It was not a promising start to my stay in Holland. I was trying to beat the rainstorm that I could see on the radar, but I didn’t quite make it. Just as I entered the city limits, with a mere eight miles to go, the heavens opened up. And stayed open till just *after* I unhitched and set up at my new campsite.
Timing is everything in camping and I definitely missed it this time around. But not to worry…
Lighthouses and Light
One of Holland’s most well-known features is the red lighthouse at the end of the channel that connects Lake Macatawa and Lake Michigan. Like every other tourist here, I took a zillion photos of it but this one was hands down my favorite, taken in sunset light.
The storms passing through and around Holland made for some beautiful light on Lake Michigan. That lake, that light. I tell you, I’m definitely in love with all of it.
One evening I wasn’t too tired from the day’s activities to walk over to the beach after 9PM to watch the sunset. It was gorgeous, and it only got better after the big ball of fire slipped under the horizon.
The morning after the big storm that coincided with my arrival in Holland, I saw these kiteboarders making the most of the remaining wind. They reminded me of the daredevils north of Santa Cruz (my old stomping grounds), who would soar with the wind at Waddell Creelk. These guys in Holland were airborne on most of their turns, but with few dumps, so they’re definitely good!
I often use my regular morning walk as a way to explore the area I’m in. One day, I toured through the Ottawa Beach historic district. It’s so old that there aren’t driveways or garages for the homes; Instead, people share private parking lot scattered throughout the area.
No driveways brings up the practical question of “how do I get my groceries to the house?” Turns out there are a variety of fancied up wagons that residents use to move things from car to house using walkways like this. One house had 4 different wagons lined up in a row, meaning, I guess, that everyone was home from their shopping trips!
After a bit of a wander down and around more houses and a few winding roads, and with some help from Google Maps, I found myself at the top of Mount Pisgah, overlooking the red lighthouse and Holland Beach State Park. It’s 200+ steps to climb up here from the main campground, but I took the back way, which was a trail approach, and I thought it was way more fun.
I took the stairs down, though, and then walked on to my campsite, thoroughly happy with my morning’s adventure. Other mornings, I walked the lakeside trail, which has bathrooms (two sets of them, as a matter of fact) and a water fountain where you can also refill your water bottle. It’s also where I spotted a kayak launding site with free parking.
Amid the spate of windy, cold, and rainy weather, we had a decent enough day to put the kayaks into Lake Macatawa (we being my friend, Karen, and me). Here’s me and my Oru Inlet kayak, just before taking off.
It wasn’t a long paddle because the wind wasn’t cooperating and neither were a couple of jet skiers who obviously didn’t realize what their wake could do to an open kayak. Nevertheless, I can now claim Michigan on my Paddles list of states.
Friends and Fun
Our last evening in Holland was definitely a memorable one! We met up with our Alto buddies, Rich and Kathy, who live just up the road in an old house with a beautiful lakefront view. Here’s us on their patio, with Rich valiently trying to block the evening sun with a couple of umbrellas.
We enjoyed the view through happy hour and a lovely dinner, catching the sunset through the clouds before making our farewells and heading back to our own Altos. Thanks again, Kathy and Rich, for the hospitality! As for their stories of how thick the ice and snow gets on Lake Michigan in the winter, brrr.
I’d go back to Holland in a heartbeat, except that a campground isn’t where I would stay. I’d probably try for a weekly or monthly rental and figure out how to stow the Alto during my stay. I don’t think I’d run out of things to do in that month, that’s how much is going on in Holland and the surrounding area.
HOLLAND STATE PARK (MICHIGAN STATE PARKS)
- Two campgrounds, one across from Lake Macatawa and the other one right at the beach (shown below).
The beach one is honestly just a parking lot with double-wide spaces marked out as campsites. Check site lengths carefully, they’re pretty accurate. Park information. Reserve at Michigan State Parks.
- Services: electric only, 30 amp, 30/50 amp. Potable water at the dump station or at water fountains around the campground. Each campground has a bath house with individual showers.
- Good Verizon and ATT and T-Mobile.
- Groceries, Gas, Stores: Holland has it all. It also boasts an independent bookstore (small but good) and a farmers market on Wednesdays and Saturdays most of the year.