Wednesday, September 10, 2008
More Lake and More Dunes
Sept 10, 2008 (View of our campsite and of Lake Michigan from Orchard Beach State Park, Manistee,MI)
One thing about travelling this way—by the evening, it is very hard to remember what happened in the morning. The day is simply so full of varied activities and experiences.
After Roxy and I took a walk this morning, we left the campground in Manistee, stopped for gas (which is getting more and more expensive the further north we go, btw—it was only $3.66/gal yesterday in southern Michigan, and was $3.94 in Manistee… it is $3.99 here in Traverse City!), and then drove up to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore . We stopped at the welcome center to pick up some maps and ideas of what to do, and were happy to confirm that the Annual National Park Pass we purchased last September was still good through THIS September—meaning we are getting 13 months out of it. Anyway, we drove to the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, which took us to overlooks of Glen Lake on the east (right), and Lake Michigan, with the sand dunes, on the west(left).
We got out to walk up a boardwalk path to the top of the 450-foot high dunes, and gazed down on the gloriously blue Lake Michigan, out to the Manitou Islands, and then back east again to Glen Lake, a lovely area surrounded by homes which back up right onto the water. The photos show how steep the dunes are down to the lakeshore itself, but it maybe be hard to tell. We did see a family (dad and 2 kids, it looked like) climbing UP the dune (the one with the sign that said not to go down there, because climbing up again was “extremely exhausting”) and they literally were CRAWLING up the sand—it was that steep. That is them, inching up in the lower photo.
After spending about 30 minutes at this stop on the loop, we meandered back to Mo, where we had some lunch before continuing. Ooops—not so fast! The engine turned over once, and then stopped dead. Just like last Friday—no juice was getting to through the starter. Joe figured it was the solenoid again, but when he tried shorting it like he did last time, that didn’t work. It took about 15 minutes of trouble shooting, before he tried the generator, and that did the trick, the engine started. Obviously something is not working quite right with our electrical system, but at this point there isn’t much we can do about it except hope that when it sporadically acts up, Joe can find a way to outwit it. This does NOT add to my enjoyment of this vacation, but I guess we will just live with it until we get home unless something becomes obvious.
From the Scenic Loop, we drove to the Maritime Museum, which is in a completely preserved old coast guard building over 100 years old. We weren’t planning to stay long, but the rangers tapped us to help with their demo of a sea rescue which was about to begin. The area just off Sleeping Bear Point was the site of many shipwrecks until the coast guard set up there. We helped demonstrate the use of the “Lyle Gun”—this is a small cannon which was designed to send a rope hundreds of feet into the lake, toward a foundering ship. The rope was then attached to the ship, and was used to haul a heavier rope out. Then a life preserver was sent, and the crew climbed one by one into the life preserver and were pulled on a sort of pulley system back to shore, over the water itself.
Joe acted the part of the Captain on the sinking ship, while I had the notable part of being the propulsion for the Lyle gun’s payload. In the summer, they use gunpowder down on the shore to demo this, but after the season is over, they do this on the lawn outside the Museum, and gunpowder is too dangerous. So the ranger tied the rope to this black tube-shaped “bullet”, yelled “Boom!”, and I ran with the thing out to the “ship” where the Captain (Joey) was standing. I forgot to mention that our sailors were Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy, who were clinging for dear life to the ship! We pulled the ropes back and forth, and then I helped Raggedy Ann (ladies first!) into the “breeches buoy” and we rescued her. Then we rescued Andy. It was all quite comical, especially for me, since I totally cracked up as I ran across the lawn.
After the demo, we looked around the museum for about 20 minutes and then began our drive to Traverse City, about 20-25 miles away from the National Seashore. Along the way I had to make some decisions about where we were going next, both tonight and tomorrow, because I had no definite plans yet. I used all my campground materials (AAA, Woodalls, Trailer Life) and decided on Holiday Park Campground, which was rated the equivalent of 5 stars, and also was “Internet Friendly”. (If you go to the link, and click on "Campground Info" and then "Rate", the first photo on the left is our next door neighbor with the Airstream and the lawn--see below.)
We were rather surprised when we got here to find what appears to be a very upscale resort! Our site is only a few yards away from the shore of Silver Lake (a different Silver Lake than we visited on Tuesday—I wonder how many there are??) and many of the residents live here half the year. We discussed this with our next door neighbor—who has lived here for 11 years! His “campsite” is a lawn with shrubs, flowers, etc, and he is not the only one—I walked past one with a sprinkler system, and many have semi-permanent structures in place. I was also amazed to count 23 Airstream trailers (including our neighbor’s). Airstream is the most expensive travel trailer made, and we see them pretty rarely compared to other brands. So I asked the neighbor what was up?
He explained that this is an “Airstream Park”—it was started by a bunch of Airstream owners a bunch of years ago, and the bylaws of the community say that in order to OWN land (which he does), you MUST live in an Airstream! He added that he (and the other property owners) doesn’t WANT to live in an Airstream, which he described as a “tube”, but added that they have hopes of changing the park by-laws next year so that it will be legal to own land and live in some other vehicle. It seems he doesn’t pull it anyplace, it is his 6-month/year home, and they store it for him here when he leaves. The funny thing is that Airstream is just the classiest trailer on the market. But I do see how living in it full time might be a little less luxurious than the humungous 5th-wheels you see everywhere. Meanwhile, our little 1988 class C seems very déclassé in this fancy community by the lake. Heck, we even have a raised patio area which looks down over our parking site and to the lake.
Despite all the upscale amenities, however, the wifi, it turns out, does NOT reach the outer limits of “the Island” where we are parked. [I have to amend this to add that as I sit here, I have found someone's unsecured "very weak" wifi connection, and I am using it to upload tonight!] So I had to walk up to the office earlier to post yesterday’s blog. While I did that, Joey decided to tackle another repair job—our plumbing. On our first night in Elkhart Campground, we discovered a “slow” leak in the system when the water pump is turned on. It has subsequently gotten worse, and has really soaked the carpet under the sink. This is, obviously, very bad (water damage is about the worst thing for an RV). So Joe took everything out and replumbed the sink (this included taking the entire sink out and then replacing it—something that I would have had fits about if I hadn’t been dealing with my blog and email while it was all happening.) The man IS amazing and I don’t know why he wastes time being a doctor instead of simply building us a whole new house someplace. The pump system is apparently now all fixed, and we are doing our best to dry out the carpet. Luckily the air is very dry up here at the moment, and it’s warm enough to have windows open too. The weather report said tomorrow in Traverse City it is going up to about 80—that sounds much warmer than I ever expected.
I think that’s basically all our news for today. This was a long blog—I am too blabby! Tomorrow we head up to Mackinaw City via the cost of Lake Michigan, designated by the map as a scenic route.