Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Sailed on a Mini-Cruise

Jimmy and I decided that we would try to make the trek back to see our families for the 4th of July Holiday.  That holiday has always been special for the Newkirk family, as they have typically spent the entire day together partaking in all the local festivities.  Everyone would gather up their lawn chairs, baby strollers, & blankets and sit along with the rest of the crowds congregated along Ludington Avenue in downtown Ludington, MI.  Following the parade, they would head back to Gramma & Grampa's for a potluck picnic lunch filled with delicious morsels.  The remainder of the afternoon would be spent watching the kids play and everyone else would chat, nap, eat more, and the like.  Once evening hit, it was time to make our way to the Lake Michigan shore to wait for dusk when we could all marvel at the fabulous fireworks display.

This was my first year attempting to shoot fireworks.  This was part of the fab firework display Ludington  put on.

For years, either Jimmy or I would have to miss some, if not all, of the festivities, due to our positions as Park Rangers.  For those of you who aren't into parks or camping, the 4th of July Holiday is generally one of the top 3 busiest times of the whole season at any given park.  So, we were not only guaranteed to work during that weekend, but we would probably also be putting in some overtime depending on the volume of traffic at the park or whichever incident was bound to happen.

Now, my schedule is wide open, Jimmy does still work for the park system, but we also live 500 miles away from Ludington.  Luckily, the 4th fell on Monday this year, which happens to be Jimmy's scheduled day off along with Tuesday.  We started to brainstorm any possible way that we could make it downstate to join our families for the Holiday.  We explored a few possibilities, but we finally decided that a Mini-Cruise on the Lake Michigan Carferry, the S.S. Badger, was the best way for us to travel. Any way you slice it, the trip was going to take a minimum of 9 hours to complete.  Driving  to Manitowoc, WI, to catch the Badger would mean only about 5 hours for Savannah to be strapped into her car seat.  (Those of you with antsy little ones know that these sorts of things really factor into your travel plans.)  From there, the remaining 4 hours of our journey could be spent at our leisure meandering about the ship, stargazing from the top deck, playing in the Kid's Port, or simply trying to catch a nap.

Given our time constraints and the boat's sailing schedule, we would have to leave Manitowoc at 1:55a.m. on Monday the 4th and return on the 8:30p.m. boat departing Ludington Tuesday the 5th.  Yes, that's there and back within 48 hours, hence the Mini-Cruise.  Yes, we are most certainly insane to even consider it, but it has some stellar perks.  First, you save huge by returning in such a short time-frame.  Second, Savannah would think it was super awesome to travel by ship, so she would be so good, right?  Third, and most important to me, I figured these crazy travel hours might just give me a chance at shooting the sunrise into Ludington and sunset departing.  Sign us up!!!

The Ludington coastline at sunrise.  Big Point Sable, Ludington State Park (a place near and dear to my heart), is that tiny light at the shore's edge.  

Left: Ship's wake and sunrise.  Right: Sailing between the pier heads, the North Pierhead Light.

Approaching the Dock to view sunrise over downtown Ludington. I love the clock tower (near center) in this light!

We had a great sail across Lake Michigan, and I thoroughly enjoyed arriving to the lovely light of a warm sunrise.  I do have to admit, though, that trying to shoot photos in the lower light conditions of a sunrise or a sunset can be a bit tricky at times.  But, shooting sunrise from a moving vessel...now that's a challenge!

We truly enjoyed our time with family and friends.  Sure we were a bit bleary eyed and zombie-like at times, but it was worth the effort. Jimmy and I agreed, and I am positive Savannah would too, that we would try such a crazy trek again.  The fireworks were fabulous, as always, but poor little Savannah wouldn't know, since she slept through the whole thing!  While we were waiting for the fireworks to begin, I nabbed this striking shot of the Badger during its special sunset cruise along the lake shore, just for the Holiday.

S.S. Badger during its sunset cruise for the 4th of July
Just a few more photos from our return trip to Manitowoc to follow...

Savannah and I on the return trip (She's still learning how to smile on cue.)

Time to set sail again...My Mom bids us farewell.

The North Pierhead again with the sunset and a storm front as a backdrop. Below: a closer look at the storm.


  1. We were so happy you could make it! We loved seeing all of you. It made the 4th very special. :)

  2. Thanks! We had a fabulous time, although short. It made it very special for us too ;)