Saturday, September 22, 2007

Ludington, Michigan

What Ludington lacks in a downtown area, it makes up for tenfold with its municipal marina and its state park. Sadly, Ludington's downtown area has a lot of empty storefronts (and with two more stores having "going out of business" events, there seem to be more in the near future). We suspect a superstore on the fringe of town may be to blame but we didn't venture out that far to see.

At $41/night for our boat, Ludington Municipal is a huge bargain. It is a very well protected marina. The main boaters' building has a cozy reading room, a great deck that overlooks the marina, probably the nicest showers (overhead shower heads), irons, big washers and dryers (30 minute cycles for $1/load), beautiful grounds and two opportunities a day to see the Badger. (We didn't know they shipped semis over! You can see into the Badger's cargo area as it turns around before docking.) We can't say enough nice things about the marina.

It does seem like Ludington is going through a transition. As mentioned, the downtown is losing businesses. However, they are constructing some nice condo buildings by the waterfront. They are highlighting their waterfront area with an art walk and have quite a number of historical murals on buildings scattered throughout the town (Ludington is apparently known as the "town of murals"). There is a good grocery store - Best Choice Market - that is "walking distance" from the marina. We had a nice dinner at PM Steamers, named for the Pere Marquette River and the steamers that used to travel it, right across the street from the marina. Ludington also has its own microbrewery - Jamesport Brewing Company - which lets you order a flight of beers to do a tasting (5 5ounce portions for $6) - kinda neat! (We recommend the Nitro Stout - which is as smooth as cream - and the Hefeweizen - a great summer beer.) Chef John's Bakery has great cookies, cinnamon rolls, and cherry struedels. We also were lucky enough to be able to visit the original House of Flavors Ice Cream Shop -- right by its production facility.


We also took a historic house walk and found this prime architectural example of the McCaulian era in Ludington.



The Ludington State Park is about 6 miles from the marina along M-116. It is a very easy bike ride and the shoulder of M-116 is very wide (it's almost like a designated bike lane). On Friday, September 21, we biked over and visited Big Sable Point Lighthouse, (we'd passed it the day before on Meridian). The cool thing about the park is that its trails and roads run between some huge sand dunes. We've never had the opportunity to bike between open dunes before. And these are some pretty large, old, and fairly stabilized dunes. They also have an under-sand shipwreck. In 2004, the changing water level of Lake Michigan enabled some researchers to identify the dimensions of a 93 foot possible schooner wreck. It's under sand now but some of the wood is exposed.


The sand is an interesting consistency and, when washed by waves, forms shelves almost like wafer cookies. The park also includes Hamlin Lake. The Hamlin Lake area is an old lumber town area with an interesting history including dam breaks and moving (straightening) the river. The bike path around Hamlin Lake is a combination bike path and historical walk with signs that give the history of the region. An interesting piece of information that we got from the harbor master was that each year they release about 200,000 baby salmon by the present Hamlin Dam. Guess that explains why the dam is a popular fishing spot. But, its probably a little disappointing for the salmon -- they'll never get up that dam!

During our ride we came across this old guy. Guess he's tired of having to share the lake with all those salmon. They get all the attention.

We've taken advantage of a weather window (although the lake wasn't as calm as we expected). We're currently in Whitehall (on White Lake) and planning to move to Grand Haven or Holland or Saugatuck tomorrow -- depending on the weather of course.

1 comment:

Terry said...

Hi there,

I found your blog in one of my google searches. Thanks for writing up such a nice travelog of your visit to Ludington.

In case, you or others ever come through Ludington again, check out the progress of downtown at DowntownLudington.com There is lots of effort to revitalize the downtown and hopefully, you and others will see positive changes.