So here’s a map of our stops, right down to our actual slips. We’ll keep it pinned to the top and hopefully fairly current.
This morning we postponed our planned departure because of fog. It wasn’t horrible fog, but there was enough of it to cause worry. And we certainly didn’t want Shannon to worry on her first day of cruising in several months.
At 9 we pulled off the wall with the radar spinning madly, past the smelly dead salmon and the bushel of greens we dumped out of the AC strainer. Gross. Fortunately Shannon still was asleep, so she missed it.
Lake Michigan was so smooth we didn’t activate the stabilizers. And we activate the stabilizers to cross canoe wakes. Just about the time we reached the iconic Big Sable Point Light, the fog dissipated and blue sky emerged. (The lighthouse has been saving mariners since 1867.) Shannon still was asleep, so she missed it. Too bad. But the lighthouse is available for sightseers so maybe we’ll pop over later in the week. Given the weather forecast we may be here a while.
Years ago when Doug formed his law firm, he attempted to grab the domain name belknaplaw.com. Alas it was taken. A few years back, the ne’er-do-well Oregon attorney who snaked the address contacted Doug about a client. Turns out Wendell Belknap is a great guy after all, and over time we’ve bonded, albeit mostly by email. Wendall is a genealogy savant who has compiled a database with detailed documentation and information about more than 25,000 Belknaps. That’s a pile of Belknaps. We now know that Mallory and Shannon are Wendall’s 5th cousins, 2 times removed, or some such thing. Certainly close enough to hit up the same family reunion we say.
How’s that relevant to Misty Pearl’s adventures? Easy. While traveling through this part of Michigan we discovered Belknap Park and Belknap Lookout. Through the wonders of google we learned about Charles Belknap—from Grand Rapids—who made a name for himself in part by helping Sherman burn Atlanta and by attacking the brave Sons of The South who were defending Chattanooga and Chickamauga. For all that he won some medals or something. Anyway, today we had some time to research how we’re related to ole’ Chuck. And by “research” we mean ask Cousin Wendall, who graciously did the legwork to determine that the Hero of Grand Rapids/Villain of Chattanooga also was Mallory and Shannon’s 5th cousin, but 3 times removed. Since he has been dead a long time we figure there won’t be any awkwardness at the reunion.
Ok enough of that. The Ludington Municipal Marina sign welcomed us in at about 12:30. Docking was a bit tricky but we managed to get in safely. Shannon still was asleep, so she missed it.
We tied up the lines, hooked up the power, checked in, and were heading to lunch just as Shannon showed up. Good thing. We were about to call a doctor.
Lazy afternoon and cards along the lake waiting for the SS Badger. Hopefully we can get the drone up later this week to video the docking performance. It’s pretty cool.
Off this glorious morning to Manistee.
Apparently Saturdays are great for fishing, because there were small boats bobbing about everywhere (although not in this artsy photo.) Mostly they were fine and we did much waving. But a few seem to think it a bother to let a 56,000 lb trawler pass unmolested. Everyone can see us coming literally miles away, poking along in a straight line. Like ants watching a fat slug approach. The fellows aboard Fishing Lies thought it quite funny to cut across our path from port to starboard and then slow to a crawl about 30 feet off our bow. They actually laughed when we stopped to keep from hitting them. This is on the fifth largest lake IN THE WHOLE WORLD, mind you, so it’s not like there isn’t room to maneuver. After an exchange of pleasantries that brought Dana running to the flybridge, they realized we had snagged their lines. We could hear their reels spinning as we pulled away, exchanging more pleasantries right up until our line cutter did it’s thing. We figure right now they’re probably feeling pretty grateful for the life lesson.
Although we had an awesome day for cruising, things turned more sour about an hour from Manistee. The wall only is long enough for a few boats our size, and the boats from last night wanted to stay around. The dock master said to check back at noon. But we were past the cool breakwater lighthouses and in the scenic canal by 11.
How about topping off with fuel at Seng’s Marina? That should kill 30 minutes or so. Maya was quite helpful in getting us set up, and apologized for their 5-gallons-per-minute pump. We needed 450 gallons. That’s a lot of minutes. We got the starboard tank full just fine, but then they ran out. Wait what? Balancing the tanks should be easy but isn’t. Grrrrr. The bridge guys, however, were as good as we’ve encountered. The dude at Maple Street popped it up so that we didn’t wait a heartbeat. The dude at the Memorial Bridge was confident we could get under but came down to watch at mast level just in case. We hadn’t planned to go into Manistee Lake at all, but the bridges made it a non-event.
Now for the best part. After our third trip to the Grand Rapids airport in the past week, we returned home with Shannon and her mess of luggage in tow. We loved having Mallory with us and we wish we had them both at the same time, but at least we will have one of them for another week even if all the car rides do confuse their brothers. We think the boys will get over it.
Unfortunately we had no time to explore Manistee, so can’t really comment on its worthiness. There are high winds on the menu for Tuesday and Wednesday—plus the new water pump is acting up—so we’ll probably have a few days to see what Ludington is all about. We’ve heard good things.
Before we left Leland, a sailor much older than us—carrying laundry no less— whipped down the hill, onto the dock, around a corner, and to his boat, all on a little electric wheel. One of us now badly wants a SoloWheel Glide 3. The other two people on the boat think it’s a horrible idea. “No way, it’s too dangerous” and “Dad, you’ll kill yourself” was the theme. Meh. Looking forward to a 16-inch diameter present under the tree, and it better not be a Roomba.
But back to the Loop.
Not too much excitement on another stretch along the Michigan coast, although the scenery was different. Between Leland and Frankfort lies Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore. Who knew there were national lakeshores anyway? This one is comprised of sand dunes and cliffs. Who knew there were sand dunes in Michigan anyway? Just past the park people built houses on the sand. In the previously-referenced biblical parable, it was the foolish man who did that.
We saw evidence of foolish people whose intricate stairway to the sand crumbled—duh—effectively leaving them without beach access. How foolish is that?
Here is the Betsie Point Light, which is about the zillionth “Most Photographed Lighthouse” we have passed. We dutifully took our picture but the puffing is tiresome. Although puffing is a good word to know. Remember the carbolic smoke ball case?
Sadly Mallory left us again to head back to school. We love that kid, and are very proud of the way she handles her business.
After our second trip to the Gerald R. Ford International Airport, we took the marina Buick—rusted out body, bad transmission, worthless gas gauge, faulty tire pressure sensor, original cigarette lighter that actually would light a cigarette, smells like a grandfather and all—to the dunes. The dunes were very cool. Unfortunately the payoff for schleping the drone up the dunes was nothing, as the video all was blurry.
One might think this is a selfie of Brent and Karen, our buddies who have been traveling with us. Nope. It’s photo of Dana. Look again. If only we were mooners.
Have we mentioned the spiders? We’re so over spiders. There should be a law limiting each state to one disgusting and annoying pest. That should do away with the spider epidemic here, since Michigan already has Jim Harbaugh.
Dockside grilling with Second Wave, Texas 2 Step, and our old friends on Bucket List. Great to catch up with them.
Tomorrow Shannon arrives! Wooooo!
If yesterday’s post was a tad snarky, perhaps it’s because Charlevoix, while pleasant enough, is no Harbor Springs. Turns out Charlevoix is no Leland either. We docked just in time to join the massive lunch crowd at the Village Cheese Shanty. It may not look like much, but well worth the pushing and shoving.
One of Michigan’s last working fishtowns is along the river. Original shanties make unique shops and such. There is a movement afoot to preserve the area as is. We even contributed.
Mallory pedaled one of the Hobies over to Van’s Beach and read all afternoon. In the drone video she is the very small dot pushing a very small yellow kayak off the sand.
These two red cars are amphibious. Kind of like duck boats. Not a chance we’d be caught dead in one of them. There are photos around town of them cruising out on the lake, filled to the brim with bikini-clad models smiling and sunning. Not a life-jacket to be found. Mallory caught one of them pulling into town. She was on a dead sprint, hence the blur.
“Up just a little more, Punkin.”
Yesterday mostly was a travel day, but not aboard Misty Pearl. Two mile walk to Enterprise, 3 hour drive to Grand Rapids, and 3 hour return trip with Mallory in the back seat squealing about her brothers being cute. Along the way we passed Big Rapids. The people of Big Rapids probably thought they were all that, and then GRAND Rapids came along. We also discovered that the people who name Michigan roads are about as uncreative as the people who name waterfalls. We passed a zillion generically named ___ Mile Roads, as in 20 Mile Road or 12 Mile Road. Nonsensical really, but at least it gave Eminem something to write about.
We also passed cherry orchards by the dozens. Who knew? Charlevoix claims to be home to the World’s Largest Cherry Pie. We mostly are skeptical about any of the global claims we’ve found along the way, but this one takes the cake, er, the pie. First, it’s not a real pie. It’s metal. That alone makes the claim demonstrably bogus. It’d be like claiming the heaviest boxer of all time is the Rocky statue. Second, it’s not even a sculpture of a whole pie. Just a slice. We could pull out any random cherry and boast that it’s a small piece of an 8 Mile wide pie. Third, it’s not even that big. It’s really just an Unremarkable Sculpture of a Slice of Cherry Pie and should be billed as such. Also, what happened in 1987? Did someone make a bigger fake pie slice?
The number one Charlevoix attraction actually is a series of attractions: so-called Mushroom Houses. Some college-dropout named Earl Young built a bunch of funky places that are scattered around town. Gotta give him credit though. They’ve stood the proverbial test of time.
The top right is a photo of Stafford’s Weathervane, a restaurant recommended by our friend Erin Lewin. (How’d we get all these friends from Michigan anyway?) We trust she isn’t related to anybody named Stafford or Weathervane, although the dinner was delicious either way. This Earl Young design can be yours for a cool $2.75 mil. The best part is that it comes with a full 4 months of tolerable weather.
The folks at the marina loaned us 5 bikes so we could explore with Second Wave. Actually it was 4 bikes and a trike, which Dana took because Mallory refused. Which leads to what would be today’s poll if we did polls: Is it worse parenting to raise a law-breaking child or an illiterate child?