Recently, Anita and I took a much needed vacation to the westside of Michigan. Our actual destination for the week was Grand Haven, but we also ventured up the coast of Lake Michigan to places like Muskegon and took in some of the sights.
Overall it was a relaxing and enjoyable trip. We spent time at the beach, walked along Grand Haven’s boardwalk, toured a World War II era submarine in Muskegon, took a tour of the sand dunes at Silver Lake and visited some of the lighthouses overlooking Lake Michigan.
It was a peaceful week, with the exception of the people staying above us who liked to stomp around from midnight to 2 a.m. every morning, keeping us awake.
But there was an aspect of the trip I found to be more troubling than noisy neighbors. Walking and driving a car on Michigan’s west coast can be hazardous to your health.
Let me say first off I loved the trip and Grand Haven is a marvelous destination, one I would recommend to anyone, but I must add that if you drive a car or walk there you do so at the risk of life, limb and loss of temper.
Some streets there were winding around the city without rhyme or reason, others were just simply ill-marked. A common street sign to see in Grand Haven is “Dangerous Intersection Ahead.” Yes, they’re dangerous because apparently no one believes in traffic signals or stop signs — open four-way intersections with just yield signs are dangerous and you obviously know you have a problem if you have to put up a sign saying the intersection is dangerous. Also dangerous out there is the mixing of pedestrian traffic with automobiles. Within 20 minutes of arriving in Grand Haven I stopped at a light and the nose of the car was just a little over into the pedestrian crosswalk. I was immediately chewed out by a bicyclist who walked past the car muttering something about me staying out of the crosswalk.
Excuse me, but I have a car and you have a bike. I used to ride a bike — when I was 6 years old.
Needless to say I had to remind myself about pedestrians and the right-of-way during the entire stay — I know they have it,
I just didn’t like giving it up to them.
I couldn’t avoid bicycles, skateboards and rollerblades the entire time we were in Grand Haven. Walking the boardwalk was enjoyable, but fraught with the perils of teenagers streaking past on wheeled-modes of transportation.
I was startled numerous times by calls of “on your right!” or “on your left!” as we walked along. There was also the pier, which was a nice walk out into Lake Michigan — but I have to admit it wasn’t a place I’d take a bike, board or blades. There are no railings and the cement there is slippery from the water splashing up from Lake Michigan. Every time someone rolled by on the crowded pier I was waiting for them to take a plunge off the side into the water.
Overall it was a great vacation, but if I go back I’m going to make it a point to stay off the roads and have a rearview mirror mounted over one shoulder so I can keep an eye out for what’s coming up behind me.