The Family

The Family
Airstream Weekend Warriors

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Michigan Summer Dunes

Hoffmaster State Park
Norton Shores, Michigan

The Trout family taking the plunge
     Summer in the coastal towns along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan is all about the simple joys of vacationing. The joy of watching the sun set over the calm water from atop the dunes. The sounds of my children running through woods in anticipation of arriving at the beach and the camaraderie of friends and family around the campfire at night. These are the things I take away from this trip to Michigan.
Family Photo
Jack preparing to go after his brother

Approaching the beach from the campground
     For our first trip of the summer, the Trouts returned to Hoffmaster State Park with our tent camping companions Phil and Kim and their two daughters. Our weekend consisted of spending time at the beach and touring the nearby town of Silver Lake, Michigan. Most of our beach time was really dune time. The dunes are what make this part of Michigan so beautiful and unique. At Hoffmaster State Park, we worked off our meals by running up and down the dunes. Some of us took a tumble or two.
Air Ethan
Brotherly Love
Lucy showing her obvious disdain at being photographed

     On this trip, Melizza and I decided to engage in some kitschy tourism. We drove north to the town of Silver Lake, Michigan and booked a dune ride with Mac Woods Dune Tours. Their exclusive license allow them to take you on a forty five minute journey through the giant dunes nestled between Silver Lake and Lake Michigan on a modified open air Ford truck. Lucy screamed and squealed with delight as we climbed up and over the dunes. Everyone had a great time. Mac Woods was a nice reminder that some touristy activities are popular for a reason.

Arms Up!
The Dunes of Silver Lake

Fun for everyone
These dunes reminded me of Tatooine.  I expected Obi-Wan to come over
the next ridge.  "These aren't the droids you are looking for."
    While in Silver Lake, the two families wanted to check out the Little Sable Point Lighthouse which sits above a very nice swimming beach. All of us were impressed with Silver Lake including the charming orchards and wineries as we approached from the south.  We decided that it might be worthwhile to check out Silver Lake State Park Campground for a possible future visit.  As we approached the campground, I was a little shocked at how utterly awful the campground looked. The campground was surrounded by a chain link fence and it looked more like a dune buggy staging area than a place to camp with view of the dunes. Needless to say, it was a nice reminder of how good we have it at Hoffmaster. No wonder you have to make reservations at the good Michigan state parks six months in advance. They are not all created equal.

Little Sable Point Lighthouse


     Back at Hoffmaster, Phil and I watched my son Ethan run down the dunes at full speed and jump of a ledge into the sand below.  We thought that looked like fun and decided to show the kids that we can still hang.  I had a nice downhill sprint and took a conservative jump. Phil, on the other hand, decided to go full bore down the hill and took a couple tumbles on the jump.  He may have trouble sleeping on his side for a week or two but he should be fine.

Phil and I before the "dune incident"

Ethan is ready to take on the dunes of Ludington
Pure Michigan
       It is great to travel with a family that we are compatible with. Phil and his family are great friends that love to share new experiences with us. They are joining us for a trip to Ludington, Michigan in the fall. My Michigan Parks Pass will be heavily utilized this season. As always with our Michigan weekends, we take comfort in the fact that we will soon return.


     


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Kicking Off The Summer Season

Centerville, Ohio
Troutstream Terraport

June 20th, 2012
The Airstream is plugged in, washed and ready to roll out

     On the first official day of summer, it is almost time to kick off the summer Airstream season.  It has been far too long since our trip to Louisiana.  No Airstream traveling equals no blog entries.  I guess that I could write about all of the places I plan to go but that would just torture me.  With the obligations of school, work and extracurricular activities, we have been forced to patiently wait for our first summer weekend trip.  The time has come to prepare for a quick weekend escape to Michigan.  After canceling a trip to Davidson River in Western North Carolina over Memorial Day,  we are anxiously awaiting a little taste of Michigan.  I was really looking forward to that trip but I coach my sons Destination Imagination team which made it to the Global Finals in Knoxville, Tennessee.  It was an amazing weekend for the entire family but I did have to sacrifice mountain biking and fly fishing with the kids over the holiday weekend.

     There are always reminders around the house of our future travel plans...

Travel books occupy many nooks and crannies and feed our wanderlust
The birds around our house like vintage American trailers too.
     I also have some reminders while at work...

Vineyard Vines makes the coolest ties

Vintage Airstream iPhone cover


     I enjoy even the mundane tasks of owning an Airstream.  I have washed every inch of the exterior.  There is nothing like the aluminum and rivets shining in the sun.  The aluminum skin looks clean after a couple of months in storage.  However, upon close inspection the Troutstream needed a bath.  I have also begun the process of replacing my halogen interior lights.  You know you are a geek when you are excited to change a light bulb in your Airstream.  My first interior bulb has finally expired.  The existing halogen bulbs produce a nice light but have two major drawbacks.  First,  they use a substantial amount of energy.  Second, they generate a good bit of heat.  The replacement LED bulbs use about 12% of the energy and produce much less heat.  Energy usage matters in the Airstream and this will help on future trips off the grid.  There are about thirty halogen bulbs throughout the Airstream.  One down and twenty nine to go.

LED Replacement Bulb

The futuristic bulb is tiny and a little expensive


The finished product
     This summer we will be visiting our neighbor to the north on three trips.  First, we will return to Hoffmaster State Park on Lake Michigan.  Then we will hit Ludington in July.  Finally, we will travel up to Petoskey over Labor Day and cross over the bridge sans Airstream for a day trip to Mackinac Island.  We have no long trips planned until November when we will visit Austin, Texas and Big Bend National Park with a return trip on parts of Route 66.  I am also hoping to visit Western North Carolina in the fall if we can squeeze it in between soccer games.  We may attempt some sort of winter ski trip as well but I have some logistics to figure out.  As much as I would love to just head out west for a couple months, I will have to settle for some nice weekend trips with the family.

Lets go already!!!