The Family

The Family
Airstream Weekend Warriors

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Rendezvous With Mali Mish

Ludington State Park
Ludington Michigan



The kids and Mali Mish

The kids and Troutstream
   
    The difficulty in meeting someone for the first time is that you don’t always know what to expect. Sometimes it takes a while to get a feel for a person. With Dan from the blog Mali Mish, I felt like I knew him before I met him. From his blog, I already knew we had a few things in common. We both have a love for Airstreams, travel and our families. Also, we both have the audacity to post family photos under the auspices of an Airstream blog. Our blogs are the modern day equivalent of that odd neighbor pulling out the slide projector every time you visit. The only difference is that in cyberspace, you can simply click away instead of enduring the pain. All kidding aside, with those few interests in common and our mutual willingness to share our passion in a blog, our love of aluminum has brought together two families from opposite ends of the country.  I felt comfortable with Dan as soon as we met in person at Ludington State Park this weekend.  He is an adventurous, intelligent and charming guy. Also, he talks as much as I do. Upon meeting the rest of his family, I knew this would be a great weekend. Their two adorable daughters made easy friends with my little Lucy. Marlene was friendly and soft spoken. She and baby Luka were practically inseparable. It was truly a pleasure to spend time with our kindred spirits from the west coast.

     My original plan for this weekend was to camp and fish with our good friends Phil and Kim and their two daughters.  We had planned this trip over six months ago. They live down the street from us and love the outdoors.  They accompany us on a couple of tent camping trips a year in Michigan.  I knew that Phil and Dan would hit it off. Between the three of us guys, our wives were lucky to get in a word edgewise. Luckily, I was able to spend the weekend with new friends and old friends and we all got along famously. Phil and Kim set up their tent next to my Airstream while the crew at Mali Mish snagged a nearby spot. My only complaint about the weekend was the weather. It was rainy and cold the first day.  

     We arrived at Ludington State Park before our campsite was ready. That is usually a problem but at Ludington you can just park your Airstream along the coast next to the dunes on Lake Michigan and just wait it out. Unfortunately, it was a bit cold and windy when we arrived. The view from our Airstream was great. Ethan was not content just sitting in the Airstream so I had to take him down to the Big Sauble River for some salmon fishing. The salmon come into the Big Sauble River to spawn when the water temperature is just right which is usually the first week of October. The fish weren't biting and we only lasted about twenty minutes in the wind.

Free Parking
Bedroom Window View
The boys braving the cold

Ethan is enthusiastic about fishing


The salmon successfully evaded us
Who's the dork without waders?
Poker with the kids.  Lucy has a bad habit of calling out my cards.

Ethan with Emma and Lauren 
     We eventually made it to our campsite after learning the Dan and Marlene had already arrived. After backing in the Airstream, I went over to meet Dan. We hung out for a few minutes and planned to get together once I finished setting up. The whole Mali Mish crew came over to meet us and we all hiked around Lost Lake together. Later that afternoon, Phil and Kim arrived and set up camp. We have continued our streak of good campsite choices with the Nassmacher family. The nice thing about camping with another couple is that you are guaranteed to like at least one of your neighbors. It was a bit chilly so we had to get a fire going quickly. We all hung out by the fire and the kids made S'mores while some of the adults had a few drinks.  One of the adults had a little too much wine.  I won't say who it was but he was not Asian.


Not Asian
Our campsite on Lost Lake
My boys set up their tent and braved the cold with the Nassmachers
Lucy hiking around Lost Lake
One of many climbing pictures featuring Ethan




     The next morning, Ethan did a little fishing off the dock. He tied on his own hook. Grandpa will be proud to hear about that. He only called me when he caught a fish and wanted me to remove it from the hook. The Mali Mish crew has steadfastly remained on California time despite reaching the western edge of the eastern time zone.  As a consequence, they did not make an appearance until the late morning.  Shortly after they arrived, the girls had a good time gazing at their reflections in the lake.


Ava, Mila and Lucy giggling at their reflections
    We headed to the beach to climb the dunes and perhaps check out the signature lighthouse. Mother Nature was not so cooperative so Marlene, Mila and Luka left the dune climbing to the rest of us. The kids loved running up and down the dunes and didn't mind the cold wind blowing in off the lake.

     After scrapping plans to explore the park, we headed into the town of Ludington to explore.  The town is full of old fashioned restaurants and antique shops. The restaurants were like a throwback to the 1950's. We finally settled on a more contemporary brewpub for dinner. After dinner, we headed out to the Ludington Lighthouse to check out the S.S. Badger ferry returning to Ludington from Wisconsin.  It is the last coal fired ship on the Great Lakes and is in danger of being decommissioned by the state if they do not retrofit it with a diesel engine.  It creates more pollution than all the big ships in the Great Lakes combined but it is a symbol of  Ludington and an impressive looking vessel.  We enjoyed the passing of the S.S. Badger along with a nice sunset over the water despite the wind and cold.

The now deserted beach house from atop a dune

Here comes the Badger
Ava and Lucy 

Photo Credit to Dan.  He knows how to bring out my hidden beauty.  Thanks Dan.

Ethan dancing by the lighthouse
My little climbers


We had another nice night by the fire with good conversation. Monday came too fast and we all had to pack up and move on. We all got together for a quick goodbye and a couple photos of the kids together. The Mali Mish crew has a little more time in Michigan before they come down to Ohio. After a visit to Jackson Center, they will travel to our hometown and I look forward to hosting them and the good times we will surely have. I won't be able to keep Phil away either.  He is as excited as I am.

Phil, Doug and Dan

Sitting in Dan's Office

These two were all about spawning and not about eating



Parting Shot
We shall return...


Monday, October 1, 2012

Camping Under The Coasters

Cedar Point Amusement Park
Camper Village
Lighthouse Point
Sandusky, Ohio



     I decided to load up the kids in the family truckster and head up to Cedar Point Amusement Park last weekend.  This park sits on a small sliver of land that is surrounded by Lake Erie on all sides.  It also happens to be the greatest roller coaster park on the planet.  The setting is perfect as almost every monumental coaster boasts an enviable water view. We were there during HalloWeekends which transforms the park into a Halloween party atmosphere at night.

     Since we live a few hours south, this was a nice weekend destination for us.  Once Ethan hit 48 inches, he was able to ride the big coasters and it was time to visit.  We live closer to Kings Island near Cincinnati.  Ohio is blessed with two of the best coaster parks in the world.  The park opened at 6:00 on Friday and remained open until midnight.  We arrived in the evening and were able to enjoy a few hours in the park. This park has more coasters over two hundred feet than any other place in the world.

Magnum (200 feet high)

Millenium Force (310 feet high)
Top Thrill Dragster (420 feet high)

     The boys hit all the big coasters.  I remember when a 200 foot coaster was scary. The Magnum races along the Lake Erie shoreline and was Ethan's first 200 footer. We rode it on the first night.  The blackness of Lake Erie is broken only by the lighthouse in nearby Marblehead.  It still is a great coaster.  First, the boys rode it with mom and then they circled around to ride it again with me. We then proceeded to the 310 foot Millenium Force which is so steep and high that it utilizes an elevator lift system instead of a chain lift.  It is more terrifying during the day when you can see how ridiculously high you are. Finally, Jack and I rode the Top Thrill Dragster which accelerates to 120 miles per hour in four seconds before propelling you up 420 feet into the sky and then straight back down.  I don't know how they can top a ride like that. Ethan is already working on growing a couple of extra inches to ride it on the next visit.

Just a couple of more inches to go
     Cedar Point is the second oldest amusement park in the United States.  It has been in continuous operation since 1870.  It is a 364 acre park that feels like an old resort. The park has a nice blend of old school rides coupled with the most modern coasters. They have an old fashioned arcade and skyrides that I remember from my youth. It was so nice to experience this with our kids.  Melizza and I have visited this park a couple of times before we had children.  The experience is much different now as we have to divide and conquer.  The park is better suited to older children but Lucy had a great time because the lines for the kiddie rides were almost non-existent. 

The Midway Arcade Where The 80's Are Still Alive
One is happy while the other is miserable!
 

Jack taking Lucy on the Jr. Gemini
 

A Cedar Point Classic


   Cedar Point has a couple of decent dining options for an amusement park.  They have the only outpost of the famous Los Angeles hot dog joint called Pink's.  The line was too long last time we were in LA so we had to experience it in northern Ohio.  I must say the quality was high but it will never top Hot Doug's in Chicago.  They have many creative toppings and a distinctive snap when you bite into them.  They also have a Johnny Rocket's and you can't go to an amusement park without getting a funnel cake.  That is a required purchase.





     One of the most surprising things about this vacation was the quality of the campground. The Camper Village is located at the tip of the peninsula on Lake Erie.  It is a five minute walk to the park and they do have a shuttle.  The nicer campsites are in the Lighthouse Point Section. We were camped right under the Mean Streak, a large wooden coaster.  The campsites were level and the park was immaculate with a pool, a pier and well shaded sights.  The campground was a nice respite from the amusement park chaos. Plus, resort guests have their own entrance and can enter the park an hour before the general public. We will definitely revisit this park next summer. Ethan will keep drinking milk and hopefully grow to Top Thrill Dragster size.



The Lighthouse
Maggie liked camping under the coasters

The Campground Store looks a bit like a liquor store

The rear entrance to the park

Let's Ride!
The Pool
 
The Roller Coast
The Pier


     The park really comes alive at night.  The coasters light up and the old fashioned midway rides take on a new energy.  Everyone enjoyed this trip.  Melizza and I liked the unique and well run campground and the resort feel. Jack and Ethan loved the coasters. Lucy is a good sport and has fun wherever she goes. Jack forgot for a moment that he is a middle schooler and held my hand before we launched up the hill at 120 miles per hour. That alone was worth the price of admission. We are totally doing this again.

The Raptor at night
Halloweekends!
Corn Maze
Top Thrill Dragster by moonlight





The view from our campsite