Road Trip!

One kind word can warm three winter months. ~Japanese Proverb

Living in West Michigan in the winter, we tend to treat a sunny day like a kind word. Wednesday was indeed one of those days. Jim’s sister texted us on Sunday and mentioned that she and her husband were going to run over to Manistee on Wednesday to go to the casino, and asked if we wanted to meet them there. We hadn’t been to a casino in a year or two, so we thought it would be fun to run up there and meet them for the day. Pardon the pun, but the weather along the lakeshore can be a gamble this time of year…but Wednesday was Senior Day, and we are considered seniors now at 56 years old, at least in the casino’s eyes. So off we went!

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From Grand Rapids, there are two routes you can take: the inland route via US 131, or the lakeshore route, via US 31. We chose the lakeshore route, as the sun was out. Those familiar with lake-effect know that ‘sunny in Grand Rapids’ doesn’t always translate to sunny at the lakeshore. Sometimes there can be a raging blizzard out there. Well, we lucked out on Wednesday, as the above photo shows. That was taken along US-31 near Pentwater. It was an absolutely beautiful drive.

A couple of things that are encountered along US 31 south of Ludington are the Lake Winds Energy Farm and also the Ludington Pumped Storage Facility. The former consists of 56 giant wind turbines dotted around the local rural landscape. There is no missing them. The latter is a giant reservoir built in the 1970’s. It sits high above Lake Michigan. The way it works is this: At night, when energy usage is low, water is pumped into the 27 billion gallon reservoir. In the daytime, when energy usage is high, the pumps become turbines and generate electricity as the water flows back into Lake Michigan. We will blog more about these places in the future, when we can get some photos to go along with the story.

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We arrived at Little River Casino before lunch. This facility is owned by the Little River band of the Ottawa Indians. It boasts of a casino, a large hotel, an auditorium, a few restaurants and an adjoining RV park. It is one of the nicer casinos in Michigan, and they have a wide array of promotions and giveaways to keep you coming. For those of you not familiar with Michigan; casinos are the only places in the state that are exempt from the public places smoking ban. Whether you smoke or don’t smoke, let it be noted.

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Little River boasts one of the nicer casino RV parks in Michigan. Plenty of full hookup sites are available. Campers are given free reign of the hotel pool and hot tub, which are located indoors. The RV park is open April through October.

After making our donation to the tribe, we had a very nice lunch at one of the restaurants at Little River. The staff went out of their way to make Jim a gluten free burger, even though they didn’t have a GF menu. He didn’t get sick, so they succeeded! After that, we headed back home. On the way, we stopped in the town of Manistee. This charming little town is where James Earl Jones got his start at the Ramsdell Theater. We drove west off of US 31 through the delightful main street of shops and went to the park along the lakeshore.

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Douglas Park is a first rate park, with plenty of picnic tables, grills and playground equipment. The beach at this park is actually within the confines of the breakwater, so the water itself is technically from the Manistee River.

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As is documented in the above photo, Lake Michigan was kicking up some waves on Wednesday. It is a rare winter day that a person gets to see this sort of wave action without being accompanied by a lake-effect snow squall.

Manistee also has Orchard Beach State Park to the north, with camping near Lake Michigan.

All in all, we had a memorable day. It was definitely the type of day we will draw from when the snow starts piling up around us!

4 thoughts on “Road Trip!”

  1. Looks like a nice day trip! Interesting to read about the Ludington pumped storage facility (right up my alley….) – great way to utilise and store energy! Would love to hear more about it!

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    1. We will be sure to post about it in the future, Inger. That area is very nice. If you ever get a chance to come to West Michigan, be sure to check it out. We will be spending the summer on the Leelanau Penninsula, so stay tuned for some stellar scenery!

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