Saturday, July 31, 2021

7/29 Port Crescent State Park, near Port Austin, MI

This trip was a chance to check up on this area.  I grew up in the 1950s playing in the area that has become Port Crescent State Park because we had a cottage just east of this campground from 1950 to 2000 when I sold it.  I have lots of good memories of this area with my parents and extended family of aunts, uncles, and a lot of cousins. Those were the days when our parents packed us a lunch (or not, depending) and allowed us to go down the beach to walk in the woods and jump off the bank of the Pinnebog River.  

In a lot of ways, the state park being developed ruined this area, and in other ways it saved it.  While we had lots of fun here as kids, the few years before the land was acquired by the State of Michigan and turned it into a park ended up with people discovering this three miles of pristine beach and using it badly.  People camped without sanitary facilities and also turned the sand dunes into a motorcycle track which destroyed parts of the dunes.  It also made it less safe for kids to be playing here on their own.  

I signed up for one of the very last sites available, which was a large handicap sites.  Most of the sites in this state park are very small and impossible for my motorhome.  I was happy this was available.  Also, my son and grandkids joined me for a couple of days, so it was nice to have company. 

The water levels of the Great Lakes have a habit of going up and down.  In 2000, the levels were very low, but they have been back up again for the last couple of years.  On this chart, the red line is the long-term annual level.  A difference of 2' to 3' can mean problems in harbors getting boats out or swamped lakefront property.

Actually, the beach was looking pretty good.  Also, the first couple of days, there was little wind, so the lake was abnormally calm and glassy. 

The entrance to the beach from the campground. 


Looking northeast along the shore.

And looking southwest along the shore.

We headed into Port Austin and walked along the breakwall. 

View of the harbor area and "downtown" Port Austin.

This was taken with my telephoto so it is a big fuzzy, but it shows the lighthouse which is two miles from shore.

Back to Port Crescent State Park and more views of the campground area.  Also, took a beach walk. The photo below shows the old channel of the Pinnebog River.  Sand was mined so much from the area southwest of here along the shore that the river cut through to the lake in the early 1900s.  Over the decades, this part of the river has pretty much silted up. 

Took a drive past Port Austin to see the Pointe Aux Barques Lighthouse, but unfortunately, it was closed.  I later called and found out it was open only Thursday through Sunday.  I did notice a campground on this county property, which seems a lot quieter than the state park and with a lot better view of the lake.  I might try staying there next time. 



Thursday, July 29, 2021

7/24 Sterling State Park, Monroe, MI, on a crowded weekend

 Most of the year, I enjoy staying at county, state, and national park campgrounds because spaces tend to be large and I enjoy being out in nature.  However, during the summer and holiday weekends, being out in nature turns out to be more like being out in a huge crowd of families! 

However, as a full-timer, I have to stay somewhere, so this summer I am putting around Ohio and Michigan visiting relatives and friends.  I have stayed several times at this state park, but this was the busiest time I have ever been here.  Luckily, I had chosen a site at the end, overlooking Lake Erie, so it was not too bad.

One problem is that they have added cabins along the lakeside, which blocks the views of campers, so my lakeside site was not so lakeside anymore.

They do look like nice little cabins, however, and are a good choice for people who want to camp but don't have their own equipment.

The beach was pretty wide and looked as if it was in good condition.  The weather was perfect the six days I was there with sunshine most days and a gentle breeze off the lake.


However, I assume because they have been stuck at home for so many months, an awful lot of people are going camping this summer.  

This view really shows how crowded the campground was.  Lots of people seemed to have invited friends over.

Monday, July 19, 2021

7/7 Johnson's Island Confederate Cemetery & Lighthouse

 Johnson Island is a small island on the southern edge of Lake Erie.  Mostly, it is a very large gated homeowner's association, but outsiders are allowed to visit the portion of the island containing a Confederate cemetery and the lighthouse. 

The island was chosen as a Civil War prisoner-of-war camp because it was an island and made escape a little more difficult.  Now, however, there is a causeway to make access to the island easier.  



The prisoner-of-war camp had as many as 15,000 prisoners over a three-year period, but generally only about 3,000 at one time.  About 200 Confederate soldiers died and were interred in a cemetery on the other end of the island.  Bodies were moved to this newer cemetery in 1910. 

About half of the graves have "Unknown" listed as the name of the soldier.  This was probably due to the move taking place so many years after the original burial.

This memorial was added when the cemetery was dedicated in 1910.

Our next stop was the lighthouse.  It is not a tall lighthouse, comparatively speaking, but it really did not need to be.  It is open for only limited days and hours, but you can climb up to the top, which we did. 

This is a reconstruction of the lifesaving station.  Volunteers would help rescue people during the huge storms that can occur on Lake Erie.

And this is the lighthouse keeper's house.

Looking down the stairway to the top of the lighthouse.

Very nice view, however.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

7/5 Cedar Point by Boat

 One a big weekend, especially after the pandemic has kept it closed for most of the past year, one place NOT to be is Cedar Point Amusement Park!  My son has a boat, so we just boated past it this weekend.  The parking lot was absolutely full.  My son and his family have season passes, so maybe we can go when I am here at the end of August.  I don't know what the lines were like, but they have had problems with hiring enough staff this year, especially since the large number of foreign employees were not able to come back for this summer.  

Anyway, I thought these photos were interesting.  They were taken from the bay side of the peninsula the amusement park is on.  Hopefully, next time, we can go into the lake, and I take take photos from that side.  

Anyway, if you like roller coasters, here are several of them! 

This is certainly a forest of wood!  Too high for me, however.

I think this is just one coaster. 

Did you know that Cedar Point also has a big old hotel, a campground, and a marina? 

 It was a very bumpy ride because of all the boats, but at least the dog always enjoys the trip!