really windy.

It was a pretty quiet day at the beach . . .

We tried to keep our backs to the wind, but we still managed to get coated with sand, especially Nick and Stephanie, laying on the quilt – Nicolas had little mountains of sand piled up along his side!

They braved the cold water . . . but didn’t last too long – they’ve been spoiled by the warm water of the Atlantic at Virginia Beach, I guess!

We took a walk on the pier, and you could really see how high the water was – the waves coming into the channel were rolling right over the edge of the concrete pier!

The combination of the high water and the big waves made it really treacherous out there, so we didn’t stay long!

On the way back to the beach, Nick got back in the water – he just can’t stay away!

Back on the beach, we watched this guy for a while as he tried to get his kite into the air, and once he did, we were trying to figure out what he was going to do next . . . there seemed to be a key piece of equipment missing!

Usually when we see these guys, they have small surfboards attached to their feet, and they ride on the water.  This guy was just running and jumping, and trying to keep the kite in the sky.  He did manage to get some air a few times, but we weren’t sure what he was going to do then . . . he had not way to ride the waves.

It was interesting to watch, though.

More clouds were beginning to roll in, and the weather was looking a little threatening, so we packed up our blankets and chairs and headed up into downtown Pentwater to walk through the shops.

The kids were still trying to find sweatshirts, and I always enjoy shopping in Pentwater.

In the marina, we could really see how high the water has gotten!  All of the original docks are underwater, and they’ve had to stack new ones on top of them to get to the boats!

The kids finally found their sweatshirts, too!

After dinner back at the RV, we took a drive to Little Sable Lighthouse in anticipation of a beautiful sunset.

There were a lot of people at that beach, enjoying the beautiful evening, and even a few little kids braving the water!

We watched with everyone else as the sun sank lower toward the horizon over Lake Michigan.

They’re so cute!

A beautiful sunset!

A beautiful evening!

It was another great day spent with the kids – so glad to have this time with them, enjoying Michigan in the summer!

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Exploring Ludington State Park

After a beautiful day at the pool and the dunes, Wednesday was going to be cloudy and a little cooler, so we took a drive up to Ludington.  The kids were shopping for sweatshirts, so we checked out all the downtown shops first, but they didn’t find any they wanted to buy.

This was a really interesting shop in an old gas station . . .

and we walked around the marina to check out some of the boats.

We found this on the corner by one of the shops and I just had to make them pose for me . . . they’re very agreeable!

From town, we headed out to the state park.  It was very windy, and the lake was really rough!

Had to get a picture of these two at the beach!

Tom had to chase the seagulls away as we made our way to the Visitor Center.

We studied the history of the state park, and enjoyed the view from the balcony – definitely not a beach day!

We wanted to take the hike to Big Sable Lighthouse – there used to be 3 options to get there – the hiking trail through the woods and over the dunes (we did that trail when the kids were small), the access road to the lighthouse, and along the beach.

When we were here with Bryce back in 2016, we walked along the beach and there were a couple spots where we had to walk in the water or climb up on a small bluff, but with the current high water situation, the beach trail is no longer an option at all.  So that left us with 2 options, and we heard that the trail was under water in areas, too, so we opted for the access road.  It’s the least interesting option – pretty much a straight sand road –

but there were a few side trails up the dunes, and it only to one comment from me, “In his younger days, Nicolas would be running up those dunes!”, and they rose to the challenge!

And back down again!

While they were playing on the dunes, we continued on, knowing that they would catch up with us.

There were several rain-created ponds along the trail, between the dunes and the pine forest.

Soon we had our first glimpse of the lighthouse,

and before much longer, it came into full view.

We walked down towards the front of the lighthouse where you used to be able to walk up from the beach, but the entire walkway is under water, and you could hardly even see the seawall.

We could see the waves crashing right over the seawall!

The kids followed the trail to the watchtower, and braved the angry waves rising up on the seawall.

They managed not to get wet!

In the lighthouse, we talked with the volunteers and heard the history of the lighthouse.  He also told us that this is not the highest the lake has ever been, but it’s pretty darn close!  It’s a cycle, though, and the lake has high years followed by low years, and we’re starting a downward trend.

He also told several ghost stories – pretty creepy!

As active duty military, Nick and Stephanie received free admission to climb the lighthouse, so they went up while Tom and I talked some more with the volunteer.

They sent me a few of their pictures . . .

Nicolas climbing up, and the view from the top.

At the top of Big Sable Point Lighthouse . . .

One last photo op at the lighthouse,

before heading back the way we came.  Two miles each way – it was a nice hike, and the weather was actually pretty perfect for it – a little windy, but otherwise great.

Back home, we had dinner and Nick got a fire started.  The wood looked dry, but it took some time to get going . . . eventually we had a good fire, though,

and enjoyed another nice sunset.