Day 45 – July 31: To Van Buren State Park

46 miles

by Jeff

We got a few more quizzical looks in the morning (“why is there a tent in the playground area??”), but after getting breakfast and packing up our campsite, we started our journey toward Van Buren State Park in South Haven. We hadn’t realized this before, but apparently there is no way to cross Lake Macatawa by land except by a bridge on the far eastern side of the lake. And… we were camped on the western side. Bummer! That meant 6 miles added to our route, as you can see from the map below. Ugh!

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Yep, that’s Lake Macatawa… and it’s a loooong way around!

The ride along the Lake was beautiful, as we went through the communities of Saugatuck, Douglas, and South Haven. Riding along the lakefront of these towns was a huge treat, as we were able to admire the shops, boats, and attractions along the waterfront. As you can imagine, we saw a ton of magnificent homes along Lakeshore Drive – we were often amazed at the size and beauty of the homes on Lake Michigan.

We had a couple of bike issues along the way: I had to change a flat tire, and on one of the bike trailers a bolt sheared off that attached the trailer to the bike. Fortunately, we had anticipated that possibility, and had a couple of spare bolts with us. Glad we had more than, since the bolt sheared not only once, but twice on this trip. That meant we needed more spares, so Joshua and I made a quick detour to Menards to make sure that we would be prepared for future occurrences.

We arrived at Van Buren State Park just an hour before the sun set. We quickly set up camp, got dinner cooking, and took off for the beach. An east wind had come in a couple of days before, taking all of the warm water out to the middle of the lake. The water was freezing!  David and Caleb went in up to their knees and were content to splash Joshua and me. Silly boys.
We experienced the kindness of strangers a few times at this campground.  We found grocery stores scarce during the ride and ended up without the milk we needed for our dinner recipe, or for breakfast the next morning. So, what do you do when you’re short on food? Ask around!  A couple across the road from us gave us the ½ cup of milk we needed for our dinner entrée (Texas Pioneer Pie), and the next morning I went biking around the campground, looking for anyone who might be packing up to leave.  I found an RV pulling out, and when asked if they had any milk they weren’t using, they gave us half a gallon. Then our next door neighbor emptied out their larder as they pulled out.  We feasted on cereal, banana bread, apples, and orange juice.  We were grateful since the bananas we had planned on eating were dragged into the trees and eaten by raccoons in the middle of the night, along with an entire bag of delicious chocolate chip cookies (baked for us two days earlier)!  Promises to make more cookies when we got home helped the mood in the camp upon hearing the news of our lost food.

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