mt. washington - local natives // obstacles - syd matters // everywhere - fleetwood mac // gypsy - fleetwood mac // boyfriend - best coast // lake michigan - rogue wave // shadow - wild nothing // paris - the 1975 // us - regina spektor // her majesty - the beatles // going to california - led zeppelin // spanish sahara - foals // shiver - lucy rose
A few days ago I swept up a huge mound of soft golden sand from my hallway floor. I assumed it was from Saturday’s grand adventure, only to quickly realize, nope, it was probably from my other grand adventure the week before with Jen and Gordon. (oh dear, I need to clean my floors more!)
I have met many fabulous people from this blog of mine, and Jen is one of them. We’ve dined together in Toronto, NYC, Switzerland and last week added Detroit to our list. She visited me all the way from Berlin(!) and braved the “You’re going where?! Why?” comments from friends and colleagues to come and see, eat and explore her way through Detroit.
She flew in on Sunday evening, and as Monday was Memorial Day we decided to leave the city early to explore the beautiful west coast of this state.
For those who didn’t grow up around the Great Lakes ‘hood, a good way to remember the Great Lakes is by the acronym H.O.M.E.S: Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie and Superior. I have big goals to dip my toes in all five lakes this summer (three down, two to go), but I have a feeling Lake Michigan is where I’ll be spending most of my time.
First things first on Monday morning (well technically second things second, as we first picked up my friend Gordon) we headed to the Detroit Institute of Bagels. It is so delicious, and should you ever find yourself seeking breakfast in this part of the Midwest… GO.
Bagel in hand, sunglasses on, and music up we then headed west to the great western coast of Michigan. (I am still using my Google Maps to add places to see/eat/do in Detroit, Michigan and now Ann Arbor; I wish I had created one for every place I’d ever gone!)
The weather was sunny and warm, and I’m pretty sure we all collectively gasped when we first saw the golden dunes of Silver Lake.
A fun little fact: Michigan has the longest freshwater shoreline in the World, and the second longest total shoreline in the United States next to Alaska, which meant there was plenty of space to find a cozy spot and set up our picnic.
We had good intentions to go swimming, but LOL, Lake Michigan was COLD. So we stayed nestled within our dip in the dune (out of the wind) and took very non-original reflection selfies.
Internet, meet Gordon. Gordon, meet the blog.
Sometime between snapping selfies, #RetirementGoalWalks, and eating one too many slices of cheese, big clouds rolled in.
So we packed up our goods, and headed back to the car, but… NOT BEFORE HEADING UP THE LIGHTHOUSE!!
Many folks don’t know this, but the storms in the Great Lakes are vicious. They’re unpredictable, relentless and massive, which means lighthouses have scattered the edges of the lakes since the early 1800s. (If you’d like to lose a few picturesque seconds of your life, click here to see pretty Great Lake storms!)
It was $5 to head to the top of the lighthouse, and as it only accommodates up to 14 people, we had to wait a little bit to go up.
The views of the coast were wonderful!
And we all walked out the bottom with a sticker to prove we made it up the 150 steps!
After the lighthouse we headed south to Saugatuck Dunes State Park. I wanted to show Jen and Gordon the incredible sand dunes I had been telling them about. The photos below don’t do the height from sea-to-photo-spot justice. They’re massive!
After dipping our toes in the water and admiring the sun setting, we then headed back to Detroit, but not before filling my Ford Escape up for the billionth time.
I’ve never been a car owner before moving to Michigan, but ugh, gas, I hate it. And this car has such poor fuel efficiency. I felt like every 40 miles we needed to fill her up! Jen took this cute photo as a phew-thank-goodness-we-found-it gas station
We listened to S-Town on the way home, and then as we rounded a bend on the highway, and a “FLINT” sign came into view, Jen somehow convinced Gordon and I to go to Flint.
Most likely you’ve heard of Flint, Michigan from the news. It’s the city in Michigan where residents have struggled to get clean city in their taps for years. On our way there I read facts about Flint from the NY Times to educate ourselves, and it really is astonishing and sad the issues this city has had with water.
The city is also one of the most dangerous in America. We only drove through, and on Memorial Day evening, but the city looked similar to Detroit; under construction with a new wave of life heading into it, and potential that the stigma and rumours are a little outdated now.
And then finally, around 11pm, we rolled into my parking garage. Overall a great kick-off to Jen’s grand Detroit/Michigan adventure!
The first year I arrived in Canada I met a girl named Kara, and we instantly hit it off like a house on fire. We became the type of best friends portrayed in movies. We spent the summer whizzing about town on our bikes, hunting through the ravines with our brothers, carving our names into benches, getting ice-cream on hot days, laying on her roof hoping to get tanned and talking about potential boyfriends. She’d score the local boys’ baseball games, so I’d spend hours in a booth with her on hot summer evenings laughing and chatting and planning sleepovers. Then her dad got a job and her family moved. And it is for that reason that I’ve always known about this little town called Holland, Michigan.
On Sunday morning Lucy and I decided to go to Mudgies, a cute little brunch place downtown Detroit. We hadn’t even reached the end of the road when I mentioned that Holland, MI was currently having their tulip festival.
Wanna go? I do! You? Yes! Let’s do it
And just like that we put the petal to the medal, and floret west (okay, I’m done with flower puns, promise), to the far side of Michigan. Zoom Zoom!
As Wikipedia tells me, Holland was founded by Dutch Americans, and today is in an area that has a large percentage of citizens of Dutch American heritage. It’s about 30,000 people, and was settled in 1874.
Lucy and I wasted no time heading straight to Windmill Island Gardens, as that sounded promising. The parking and people were a little nutty, and it cost us $9 each to get in, and truthfully we missed the peak bloom by about a week, but regardless it was still pretty.
There wasn’t too much to do, except walk around and take in the village sites, and…
try to take photos with no people in them (quite the challenge!).
We then decided to head downtown Holland for a little stroll down their main street, and to grab some food. Their main street was so cute and American and picturesque.
What Starbucks are to Toronto’s corners, Churches are to Holland, MI.
Churches were everywhere, which makes sense as I actually saw on Wiki that it was once known as the “City of Churches.”
After a little (re: massive burger and fries) and stroll around the ‘hood, we got back in the car and continued to Lake Michigan! One thing I miss a lot about Toronto is not being close to a big body of water (I know Detroit is near Lake Huron, but it sits on the river and you don’t get that same feeling), so it was a must-see for both Lucy and I.
The western coast of Michigan is scattered with amazing national parks and dunes and is high on my summer’s road trip to-do list. We didn’t really know where we were going until we hit a dead end and I asked a young guy where to go. He recommended the Saugatuck Dunes State Park.
Done & done!
Unfortunately the photos don’t scale the place well, as the dunes were MASSIVE with golden soft sand. Come to think of it I’ve never actually scaled a sand dune, and let me tell you: not.easy.
We scaled up, and then had to head down! (Look at all those stairs in the photo below. We headed back in that area to the right there).
<Insert cheesy quote here about two paths….>
Lake Michigan was a lot more wild n’ woolly than I had expected. I wish we could have sat on the beach all evening watching the sun slip away, but western Michigan sits on the western side of the Eastern timezone, so the sunset was at 9:02pm (!! in May !!) and we had to make the nearly 3 hour drive home.
Overall, a very very successful first (of many!) Michigan road trips. And I am so (so!!!!) thankful for friends who on spontaneously want to do nutty things like this with me.
Man all this extreme weather shit is going down, like the south is getting torn to shit by hurricanes, the west coast been havin a drought for a million years, middle America be getting fifty pounds of crazy ass tornados every year and I’m just sitting here in Michigan like…
• Name: Eric • Nickname: Theren Everwood (my rp) • Zodiac sign: Aquaris • Height:6' • Orientation: Straight • Nationality/Ethnicity: White American • Favorite fruit: Bananas • Favorite season: Summer • Favorite book: Harry Potter series • Favorite flower: violets as my grandma’s name is Violet • Favorite scent: Campfire • Favorite color: Yellow • Favorite animal: Wolves • Coffee/Tea/Hot Chocolate: Hot Chocolate • Average hours of sleep: 6-8, as a teacher I need it • Cats/Dogs: Both • Dream Trip: A trip around Lake Michigan to each coast, as I live in Illinois • Blog created: 2017 • Number of followers: 59
The Double Dutch bus tour has been in effect under different names for a few years now. It was started by the PDX Downhill crew led by Casey Morrow as a way to flee the harsh winters of the PNW and, for most of the crew, skate their first dry roads since the race season gave way inevitably to the rain season. Last year, the Sunset Sliders joined in the fun for the End of the World Tour, which coincided with the Mayan prediction of the apocalypse of 2012. In true skater style, we blew out the local skate house with 30+ skaters laying their bruised, battered bodies in the game of two dimensional tetris to which we’ve become so accustomed.
This year, we were fortunate enough to be invited to stay at “The Orchid”, a 60 acre maze of greenhouses and fields containing all manner of flora and fauna, right on the Michigan coast. The warehouse quickly became home base for the two busses, as it boasted a 5’ ramp with one side steel coping, one side sauced pool, some fun boxes, a basketball hoop, an 8’ pool table, and access to a kitchen and sleeping quarters actually equipped to handle 40-some-odd people. The Sunset Sliders’ own Dead Fred quickly took control of provisions, cooking twice a day for the huge group of hungry skaters, once including a young sheep, a present from the father of a local grom, which Chubbs skinned and cleaned, in true Texas style, right in the back yard next to a Disc Golf putting green. Hunger satiated, the herd could focus their attention on rolling foot-long bombers, skating the ramp, shooting the shit by the fire, hustling pool or just hanging by the beach and watching the stars.
Every year on this trip, something special happens. Last year, the crew bonded over the inherent lack of personal space, the fact that the world didn’t actually end, and the generosity of strangers (the Sliders bus broke down on the initial journey in the rain forcing us to take refuge at a conveniently placed livestock auction house where we were dried and fed, the Texans said it felt like home). This year we had a bigger crew, less setbacks and injuries, and one of the best places to stay of any trip I’ve ever been on. Next year is already looking good.