Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

Welcome to my World---Woman, widow. senior citizen seeking to live out my days with a sense of whimsy as I search for inner peace and friendships. Jeez, that sounds like a profile on a dating app and I have zero interest in them, having lost my soul mate of 42 years. Life was good until it wasn't when my husband had a massive stroke and I spent the next 12 1/2 years as his caregiver. This blog has documented the pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties and finally, moving past it all. And now I’m ready for a new start, in a new location---a continuum care campus in West Michigan, U.S.A. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. (Just remember I'm looking through my prism which may or may not be the full story.) Stick around, read a while. I'm sure we'll have things in common. Your comments are welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Day Trip to Lake Michigan


Seven of us from the continuum care complex left our campus in two cars to go on an adventure. Destination: A cottage on Lake Michigan down between South Haven and Benton Harbor about hour and a half drive way from home. It’s owned by a couple of ladies that split their time between our CCC and their summer place. Once on the Blue Star Highway---which most Michiganders know---we had to take a narrow, winding fire trail through the wooded dunes before getting to a cliff top where five cottages perched along with more birds than I’ve seen in ages, all greedily eating at their bird feeders, ignoring the fabulous panoramic view. But few people could view that lake and not be awed by the power of seeing the water, hearing the waves lapping the sand and breathing in that first breath of fresh, water-cooled air. I could feel myself relax and tensions slip away.

If you read my last post you’ll know I wrote about not liking the idea of riding in a car with another 80 year old at the wheel but of the two cars going, I picked the right one to get in. The other car left last and got there before we did and when we arrived my neighbor, a retired physiologist, said the ride made her a nerve wreck because their driver drove too fast and played hop-scotch with the 18 wheelers. That driver who probably weighs all of 90 pounds laughed and said, “Everyone tells me that!” When it was time to leave my neighbor crawled in the back seat of the other car saying, "I don't want to see out the front window this time."

In previous posts I’ve called the couple we visited the Skinny Minnie Twins and I guess I’ll continue to do so in this post. Neither one of them has an ounce of fat on them and yet they say they each love sweets and especially Crumbl Cookies. But they also go up and down a 130 steps to get to their sandy beach on Lake Michigan where they swim and walk two miles each day. I and three others in our group rode their incline elevator while others in our group tackled the steep steps down to the lake and they did it with none of them having a heart attack. 

Crumbl Cookies are supposed to be the best cookies in the world according to their press releases and the Twins which is why we bought a box of twelve cookies to take out to their cottage. $48 and if those are the best cookies in the world then I’m the real Santa Claus. To me, they were like eating raw cookie dough which apparently a lot of people do enjoy because the chain is growing fast and furious. Over the day I ate a half of two different flavors---milk chocolate chip and sea salt taffy, wasting 480 calories that could have gone to something I actually enjoyed. Why do I do things like that? Finish reading a bad book, finish eating something disgustingly sweet and barf worthy? The lunch they serve, though, was a wonderful array of healthy finger foods, deviled eggs to die for and fresh fruits. It was a fun day and their lovely cottage (a converter garage with a six sided, two story ceiling) was very modern with lots of light coming in and exactly like you’d expect of two graphic designers---all white with touches of red and Herman Miller furniture.

Looking out at their million dollar view was a great reminder of massive size of Lake Michigan and if you’ve never been there its like looking an an ocean. You can’t see across to the other side and the entire horizon is nothing but sky and water unless an occasional freighter is out in the shipping lane. They haul taconite, limestone, grain, salt coal, cement, gypsum, sand, slag and potash out to the St Lawrence Seaway headed to the Atlantic Ocean. If you don’t know what potash is, I’m glad you asked since I had to look it up---it’s a potassium rich salt used to make fertilizer and apparently Michigan has a lot of it. 

We didn’t see any freighters that day and the waves weren’t very high for the few people we could see along the beach playing in them. Lake Michigan waves typically get between 3-4 feet high and up to eight on a windy day, with the tallest ever recorded being ten feet. And in case you’re wondering there are a few places along the Michigan coastline where they surf---Marquette, Muskegon, Grand Haven, Sleepy Bear and St Joseph. I was a fish when I was a kid but now I’m too bumpy and frumpy to ever get caught with a bathing suit on but if surfing had been a thing when I was a kid I might have tried it if not for the fact that our little inland lake didn't get those kinds of waves. The Twins kayak the shoreline when it’s calm. That’s more my speed and I did have a canoe (and sailboat) when I was young and was spending my summers at a lake. All in all it was a wonderful road trip. Well, except for eating the cookies which I’m still kicking myself for doing. ©

 

Photo from the South Haven visitor's center.

30 comments:

  1. I remember Lake Michigan and Lake Superior when we lived in the Upper Peninsula, both awe inspiring. I preferred Superior, since, at the time, which was the Sixties, Lake Michigan had a Pollution problem, which apparently, in later years, got cleaned up and I'm glad about that. We knew many people in Michigan who had Cottages on the various Lakes and used to let us use them in off-season, most of them split time at their Lake Cottages or rented them out to Tourists/Vacationers. If the Skinny Minnie Twins walk 300 steep Steps, Swim and do various other cardio, I'm not surprised they've stayed trim. I don't like overly sweet things either and couldn't get thru a sweet Cookie or Donut ever. Their Buffet Meal sounds health conscious tho' so perhaps those Cookies are their Guilty Indulgence and if sickly Sweet, they probably don't eat a lot of them or often?

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  2. PS: I remember the Freighters and Railroad Cars of Michigan hauling a lot of Iron Ore too, those little round globules of it always fascinated me, I've never seen any since.

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    1. I could never figure out how freighters full of cars and railroad cars can stay afloat. And thousands of them are at the bottom of the lakes, so they don't all make it.

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    2. The Edmund Fitzgerald comes to mind instantly when I think of Freighters that didn't make it.

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    3. Most of us grew up singing the Edmund Fitzgerald ballad but really didn't comprehend what it all about until we got older and had seen a freighter.

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  3. Now that would be a nearly perfect day...watching and listening to the waves. We were in that area a few years ago, to attend our nephew's wedding (St. Joseph). The lake was simply amazing! You're right, it's like being at the ocean without making a huge trip to the coast. When I was a girl, we lived in Minnesota and loved going to Duluth, so we could see Lake Superior. That water is powerful.

    I used to love being in the water, but I don't even own a swimsuit any more. Actually, I saw some pretty nice swim shorts and shirts in LLBean and Lands End. They have lots more coverage than a regular suit. I might break down and order just so I can take my grand daughters swimming.

    It sounds like your outing was a success. I've been hearing so much about Crumbl Cookies, but haven't tried them. The cost is crazy. Our daughter loves to bake and keeps us supplied with old fashioned choc chip cookies. Yesterday, she brought us blondies. That's good enough for me, lol.

    Hope you're having a good weekend, Jean!!

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    1. Old fashion cookies made at home are the best. There is something in a lot of the so-called-soft baked cookies that tastes like coconut oil that I don't like, gives you an after taste. I'm not a big fan of cookies to begin with...I like cake better. They bake a lot of cookies here on campus and thankfully, I don't like they well enough to have them as often as they bake. Can't say the same about their scones, though.

      I have a swimsuit but I haven't had it on in 5-6 years. Love LLBean clothes and Lands Ends is a close second.

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  4. I've done the same thing with cookies -- best in the world. Only they aren't! But you tried and now you know and we know, too! Home baked are indeed the best. I do like a soft cookie -- but a done cookie! I haven't been to the Big Lake for a long time but I know exactly what you mean by your description. It's exciting to see the dunes or freighters or the big waves. It sounds like a wonderful day out -- and I'm very glad you picked the right car.

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    1. Me too on picking the right car and the bummer part of that is that second driver volunteers to take a lot of people to various places if they need rides. Very kind hearted.

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  5. How generous of your ladyfriends to have you out to their cottage! It sounds lovely.

    I've never heard of those cookies, but I'm not big on cookies beyond homemade chocolate chip. I'd rather have pie. Or really good, fluffy cinnamon rolls. Overall, I'm an ice cream enthusiast, but I'm awfully picky about that, too.

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    1. It really was generous of them and this is the second batch from the CCC they've invited out there. Just super nice ladies.

      My food drug of choice is ice cream followed by ice cream and cake. I'll take pie over cookies any day.

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  6. Boy does that cottage sound amazing. Think I would spend summers there and winters at the CCC if I were those ladies. So glad you got to enjoy such an amazing time and happy you didn't get in the car with Dale Earnhardt's mom. Thanks for the critique of the cookies. I'll pass now if offered. Not much of a cookie person anyway.

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    1. That's exactly what they do only coming to town once a month to collect their mail. The road is impassable in the winter months and early spring and they close it up in late September.

      I don't think anyone but me ate more than a half---2 quarter pieces, actually. The only ones who seems to like them were the hosts which was good that they had so many left over.

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  7. Oh, that sounds like a cottage to die for. I’m not a huge cookie fan, either, given the choice of ice cream, pie or a really nice cupcake. However, I do think the frozen cookies at Gordon Food Service are great.

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    1. I have not had frozen cookies from Gordon Foods but they sound like something I could get into.

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  8. Oops…Anonymous but really Hope Springs. I’m out of town and commenting on my iPad which doesn’t know me, I guess.

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    1. Now that I know it was you commenting, I'll bet you really would have loved that cottage with its Herman Miller Furniture.

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  9. I would love to see Lake Michigan. When I was a kid we vacationed at Leech Lake in Minnsota, and once made a trip over to Hibbing to see the iron mines, and then the freighters on Lake Superior. Of course I can't think of Lake Michigan without pulling up the song about the Edmund Fitzgerald, but Benton Harbor has some real memories too: not because of the place, but because of a character on a radio show who carried that name. Did you ever listen to "Chicken Man" out of Chicago? It was the story of a mild-mannered shoe salesman named Benton Harbor who transformed into Chicken Man: Superman, without the panache. Here's a sample. I listened faithfully for years.

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    1. Never heard of the Chicken Man, and we did listen to a lot of serial radio shows back in the late 40s. What a hoot to have a character named after a town.

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  10. How nice of the "twins" to take people to their cottage! Sounds just beautiful!
    We have had a lot of family vacations at different cabins on Lake Michigan. Always a fabulous time!

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    1. There is something special about going to a summer cottage. It's like an excuse to have fun and be lazy. Eat when you want, sleep and read when you want. This field trip brought those special feelings back again.

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  11. Dear Jean, what a lovely day you described. I could sense the winds of freedom threaded through your story. I've not seen Lake Michigan, but I have camped by Lake Superior a number of times while living in Minnesota. Taconite is also shipped on Lake Superior barges. It comes from the mines in northwestern Minnesota. By the way, now that time has become so fleeting and I can see the glimmer of Beyond, I'm giving a book only about 20 minutes of my time and, if it hasn't captured my attention in that brief span, I don't read it. So many books; so little time. And I want to taste the best words and story! Those that speak to me now in this season of my life.

    Thanks so much, Jean, for the comment you left on my recent blog posting. Peace, Dee Ready

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    1. Lake Superior is nice too but without the great beach front small towns along its shore.

      I love your blog posts. You've lived an unconventional life and are a good writer.

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  12. I'm glad you were in the right car! thta was good of them to invite you.

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  13. Oops, it looks as if there was a typo.

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    1. Okay, that's going to drive me crazy looking for a typo.

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  14. Growing up near Chicago, Lake Michigan was "the beach" we occasionally went to. My family took a cruise on the Milwaukee Clipper when I was little and it felt like the Queen Mary to me. When I grew up I lived in Chicago and Lake Shore Drive/Oak Street Beach, etc were our hang outs. We drove to the Indiana and Michigan Dunes for fun outings with groups of "kids" all in our early 20s and ready for a party. My husband and I took a honeymoon trip driving around Lake Michigan from Chicago north, along the Wisconsin shoreline up to to Mackinac then down the Michigan side back home. When I saw a REAL ocean for the first time I realized Lake Michigan is different from the ocean, but is a vast and beautiful lake that still astounds me with its size and history. I'm grateful to have grown up in the Great Lakes region of the country.

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    1. We did the drive around Lake Michigan once, too, and my niece and her husband rode their bikes around the lake. Can't remember how long it took them but it was measured in weeks, I think. I've been on the Clipper too and on a ship that went from Chicago to Detroit and though the locks and turned around in the Atlantic Ocean to go back again and drop us off at Detroit. You can't live in a Great Lake state without having a story to tell about it.

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  15. Sounds like a fun trip. Can appreciate your qualms about other drivers.

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    1. I remember when I was in my mid forties being told to sometimes get in a car with my dad at the wheel to see how his driving skills were doing. There is no one to do that for me/to me and I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing. LOL

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