Archive for June, 2009

Late night in the dunes

Saturday, 13th June 2009; 11:10 pm - Location:

Staying out at the beach until sunset wasn’t a bad idea. I knew it would get dark after that, but I had time to get back to the campground.

Except that I had the notion to take a different route back. Not so great an idea, in retrospect.

I thought it would be more interesting to hike north along the beach and take another trail back across the dunes, then back south through the woods. So there was a hike along the beach, as it got darker. I could still see my way easily, though.

I finally got to the trail back, and after climbing the dune it took me into the woods, where it got darker. The trail also descended rapidly, and eventually reached a spot where the day’s rain had collected. I’d made my way around a large puddle on the way to the beach. This was no puddle. It was hard to see through the dark, but as far as I could see ahead, there was water covering the trail. The woods were thick and there was no sign that previous hikers had blazed a spur around the obstacle. I was forced to backtrack.

There was a third trail nearby that I could take, but at that point I was getting tired (yeah, I’m out of shape) and I didn’t want to risk another dead end. So I hiked back over the dune, back down the beach, then back over the dune again to the campground. And through the aforementioned puddle. By the time I got back I needed the flashlight, and had been out in the day-use part of the park for an hour past “closing”.


Saturday, 13th June 2009; 9:55 pm - Location:

Not the most spectacular sunset, but one takes what one gets.


Warren Dunes State Park

Saturday, 13th June 2009; 8:35 pm - Location: ,

warren-dunes-siteI got to Warren Dunes about 7:30 pm, still plenty light out, but not a lot of daylight to spare. The ranger told to me to put my vehicle permit on the passenger side of the dash, but I suggested that since I’d left the sidecar at home, maybe he could give me a piece of tape so I could stick it to the handlebars. 🙂 I got some surprised looks as I buzzed into my campsite, but wasted no time getting the tent set up.

Warren Dunes is a fairly typical Michigan state park, with all the good and bad that entails. It’s in some nice woods, and they left lots of nice big trees in place, and some woods between the sections, so each site at least has some nature in its “back yard”, and there are a fair amount of bushes and such so you don’t have to stare too much at your next-door neighbors. But they’re still packed pretty tight compared to the wilderness campgrounds I’m used to, and of course every site is still open to the “street”. The crowd this weekend was a mix of RVs, pop-up trailers, and tents. (Quite a few Illinois licence plates.) I was the only on there on two wheels, though. I rolled my eyes at some of the elaborate homes-away-from-home that some campers had constructed, but to each his own, I suppose. I’m sure some of them thought me a rather odd duck with my backpacking gear strapped to a scooter.

After making camp I set off for the beach via one of the trails. Rather than scaling the incredibly steep dune climb right outside the campground, I took the path around, which still included a bit of climbing and descending. The beach was mostly deserted. It’s still a bit early in the season for swimming in the Lake to be much fun, and it had been raining here most of the afternoon (and still mostly overcast), so I can’t say I’m surprised.

chicago-skylineI managed to snap a telephoto portrait of the Chicago skyline from across the Lake. As a kid I got the notion that Chicago was right at the southern tip of Lake Michigan, so I have to keep reminding myself that it’s really on the west side and actually extends north a ways. Of course here I am pretty close to the southern end of the Lake myself. And this far south, it’s just barely narrow enough to see across, obscuring the shorter buildings of Chicago, but still showing the skyscrapers.


Saturday, 13th June 2009; 8:10 pm - Location:

Memo to self: If you bring along a second camera as a “spare”, make sure it has a memory card.

Saint Joe

Saturday, 13th June 2009; 6:10 pm - Location: , ,

I stopped in St Joseph, and by chance I parked near the only other place I’ve been in St Joe: the Amtrak station. It shares space with a pizza restaurant in the old train station building… or rather the restaurant shares a little bit of space with Amtrak, since it’s an unstaffed station with just an automated ticket machine.

You can tell that someone is trying to revive the downtown/waterfront area. There’s a park with lots of artsy sculpture along the river, a freshly redone beach area on the Lake, a carousel/ballroom and a big fountain under construction just off the beach, and an old building being renovated into megabuck condos just up the hill.

I saw something I hadn’t noticed on my train rides through: the rail bridge over the river rotates to let tall boats through. Freaked me out when I looked down the railway and saw the control booth for the bridge sitting right in the way. I watched it close, then an Amtrak train went over it (too early in the day to be the Pere Marquette to Grand Rapids). Kinda neat.

I’ve stopped to eat at Gersch’s Gourmet Burgers & More, a small but fairly popular (it seems) sit-down or to-go place with super-fast service, on the south side of St Joe on the Red Arrow Highway. “Now open on Sunday” the sign on the door declares. Naturally, at a burger place I got a chicken sandwich. Yum.

South Haven

Saturday, 13th June 2009; 3:46 pm - Location: ,

I stopped in South Haven for a riding break. A little over two hours in the saddle starts to get a little cramped in the lower back these days.

It’s a nice little town (as Uncle Jack and Aunt Marge know well). It sits at the mouth of the Black River, which makes a good harbor. Downtown’s all marina and tourist shops which makes for a pleasant stop.

The weather’s cooperating: still mostly cloudy but no further rain. The weather radar also looks good.