By Jelane A. Kennedy
When visiting Michigan it was a must to have a day in Grand Haven. The day always starts for us with a walk down to the two lighthouses. This time we began with a quick detour to see the outdoor market that we noticed when we drove into town, we assumed it was a farmers market. Approaching the mall area we discovered that it was mostly arts and crafts items. Our guess was that in a few weeks when some of the early crops begin to come that then it would convert to a farmers market. Eileen was most captivated by a display of gourds made into birdhouses. They were all kinds of shapes and had been painted a variety of colors (i.e. red, green purple, etc.). One gourd looked like a big apple. The woman shared with Eileen that it took a year to dry the gourds!
After parking we found our way to the Grand River and began our walk up the boardwalk, which is 2 ½ miles long. It is always fun to watch the boats as they make their way to Lake Michigan. Sitting in the river this time was a houseboat, which seemed curious. I couldn’t figure out how it would make it on the waves of the lake without breaking up! It would have been an interesting conversation.
Besides all the boats there are several pieces of sculpture along the walk. An attention getter was the big white piece what depicts an eagle skimming along the waves.
As we get closer to the pier we pass by the Grand Haven State Park campground. It is always full. I fantasize about how great it would be to camp so near the beach. But of course it would be so hot without trees and being in our black camper van, it’s not a very practical daydream but it is fun. I’ve heard that you need to make your reservation a year in advance
Once we are to the catwalk it is always so beautiful to make the walk out into the lake. Traveling by the two lighthouses all painted red. Feeling the wind off the lake and smelling the earthy smell of a fresh water lake. One of my favorite t-shirt sayings around there was “Lake Michigan – Unsalted” (designed by Michigan Rag Company). (I’ve never quite gotten use to visiting the ocean and the smell and taste of salt water.) No matter what kind of day it is, bright and sunny or dark and storming there is something so relaxing about listening to the waves crash along the catwalk and seeing the breakers as they hit the sandy shore.
After our walk out to see the lighthouse it was time to dive into our picnic. We found a nice grassy spot under a tree near the Rotary club sponsored Grand Haven Splash Pad. One of the cool hidden features was that it was solar powered and activated by motion sensors. For the rest if the afternoon we heard squeals of laughter as the kids ran through the sprinklers on that hot day. Besides continuing watching the boats we also watched a guy giving out balloon animals he made for the kids. He had pre-made some and others he made while the kids watched on. It was fun to see the kids’ faces light up and hear them singing as they played with their balloon swords, flowers and animals.
Later in the day while on my way to the restroom I stopped in the fish pavilion and watched the guys cleaning salmon. Salmon run doesn’t start until fall, yet there were still a lot of fish to be caught out on the lake and to be cleaned. I’m always surprised at the size of the fish. These of course are a bit smaller than the salmon I saw in Alaska but they are big enough!
The topping to the day would have been to stop at Harold’s (my stepfather passed away in 2008) favorite pizza place for a famous Fricano’s pizza at Fricano’s Pizza Tavern at 1400 Fulton Ave. Fricano’s was founded in 1949 and it thought to be the first pizzeria in Michigan. When we went to Grand Haven with Harold, we had to stop. But with it being Sunday they were closed. So the next day we honored Harold’s memory with his favorite pizza, which we took home from the Grand Rapids shop (5808 Alpine Ave., NW, Comstock Park, Michigan), not quite the ambience of being at the original so take-out worked. We ordered one pie with everything but anchovies and for Eileen the other pie was cheese. What makes Fricano’s so special was the crust, paper thin, they actually run the dough through an old washtub wringer. Then they have a nice sauce not too salty or sweet. An original was topped with sausage, pepperoni, peppers, onions, anchovies (skip that for me) and cheese. There’s no other pizza like it.
Our day though did end with a local original, Hudsonville Ice Cream. Growing up this was a favorite treat I still enjoy, an evening bowl of ice cream. Mom has the best ice cream dishes too; they are v shaped with a knobby at the bottom that you can hang onto so that the warmth from your hand does not speed the melting of the ice cream. I’m not one for soupy ice cream.
It was a nice day full of relaxing memories to think back on when the life gets hectic.
(c) 2014 Jelane A. Kennedy & Eileen A. McFerran