Last week, PJ and I took a week-long vacation that took us around the Great Lakes region generally and to three destinations specifically. Our first stop was Pentwater, Michigan, a quiet little resort town on Lake Michigan. Our friend James invited us to visit his family’s summer home again (we visited a few years ago). We had a great, relaxing start to our vacation in Pentwater and nearby Ludington.

This is downtown Pentwater. It’s mostly little gift shops and galleries, a few bars, and some restaurants. James’s house is just a few blocks from the downtown area. It’s a beautiful home and is included on the Pentwater Historical Society’s list of historic homes. Here’s the front of the house:

One of the house’s best features, especially for academic summer visitors, is the back patio, which is the perfect spot to sit out and read a good novel.

It’s also great for grilling, which “we” (meaning James) did the first night we were in town. James grilled some walleye, made black beans, and steamed some green beans. It turned out to be our best dinner while we were in Pentwater. Next time, we’ll definitely have to let him cook for us more!

We arrived in Pentwater on Sunday evening, which allowed us only to do a little walking around and settling in. On Monday, we drove up to Ludington to see The Dark Knight. Since that didn’t start until after noon, we stopped at the Project, or the Ludington Pumped Storage Plant, a electricity generating plant in which water is sucked out of Lake Michigan and then released back through turbines, generating electricity. It’s a massive facility. This picture doesn’t even begin to do it justice, but most of my pics of the Project didn’t come out well — I kept experimenting with the camera settings.

Here’s a pic of the part of the pumping station that’s above ground. Most of it extends seven stories underground.

I also took a picture of the description of how the pumping station works:

After seeing the Project, we were going to see a historic village, but it was closed. On the way, we stopped at a monument to Father Jacques Marquette, a Jesuit missionary.

We were especially fascinated by the fact that someone had left little bundles of hair around the monument:

We’re not sure what this ritual is about. I haven’t had time to look up any information about it on the web yet. Is it a religious rite, an art project, or something else entirely?

We had lunch in Ludington at a great little Italian restaurant with great paninis. Then we saw The Dark Knight, which I intend to review later.  After the movie we drove back to James’s house, had a few drinks, and then went out to dinner at Gull’s Landing, a restaurant in downtown Pentwater. I had the walleye, which was quite good.

The outside patio is a great place to eat in nice weather. The last time we visited, we went to Gull Landing when there was live music, a jazz band. Unfortunately, we had to sit right next to the band, which made talking kind of difficult. This time there wasn’t a band, but it would have been nice to have the music in the background.

On Tuesday, we headed back up to Ludington to vist the Ludington State Park and the Big Sable Point Lighthouse. The park is great. Lots of people camp there, which reminded PJ and me that neither of us had been camping since we lived with our families, and we both thought we should try it again sometime. Ludington State Park seems just the place to do it, since it seems to have lots to do.

We walked along the beach to the Big Sable Point Lighthouse. The dunes and the lake were gorgeous:

But the star attraction is the lighthouse, which is fun. The tour guides are all volunteers who each stay at the lighthouse for two weeks at a time. After a short introduction to the lighthouse’s history, you can climb up the stairs to the observation deck.

I don’t do well with heights and it was extremely windy up there, so I didn’t get any good pictures of the views, though they were spectacular in every direction.

We ate lunch in Ludington again and then returned to Pentwater. While PJ took a nap, James and I walked downtown and visited the historical society’s museum, which is small but interesting (I was particularly fascinated by the pictures of the graduating classes and some sports teams from the 1930s and 1940s). We also visited the farmer’s market:

While only one farmer showed up (it was literally a farmer‘s market in the singular), the berries that James bought were nevertheless delicious. PJ and I also went to the beach on Lake Michigan at the Charles Mears State Park. We waded in a little — the water was great, warmer than we expected– but then we noticed that there was a sign warning everyone not to get in the water due to a possible bacterial contamination. Too bad — the weather, despite the cool wind, was perfect for a little swim.

That evening we had dinner out again, which was a mistake — we had awful food at a local restaurant; we should have just cooked in. We also played a round of mini-golf, which James, who plays golf regularly, won easily. Unfortunately, I was a little too drunk by that point to play well. PJ started off slow, but got better as we went along.

PJ and I left for Stratford, Ontario, on Wednesday morning. We had a great time in Pentwater and always appreciate James for sharing his family’s home with us. It’s a beautiful house and a relaxing place to visit. And I managed to read an entire Dorothy L. Sayers novel while we were there.