A few months ago we met up with friends for dinner in Seattle. Our friend Jessica mentioned that her parents were visiting from Michigan and would be joining us as well. At some point the dinner conversation turned to the RV trip. Jessica’s parents, Chris and Ferd, who we were meeting for the first time, invited us to visit them at their cottage in Ludington, Michigan. At that point we hadn’t even left Seattle so Michigan seemed like a long time away. We thanked them for their generous offer, exchanged contact information and promised to get in touch as soon as we started heading their way.
After our trip to Mackinac Island we knew we were going to be heading south so we sent Chris and Ferd a note. Fortunately they still remembered us and fortunately they were still willing to let us live in the driveway at their Cottage in the LP (LP stands for “Lower Peninsula”). So we made a plan for our visit and told them we’d see them soon. But there was one thing standing between us and the cottage: the Mackinac Bridge. As we mentioned in our last blog, we’d heard that driving across the bridge in an RV can be interesting, to say the least. But we were ready for it. We got up early on a Sunday morning, with Kevin behind the wheel, and off we went.
It turns out that crossing the bridge is not only interesting, it’s also expensive. The going rate for an RV towing a car is $14. Kevin’s response to the toll booth operator was, ‘Hey for $14 I’m using both lanes!” He probably would have used both lanes, too, except that both lanes weren’t available that morning. There was construction happening on the bridge, making it even more interesting than usual – it was down to a single lane, the outside lane. Kevin handled it like a champ though. He went slow, took lots of deep breaths and neither one of us looked down. Before we knew it we were across the bridge and a high-five was definitely in order. Ludington, here we come!
We took the scenic route to the cottage, enjoying more views of Michigan’s beautiful coastline as we meandered along Route 31. When we did eventually reach Ludington, Chris and Ferd were waiting for us in front of the cottage, waving and smiling and cheering us on as we made our third (and finally successful) attempt at getting into the driveway. We immediately felt right at home. The cottage and the yard were beautiful and Chris and Ferd made us feel like part of the family. Jessica calls this her “happy place” and we can see why.
After a quick lunch we headed out to their boat on Hamlin Lake, which is separated from Lake Michigan by just a small strip of land in Ludington State Park. We spent the afternoon relaxing on the water and hanging out with Ferd’s brother and sister-in-law who were out in their boat as well. We had a lot of fun but we think the one who had the most fun was Chris and Ferd’s dog, Abby. She stood on the front of the boat, ears blowing in the wind, looking like she was born to be a boat dog. She is one happy girl.
After a relaxing afternoon on the lake, we headed back at the cottage and caught up on several loads of laundry. We also took them up on their offer of using their guest shower. Our shower in the RV does the trick, but it’s always a treat to have real water pressure and a nozzle that’s taller than we are. Soon it was time to head out to dinner at their favorite local restaurant.
If you’ve ever watched the TV show “Cheers” then you know that when Norm walks into the bar everyone yells “Norm!” That’s what it was like walking into Stix Bar in Ludington with Chris and Ferd. They know everyone and everyone knows them. We felt special just being part of their posse. Stix is a very low-key place which is perfect for us since we’re low-key people. We enjoyed some wine and good food and met a few of the locals. We have a feeling that this is a place we would spend a lot of time if we lived in the area.
After dinner Chris and Ferd showed us around town, including a walk out along the breakwall to the North Breakwater Lighthouse. We didn’t realize this until afterwards, but this lighthouse is ranked as the #1 lighthouse to visit in Michigan and The Weather Channel voted it as one of the top 10 lighthouses to see in the U.S. That particular evening there were a lot of fishermen out catching salmon. We watched them work and enjoyed a beautiful sunset.
We also had the opportunity to watch the S.S. Badger set sail for the evening. The S.S. Badger is the largest carferry to ever sail lake Michigan and is the only coal-fired steamship in operation in the U.S. It travels between Ludington, MI and Manitowoc, WI. Ferd has traveled this route many times and actually used to work on the carferrys so he had lots of stories to tell. Even though Suzanne gets seasick she was a big fan of “The Love Boat” back in the day and thinks there is just something so romantic about watching a big ship sail off into the sunset.
We ended the evening with a nightcap at the Mitten Bar. They only carry beer, wine and liquor that’s made in the state of Michigan and they say, “If it’s from outside the state you won’t find it here.” Why the Mitten Bar? Because if you ask someone from Michigan where they’re from they will hold up their right hand (which happens to be shaped like the state of Michigan) and point to their hometown. Try it the next time you see us. Ask us where we went in Michigan and we’ll hold up our hands and show you. We may not be Michiganders but we can try.
When we finally said good-bye to Chris and Ferd we wanted to pack them up in the RV and take them with us. It’s so funny to think that just a few months ago we were getting to know each other for the first time over dinner in Seattle and now here we were, parked in their driveway in Michigan, feeling like we’ve known them forever. Jessica recently left Seattle and moved to Washington, DC for her next big life adventure, but we let Chris and Ferd know that they will always have a home in Seattle (well, that is, if and when we ever make it back there and are not living like gypsies in an RV). See you on down the road!