Saturday, August 15, 2015

State No. 11 -- Michigan!

Darcy and I headed up to New Buffalo, Michigan this week for a couple of days away, and I took advantage of it to add another state to the list of places where I have run.

(The complete list of states, countries and continents appears at the bottom of this post.)

I did a lot more than that, of course. We had a great time, the bed and breakfast we stayed in -- Garden Grove -- was very, very nice (I highly recommend it), we did some wine tasting (lots of fun), ate some great food and I played a little golf.

We'll start with the run. I had planned on getting up Saturday morning before breakfast and getting out, but just couldn't do it! So I ate a smaller breakfast and had about 40-45 minutes to fit something in before we had to check out of the BNB. I hung a right out of the driveway and headed straight down Union Pier Road towards Lake Michigan.

It was exactly a mile from the driveway to a stairway that went down to the beach, and I decided to head down and spend a little time near the water. It was about 77 degrees but being next to the 72-degree water helped cool things down a little bit.

I've seen three of the five Great Lakes (Michigan, Erie and Superior) and I've never had a bad view at any of them. It was especially stunning Saturday morning with the sun beaming down from a cloudless sky.

After taking in the view for about 10 minutes or so, I headed back, so at the end of my run I covered 2.1 miles in 21:13. I saw several runners out and decided that if we come back next summer (which is the plan) I'm going to look into running routes and such ahead of time so I can take even better advantage of the beautiful surroundings.

Though I only ran once, I got a couple of other "alternate" type workouts in, one of which was the first night we were there. After checking into the Garden Grove, we headed into New Buffalo and ate dinner at a place called The Stray Dog, which was within just a couple of minutes walking distance from the lake. It was just starting to get dark as we made it to the beach, but I noticed that there was a seawall made up of stones and concrete, with a metal 200-foot long metal grate thrown in for good measure,  that stretched out a few hundred feet into the lake and that people were walking back and forth over it.

It was kind of a treacherous trek but I made it to the
end! It wasn't very easy, and the more time I spent out there the more I realized that most of the people who were out there were very, very young. I wasn't as nimble as they were but I was able to make it through with just a little scrape on my big toe. I mentioned my lack of my mobility to a teenage girl as she bounded by me and she looked back and said..."I think you are brave!" So I'll take that compliment!

Friday afternoon we went to three wineries, which was a lot of fun. Before heading up there, I had no idea that Southeastern Michigan was a place that was known for its wines, but as you drive around there are a lot of vineyards and close to 20 wineries.

We went to three, Gravity, Lemon Creek and Tabor Hill, and enjoyed them all. My favorite was Gravity, they had a nice, open air type of tasting area and even let you take the samples out onto their deck, which was different from the other places we had been to. They were also playing 80s music over the speakers, which is a very added bonus!

We liked Gravity so much we took home two bottles of wine from there. I don't consider myself much of a wine drinker, but tasting it gives you a chance to pick out favorites, and I'm figuring out what kinds of wines I do like!

In the end, we bought five bottles to bring home with us. One of the more interesting ones came from the Lemon Creek winery and is called Snow Moon. The grapes for that wine are picked at night in the winter when the temperature drops below 17F. It's hard to describe the tastes but it was like...WOW!

Last month when we went to the IndyCar race in Iowa we stopped by a winery in Des Moines where I sampled something I really liked. So we have a nice little start to a wine cellar going. One of the things I like to make is risotto, and my recipe uses a cup of red wine...I wonder how it would taste with one of the new ones I got!

One of the beaches I enjoyed was at the Warren Dunes State Park. While the beach was insanely busy, one of the big attractions to the park is a huge sand dune that sits a little way from the water. It is an incredible hike to get to the top, but once you are there, what a view!

I started my Runtastic app on the way down and from the top it was only about 670 feet but in that small amount of space, the elevation changes 120 feet! The sand was really thick so it made for a super workout too. I have the feeling my quads will remind me of that tomorrow.

Here is a view from the bottom and another looking down from the top. Just stunning. It's hard to tell in the picture of the lake, but the water is actually really clear and where the beach was sitting, the water was only waist deep for a couple hundred yards from the shore. I forgot to bring my suit so I only stood ankle-deep in the waves, but there were a lot of people enjoying the water. Like I said, it was about 72 degrees but it's kind of like an ice bath, once you are in it starts to feel kind of good! :--)

As it was starting to get a bit on in the afternoon, we decided to head home, but one had one more stop...2300 Jackson St. in Gary, Ind.!

For those not familiar with that address, it is the boyhood home of Michael Jackson! Going there was more Darcy's idea, but I have to admit I was a little interested in seeing it. Michael's personal life -- as well as that of his who family, I guess -- was unfortunately a major train wreck, but his music is amazing and, once you see the house, you get an appreciation of where the family started.

The neighborhood where the house sits is a bit run down, but the house itself is beautiful and well-kept. I'm sure the number of visitors who pass by each day is substantial, because just the few minutes we were there we saw about a dozen people stop and lots more cars drive by. There are also some enterprising neighbors who had t-shirt stands set up in their yards. I'd be curious to know from how far away people come to see this little house.

I know this is more of a travel post, but I hope I was able to capture some of the great places you can see in Southwest Michigan. It is truly a beautiful place, and if you have the chance to go there on vacation sometime, by all means go! You won't regret it.

I'll have these pictures as well as others up on my Let's Run Forever Facebook page. Check them out, and don't forget to like my page while you are at it!

States Where I Have Run

Illinois
Iowa
Wisconsin
Minnesota
Indiana
Michigan
New York
South Carolina
Florida
Mississippi
California

Countries Where I Have Run

United States
Mexico
England
United Arab Emirates

Continents Where I Have Run

North America
Europe
Asia

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