Tuesday we, once again, hit the road…155 mile journey to Holland, Michigan, which is located on the western side of the state near Lake Michigan.
This was purely for pleasure, no rally involved. We’d heard a lot of good things about the area that we decided to visit between rallies.
We arrived in Holland at Drew’s Country Campground about 2:30 pm after a safe trip. However, I wouldn’t say smooth by any means…roads are horrible!
The campground is privately owned and pretty dated. The office is scary. There were lots of low-lying limbs to dodge, lots of old junk cars and trailers lying about and we didn’t know until we parked that we only had 30 amp and water. All for just under $40 a night…yikes. Thankfully, we can make anywhere home and we were only staying for 4 nights.
Our Heartland friends, Jim & Claudia, live in Holland and invited us over for dinner the evening that we arrived. We’ve not had much of a chance to spend any significant time with them so this was a real treat.
Jim grilled some delicious thick pork chops to perfection and Claudia prepared several tasty sides (cucumber salad, asparagus, breaded cauliflower with cheese sauce, sauerkraut, baked beans). Everything was scrumptious and we enjoyed every bit of it while we chatted and got to know each other better.
Jim & Claudia just picked up a new Elkridge a couple of weeks ago so we had a lot to discuss between our two new rigs. They showed us around their new rig before dinner and showed us the different mods they’d already completed and discussed those that they still want to do. Gotta make it your own!
We visited until 10:00 pm when several of us started yawning and decided it was time to call it a night. We said our goodbyes and will see them again in a few weeks at the Heartland National rally in Goshen, Indiana. Believe it or not…I didn’t get ANY pictures!
We took a good portion of one day to visit the sites of Holland. First we stopped at De Klomp, which is just a mile or so from our campground. De Klomp houses a Delft factory as well as a wooden shoe factory. We loved both!
Delft pottery is famous world-wide and there is only one production facility in all of North America…and it’s right here in Holland! We were able to watch two ladies working a molds…one that was freshly opened and being trimmed before being left to dry.
All of the pottery is hand-painted onsite and we watched as two ladies did some painting. One was working on painting a wooden shoe and the other was painting a itty bitty piece of china. The pieces in the store are stunning…but along with stunning pieces of art came stunning price tags.
Also located at De Klomp is a wooden shoe factory. We spoke with a gentleman who runs the equipment that makes the shoes on site (some come from Holland too) and he showed us how the machines worked (two shoes are made at once) and explained lots of interesting tidbits about the history of wooden shoes. We were both fascinated.
They had some shoes on display so that you could try then on to determine your size…you know we had to try! While the bottoms of my feet felt fine…the tops, when I walked in them….didn’t like the shoes. Was fun, nonetheless!
Also, in this location is Veldheer…a garden center which also has a tulip garden out back that you can view for $10.00 each. We passed as we thought that was a bit on the pricey side.
From there we took a ride to Lake Michigan so that we could visit the Big Red Lighthouse. Only able to actually be accessed via a private community on Tuesdays and Thursdays, it took some doing but we finally found our way and it was worth it. It seems most people only view it from across the waterway at Holland State Park…that wasn’t good enough for us.
We love lighthouses and this one was an adventure to get to so we really enjoyed it. We walked out on the causeway and could have gone further out by the what was pretty rough and the waves were crashing up and over the causeway so we only went out part of the way…got our feet wet so we could say we did and then headed back.
On our way back from the lighthouse we drove down South Shore Drive and admired the beautiful homes situated along the water. Jim & Claudia had told us that Betsy Devos (US Secretary of Education) has a summer home along South Shore Drive and we found it. Huge…absolutely huge! My picture is from the backside and doesn’t do it justice….but you can look HERE to see if from the water.
Our last stop of the day was at Windmill Island. It’s home to a 250+ year old windmill, De Zwaan, which was purchased, in 1964, by the city of Holland from a retired miller in the Netherlands.
We were treated to the music from a working Amsterdam street organ. Originally, it was made to play by turning a handle it now has a switch to turn it on and off. The artwork on the front was recently repainted by a local artist and is absolutely gorgeous.
Built in 1928, the organ was a gift to the city of Holland from the city of Amsterdam in 1947. It was a ‘thank you’ to the United States for liberating the Netherlands during World War II.
The true highlight of the visit was being able to tour De Swaan. De Swaan is an authentic working windmill and is the oldest in the US. The miller at De Swaan is a woman…the only certified female miller! She was honored to be only 1 of 36 millers as part of a Dutch Guild….the other 35 are all men. She did her training in Holland.
The tour (included in the $10 admission) takes you up 5 stories inside the windmill. The walk up isn’t bad as you stop on each floor while the tour guide explains what each floor is used for.
The mill only runs when the wind cooperates and the day we visited…the wind cooperated! It was so exciting to be inside the mill as the blades of the windmill turned….speeding up as the wind picked up…slowing down as the wind receded.
We were even able to walk outside on the 4th story to view the blades as they turned. It was SO very awesome.
While ‘Tulip Time’ was nearing its end there were still plenty of the gorgeous flowers in bloom during our visit. The entire area has tulips everywhere…different colors, varieties, variations. Definitely worth a visit. Windmill Island has several ‘fields’ of tulips and I was able to get a nice picture of them from atop the windmill.
Tomorrow we head south…about 100 miles to Goshen, Indiana where we’ll set up at the Elkhart County Fairgrounds for over a month. We have three rallies while we’re there (Passport America, Heartland, Open Range). It’ll be nice to sit in one place for a while though.