Thursday, August 19, 2010

Where the he** is Pentwater?

 the car ferry "S.S. Badger" leaving for Wisconsin at sunset
   Ok, I'm back from vacation and as promised I am going to put this blog, and my training in the right direction.
   Today I’m going to talk about our recent trip, birding, cycling and, uh, lighthouse hunting.

our PB&B
   Last week we went camping in Pentwater, MI. Pentwater is a nice little town of around 1000 people nestled on the shore of Lake Michigan just below the city if Ludington. Earlier in the year we had made reservations at Ludington State Park but between January and last month our camping equipment went from tent to 26 ft. travel trailer (aka: portable bed and breakfast or PB&B) and the site we booked was to small to fit our new PB&B. Being that state park camping reservations are notoriously competitive we were left with private campgrounds as our only option. We had never really stayed at a private campground before and were a bit apprehensive about it, but after a lengthy search online we ended up booking a week at whispering surf campground
   Whispering surf was interesting in the fact that it is the oldest campground in Michigan, dating back to 1913. The campsites were a bit tight, but the location was wonderful. Situated between Bass Lake and Lake Michigan, we could walk between the 2 bodies of water and use their respective beaches easily. Lake Michigan is an awesome lake to play in; crystal clear blue water lined by tall sand dunes for as far as the eye can see. We spent at least part of each day frolicking in the 3 and 4-foot waves that were crashing on the sandbars. If you’ve never visited the great lakes you should at least once. They are like the ocean in a way; you can’t see land on the horizon and you can see big super tankers chugging along in the distance. The two things the great lakes don’t have that the ocean does: saltwater and things that can eat, sting, or otherwise harm you. I’m OK with that. It would be nice to see some whales though.

Big Sable light
   On the subject of water, we climbed 2 lighthouses on this trip: The Ludington Light and the Big Sable Point Lighthouse. The Big Sable lighthouse required a 2-mile hike through woods, then tall dunes.  The coastal dunes of Michigan are an interesting phenomenon. Along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, they are the largest collection of freshwater dunes in the world and line the eastern shore of Lake Michigan from the Indiana border all the way north to the straights of Mackinac. If your interested, you can read the story of how they came to be HERE.  Hiking the dunes is like being in the desert; you can play Lawrence of Arabia all day long if you like and never walk the same trail twice.
130 steps to the top!


  Being bird nerds, we also spent at least an hour or two each day looking for birds and boy did we see birds! Here is a partial list, most of them are common, but many of them we had never seen before:

after a bit they came about 2 feet away from us


Out of the list the Bald eagle was the most impressive. It was sitting atop a telephone pole after a hard rain and it was perched with its wings half open trying to dry itself. I couldn’t get a good picture of it but it was immense in size and almost scary, thinking it could probably pick up a small dog and carry it away.

   The Sanderlings were the funniest to watch. Like the Peterson field guides states, they are like little wind up toys darting in and out of the waves as they rolled up the shore. We sat on the beach for about 40 minutes and the birds began to trust us enough to walk within a foot or two of my wife.  

cycling the shoreline
   I did manage to break away twice to ride my bike during the week. I did one ride for about 5 miles and another for 9 miles up and down the coastline and through the dunes. There were there some good hills and I hit 35 MPH at one point. The Dunes are not just piles of sand on the beach, they eventually form hilly forest land deeper inland. This makes for a rollercoaster of a bike ride. Those 9 miles burned my legs up pretty good, as I am not used to real hilly terrain. All in all it was a lot of fun and I need to find some hilly parks near home to train on.

Well that’s about it. Keep checking back as my blogging hopefully gets better.

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