Tag Archive | lighthouse

Gardeners of our Souls

“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” – Marcel Proust

Last weekend I spent the weekend camping with friends old and new in Westport, a small town along the Washington coast.

We walked on the beach, climbed to the top of the lighthouse, drank beer and wine, grilled food, listened to a local guitarist, and let our cares fly away on the wind.  The weather was mostly cold, and a little bit rainy, and the summer solstice sunset did not make an appearance.

I am blessed.

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Road Trip Photo Faves: Lighthouse

Here is another of my favorite photos from my trip.

This is the South Pierhead Light, in South Haven, Michigan.  It was built in 1872 and is still operational, including its above the pier catwalk that connects the light to shore.  My cousin and I visited on an afternoon trip in September, 2018.

MI Road Trip: Manistee

If someone asked you what a car ferry is, what would you say?  Have you ever seen one?  I have to admit, I thought I knew, having grown up in Washington, where we have the largest ferry system in the United States, and the fourth largest in the world!  But I learned something new…  A car ferry is not, as you might assume, for automobiles, but rather it transported fully loaded train cars across the Great Lakes.

After spending the first night of our mini road trip in Manistee, Michigan, we got on our way – our first stop was at the historic car ferry, the SS City of Milwaukee.  This particular car ferry shuttled train cars from Muskegon, Michigan to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It was built in 1931, and sailed until 1982 when she was permanently retired.  She is listed as a National Historic Landmark.

The SS City of Milwaukee – the last operational car ferry – built 1931

The SS City of Milwaukee – the last operational car ferry – built 1931

The ship is in her original condition, with the tracks in the cargo bay to drive the train cars in, and the original woodwork and brass fittings. Of course, continuing with our theme for the trip, we saw none of this, because we only got to view her from the outside.  The SS City of Milwaukee was, you guessed it, closed for the season…

Still, she was quite impressive to see from the outside – with its 354 foot length and 56 foot width, she could carry between 30 and 32 loaded coal cars. She was steam operated, with two triple expansion steam engines, and is the last operational railroad car ferry on the lake.

The SS City of Milwaukee in silhouette

The SS City of Milwaukee in silhouette

The ship is also used for haunted house tours in October (but only on the weekends and we were there on a weekday) and is currently being preserved. There is some talk of turning her into a bed and breakfast, but I don’t know how real that is. The website does say there is an overnight tour – but doesn’t offer any details.  Our visit to the SS City of Milwaukee was a brief stop and we were on our way.

Next up – the Manistee Pierhead Light!  The first light was built in 1870, but unfortunately, it promptly burned down in an 1871 fire that also destroyed much of Manistee.  Coincidentally, that was the same day as the Great Fire of Chicago, and major fires in Peshtigo, Wisconsin, Holland, Michigan, and Port Huron, Michigan.

The light was rebuilt and moved several times; the current tower was constructed in 1927 of cast iron.  It is 39 feet tall with a fifth order Fresnel lens.  This light has a unique feature – an elevated catwalk on the pier makes it easier to walk from the mainland to the lighthouse in bad weather.  It still looks rather precarious.

The Manistee North Pierhead Light – built in 1927, with a Fifth Order Fresnel lens

The Manistee North Pierhead Light – built in 1927, with a Fifth Order Fresnel lens

The Manistee Light through a ship's propeller.

The Manistee Light through a ship’s propeller.

The south pier in Manistee has a 37 foot navigational aid, also built in 1927. We stopped to take photos of both, and enjoyed the view for a little while, at least as long as the cold wind allowed…

A bird perched near the Manistee Pierhead Light

A bird perched near the Manistee Pierhead Light

While we were in Manistee, we walked along the river walk that runs right through downtown Manistee just behind the row of buildings on the main street.  It was quaint, with benches for sitting and stairs to take you back up to the street.  It would be the perfect place to sit with an ice cream cone in the summer and watch the boats go by.

The beginning of the fall color change – the Manistee River Walk

The beginning of the fall color change – the Manistee River Walk

Even though it was cold when we were there, we got to watch a sailboat go through the two drawbridges!  There’s is something about a drawbridge that gets me every time – I love the idea of the hustle and bustle of traffic stopping to let this little boat through.

A sailboat going under the drawbridge in Manistee, Michigan

A sailboat going under the drawbridge in Manistee, Michigan

We also walked along the main street and took some photos of the historic downtown buildings. The entire downtown area is listed on the National Register of Historic Places! We found an outdoor clothing store that also happened to have a coffee shop. So we were able to get a warm up and a warm hat in the same place!

A historic hotel in downtown Manistee, Michigan

A historic hotel in downtown Manistee, Michigan

Have you been to Manistee, Michigan?  What was your favorite part?

 

MI Road Trip: Lighthouses and Lakes

What kind of houses does Michigan have more of than any other state?  Lighthouses!  Michigan has more than 150 past and present lighthouses, and we were on our way to see one!

After leaving Muskegon, we headed to Ludington, because there was a lighthouse I wanted to see there. We drove through a cute, touristy town – the lighthouse is dead ahead on the main road. The Ludington North Breakwater Light is not technically a lighthouse, because there was never a house attached to it, but I am going to call it one anyway.

The Ludington North Breakwater Light is maintained by the Sable Point Lighthouse Keeper’s Association (I’m not sure if they require you to be a lighthouse keeper to join, but I hope not, because that might be a pretty small group…). It is open for tours between late May and Labor Day, but once again, we were shut down by the fact that it was the off season.

The Ludington North Breakwater Light

The Ludington North Breakwater Light

The first light was constructed in 1871 with federal funds, but getting the funding for a light keeper’s house proved more difficult. Granted, one can just walk out the pier from the town of Ludington to the light, so that probably had something to do with it, but in bad weather the walk along the pier was very precarious.

Even on a sunny day in October, the winds were high enough that we didn’t want to brave the walk along the pier, because waves were crashing over the concrete pier. Imagine trying to make the walk in the dead of winter, during a storm, with a wooden pier! It wasn’t until 1900 that a light keeper’s house was built.

Eventually the wooden pier and the breakwater began to break down and a decision was made to construct the current concrete pier and a new light. The current pyramidal shaped light was constructed in 1924; the unique shape is to deflect the high winds and waves from the lake. It is made with steel plates, and is 57 feet tall.

It was originally lit with a Fourth Order Fresnel lens (for more info on Fresnel lenses see this post), constructed in the United States rather than France, but the lens was removed several years after the light was automated in 1972.  It is currently on display at the Historic White Pine Village, a tourist village that sounded interesting, but with the timing of our trip and other things we wanted to do, it just wasn’t in the cards for us.

And just so you know, that tilt on the lighthouse isn’t my terrible camera angle.  The lighthouse actually is tilted!  In 1994, the crib that the light sits on settled and it tilted 4 degrees to the northeast.  Repairs were considered, but abandoned due to the cost after it was determined that the lighthouse was still safe (don’t worry, I know you are going to scroll back up and look at the photo again – that’s perfectly fine).

Next we drove down the road that runs near the water towards Silver Lake State Park. Before going into the park, we parked and were able to check out the lake and the sand dunes; Jon got his first look at Michigan sand dunes and loved them! But the weather that day was too cold and windy to enjoy the beach for long.  Silver Lake State Park actually has a lighthouse too, but vacations are all about choices, and we decided not to visit this one – but I do wish we had the time for everything.

An interestingly positioned chunk of driftwood on Lake Michigan

An interestingly positioned chunk of driftwood on Lake Michigan

The sun sinks lower over Lake Michigan

The sun sinks lower over Lake Michigan

We made our way to our last stop in Ludington; dinner at the Jamesport Brewing Co. I ordered the beer sampler, with the following beers:

  • Blueberry Wheat – YUM! I loved this. A nice light wheat beer with just a hint of blueberry, and I loved that they served it with some fresh blueberries floating in it.
  • Apricot Wheat – Very light; I didn’t like it when tried it alone, but liked it with food.
  • Hefeweizen – This was a German style Hefeweizen (well yes, they are all German style, but you know what I mean right? Some brewers stick more to the traditional style). It wasn’t my favorite; despite usually being really fond of Hefeweizens.
  • Nitro Stout – Creamy and smooth, with caramel and coffee. Yum!
  • Smoky Porter – Lot of caramel and very smoky. I liked it, but probably wouldn’t want a whole pint.
Jamesport Brewing Co. Beer Sampler

Jamesport Brewing Co. Beer Sampler

I ordered the Lake Perch, a specialty for this restaurant, and I don’t think I have ever had perch, so I wanted to try something new! It was lightly breaded and fried with homemade seasoned French fries. The side salad was delicious too.  Jon had the IPA (he’s getting very predictable) with the Citrus Salmon; it was served on a bed of rice. He had a side salad too. We were both very happy with our choices.

The downtown area of Ludington was quite cute, with several neat shops that I would have loved to poke around in. But they were closed when we finished with dinner (most were closed before we even started dinner). As it were, we continued on to our home for the night in Manistee.

On a country road as the light was fading, we saw a flock of turkeys crossing the road. Turkeys! I had never seen wild turkeys before, so that was pretty neat, but the fading light (and the fact that Jon wouldn’t stop the car) meant that my pictures of them were blurry. As we were getting into Manistee, we were just seeing the last light of the day and enjoyed a lovely view of the lake.

Blurry Turkeys…

Blurry Turkeys…