Friday, July 07, 2006

Vacation near home

We used to vacation in this area before we moved here. Now that we're here all the time, it's all too easy to get caught up in day-to-day living and forget what we have here.

I remember coming up on canoe and camping trips. We camped at Kestlewoods a couple times. Now, it's just half an hour's drive from here. I'm still used to thinking of it as a far away place where I might go once or twice a year.

A couple weeks ago, we decided to drive over to the Hodenpile dam pond and swim. It was a nice drive, and we enjoyed going through the woods. The kids got a bit impatient, though.

We didn't find any public swimming areas, so we drove on down the river. No, we didn't actually drive down the Manistee river. We took took M-55 west to Manistee, Michigan. It's a nice little town nestled around the lake that's at the mouth of the Manistee river. From there, we went to Orchard Beach state park.

Swimming in a river can be fun, but you have to take great care when you're watching the kids. The current can take you downstream quickly, and it would be easy for a kid to panic in the undertow or get pinned against a log jam.

Swimming in an inland lake is OK, too. The main problem is that most inland lakes are just a little bit less than clear. Some are downright murky, but most of the ones around here are relatively clear.

Swimming in a great lake pretty much beats all. Just the scenery is worth the price of admission. The lake itself is generally very clear. If you're lucky, it'll be warm. That depends largely on which lake, the time of the year, and whether you're at a point or in a bay.

This time, we weren't all that lucky. The kids went in and swam around, but I was more inclined to just wade a bit to cool off. The water hasn't warmed up much yet.

Several years ago, Mary and I drove up along the north coast of the upper peninsula of Michigan. We stopped at a bay in Lake Superior, and ended up swimming instead of just splashing around. The water was very warm -- something that you don't find much in Lake Superior.

It is said that Lake Superior comes in two temperatures -- the temperature of liquid ice, and the temperature of solid ice. In the earlier case, however, Mary and I swam in a shallow bay that had been warming in the sun all summer.

But this time, Lake Michigan didn't have time to warm up. We still had fun, though. The kids splashed around and didn't seem to be bothered by the cold water.


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