More Michigan

Continuing our journey around some of the Great Lakes last September...

We woke up in St. Joseph, MI to the August Blue Moon—the second full moon of the month—setting over Lake Michigan.  We simply threw open the back doors and watched it before we even fixed our coffee.


We knew we needed some “touristy” information on Michigan--especially a map if we lost GPS capabilities--so we made it a priority to find a welcome center for some maps and brochures.  After a Google search, the first one we were led to showed no signs of ever existing.  The next closest one was physically there, but judging by the wilted plants we could see through the windows, had been closed for several weeks.  Before we could begin our quest for a third welcome center we discovered that our on-board potty had malfunctioned!  I won’t go into the disgusting details, but suffice it to say that the urine diverter did not divert the urine into the correct container.  Fortunately, we designed our potty to have a backup plan or secondary catchment and it did just what it was intended to do, sparing us from any mess on the floor.  However, we did have to find a secluded spot where we could wash and disinfect the containers.  I actually employed the use of Google Maps to do this and saw on the map a nearby dirt road behind a grove of trees that would allow us some privacy.  After a thorough scrubbing and rinsing we were ready to resume our search for some tourist information.  Our next option was over an hour away in Douglas, MI.   We hopped on a major highway to make better time.


At the Douglas welcome center we found a most-friendly woman with plenty of maps, ideas, and recommendations. 


Based on recommendations from the kind lady at the Douglas, MI Welcome Center, we explored a little bit of Douglas’ Lakeshore Drive with its million-dollar views. 

Then we drove a short distance to Saugatuck and its bustling, historic downtown.  There were several blocks of unique stores and cafes.  We finally found a parking space Wanda would fit, got Annie situated, and then explored the downtown on foot.  It was remarkable how busy the town was on a Thursday morning, but we didn’t do much shopping and few of the cafes appealed to us.  Pulling out of our parking space only required a ten-point turn to get Wanda pointed back to the main road.  From there we returned to Douglas and followed up on the recommendation for great pizza at a place called Back Alley.  They were only doing carry-out which was fine with us.  While I waited, I asked the two ladies (and co-owners) about their favorite place for a sunrise or sunset.  They said they worked too much to have one, which was kind of sad.  We devoured our pizza in the van before driving around downtown a little more and admiring the flowers planted everywhere.


It was time to check off some lighthouses, so we headed to Holland, MI to find the Big Red Lighthouse.  Before we could approach it we needed a park pass.  For what I considered the bargain of the entire trip, I bought a Michigan State Park Pass, good at all state parks and forests for the remainder of the year, for $39.  I followed the woman’s instructions on where to fasten the sticker which proved to be problematic the rest of our time in Michigan.  From there, we found Big Red Lighthouse (built in 1872).  It was indeed big and red and required walking through sand to reach a suitable viewing perspective.  

From there we drove more and found two more lighthouses (built in 1939) in Grand Haven.  They were red as well and connected by a catwalk-type pier.  Jenni stayed in Wanda with Annie while I ventured a little closer but the angle of the afternoon sun made photos useless.


At some point during the day we made our first campground reservation of the trip at a county-owned campground near Ludington, MI that night.  Mason County had a very nice site in the woods near a water reservoir on the coast of Lake Michigan.  The berm to the reservoir was so high that I insisted it must be a landfill until I used Google Maps for a birds-eye view.  The camp host was making rounds on his golf cart when we arrived and tried to tell us we couldn’t park in our spot.  I showed him the confirmation we had on our phone and he finally admitted he had not been back to his office in a few hours to check on last-minute bookings.  He left and later returned to our site to give us a map.  Annie, who had been lethargic since the start of the trip, was feeling better by now and joined us for a walk to a remote-controlled airplane runway nearby and we watched grown men play with their toys.


It was nice to have power for the night to fully charge the batteries but more importantly there were hot showers on site!  The showers were quarter-operated but the two of us were able to bathe on what Jenni declared to be the best quarter she had ever spent!  It felt good to be clean.


The night was pleasantly cool and quiet.  The campers next to us had a toddler and an infant, plus dogs, but they all slept quietly too! We heard a little crying in the morning, but by 10AM we were headed into Ludington for gas and then to Ludington State Park and Big Sable Point Lighthouse.


We made some big mistakes hiking to Big Sable Point Lighthouse, which you can read about here.

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describing adventures in our self-built campervan
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