South Haven, MI

Our trip to South Haven was uneventful.  We arrived late in the afternoon and were assigned a slip on the north side of the river.  The south side of the river is in town so we had a bit of a hike from the other side.  But we were ok with that.  Beach is available on both sides and it wasn’t that far of a walk to the other side.  After a long day on the boat we needed to take a walk.  We grabbed the girls’ scooters and headed across the draw bridge into town.  It had been a few years since we’d been to South Haven but we remembered an amazing bakery and the walk out the pier to the beach.  We scoped out the bakery for the next morning and continued out past the south side marina towards the beach and sunset!


The next morning we headed back across the bridge and straight to the bakery.  After checking the forecast we knew we’d be sitting pretty for a few days so we started to make a list of what we wanted to see and do after we loaded up on cookies and donuts.  We started with an incredible farmer’s market and bought some goodies there as well.


We decided to go see the Michigan Maritime Museum.  We had seen a number of their boats on display outside during our walks past and wanted to check them out.  The museum inside was dedicated to war efforts, aircraft carriers and a plane crash into the water.  It was all quite interesting, but we wanted to go climb on some boats.  First we checked out the USCG Motor Lifeboat.  This specific boat starred in the Disney movie The Finest Hours, representing another boat just like it.  The other boat was involved in a dangerous rescue in 1952 off the coast of Massachusetts.  It was pretty amazing to look at this little boat and try to imagine how it saved so many people.


Next we moved onto the Friends Good Will.  This is a historic replica tall ship that still sails once or twice a day as an excursion boat.  We didn’t take the boat ride (something about living on a boat turns us off from paying to go on other boats!) but we had so much fun touring the boat at the dock.  The docent working on the ship was so good to the girls.  He explained everything.  Showed them the cannon, and the very large windless, as well as the huge mast and sails.  We were all impressed with the windless.  It’s a lot different than ours which just wraps our anchor chain right around a tiny circle.  This thing was HUGE and wound the rope around and around.


The girls also took turns with the huge wooden tiller.  The docent then showed us the compass in this beautiful wooden enclosure.


And he pointed out the deck prisms.  We saw a few of them and wondered what they were.  We went down below to see the cabin and find out how the deck prisms worked.  Down below in the tiny cabin space we saw the light the prisms let in and the girls climbed back in the tiny bunks to find more prisms back there.  We then went one level lower down to where the bunks were and the galley.


We truly enjoyed our tour of this fabulous ship!


The Friends Good Will was a highlight of our visit, but we did continue on to see the rest of the ships on display and walked through the out buildings as well.  There was one building full of nothing but old motors.  We spent some time searching for a Johnson motor just like the very old one we had on our previous dinghy.  It now resides with our friends up in Manistique and still runs like a charm.


After a long time at the museum we grabbed lunch and the girls and I headed to church a little later in the day.  The following day we were on a mission to find the Kids’ Corner playground we’d heard so much about.  It was just past the church we’d gone to and quite a hike from the marina.  But that’s ok!  We had scooters and I’m happy to walk any amount. We left Ben at the boat working and set out in a different direction than we’d walked previously.  The kids were in search of ice cream so we stopped at Dairy Queen to fuel up for our trek to the park.  The kids had a blast playing.  I love how no matter where we go they will play with and make friends with anyone.  It happened again here. Maddy and a little girl were off and running having a great time playing some game where Molly was supposed to find and chase them.


Monday morning brought time for work for Ben and school for the girls.  There were lots of Loopers in South Haven also waiting on weather and we planned to see them later in the day.  We’d already stopped by the docks on the other side and talked to quite a few.  The girls and I packed up and worked in the very lovely boaters lounge on the north side.  Each time we talk about home schooling we seem to find someone with a story.  This day the lady working at the marina noticed we were working and came over and turned the music way down. I said it wasn’t bothering us but she insisted.  She then went on to tell me how she had home schooled one of her sons for years and what a wonderful experience it was.

After we wrapped up school work for the day we enjoyed the gardens at the marina.  The flowers, the butterflies, the herbs and the tomatoes were all gorgeous.  The marina employees told us to take what we could carry.  We took a lot of tomatoes and fresh basil.  What a treat!


We ended our stay in South Haven with docktails with all the Loopers.  The girls brought their baby dolls and one lady even asked to pose for a picture with them and their babies!  Another Looper brought out his bagpipes and gave us all a real treat.


We connected with old friends who we hadn’t seen since our first loop and met many new ones.  South Haven was again a wonderful stop.  But it was time to head back to Chicago!

Ludington, MI

At this point I’m blogging to catch up so I have a record of everywhere we stopped this summer.  It’s such a distant memory at this point that I’m just happy to have pictures to remember our time at each stop.  The past couple of weeks on the water have been exhausting and somewhat difficult so it’s fun to look back and remember the fun we had this summer (even when we were stuck waiting on weather!)

This is our third trip to Ludington by boat, but I have a long history there.  My grandparents had a house on the beach in Ludington for 20 years, so I spent some time there every summer.  I loved to watch the Badger every morning and evening with my grandparents.  I loved playing on the beach and I loved going to House of Flavors.  I have a lot of fond memories and it’s great to share those with my kids now.  We were in Ludington last October as well so the girls remembered the marina, the beach and the Badger.

We got stuck with weather yet again.  When we left Leland we planned to make a beeline across the lake over to Sturgeon Bay, WI so that we’d at least have the boat on the correct coast for getting down to Chicago.  We knew we had to be home a few days before Labor Day weekend to head to Kansas City for my sister’s wedding.  This would give us a few days to either get home, or to get close to Chicago.  Mother Nature once again had other plans.  Just as we passed the Manitou Islands a thick fog set in.  There were a lot of us on the water that day and in touch with each other.  The fog was everywhere.  We decided that even though only seeing with radar wasn’t any different in the middle of the lake than near the coast, we’d feel more comfortable heading back towards the coast.  It took until south of Frankfort for the fog to finally lift.  It was a long 2-3 hours.  We couldn’t see a boat 500 feet away.  Scary stuff.

The rest of the day was easy.  Once the fog lifted we had an easy cruise down to Ludington.  We got settled, the kids made a mad dash for the park and we were there in plenty of time to enjoy the evening and watch the Badger come in.  The Wilsons ended up coming to Ludington as well and we all went and grabbed some ice cream before bed.

The next day it became clear we were not going to get a weather window the rest of the week to cross to Chicago. At that point we decided to pack up and head home early to get ready for the wedding.  Ben’s dad generously offered to drive all the way to Ludington to pick us up.  There are no rental cars in Ludington, so to get a car we have to have a local harbor host (person in town who offers to help out boaters) drive us 45 minutes to Muskegon to rent a car.  This means a 1.5 hour round trip for the also generous harbor host.  When Fred offered to come get us we took him up on it.  We assumed we’d have to impose on the harbor host for our return rental car drop off.  So, Tuesday at lunchtime we piled in the car and headed to Chicago.  We had a couple of days there before jumping in the car again to drive to Kansas City.

We had whirlwind wedding weekend.  A lot of great meals.  A nail party.  A wedding!  Hotel pool swimming with the cousins.  Not a lot of sleeping.  And a whole lot of fun.

We drove back to Chicago on Labor Day and started watching the weather again.  There were once again no weather windows for travel on Lake Michigan.  While we were home waiting on weather, we had our first day of school and I got the girls back into their cooking class.

First day of 6th and 3rd grades!

We also had the opportunity to make a couple of trips downtown to see Loopers coming through Chicago.  The Zeeffs arrived first and the girls and I spent the day at Maggie Daley park with them in some crazy sweltering heat.  As we were going back to their boat to grab some things before heading up to our house, Marshall and Judy on Let’s Go arrived.  The four kids were more than excited to take their puppy Mindy for a run around the park.  After that we took the Zeeffs north to our house for dinner and more visiting time.

Finally Thursday it looked like we should head back to the boat so we could leave Ludington on Friday.  Over the weekend, at the wedding, my uncle offered to drive us all the way back to Ludington.  This too seemed way too generous and we said thank you but moved on to looking at rental cars.  He has all the same memories I have of 20 years in Ludington and insisted he didn’t mind the drive and would enjoy the trip.  So, he drove into the city in a horrible rain to pick us up, adding lots of extra time to his drive.  Ugh!  We stopped and had a nice lunch in St. Joseph and then finished the drive up the coast.  After unloading all of our stuff we walked to House of Flavors for ice cream before he headed back home.  We wish he could have spent the night with us on the boat.  One of these days we’ll work out having him ride along for a leg on the boat!


Friday was the day!  We were finally able to leave Ludington and continue south.  We headed out to South Haven.  It had been quite a few years since we’d been to South Haven so we were excited for this next stop.