Road tripping with kids is a pretty hectic and pell-mell affair. Whereas when we were a childless couple we could just play things by ear, take diversions, rock up to somewhere without having accommodation totally fixed, the same is not true when travelling with four small dudes and needing a place that can take six weary bodies. We, therefore, deliberately, consciously built in a relaxing break into our rip-roaring tour of several states by renting a vacation property in Grand Haven, Michigan. We would spend three nights there in order to slow our pace down, deep breathe, do some chilling – and get some laundry done at a local laundrette.
Grand Haven is a smallish town nestled on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. Baby Face Nelson committed one of his first bank robberies there but I think such peaks of excitement and drama must be rare there. It is a pretty chilled, sleepy place and must be even more so when it is not tourist or summer season and things get a bit dormant. It was just the antidote we needed after a series of busy days.
Grand Haven has a state park right on the beach so we purchased a pass and the kids enjoyed splashing about in Lake Michigan for a couple of days. As with Lake Erie, the water was shallow and, therefore, pretty warm. I sat on the beach and spectated their antics while reading a book which was my little relaxing luxury.
We also saw the town’s musical fountain show. This happens every evening at sundown and is a free event for the community and visitors. We strolled down to the riverfront as the sun was setting and grabbed a spot on the bleachers and people-watched while waiting for the show to begin. It has been going for about 50 years and is a synchronised display of water and music. The kids recognised some of the songs and were singing along. I am increasingly out of touch with contemporary music but could hum along with the more vintage tunes. It was well done and cute and did not outstay its welcome.
On another day as we strolled through the town, we popped into Kilwin’s confectionery shop were we watched fudge being made. I adore fudge but I was a good girl and resisted temptation. Mr Pict and the boys all ordered ice cream (I am lactose intolerant which makes that easy to resist) and declared the ice cream to be delicious. There was certainly a lot of it crammed into each cone.
Grand Haven has a pier and lighthouse so we took a stroll to have a look see on a day when it had been thundering all morning. I have mentioned my mild lighthouse obsession so I enjoyed walking out onto the pier and getting up close to the red lighthouse. The lake was still very choppy from the storm and waves were crashing up onto the stonework walkway. Mr Pict and the boys found it relaxing to watch the waves breaking on the pier and ever so often they would get walloped by a wall of water.
Normally when travelling I like my days to be stuffed full of activity. I do not want to waste opportunities or squander time. I want all the experiences I can when I am somewhere new. I will admit, however, that it was actually rather pleasant to be forced into a more stately pace by the more languid pace of life in Grand Haven. Recharging our batteries for the next leg of the trip proved to be pretty useful too.