Friday, August 16, 2013

More Lake Michigan Coast - Ludington, Pentwater, and Muskegon

Remember my comment on the last post about the shoreline of Lake Michigan?  Sand dunes, beaches, town, sand dunes, beaches, town, repeat over and over again.  Well, that is still going on and we're about 2/3 of the way down the 400-mile coastline.  So, there's not much new to report but it is still very pretty.  By the way, we are hitting the weather perfectly and making very good time.  It's a good thing, because you can already feel fall-approaching-winter in the air and here's a picture to prove it - leaves starting to turn on some of the trees. Oh yeah, it was 43 degrees two nights ago!  Also, some of the marinas are posting their fall closing date as early as September 15th.  The latest we've seen is October 15th.  It would not do for me to live here.

So far we have visited Drummond Island, Mackinac Island, Petoskey, Leland, Frankfort, and this post will cover Ludington, Pentwater, and Muskegon.  Speaking of Ludington, we saw these cool paint jobs on Adirondack chairs shortly after arriving in town. We loved the choice of either cupcakes or carrots! Rhonda bought the cupcakes and turnovers and donuts.

The Ludington Municipal Marina is first class.  Note the "FISH ON" license plate underneath the sign.  There is some serious fishing going on from this town, mostly salmon. One lady told Rhonda that she and her husband caught 80 salmon in the 20 to 35 pound range last year and this year was going well also. Nice eating! Unfortunately, it was so windy they were going home rather than staying to fish. Otherwise we would now have some salmon in the freezer.

There were so many fisherman returning with salmon to be cleaned, they had an assembly line crew getting the job done.

The marina was almost full when we arrived on Sunday but cleared out on our dock on Monday, and we pretty much had it to ourselves.  We ran into another Looper couple, Jim and Debi aboard Sea Fever, from Atlanta.  We visited with them on Sunday evening, and they continued south on Monday morning.  They wanted some advice on how to get from the east end of the Cumberland River to the east end of the Tennessee River, so they wouldn't have to do any backtracking if they opt to cruise those in the fall. Unfortunately, for everyone, that is not possible - both rivers are one way in and one way out (except for the Tenn-Tom cutoff from the TN to Mobile).  That is some beautiful cruising territory and would make a great mini-loop.  We encouraged them to run the Tennessee River at least to Chattanooga and back.

The Ludington Marina is next to a city park that has about a dozen really nice silver and bronze statues.  I won't show you all of them but they were all worthy of viewing, very nicely done.  Rhonda's favorite was called "Reflections" representing "the past when the schooners carried lumber to all parts of the Great Lakes, the recreational boating of the present, and the winds of change for the future."

I liked the bronze statue showing the big wheel lumber carriers from that era.  As so many coastal towns did, Ludington had a booming lumber business that lasted about 40 years, just long enough for them to wipe out the forests!  

Our dear friends from Muskogee, OK, Mike and Shirley Wise, joined us for 2 days and it was great to see them again.  Mike is an awesome Sunday School teacher, and we share lots of other common interests as well - like Rhonda beating us all at dominoes - both nights even!!!  We toured the lighthouse at the entrance to the Ludington Channel.

The lighthouse is actually tilted 4 degrees from a shift in the foundation during construction.  This might be an exaggeration.

We had a really good time, as always, and some great meals including pizza from Luciano's, complete with TUMS!

Mike even put a couple of them on the pillow by his bed in case he had an attack during the night!

The "big deal" in Ludington and the #1 tourist attraction is watching "The Badger" ferry arriving from Manitowac on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan.  The ferry was originally designed to carry railroad cars across the lake but has evolved over the years into a car and passenger ferry. The environmentalists are all worked up over the pollution it spews from its stacks as it is a coal-powered vessel.  It has been in operation for 60 years. It's a huge vessel and it's fun to watch it dock.  It comes in nose first, drops the anchor at just the right point, pivots around it, and then backs into the mooring location.

The tail end swinging around the anchor pivot point.

From the side.

Rhonda and Shirley loved this horse at a toy store, covered with small toys and stuffed animals.

As do all of the other towns, Ludington has a beautiful beach and shoreline.

Skate board parks have been very popular at many of the towns in Canada and Michigan.  This was probably the fanciest thus far.

Those of you that know Mike and Shirley know that they are party animals, and we were exhausted after two days of trying to keep up with their lifestyle.  They left and headed to Bay City, Michigan to visit some other Muskogee friends of ours, Tony and Barbara Armstrong.  We were so tired, we were only able to complete a 14-mile run to our next town, Pentwater, Michigan.  The chartplotter turned 3000 miles as we approached the entrance to the channel.  That's 3000 miles since we installed the new chartplotter in Jacksonville, FL. You might note also that our average speed has been 8 MPH - that's a lot of hours and "Help Me Rhonda" has been a very reliable boat for us.  That's also 7050 miles since we left Athens, AL in 2008.

Here's the arrival into Pentwater.

Most of the towns north of here have felt very "touristy" and most of the architecture has had the Victorian feel.  Pentwater was a drastic departure from both and felt much more like the small southern towns that we are accustomed to. 

Another reflection of this is the "band music" held at the town park every Thursday evening.  The musicians are all ages playing their band instruments to uh, well, marching band music.  A large crowd turns out every week.  Yes, week after week after week.

Now, I'm all for community gatherings and such, but after about 3 songs, the facial expression of this dog was similar to what I was feeling!  We headed back to the boat.  I need a little more rock and roll, country, or anything but "band music."  We felt sorry for the dog having to stay.  He clearly had that "Can I go with you, please don't leave me here, I can't take it any more" look on his face.  My suggestion to him - start howling when they play and I bet the owners will leave him home next time.

We headed out the next morning and after regaining some of our energy, we looked forward to a nice 47-mile run to Muskegon.

More sand dunes and beaches and here's the approach into Muskegon.  By the way, this is not a poor quality picture - there was a lot of lake fog in the area, enough that the fog horn was blasting about every 10 seconds at the entrance.

Rhonda really liked the red lighthouse on the starboard side.  We biked out to the beach later in the afternoon and walked out to the lighthouse via the seawall.

There's a nice welcome sign just before you pass the "USS Silversides" - a US submarine on display.  We toured one of these in Muskogee a few years ago and figured they were all about the same so we passed.

There's a high-speed ferry that runs between Muskegon and Milwaukee on the western shore.  Either the water runs downhill here or Rhonda took this picture!

The cruise guides were not very friendly to Muskegon, but we thought it was a great stop.  Instead of going to one of the marinas much further inland and closer to downtown, we opted for the Harbour Towne Marina out close to the beach, and what a nice large beach it was. The town trolley stops close to the marina, and for a dollar will take you into town. There was a free country music concert and other activities for this evening, but we decided to stay here since there would also be music at the dock across from us.

On our walk out to the lighthouse, Rhonda got a nice shot of a cormorant, adding to our group of bird shots.  By the way, cormorants make a very weird sound and can do lots of poop damage to boats.

There were kayakers, fishermen, cruisers, folks anchored out, and all types of boating and beach activity.

Here's "Help Me Rhonda" docked at Harbour Towne.  It's Friday night and this is a hopping kind of place.  Live music next door and lots of party folks on their boats.  Where are Mike and Shirley when we need them?

And we'll end with a nice flower and butterfly shot Rhonda got on our bike ride back to the boat from the beach.

Next stop - South Haven.  Only a couple of more stops before we jump across to Chicago and join the Illinois River southbound to a left turn on the Mississippi River, left on the Ohio River, right on the Cumberland River, and a final left on the Tennessee River back home!  

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