Part 20: Herrin, IL to Wilderness Park, MI


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The Trip

After the fox hunt, we had a down day.  Mark invited us to go shooting on the farm, so we loaded up and headed over to his range.  When we left Herrin, we headed north toward South Bend to visit our neighbors Brian and Kait.  We realized that we were only a few miles from Michigan and given that neither Kathleen nor I had been to Michigan, we decided to check it out.

The Photos

The photos below are what we saw.

Mark has plenty of land, so he has built a shooting shack to test and sight his guns.

The far backstop is 200 yards from the bench.  The hay bale is 40 yards and the target stand at 15 yards.  We each shot handguns at the target.

Mark had placed the target on-center on the stand and my .45 did a good job of totally destroying the 4x4 post behind the panel.

After we were done with the pistols, Mark brought out his custom .308 built on an AR frame.

Gail had to pose with her best frown-face.  But trust me, behind that frown-face is a great personality and a heart of gold.

The lower right target shows Mark's final group.  The rifle is still shooting a bit high for the distance we chose, but likely right-on for 200-300 yards.

Kathleen tries Mark's new "air bow".  This is a compressed air driven device that is a cross between a bow and a rifle.

The penitentiary at Marion, IL.  This is a great place -- to avoid.  Plenty of guard towers, lights and razor wire, not to mention the great clientele.

Further north, we passed the remains of an RV that had crashed in the center divider.  Not much left.  RVs are not known for their crash-worthiness.

We continued north to Fishers, IN to visit some of Kathleen's college buddies.  Outside Fishers, we spotted this huge vehicle working an accident on the freeway.  There were some folks trapped in a wrecked car.

We spent the night at a really low-budget camp ground that was close to our meeting place the following morning.  After a lunch with Kathleen's buddy, we continued north to South Bend, IN to visit our friends Kait and Brian.  After a great night in South Bend, we continued north past Benton Harbor, MI and followed the Lake Michigan coast line.  We stopped at a small park that had beach access and saw the somewhat limited areas that pass for beaches here.

Continuing north near Muskegeon, MI we spotted this Unimog from the highway so we went to investigate.  We spoke to the owner at length and gave him some maintenance tips and then continued north.

Our destination for the day was Silver Lake State Park.  Silver Lake is an inlet from Lake Michigan and has dunes as well as a nice camping area.

Silver Lake Dunes were visible across the lake.  These are big dunes, but nowhere near as big as the Altar Desert in northern Sonora, MX.  Note the structures at the right of the photo above as a reference for size.

Camping was an open area although they did have electrical connections.  Sadly for the campers in the next site, they chose to put their tent next to the electrical so Thor was right next to them.

Sunset brought nice colors and the reflections highlighted a fisherman returning to port.

This panorama of the dunes puts things into perspective.  The dunes were between the inlet bay and Lake Michigan.

One of the campers brought his fishing boat.  Campers were allowed to tie-up on the shore next to their campsite.

Further north, we passed Manistee, MI and spotted this old steam-powered ferry.

Continuing north on the coast road we came upon a view point that afforded a somewhat hazy view of Lake Michigan.

We traveled north to the Grand Traverse Lighthouse on the northern point.  The lighthouse aided sailors making the Manitou Passage.  See photo below for history of this vessel.

An advertisement for funding to restore the boat.

The lighthouse has been in existence since the middle 1800's.

I saw nothing that explained this sculpture, but it was in old photos (circa 1920) inside the museum.

The lighthouse was a bit smaller than I expected given some of the lighthouse we have seen on the eastern seaboard.

It gets cold in northern Michigan and shipping runs year-round.  A good stove is a requirement for survival and comfort in the winter.

From the upper portions of the lighthouse we could see Fox Island to the north and a huge ore freighter heading north.

The "fog signal building" was visible from the viewpoint.  This structure was built in 1899.

It had been overcast, windy and cold all day.  In fact, the temperatures were a full 30 degrees lower than the previous day.  When we arrived at Grand Traverse, the winds were strong and cold resulting in white caps on the lake and wind-driven surf.

We were instructed to park right in front of the access way to the lighthouse resulting in gawks of awe from passing visitors.

I would have missed this tree had it not been for the multiple signs saying "No sitting, no climbing".  I think this is a mutant White Birch.

Since the lighthouse was on a point, we had to turn south toward Traverse City to continue our journey.  On the southern path, next to the road, we passed this CEE tractor (Civil Engineering Excavator) - a Unimog 406-based tractor-loader-backhoe that was designed for the U.S. military.  This one is for sale.

We continued north to Wilderness State Park on the Lake Michigan near the Mackinaw Passage.  The winds were still strong and cold when we arrived.  Note the white caps on the lake and the wind-driven surf.

Another view of the shore line.  The wind was cold, so we retired to the camper.  It rained later in the evening.

Despite the cold wind, this was a very scenic drive.  We passed through an area called the "Tunnel of Trees" which was a narrow road with overhanging trees and beautiful lake-front homes.  If in the area, this is a worthy drive.

Many thanks to Mark and Gail for hosting us at their farm.

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