TRAVEL DIARIES: WEST COAST

Anyone from Michigan knows the west coast is by far the best coast, and by that I mean the west side of our great state. Surrounded by four great lakes, we take such pride in our salt-free, shark-free waters. The small port towns, the cottages, and the endless miles of scenery are just a few things that make traveling up the coast so special.

For many years, my Mother owned and kept her 34 foot C&C sailboat at Crosswinds private marina in Whitehall, Michigan. This was a place near and dear to my heart as I spent weekends sailing through White Lake and out into Lake Michigan, in the summer months. Located off of White Lake, Whitehall is a quaint marine town with few pubs and great local art. One of those treasure towns that survive off its locals and commence in cash-only transactions.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve decided to document my own process of getting out of a rut I’ve been in for a while now. Part of my journey to finding myself again was to begin at a place where I’ve experienced memories that have played a part of becoming who I am. Since my Mother carried me, sailing has been in my heart and I swear fresh water runs through my veins. The Great Lakes are where I’ve found my inner peace and my adrenaline. Listening to the break of the waves reminds me of my roots and the people who raised me. Some people are afraid of the water, the depth and the unknown under the surface. The water is the place I feel tranquil, free and assured of life.

As an amateur sailor, there is no describable feeling of heeling (to lean or tip under the influence of the wind on sails) in a large sailboat. Basically the boat is leaning to one side on exaggerated angles and you feel as if you could just fall out! My favorite memories were hiking on the windward (high side) as a ‘monkey’, hanging with my legs off the side of the boat. Like you’ve been injected with epinephrine, your heart races and the wind blows sweetly in your face. Your body feels like you are invincible in that moment. It’s a feeling that will never leave your heart. It is something that I itch for persistently.

Unfortunately, the boat I grew up on is in the care of another owner. You know, life happens (my favorite motto). I was craving that feeling in my heart and desired the smell of the coast -you know if you’ve experienced it.

I decided to surprise Jeremy and take him out west and show him the area I once loved. He knew we were going to the coast, an easy couple hour drive, but he didn’t know exactly where.  We exited US-31 in Muskegon and I directed him to a run-down looking building known as Wayne’s Deli & Beverage. He was surely surprised but embraced the adventure. The deli is famously known in Muskegon for roasting their own beans in-house, specializing in Great Lakes Blend and Michigan Cherry. I picked up a pound of Great Lakes and they so kindly had it ground for me. The back of the small shop is where you find the fresh deli counter. Two lovely ladies are there at all times to accommodate a large line of customers. Jeremy and I both chose the Italian Hoagie, made to order. However, the “Gimmick” might be tied for best seller, we will have to go back and try them all.

 

We drove North from Muskegon along Lake Michigan into Whitehall and parked at a local marina to walk into town. To my surprise the entire main road of town was completely under construction, it was a ghost town! The photos of the town really didn’t make the cut due to the heavy construction. Bummed, we still went into a few shops like Pitkin Drugs & Gift Shoppe, a gem for boaters and visitors. We also found some ‘made in Michigan’ products to take home.

 

The neighboring town, Montague, is only a few minute walk along water. We stopped at a shop what used to be known as Moxie Marine, now is Water Dog Outfitters. They had kayaks on super sale and it took a whole lot of self control to not buy them all. Besides, I don’t think they would survive a journey back to Detroit on top of a Sedan.

We continued to Montague’s small main street and meandered into a few antique and vinyl shops. I found a few antiques to take home but Montague runs on cash only, a problem for a city girl with only cards… We did eventually find an ATM however.

After the hike to the ATM and back, I had planned to take Jeremy to an adorable vintage Soda Shop that is authentic to its 1947 origin! The now-owner is the daughter of the shop opener from half a century ago. She explained to us, at the time it was her Fathers Pharmacy and ice cream parlor and she’d been a worker there since about 12 years old. The glassware and equipment is all original pieces.

I needed a coffee fix after a week of a nasty cold and tea only diet. I ordered a Coffee Lovers milkshake and Jeremy had a regular chocolate malt.

I dressed super casual from the long drive- cross chest top is from Garage, leggings are Lululemon. My go-to comfy pant. These are high waisted and 7/8 length, perfect for my height and no need for hemming. Sandals are forever 21 ($15.90!), I HIGHLY recommend not wearing them for long walks, my post-surgery ankle was swollen for the rest of the day.

We felt like two kids enjoying the delicious dessert and ambiance of the teal decor and stainless fixtures.

These Michael Kors sunglasses are the most comfortable and affordable too! They were purchased at Saks off 5th. The link is below to purchase a similar pair.

I checked the weather forecast the day before we left, party cloudy and 70 degrees during the day. The sun stayed most of the day until we drove around White Lake to the coast of Lake Michigan. It was still warm but now the extra light disappeared.

This beach is a small sacred spot to me, its a long drive to the North side of the beach. There is no way to cross to the south side of the channel due to White Lake. From downtown Montague its about 5 miles drive to the north side. The south side would be about 40 minutes to drive from beach to beach.

Fresh Lake water is still ice cold in the Spring but we still walked the length of the shore and dipped our toes in.

This is exactly what I needed for my “Great Lakes Fix”. Here is where you can smell the fresh air and feel that swift wind. Looking out onto Lake Michigan helped bring that ‘feeling’ back into my soul. So bad I wished I was out in that water, but being on the end of the Channel was perfect for me in that moment.

 

This being Jeremy’s first time out on the West Coast, he could start to understand the love I hold in my heart for Michigan.

My anxiety is at it’s worst when I’m in an automobile, so we purchased these little Mitten air fresheners for our cars. Something that will help me remember the peace and calmness called Michigan when I’m having bad thoughts and uneasiness on the road.

 

It’s the little things. 

XO, Maria

 

 

 

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