Hiking these days before our first hard frost of the season is hard — EEE. Need I say more?
So last Friday, instead of hiking into the woods for a few hours, we drove to the West Coast…of Michigan. South Haven and area, to be precise. It’s about a 75 minute drive away, and well, well worth it!
Stop #1 was just outside Van Buren State Park where I wanted to see where this one trailhead went. There were usually 1-3 cars parked there. That day there were none. That meant for us Carlsons that it was not crowded. I assumed the trail most likely ended at Lake Michigan, but I wanted to duck my head into the glorious woods for just a little bit. After all, 55 degrees is rather cold for scary mosquitoes to be flying about. Wrong! Within five minutes, one of them found Jeff. Back to the van.
Stop #2 Van Buren State Park Beach…or rather, it used to be a beach. Today it’s just a sidewalk leading to a small bit of sand and then water. For the past year we’ve noticed the beach getting smaller and smaller. Now it’s about 40 feet closer to the dune, and not really a beach at all.
Still pretty, though.
We became a little nervous when we discovered the outhouse we’ve used during our winter adventures for the past 15 years now sported a padlock.
But all worked out well when we found the main – flush – bathrooms were open.
And one amazing Eagle Scout finished his life-vests-for-children project. Pretty amazing: Borrow-Use-Return. Thank you, Deegan Boyles.
Stop #3. We at lunch at a park picnic table in the sometimes sun (partly cloudy), where we were as far from woods as we could get. It was a typical Carlson Picnic, cold and windy. At least there was no precipitation. There, were however, bugs: bees, flies, gnats, a butterfly. Back in the van, I’d let a sweat bee in on my side. Jeff looked out his side window after getting in to spot a mosquito hovering just outside. Those guys sure do like my guy.
From there it was a quick stop at DeGramchamp’s. (Stop #4) No more blueberries (except some dried or frozen), but there were cranberries as well as pretty fall flowers.
Stop #5. On to South Haven’s North Shore beach.
When we last visited it (our first time there), we found out it cost $10 to park for the day. No half-days, no hourly parking. $10, period. However, that price is only from May 15-September 15, so for us, that day, parking was free. Hurray.
Waves are choppier on the north side of the Black River which goes through South Haven and into the Lake. The North Beach is also immense, at least compared to the South Beach. Only a handful of people were on the north side, including us.
Stop #6. Southside Beach. This has the pier going out to the famous red lighthouse. Similar to our last visit, waves were washing over the channel wall and onto the pier. We kept our feet dry and bodies safe on dry sand.
We walked the beach to find three very brave children, swimming in Lake Michigan in October. It was still only 55 degrees out, but the lake temperature was a balmy 66.
Stop #7. Just past halfway home, we made our last stop at a farm market/ apple orchard. If were weren’t on this diet, I would have bought up all 3 dozen left of their amazing smelling donuts. Instead, I bought a gallon of cider and a bag of apples. Just as good.
I did take a double look (and photo of) this gigantic apple, covered in caramel and rolled in nuts. Oh, my.
Until next time, West Coast.