South Haven August 2012

Sandra did a writing retreat at a house near Lake Michigan, in South Haven, and decided that it would be a good place for us to have a vacation. Of course, the lake is so big that it's like being at the ocean. No saltwater and no sharks, though! The town is a cute little resort town with a busy canal running through the middle of it. One of the local stores was even named Sharkless!

Another nearby attraction that she knew we would like is the Kal-Haven Trail, which is an old railroad that was converted to a trail that runs about 34 miles between Kalamazoo and South Haven.

The House

This is a great place to stay, it's a cute medium-sized house with a unique feel due to the interesting construction. It's built into a sidehill and is a single level with most of the rooms having very high angled ceilings. Up high, windows to the outside and cutouts between rooms give it a very airy feel. The design is quite nice, too, with a lot of wood and stone. The owner's book collection and many items from her travels are quite interesting as well.

Outside, there is a roof deck with a spiral staircase leading up to it. A covered porch even has sleeping couches for an outdoor sleeping experience without all the bugs.

The Local Beach

There is a beach nearby that the tourists don't know about, making it a great place to watch the sunset. We tried to get down there every night to see it, but of course some of the nights were cloudy and we couldn't see the sun. Christina still loves to run around in the water and on the beach.

The homeowners along the water don't like people in front of their homes - the rule is that you can walk the beach, but you can't stop! They say that most of the houses are empty anyway, because they are second homes.

The "pirate ship" in the last picture surprised us when it fired a cannon at sunset. It was incredibly loud.

The Public Beach

This beach is very wide, has nice sand, and the water is very shallow for a long ways out. The end of the pier has a graffiti-covered red lighthouse, and it is at the entrance to the very busy canal that goes into the downtown core. We had fun swimming here one of the days.

Charming Downtown

The downtown core is small but charming, with a resort feel to it. The canal cuts through downtown and the place is packed with boats. Christina and I rode our bikes downtown, and stopped at a store that had sidewalk tables set up with games. We played a game of checkers.

The Kal-Haven Trail

This old railway was transformed into a trail for bikes, walkers, runners, and even horses. Since it was a railway track, the grade was very carefully constructed. Riding away from the lake, it feels like you are going very slightly uphill the whole way. When we turned around, I coasted about 800 yards without a single pedal stroke! Very slowly, but I didn't have to pedal for a very long time.

I went by myself one day, riding 32 miles to Bloomingdale and back, then on two other days the three of us rode probably 11 or 12 miles both days. It was fun, but I think it would get boring after a few times of riding it. It doesn't have the mountain bike trail character that I'm used to, but it was perfect for Sandra and Christina. A police car was parked right on the trail, quite a ways away from roads. I wonder what kinds of problems they have had on this trail?


The trail is staffed at both ends, but there is no longer any charge to ride it. The scenery is interesting, mostly farmland, but a lot of houses are just beyond the trees. Some sections have an alternate trail alongside for horses. I tried riding my bike on it, and it was very sandy and rough, five times as much work as riding on the main trail, which is as close to pavement as a dirt trail can get. The town in the middle, Bloomingdale, must get a lot of bicycle tourism. They have a train depot museum along the trail.