Sunday, July 28, 2019

Dix River Paddle

This was the third time we paddled the Dix River to Lake Herrington dam. Every time we have paddled it it has been a different experience due to rains & water releases from the dam.

One of the best put ins I have been to on the Kentucky River is at High Bridge boat ramp just above Lock #7.  It costs $4 per kayak to launch there but it is well worth it.  The guy that tends the ramp does a good job clearing the mud from the ramp which is always a challenge along the Kentucky river.

We got an early start at 9AM which was nice since it was still cool & shady.  From the High Bridge boat ramp it is about a mile paddle to the Dix River.  You will see the Dixie Belle docked on your right & will go under High Bridge before you get to the Dix River.  The Dix will be on your right.
Shaker Village Dixie Belle

High Bridge
The last time we paddled this route in 2017 the current was pretty swift.  Almost immediately when we turned into the Dix we crossed the debris area of where the Kentucky & the Dix meet.  This time the debris area wasn't for another 1.5 miles up the Dix.  The water coming off Lake Herrington is cold and on a hot day it is like paddling into a wall of air conditioning.  This trip we didn't get that same experience.  The water was warm & was murky for quite some time.  The flow rate was about 3500 cubic feet per second so the paddling was super easy & the reflections in the water were amazing.

Flat water today

Debris Area - Sticks, leaves, rootie-like things
At about 3.5 miles from High Bridge boat ramp you will run into small rapids that you will need to portage around.  It's a nice area to stop and take a break as well.  In 2017 when we paddled this stretch I could not make it to the rocks due to the current.  I also had a dog sitting on my kayak so that didn't help either.  Coming back from the dam you can paddle through it.  Super easy & fun.

Portage area

Palisade Reflections
Palisade Reflections
After getting back in your kayak it's another 1/2 mile to the dam which is the end of the line for this paddle.  The warning signs as you approach always get me.  I wonder what it would be like to be on the Dix when they release water?

The sign says you have 2 minutes after alarm sounds before the water releases

Such a good spot to cool off on a hot summer day
Me paddling the tiny rapid

The paddle back was a little faster since we were going with the current.  It took us about 3.5 hours total to paddle just under 8 miles at a leisurely pace.

High Bridge from the other side

High Bridge Boat Ramp

From 2017 - Captain Sammie

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Holland - Pure Michigan

This year we had an extra day off for the 4th of July holiday & we decided to go to Michigan for the extra long weekend.  I picked Holland which is about a 7 hour drive with a couple of short stops.  It had been years since I spent a summer along Lake Michigan.

We loaded up our kayaks & bikes and left Lexington on Wednesday morning and got to our hotel about 3PM. Since this was a holiday weekend & a last minute decision our hotel was on the edge of town. The rooms were great & the access to all the sites was really easy.

Our first stop was the visitor center in downtown Holland and to check out some breweries. At the visitor center we picked up info for the area bike & hiking trails and the local Handcrafted Passport books. Our first brewery stop for the long weekend was New Holland Brewing on 8th.  I got a flight of Tangerine Space Machine IPA, Mad Hatter IPA, Kombucha IPA & a Dark Dune Blueberry Stout.  I enjoyed all the beers even the KIPA.  I am a huge fan of Kombucha but didn't expect the KIPA to be that great.  It was very drinkable although I would still prefer to keep my Kombucha & beer separate! The food was really good too.

New Holland Brewing 
New Holland Tagabrew

We walked a bit more downtown & then attempted to see the sunset at Holland State Park.  You can walk or bike in for free into all the parks but for cars there is a $9 daily fee. We decided to skip the beach walk since the park was only open for another 45 minutes & parked a couple miles down the road to walk along Lake Macatawa instead.  After walking around for a bit we called it a night & headed back to our hotel.

Lake Macatawa
Thursday was the 4th of July.  We grabbed a free breakfast at the hotel & then headed back to Holland State Park.  Our plan was to bike the Lakeshore Connector Trail towards Grand Haven & then cool off in the lake afterwards. We got to the park about an hour after it opened so we got a good parking spot.  The trail to Grand Haven is about 20 miles one way.  I had no idea if we would go that far but there were plenty of parks we could stop at along the way.

Once we got out of the park area the ride was great.  Lots of shade along the route. Unfortunately, even though you are right next to the lake you don't get to see it very often.  There are multi-million dollar properties that line this road between you & the lake. We made a couple of park stops along the way to check out the lake.  We decided to turn around at Olive Beach & make our way back.  There was no way we were going to make to Grand Haven AND back to Holland.  We stopped for lunch at Sandy Point Beach House on our way back.

Once we got back to our car I changed into my swimsuit for a float in the water to cool off.  Steve didn't bring his suit so he got to hang out on the beach with the 1000s of other folks.  Being at this beach made me very nostalgic for my summers in Chicago during college.  Everyone and their mother would go to the beach on those few hot summer days. Somehow in all the commotion of the people I didn't even get a photo of Big Red lighthouse.

Lakeshore Connector Trail

Pigeon Creek - We would later kayak under this bridge

Kouw Park

Olive Shores Beach
Lunch Stop

Holland State Park Beach
After cooling off we packed up & went back to the hotel to shower.  We spent the evening in downtown Holland. First up was Big Lake Brewing. I got a flight & an appetizer.  The flight tray was the shape of Lake Michigan.  I sampled Mighty Mac IPA, Big Lake Camper New England IPA, Locked Out Pale Ale, Lake Haze New England IPA, Leroy Brown - a Brown Ale and Michi-gander a Session IPA.  Every single one of their beers were amazing.  I couldn't pick a favorite, they were all excellent.  

So many great beers to choose from

Big Lake Brewing Tagabrew
After we finished our beers we walked around Holland.  Thursday evenings they have street performers all over downtown.  We went back to New Holland Brewing for dinner since they were the only brewery open regular hours on the holiday.  Around 9PM we made the walk down to Kollen Park to watch the fireworks. They shot the fireworks off a barge in Lake Macatawa.  The city put on a great show.  Afterwards we walked back to our car & headed back to the hotel.  Holland isn't a big town so even though there was what seemed like a lot of people traffic wasn't bad at all.

Street Performers

Street Performers

Waiting for the fireworks


Our plan for Friday was to kayak.  It took a few attempts to find a suitable put in place but Steve found the perfect one. The rivers were high so the first couple places we looked at didn't work.  Pigeon Creek ended up being a great little spot. It's about a mile or so from Lake Michigan & you can also go further down the creek to explore. We did both. The further away from the lake you went the more lily pad like stuff in the water.  Not sure what the official name for it is. We initially didn't realize we could paddle under the road (remember bike photo above?) to get to Lake Michigan. On the other side of the road there were a lot of jet skies & big boats playing in the water or heading to the big lake. We decided to paddle to Lake Michigan. The Lake was very choppy by early afternoon but we made it.  I took a couple of snaps & then headed back to our car.  We were getting hungry.  We spent a little over 2 hours paddling around & were ready for lunch.  Next visit I would put in at the same place but head straight to the lake.  There is a park just north of where we popped out along the lake that we could paddle to & then hang out on the beach.  

Put in next to parking lot.  Super easy.  Porta Potty next to lot

Made it to Lake Michigan!  It was choppy by early afternoon
For lunch we headed to Zeeland to check out Tripelroot Brewing.  Zeeland has a super cute downtown area and its about 15 minutes from Holland.  We ordered italian sandwiches & beer of course.  They had what I thought was a perfect beer but unfortunately didn't have any currently on tap.  I took home a 6 pack just because I loved the concept so much.  The other beers & the sandwich were very good.  So far, we were 3 of 3 on breweries!


Tripelroot - Beer for my lifestyle!

After lunch we headed back to the hotel for a nap & eventually showers before checking out Saugatuck for dinner. I had been to Saugatuck years ago & new it was an artsy coastal feel of a town.  We got lucky & found a parking spot right along the river. This is another town that lots of people from the big cities come to in the summer.  High rent district! For dinner we settled on Mitten Brewing.  I got a flight of beers & a couple of ciders and we split a pizza. The beers were good but I'm just not a cider fan.  Too sweet.  One sip is plenty for me.  The pizza was really good. After dinner we walked to Charlies Round the Corner for ice cream. Vacation isn't really vacation without ice cream!  We then sat by the river & watched the boats go by.  Such a peaceful place!


Mitten Brewing

Saturday of course was run day so we went to Stu Visser Park to run from there.  I thought it would be shady but I was very wrong.  It was a full sun run that time of day. We got our run done & headed to the Holland Saturday Farmers Market.  We got a couple slices of watermelon, a glass of Kombucha and the famous Bowerman Blueberry Donut.  Oh so yummy! No pics of any of this. Everything jumped right into my belly!  We picked up a quart of strawberries & blueberries on our way out to eat later.

Since we didn't get much of a beach day yet I suggested we go to Oval Beach in Saugatuck.  It is listed as one of the worlds best beaches so we had to check it out.  We got there just after noon & to my surprise the lot wasn't full yet. We grabbed our chairs & found a place to settle in.  The beach was great & although a lot of people were there it wasn't as busy as Holland State Park was on the holiday.  The water was a perfect 71 degrees.  Chilly when you first got in but very refreshing and perfect to float around in. We floated around for a while then just sat in our chairs soaking it all in.  It was such a great day.  Not too hot, not too cold, just perfect.  I'm not normally a beach person but this was so relaxing.  We hung out for a couple of hours before packing up to grab lunch.

Oval Beach

Oval Beach

Oval Beach

Oval Beach

Oval Beach

Oval Beach
We left the beach about 2:30PM & the parking lot was packed.  Guess folks come out later in the day.  Our next brewery stop was Saugatuck Brewing. This was probably my least favorite brewery for reasons outside of their control.  The parking lot was a giant cluster.  It wasn't big enough for the brewery & the antique mall that shared the lot.  It took awhile & some patience to get a spot.  Once in we had about a 10 minute wait.  I got another flight but decided to try some non-Pale Ale & IPAs.  I ordered a couple of Blondes & a Blueberry Lemon Shandy in addition to the IPAs.  Big mistake.  I don't like Blondes at all.  Couldn't even finish them.  The Blueberry Lemon Shandy was drinkable but not my favorite.  The IPAs were all good.  It still surprises me how much I like IPAs now since I used to feel the same way about IPAs as I do Blondes. Oh well. Glad I like them since everyone seems to brew them in mass amounts!

Saugatuck Brewing

Saugatuck Brewing

Our last evening in Michigan was spent in downtown Holland.  The first stop was Our Brewing.  We hung out on their back patio & both drank a Pale Ale.  Afterwards we stopped at Big Lake Brewing again to get appetizers & drink some more of their beer.  Plus wee wanted to grab some to-go beers to bring home. Our next stop was New Holland Side Car for more beers to go.  We had sampled so many great beers we wanted to take some home with us.  We then carried our beers to Kilwins for one last vacation ice cream.  Our last stop of the evening was Centennial Park to see the Wizard of Oz Exhibit.

Our Brewing 

Kilwins Ice Cream

Centennial Park

The Michigan Beer Haul
We packed in a ton of fun over the long weekend.  Holland & the surrounding area is awesome.  They have such a coastal feel to them which I absolutely love. I so want to go back for a week & rent a house near the beach.  I truly forgot how wonderful northern summers are & how amazing Lake Michigan is!


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