We finally left Elkhart this morning, and although it rained for most of the night, the sky was blue and it was breezy and lovely when we started driving north. It took about 4 hours to get up to Silver Lake State Park, our original destination for the day (not counting our stops for gas and Advance Auto parts, and a lunch break.) As you can see, Roxy helped Joe drive (they did all the driving today—I got to be a passenger the whole time.)
At Silver Lake, we stopped at Mac Wood’s Dune Buggy rides. The ride was a cross between a roller coaster and a nature lecture, with a lot of those really lame jokes that tour guides always throw into their practiced shpiel. However, it WAS funny, and definitely fun. Joey and I sat in the last row of the 5-row dune buggy, which had no roof and only a long seatbelt and roll bar to keep us inside. We drove over “Termite Bridge” to get into the park, and then began zooming over the sand dunes. The part of the park we were in was leased by Mac Woods from the state, but there is another part which is restricted to private off-road vehicle use. Only vehicles which can move over the sand are allowed.
Our buggy moved quite fast, although our driver stopped every few minutes to give us nice views and to explain the topography of the park, the movements of the sand, and to make goofy jokes. Nevertheless, we got substantial “dune do’s” (a hairstyle, in case you wondered) and I did a small amount of screaming when we went down a particularly steep dune. It was lots better than a carnival ride, and on SUCH a gorgeous day, although we were glad to be wearing sweatshirts. In some places the dunes were pure sand, as in this shot of Silver Lake…
Other places had quite a bit of dune vegetation (that’s Lake Michigan in the photo below).
It was only about 3:30 when we finished our dune ride. We were considering staying for the night at the state park campground right on Silver Lake, but first we wanted to go to the little town of Hart, nearby, to see the Iron Angel Forge. This is the oldest continuous working forge in Michigan, and the owner specializes in medieval and historical period iron garb. However, not only was the forge closed, but the entire historic center of Hart was closed—I guess they are only open during tourist season. At that point, instead of going back to Silver Lake, we decided to continue north to Manistee, a town I first heard of back in 1970 when I met our friend Sue at Michigan State. Her parents still live here, but we never visited here before (hey Sue, it is such a cute town!!)
So that is how we ended up for the evening at Orchard Beach State Park campground, which is located in Manistee on a bluff right above Lake Michigan. From our campsite, outside Mo’s front window, we have a beautiful view of the lake, which included a spectacular sunset for our viewing pleasure:
We do have electricity at our campsite tonight, but no wifi, of course, and no cell phone service either! We stopped just before we got here to borrow a wifi signal at the Day’s Inn just south of Manistee, and I was able to answer a couple of pressing emails. But this blog will have to wait for tomorrow to be uploaded. Our plan for the next couple of days is to drive further up the coast to Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore, then to Traverse City, and then to Mackinaw City so we can spend a day on Mackinac Island (isn’t it funny that the city and the island are pronounced the same but spelled differently?) I think two days should be enough to be leisurely, stop at a few attractions and enjoy the beautiful lake views, and still keep on “schedule”.
Morning addendum: Another blue sky and bright sun, with cool crisp autumn-y weather. The trees haven’t started changing quite yet, but they are thinking about it. The ranger station says the temp should go up to the low 70’s today (last night was crisp and almost, but not quite, cold.) Roxy and I took a long walk around the park, with beautiful views of Lake Michigan (I’ll post the photos tonight) and now we going to drive further north. I will be keeping an eye out for a good free wifi service.
Evening addendum: We didn't find a wifi hot spot ALL DAY!! So I'm uploading this from our campground in Traverse City. I'll upload today's adventures tomorrow morning before we leave.