During our planning sessions at home, we readily agreed that we wanted to see and to walk a portion of theKal-Haven Trail. This trail is part of the Kal-Haven Trail State Park and is operated by Van Buren County and is promoted by the Friends of the Kal-Haven Trail. The trail is a combination of walking, biking, and, in portions, horse trail.
This huge trail links Kalamazoo in the southwest to South Haven, a Lake Michigan resort area. At one time, a railroad ran through it and that was converted to a trail with "a limestone/slag surface. Motorcycles are not allowed. When there is a 4" snow base, snowmobiling is permitted. Cross Country skiing is also permitted.
This complete trail covers 33.5 miles and goes through small towns, over bridges, meanders through countysides, and passes historical points of interest.
1. A scene from the walking trail toward the beginning of the trail in South Haven
2. A Gazebo across water along the trail.
3. A covered bridge locate 1/2 mile east of Blue Star Highway that crosses the south branch of the Black River. The materials to build this bridge were donate by Robert Nichols of South Haven and is dedicated to the memory of his father, Donald F. Nichols.
4. A plat portion of the walking trail.
5. A wooden trestle bridge.
Along the trail you may see, mushrooms, flowers, bridges, butterflies, and wildlife.
MICKEY AND I WALKED FIVE MILES OF THE TRAIL
Park hours are:
8 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day of the year.
Individual day pass: 3.00
Individual annual pass: 15.00
Family day pass 7.00
Family annual pass 35.00
Note: Mickey and I had our $3.00 ready, but the place to pay was closed informing us to pay a worker along the way. No worker ever showed up. So, we were able to walk a small portion of this great trail for free
The very first thing that Mickey and I did after we parked our car at the Yelton Bed and Breakfast, was to walk to the Michigan Maritime Museum This museum cherishes and keeps the history of the Great Lakes. It is open year-round and available for group and school tours.
At this museum includes:
The Gallies and Museum Store
The VanOort US Coast Guard Boathouse
The Padnos Boat Shed
The Friends Good Will Historic Tall Ship
The South Haven Harbor Walk
Great Lakes Research Library
Offerings for Classes and Programs
Sea Scouts Program
Evelyn S.--Fish Tug
Small Craft Display
Annaul Classic boat Show
The five photographs show some of what we saw here.
The people who work here are so enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and helpful. We had several conversations with two different men. We discovered the role of the Friends Good Will's role in the War of 1812; learned about the restored collection of the last 3 types of wooden rescue craft used by the United States Coast Guard; became acquainted with the 46 Coast Guard Stations built on Michigan shores.
It was a beautiful day, and we enjoyed our self-guided tour along the historic South Haven harbor. There were historic markers which we read that were placed along the Black River.
Be sure to see all three photographs
We were delighted to walk the South Haven Pier and to see the small Lighthouse.
The very first lighthouse was wooden and built in 1871 by the "United States Lighhouse Board. That first one was square with an open base.
The second lighthouse was made of steel  and is the one that exists today. About 1923, it was electrified and painted red over the previous white paint.
The city now owns the lighthouse and pier because in 1989 the Coast Guard was going to demolish the catwalk. To stop this action, The South Haven Lighthouse and Catwalk Preservation Committee was put together. They raised money from grants and donations and gave it the look that it has today. Thank goodness there are people who care to preserve rather than to destroy.
Every June about Father's Day, the South Haven Lighthouse is open for tours during Harborfest. The rest of the year [including when we were there], we have to be satisfied to take photos, enjoy the scenery, and see sunsets.
I noted in the Lighthouse Brochure that "later this year, the responsibilities and ownership of the lighthouse will be handed to the Michigan Maritime Museum"!
Mickey and I make it a point to always touch base with the Visitor's Bureau whenever we enter a town. This visitor's bureau was an especially lovely one.
The woman who worked here was pleasant, helpful, and filled with great ideas. We collected several brochures, maps, and booklets.
1. The Outside of South Haven's Visitor's Bureau
2. A lovely spot to sit in the South Haven's Visitor's Bureau. It's ideal for reading the materials you have collected and for looking out on the streets to see the activities.
3. Mickey talking to the woman who works at the Visitor's Bureau
Before we left on our trip, we had ask for the main brochure about South Haven to be sent to each of us. We both received it a week after requesting it, and found it to be quite helpful. It was researched, written, and presented by the South Haven Visitors Bureau.
So, as soon as you enter South Haven, be sure to go to Phoenix Street to visit the Bureau and to pick up all the useful information. Feel free to ask questions. An insider's view is always best.
South Haven is known as the Blueberry Capital. To celebrate this honor, the National Blueberry Festival is held every August. Not only are there loads of blueberry products available, but there is plenty to see and do -- concerts by the Black River, a craft show, 5K run/walk, blueberry pie social, blueberry pie-eating contest, fish boil dinner, the annual AAUW book sale, and children's activities are all part of the free weekend event.
In 2011, the festival took place on August 11-14, but poor weather on Saturday definitely made for a challenging time. So plan on being in South Haven for the 50th anniversary festival in 2013!
Each summer, the city hosts free outdoor concerts at Riverfront Park on Water Street, overlooking the Black River. All concerts begin at 7:00 PM and last until approximately 8:30 PM on Thursdays. Parking is located nearby and concert-goers should bring lawn chairs or blankets.
On our first night in town as we wandered along with dock looking at all the pleasure craft that were docked for the night out of the corner of my eye I spotted an old tall ship which I found out later was the restored sloop ship Friends Good Will. Although I was a little late getting a picture of the sloop as it left the harbor, we happened to spot the sloop a little later on sailing out on Lake Michigan during its sunset cruise.
On Sunday, when we were back in town for a few hours we did catch it leaving the dock and got a picture and some video footage as it left. We also found out from information at the Maritime Museum that during the summer season it sails out 3 times daily at 1:15 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. for a 90 minute jaunt on the lake for a cost of $30 per person. The sunset cruise leaves the dock at 8:00 p.m. and sails for 2 hours at a cost of $40 per person. During the Blueberry Festival weekend in August you can also board the ship and be involved in a mock Battle @ Sea with other vessels which make it in for the weekend.
Some interesting information about the Friends Good Will is that the original version was from the early 1800's and was captured by the British early in the War of 1812. However, in the first American triumph over the British in the Battle of Lake Erie it was recaptured by John Paul Jones. This current version was built in Albany, New York and 2004 and has since resided in South Haven.
Whether it is to see the 150 acres of blueberry bushes or the sample their delicious harvest, a South Haven guest ought to make the effort to get to DeGrandchamp Farms, three miles south of the town on Blue Star Highway.
Today, DeGrandchamp has a packing and shipping facility with a large farm market, featuring many blueberry and cranberry items (they have 40 acres in cranberries) as well as container-grown nursery stock. One particularly nice feature is that nearly all of their jams, preserves, barbeque causes and other berry treats are available for taste-testing. After carefully evaluating the blueberry-cherry, blueberry-raspberry, and blueberry-cranberry preserves, I finally opted for all three! (Yes, they do have single-fruit preserves as well.) The bakery at the farm market has all kinds of tasty goodies, but I virtuously chose not to indulge. My companion had no such qualms and purchased a nice slab of fudge.
The western half of Michigan close to Lake Michigan is a great fruit and vegetable growing area for the midwest. The rain and moisture from the lake are a natural watering can for the entire region. Many years ago my grandparents used to take trips up to this area to pick blueberries, raspberries, cherries and other types of fruit and vegetables which my great grandmother and grandmother would can for year round enjoyment.
It had been a long time since Sue and I had been to any of the Pick Your Own places, so we decided to spend a little time on our journey back to Chicago to pick up a couple of pounds of these sweet little delights. When you first get there you check in to receive a bag or box to carry around to collect the blueberries, are told which areas you can pick in, and then have at it. We spent probably about 45 mintues picking and after about 3 pounds picked and probably about another 1/4 pound eaten called it an afternoon.
The rates during the summer of 2009 were $1.50 per pound. Blueberry picking season runs from about right after the 4th of July to the end of August. Times are from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. daily.
The downtown shopping district is 2-3 blocks long, there are stores selling antiques, books, jewelry and clothing, even a store devoted solely to blueberries. There are also a few restaurants on this street, we didn't check any of them out since we had already had lunch and it was too early for dinner. Clementine's at 500 Phoenix Street had a long line outside, should we go back we might give it a try.
Since we were there in the beginning of October, quite a few of the businesses had scarecrow decorations out for a contest.
Sue and I didn't want to get our feet all sandy or even dip our toes in Lake Michigan so we took a walk along the pier to the end by the lighthouse. Along with way we saw fishermen, the boats on the lake and a variety of other people like ourselves just enjoying the day being out in the sunshine on a beautiful midwest summer day.
It's true, I'm an avid Episcopalian...but that doesn't mean I'm not willing to sample other denominations, particularly when my hostess is the head of the bell choir at a particular church! At the National Blueberry Festival, First Congregational was well represented. The AAUW Booksale took place within its fellowship hall; members of the parish had baked and were selling all manner of blueberry items (pies, turnovers, muffins...); two young people were amongst the "royalty" and a lot of members were involved in the Kiwanis Blueberry Pancake Breakfasts. All of which meant that the congregation was somewhat reduced in size, but those who were present made a joyful noise unto the Lord and the pastor, the Rev. Jeffrey Dick, gave a very interesting sermon.
I'll try to visit South Haven's Episcopal Church next time I'm in town, but meanwhile, I can recommend the UCC.
Living in the northeast, I have a fair amount of contact with lighthouses -- in fact, I kayak out to one quite often during the summer months. But I knew nothing of South Haven's bright red beacon until a local friend sent me a postcard of the lighthouse under assault by icy Lake Michigan waves. It was warmer when I visited, thank goodness!
The lighthouse, and the pier on which it sits, were originally constructed of wood. A replacement for the 1871 lighthouse was crafted in steel in 1903, and is still in use.
The lighthouse, now a part of the Michigan Maritime Museum, is open for public tours during Harborfest (held each June over Fathers Day weekend). During the balance of the year, people may stroll along the pier.
When you are out on the lake in Chicago and watch a sunset you are looking west over the city skyscrapers and towards the western suburbs where my wife and I reside. However if you curve around Northern Indiana and go about 100 miles you will find yourself on the Eastern Shore of Lake Michigan and since the lake is much longer north/south then east/west there are many locations along the shoreline to catch a Lake Michigan sunset.
Since Michigan is in the Eastern Time Zone and Chicago is in the Central Time Zone is stays lighter much longer. These 2 pictures were taken around 9:05 p.m. and since we hadn't eaten since 1:00 p.m. we didn't stay for the full sunset effect. So the pictures we both took show sunset about 10 minutes before the sun dipped into the cool Lake Michigan waters.
A lot of the towns along the western coast of Lake Michigan have become summer beach resorts for people from Chicago and elsewhere and it's easy to see why South Haven is one of them, there's a beautiful sand beach which extends so far that you think you can walk to Canada. There were quite a few people laying on the beach for October, I suspect that in the summer there are quite a few more people on their summer vacation spread out along this stretch of beach.
You can expect to pay to park during the season from around Memorial Day-Labor Day, since we were there in October parking was free in the lots near the beach.