We’ve had quite the snap of cool weather here in the wilds of Michigan. It feels like Fall, even though it’s still August. Even my rose bush has sort of given up – this is the last bloom on it, already fading away.
Not quite ready to let Summer get away completely, we took a trip up to Ludington. For all that it’s only a little over an hour away, I’d never been. And it’s a delightful little beach town. We had lunch at the Jamesport Brewing Company – if you’re unfamiliar with Michigan, brewpubs have sprung up on every street corner, and some of them are excellent both in terms of beer and food. I was tormented by the existence of an antique shop right next door. I didn’t dare drag my wiggly wee rascal into a place peppered with so many breakables, but I did sigh lustily over the vintage quilts I could see through the windows. If they end up being your treasure, send me a picture!
Then it was off to Ludington State Park. Now, Michigan has an extensive State Park system and takes a lot of pride in it. But the Ludington park was beautiful and impressive even by Michigan standards. It’s the first one I’ve been in that actually rents out paddleboats and kayaks. It was also crowded. REALLY crowded. We had to park at the very back of the furthest lot. But, I thought to myself, this was no real trouble. I wanted to see the lighthouse before we went swimming, and the back lot had a trail that led directly to it, through the woods. Since last Saturday was actually a bit on the warm side, win-win, right? Yeah…..
It started out innocently enough. We began our walk down a lovely little boardwalk that fringed the edge of Hamlin Lake.
And then it was into the woods. “How far is this?” my husband asked. “Not far!” I airily reassured him. In my defense, it didn’t look that far on the map. What, maybe 4″? So we walked through the cool woods, sat for a moment in the hiking shelter, and then continued on. Not far along, however, we moved from woods, to dunes.
Now, if you’ve never walked dunes before…. it’s an experience. You get all the traction of walking through sugar sand, with only the occasional scrubby tree for shade and lots of sharp undergrowth to catch your ankles. It looks like this:
Periodically, you also have to climb one of the larger dunes. This is exhausting, especially when dragging a giggling 7-year-old who thinks flopping into the sand is the Best. Thing. Ever. We reached the top of one large dune, and she looked at me and grinned. Then looked back DOWN the dune. I managed to snag her by the shorts right before she ran back down it.
About 40 minutes to an hour into this walk, we encountered two ladies coming the other direction. “How much further to the lighthouse?” my husband asked. They considered this and one responded (in a cultured British accent), “About half as far as you’ve already come from the hiking shelter.”
Greeeaat. Too far to turn around, but still a slog. Then, finally, we saw this:
Only a few dunes away!! We managed to trudge our way over the last few dunes and also encountered – a bus. Really? My husband favored me with the Death Gaze. Worse, the bus driver was wearing an apron with a note pinned to the front – “Return Trips – $3.” We, being clever in the ways of parks and facilities available, had locked both of our wallets in the van so that we could go swimming without worrying about valuables.
So, we enjoyed the lighthouse for a while.
We read the marker about the history of the Big Sable Point Lighthouse.
And even got a bit of vertigo, gazing at the tower – which, after our tromp through the dunes, we opted NOT to climb.
And then we walked back to the front of the park via the nice, flat, packed gravel path. Still about 2-1/2 miles, but easy walking. My children were remarkably good about the whole thing, which my husband has now dubbed the Ludington State Park Deathmarch. They were rewarded by some swim time in Lake Michigan. It was a yellow flag day – which means there is some surf, but nothing too heavy. Waves big enough to do a bit of body surfing, and just the slightest pull of an undertoe if you ventured too far toward the edge of the marked swimming area. The water was cool, but not cold, and we all enjoyed it. It was a beautiful day to be on the lake.
As an added reward, we went back into Ludington to the House of Flavors – a local treasure where they make their own ice cream. Definitely worth a stop if you’re in the area.
Need I add that everybody slept well that night?
Now we can put another Summer in the books and get ready for cool nights, colorful leaves, planning Halloween costumes, and snuggling under warm quilts.