Monday, August 25, 2014

Finally!! To the beach with the grandkiddos!

You might ask, "What took you SO LONG to spend an afternoon at the beach with your grandchildren?!" And I wouldn't blame you one single bit for asking! I love going to the beach, and I dreamed of an afternoon like this, and actually thought there would be many of them like this all summer long. There were many circumstances that prevented us from doing it, and I won't even begin to try to explain them. 
 I'm just very thankful that on my birthday weekend I was finally able to pile the kiddos into my little car (all packed with beach gear) and drive on out to Muskegon to … play!
 So … WHY didn't we go to Grand Haven since I claim it is my favorite spot on earth!? Well … first of all … because yesterday was Sunday (a weekend day) and I do not like crowds! Grand Haven on the weekends is just PACKED with people. Plus, I don't really like to swim at Grand Haven! The water there is less than clean, and the recreational boats come very close to the swimming area with all of their fumes, etc.
Pere Marquette Beach in Muskegon is not so busy with people; PLUS the beach area is at least three times larger; PLUS there are TWO lighthouses. The water is clear here, and it stays shallow much further than at Grand Haven. 
The grandchildren were so excited to hear we were going to the beach! We arrived at just about 3:00 in the afternoon. The children started swimming right away … no hesitation whatsoever.  
 I brought a bunch of snacks for us to eat while on the beach. The seagulls thought we'd brought the snacks for them! They were quite aggressive, and not one bit shy in their intentions. They surrounded our blanket, and got very territorial about the whole thing. We had no intentions, whatsoever, of sharing any of our snacks with them.
 We did all the usual stuff that people do at the beach. I love to dig in the sand, don't you? The children had such a good time digging and building and … smashing.

 We didn't have huge wave action, but the small waves were still fun to body surf in. Christopher really got into this!
It was a hot and humid day and our weather pattern had been like this for an amazing 4-5 days in a row; so the water temperature was … manageable. I hate cold water!  
I love to see Christopher with this huge smile! 
 Matthew dug and dug in the sand … he is a very good builder.

After we had been swimming, digging, and playing for almost three hours, we decided to walk the breakwater to see the lighthouse at the end ... 

I was so surprised when the children decided to turn back because the railings had ended and it seemed "too dangerous" to walk on the breakwater with no railings! Yikes. I told them it would be just fine, but they decided we should turn back. We did. I made them promise me that some day they would walk to the end with me. I told them many stories of how I have walked the breakwater in rough weather, and I managed to live through it!

The view was much clearer than two days prior! The fog had completely obscured my vision of all my familiar and favorite spots! 

I'm so glad we got to do this … finally! It might be the only time we make it to the beach together all season. I hope next year, we can come here more regularly and do some fun exploring. 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Muskegon in the fog ...

Yesterday was my birthday. I had gotten a pep talk from one of my good friends the other day. Brenda said I ought to do something that I really loved on my birthday to make it a special occasion. So … where am I happier than at Lake Michigan? 
I had not been to Muskegon in almost a year. I love the Pere Marquette Beach … for many reasons. I love it even more than Grand Haven … which is saying a LOT. 

Brenda and I arrived at the beach at about 4:00 in the afternoon. The sky was clear. The air was fresh. The water was even … warm! It was delicious to swim in it! We swam for quite a while … way, way out so that we could no longer touch bottom. And then we just floated! 
 We had decided to swim first and walk later. It's a good thing we did too! Because just as we were beginning our walk on the breakwater a thick, soupy fog began rolling in. I have never seen Muskegon in the fog … but it quickly blotted out both the shoreline and the lighthouses! 

 It was an eerie feeling to be out here walking when you could hardly see!
 But it was one of those feelings that I really love … kind of an adventuresome chilling kind of feeling!

 The fog took on its own special beauty ...
The seagulls didn't mind the fog at all!
And you'll never guess! I got a very special birthday treat! The coastguard lighthouse, or as it is known, "Muskegon South Pierhead Lighthouse" was OPEN FOR TOURS!!! You cannot imagine how ecstatic I was to see the sign (pictured several pictures below) announcing this!

 I've never seen this door OPEN! I have always always ALWAYS wanted to see inside!

The lighthouse was made in 1903. It needs a LOT of refurbishing and restoring ... 

Once upon a time (in the 1800's) THIS is what
the pier head light looked like! It reminds
me very much of Old Mission Point! 
 We climbed up the narrow, winding stairs (I took pictures coming DOWN, not going up) and this was our view! The two guides kept saying how great the view was from up on top … but not in FOG!
This is the little light that lights the way
to the Coast Guard dock and marina …
it's kind of a channel marker too.
We were not allowed to actually step outside (I was so disappointed about this!) onto the outside balcony, because the little lighthouse is in such disrepair that it has been deemed "UNSAFE" out there. So I had to snap pictures through the windows (which were not clean).

 The pier that leads up to the lighthouse.
I was so surprised that boats were still coming in and out of the channel. The fog kept getting thicker and thicker. I could understand the ones who were coming back IN … but there were plenty of outgoing vessels as well! 
 It was mighty HOT way up there on top (although this is actually just a puny little lighthouse, comparatively speaking). The only negative thing was the … spiders (yes, spiders!) that were in the light chamber … just hanging about in the humidity. The guide wasn't at all bothered by them!
My beautiful friend, Brenda.
I am so. thankful. for. her.
 Brenda asked me to hand off my camera so that she could get a few photos of me INSIDE this lighthouse! She did a good job too ...

This was such a surprise birthday gift! I love lighthouses so much … every inch of them! 
Looking east down the pier towards
the Coast Guard building …
obscured by fog.
 I had a little bit of editing fun with the picture below … it almost looks like a watercolor painting!
The sign that announced my birthday surprise!
By the time we had toured the lighthouse and hiked the beach, we were hungry! We had been on-line before driving out to Muskegon, and found the name of a seafood place "with a view." I had never heard of it before, but we figured … why not try it? 
 The Lake House Waterfront Grille certainly had a view! We even got to sit outside on the deck to enjoy our meal.

 I ordered their fried perch … and it practically melted in my mouth … COMPLETELY yummy!
So Brenda's advice to "fuss" a little for my birthday … was VERY good, wasn't it? Made all the better in that it was shared with her!