A story of going from being a non-runner to planning for a marathon in three years...

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Vacation Exploring

This past week I was on vacation in South Haven, Michigan.  If you haven’t been to any of the towns in southwest Michigan along the lake you are definitely missing out.  Normally when we go there we stay a little further north near Grand Haven.  But this time we enjoyed a house on the water that was awesomely enough also near some fun trails!


The Van Buren Trail, a 14 mile long “unimproved” trail, was about 1 mile from where we were staying. And just what does unimproved mean?  Well, as you can see from the photos, it’s not paved or covered in crushed limestone.  Basically, they mow the grass.  There are some tracks from vehicles but basically you’re running on grass and dirt.  Considering I normally run on asphalt or crushed limestone, this was a fun experience for me! 

I only did about 2 miles on the trail itself.  Considering it was mid-morning, the sun was out, and the trail isn’t very shaded I thought I did pretty well running almost 5 miles total. 

Jason and I did a 2 mile run/walk together one day and explored the main road we were staying just off of.  It’s definitely a rural area but basically that means country roads with very little traffic.  Something I miss when it comes to running or biking in the city!

And speaking of biking, my mom and I rented bikes and explored another trail in South Haven, the Kal Haven Trail.  This trail is 33.5 miles long and runs from South Haven to Kalamzoo, Michigan.  It’s mostly crushed limestone and varies from wooded areas to open fields (at least on the parts we rode on).  Since it’s a rail-to-trail trail it’s also nice and flat ! 


We did about 6 miles on the trail and then rode around downtown South Haven for a bit. 

On my last full day of vacation I hit the Van Buren Trail one more time in the opposite direction.  I discovered a fork in the trail with a sign that indicated you could get to the Van Buren State Park.  I headed down that way but didn’t make it to the park.  And, now, looking at the map, this part of the trail isn’t even labeled. 


The highlighted route is the one I took

Regardless, even though it wasn’t a super long run (just under 4 miles) it was really fun to explore.  I took a slightly different route on the way back and ran some more country roads.



And when I wasn’t exploring?  I was laying on the beach, watching the sunset, or trying my hand at kayaking.  Oh, I also attempted stand-up paddleboarding (being demonstrated by my nephew in the photo below).  How did I do?  Well, I learned my sense of balance isn’t as good as I thought. 


Overall it was a lovely vacation and I got in a great mix of active and inactive outings.  I’m really looking forward to going back next year and exploring some more!