Sunday, June 30, 2013

South Haven, Michigan In Our Rear View Mirror

Has it already been a month since we arrived in South Haven?   We've visited a number of places and learned a great deal about southwestern Michigan.   Hopefully, we'll return to South Haven in August on our way back south. 

Our friends, Dick and Lynn Callaghan, arrived in South Haven a couple of days ago and we've really enjoyed seeing them.  Dick's birthday was 6/28, so we celebrated with a delicious cookout at their coach. 

The Callaghan's are at Sunnybrook, another South Haven RV resort, on a lake site, and Dick was able to "practice" catching fish in preparation for his big birthday party.  Lynn gave Dick an offshore fishing trip on Lake Michigan and I was invited to be their guest!  RV was busy prepping our coach for our early departure. We had a successful  day of fishing on the Silver King, a 30 foot Sea Ray with a 12 foot beam and captained by Jeff Morris with South Haven Fishing Charters.

   We departed South Haven Marina at 6:30 a.m. and the weather couldn't have been more perfect for Dick Callaghan's birthday party!  After travelling about 16 miles west on Lake Michigan to one of several places our captain and first mate began placing our fishing gear, etc. in the water --- down rigs, up rigs - you can tell I don't know what I'm talking about.  There were about 8 poles in the water at one time in about 160 feet deep water.  I caught the first fish, a coho salmon (10 - 12 pounds),  not because I am an accomplished fisherman, but because we agreed I would catch the first one, Lynn the second, and Dick the third.  Altogether we caught 4 coho salmon and 2 steelhead trout (very large rainbow trout).  They were beautiful...and shoulders are sore. This evening we enjoyed grilled salmon for dinner, Caesar salad and wild rice with roasted Michigan asparagus.  Talk about fresh....a few hours ago our coho salmon was swimming in the chilly waters of Lake Michigan! 
We'll leave the beautiful harbor town of South Haven on Monday morning, July 1, and drive about 4 hours north toward Traverse City, MI for the month of July. This will be our first Annual Cherry Festival in Traverse City.  We're looking forward to seeing several of our friends in the Traverse City, MI area and getting to know this part of Michigan as well.  

Michigan comes to Florida in the winter and Florida goes to Michigan in the summer.  Interesting, true, and we now understand why.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Saugatuck, Michigan and our Dune Schooner Ride

Our tow car is a 2011 Honda CR-V and RV makes sure all the necessary maintenance is done on a timely basis.  It was time for an oil change so we made an appointment with Crown Honda in Holland, MI.  We had no idea of where we were taking our car but it turned out to be an excellent choice.  The waiting room was packed but we were out of there in less than an hour.  We decided to take the scenic way back to South Haven which would be on Lake Shore Drive and head south along the shoreline of Lake Michigan.
Holland, MI - H. J. Heinz Co.

Holland, Michigan
Douglas, Michigan

Lake Shore - Saugatuck Harbor
 There were several surprises along the way and many ooooo's and ahhhhhh's.  We decided to follow the Blue Star Highway south to the beautiful artsy town of Saugatuck for lunch and perhaps a dune ride.  We had an excellent lunch at The Butler Restaurant, a longtime favorite with locals, famous for its big burgers, on the beautiful Saugatuck Harbor, home to some 900 yachts and sailboats.   
Saugatuck Harbor - Saugatuck,, MI

The Butler Restaurant - Saugatuck, MI

Saugatuck Star - Saugatuck Harbor, MI
The Butler Restaurant - Saugatuck Harbor, MI

The famous dune rides in Saugatuck had been suggested by friends and there are several adjectives to describe this experience - wild  -  fun  -  exciting -  educational.  After having experienced the famous freewheeling dune ride on a converted diesel pickup truck called a "dune schooner", we can't imagine someone coming to this area and NOT going on a dune ride!!  The ride takes you to the highest point of the area so you see miles of sweeping vistas of the geographical area, and then you ride below the tree cover where the wildlife usually stay during the day.  The drivers are knowledgeable about the history of the area and explain how Saugatuck and a now nonexistent city, Singapore, were settled for lumber interests in the mid-1800's.  This area contributed much of the lumber used to rebuild Chicago after the great fire of 1871.  When the trees were gone so was their windbreaking presence and the blowing sand gradually buried the village and it lives only in legend as the "Lost City of Singapore".  

Dune Schooner - Saugatuck Dune Rides

Saugatuck Dunes

Saugatuck Dunes

Saugatuck Dune Rides

There is a deer in back of the tree!

Saugatuck Dune Rides

Saugatuck Dune Rides
We're back  - safe!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library & Museum - Grand Rapids, MI

When RV and I made the decision to go on the road fulltime in 2007, we discussed a "bucket list" of places we would be interested in visiting.  One of the places on our list was to visit as many of the Presidential Libraries/Museums as we can.  We've been to the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, AR, and the Carter Presidential Library in Atlanta, GA, which we have written about in earlier blog posts.   Three down - ten to go!

While in southern Michigan we decided to visit the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, about 60 miles away from South Haven, MI, in Grand Rapids, MI.  Did you know that President Ford created a "one of its kind" in the presidential library system?  The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library is on the campus of his alma mater, the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor. The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum is located in his hometown and former congressional district - 130 miles apart.   This year would mark the 100th birthday of Gerald R. Ford and an exhibit is on display which portrays Gerald Ford's early and formative years.
Pearl Street Entrance to Ford Presidential Museum

Grand River in front of Ford Presidential Museum

Front of Ford Presidential Museum

The Library offers visitors and scholars millions of documents, photographs, films, video and audio tapes for research and educational programs, while the Museum provides numerous personal exhibits and memorabilia about President Ford's life and political career.
President and Mrs. Ford's Family Picture

Replica of Cabinet Room in White House (donated by Bob and Dolores Hope)

Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum

Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum
The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum is located on the west bank of the Grand River overlooking downtown Grand Rapids, MI.   To be as close as the campus is to major traffic and concentrations of people we were surprised at the sereneness and beauty of the location.  Gerald and Betty Ford are both interred on the grounds of the museum.
Stone at Entrance to Gerald R. and Betty Ford Grave Site

Several sculptures, walking paths through mature tree-lined sidewalks and bridges, The Betty Ford Garden, and picnic areas add to the beauty of the area.
Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum

Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum

Outside Fence surrounding Gerald R. and Betty Ford Grave Site

Betty Ford Garden at Presidential Museum

Looking from inside of Presidential Museum to Betty Ford Garden
When we were ready to leave we were surprised at a sudden influx of people.  A staff member explained that once a month a federal judge turns the Presidential Museum auditorium into a federal courtroom in which new citizens are administered the Oath of Allegiance and become naturalized U. S. citizens.  It seemed to be a very exciting time as there were many families and friends in attendance.  Did you know that prior to taking the oath prospective new citizens are required to pledge their allegiance to the flag and sing the National Anthem of the United States?   

Saturday, June 22, 2013

HARBORFEST - South Haven, MI

An advantage of staying in South Haven, MI for the month of June, 2013, is that we have become somewhat  familiar with the local culture in town.  You begin to see many of the same people and they tend to look out for you in many telling you the best places to eat, interesting places to visit, where to get your hair cut, the best values in town, and if they've been here a long time they share interesting stories of what it was like when they were growing up in the area.
South Haven, MI

Downtown South Haven, MI

South Haven, MI - near Maritime Museum
After WWII there was an influx of Jewish settlers who purchased land and settled with their families to farm the lush and fertile land.  Many found it was more profitable to rent rooms in their homes to the new auto tourists arriving at the shore for vacation.  We met someone who said there was always 2 of everything in the village.  One was for the Jewish people and one for the rest of the town.  Because of Jewish customs it was necessary to have kosher deli's, markets, etc.  By the late 1920's about 60 huge resorts were built to handle the people who came into the area on vacations, resulting in the nickname "The Catskills of the Midwest".   
Inn in South Haven, MI

Inn in South Haven, MI

Inn in South Haven, MI
The resorts are no longer here, but the influx of tourists continues.  The weather is definitely one of the draws.   This is a small town and reminds us of places we have lived in the past where small businesses and shop owners depend on the tourists in order to make a living.  Tourism slows down after school starts and the weekend population is reduced to those that live here for the most part.  

The 12th annual  HarborFest celebrates South Haven's maritime history with live music, a crafts fair, dragon boat races, and the 32nd classic boat show once a year.  
HarborFest 2013 - South Haven, MI
We loved the 11th annual Dragon Boat Races, and while it's hard to explain, it was a boatload of fun!  The photos show teams made of participants from South Haven, Bangor, etc., families, significant others, fellow workers, members of Sunday School classes or classmates that get together every year with a fierce spirit of competition.  Team spirit is important and was evident based on the costumes and cheering that was taking place around us.   We can't imagine how much practice it takes to get everyone synchronized.
Dragon Boat Racing - HarborFest 2013

Dragon Boat Racing - HarborFest 2013

Dragon Boat Racing - South Haven, MI

Dragon Boat Racing - South Haven, MI
Tomorrow we will be at the second day of the Kiwanis Breakfast at the Harbor on the Black River and a few more dragon boat races.   For $8 you get a delicious breakfast that includes orange juice, scrambled eggs, sausage, and pancakes.  The proceeds will make about 80% of the Kiwanian budget for the year.  

Yesterday marked the first day of summer and the longest day in the northern hemisphere in 2013.  Enjoy the full moon tonight as well as on June 23.  This full moon will be the closest and largest full moon of the year.  It also presents the moon's closest encounter with Earth for all of 2013.  The moon will not be close again until August, 2014.  The moon will appear up to 14% bigger and 30% brighter than usual.  In other words, it's not just a supermoon, it's the closest supermoon of 2013, also known as a perigree moon!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

GILMORE CAR MUSEUM - America's Signature Collection

During the month of June we will be using South Haven, MI as our base to visit places throughout southwest Michigan, and occasionally we talk to people who suggest places we would never have heard about.  One such place, Gilmore Car Museum, is located between Kalamazoo and Battle Creek in Hickory Corners, about 2 hours away from South Haven.
Back roads of SW Michigan

Lake on back roads of SW Michigan

Heartland of America - rural SW Michigan

Old Gospel Church - 1888 - near Hickory Corners, MI

Farm near Hickory Corners, MI

Farm in Hickory Corners, MI
  I'm thinking...Hmmmm, another car museum!  And it is slap dab in the middle of what they call "heartland".  In the South we call that "in the middle of nowhere".  RV was excited, and painstakingly and carefully mapped out our day trip.  The trip through the "middle of nowhere" was beautiful, and every turn revealed something more beautiful and surprising about Michigan to both of us.  
Gilmore Car Museum, Hickory Corners, MI

Gilmore Car Museum - Hickory Corners, MI

Gilmore Car Museum - Entrance

Model A Ford Museum

Gilmore Car Museum - Exhibition Barns
The Gilmore Car Museum is one of the top 5 car museums in America.  My initial response would have been, "Why don't you go enjoy and I'll wait out here?"   However, once you arrive at this quaint little two-lane road with signs directing you to the entrance, your attention and curiosity is immediately drawn to the beautiful barns and vast brick buildings on about 90 acres of meticulously manicured lawns and flower gardens.  The person who began to bring all of this together was the former CEO of Upjohn Pharmaceuticals, Donald S. Gilmore, and his wife, Genevieve.  In 1963, she gave him a 1920 Pierce-Arrow (project car) as a birthday gift and the hobby soon grew into a collection of over 30 automobiles (which is now over 400 automobiles, many on loan from exclusive collectors).
1935 Deusenberg - Gilmore Car Museum

Gilmore Car Museum

Gilmore Car Museum

Gilmore Car Museum

Gilmore Car Museum

1955 Cushman - Model 711 Highlander
(Just like RV had when he was 13 years old)
Today, the site includes 8 historic barns, a recreated 1930s service station, a small town train station, an original historic roadside diner, and nearly 3 miles of paved roads.  Several museums within the compound are the Classic Car Club of America Museum, Pierce-Arrow Museum, Franklin Collection, Cadillac-LaSalle Club Museum, Model A Ford Museum, Tucker Historical Museum, and Checker Motors Archive.  
Pierce-Arrow Museum

1941 George & Sally's Blue Moon Diner

1930s Shell Gas Station
All that room to freely roam around, not to mention Fords, Cadillacs, Duesenbergs and Packards, muscle cars, motorcycles and a Tucker -  before we knew it, we had spent 3 unforgettable hours and want to go back again someday!