Van Life: The Secret Beach

We woke up early and made a nice breakfast over the Coleman camp stove ( We have had this stove for years and it has gotten us through camping trips, power outages, hurricanes, and backyard cookouts. It can tell its own stories. We packed up camp, made a fresh pot of coffee for the next leg of the trip and hit the road. Our goal was to reach Young State Park near Petoskey, MI. It is about a 3 hour drive of mostly back roads through beautiful lush forest. Before we had left we had decided that we were going to truly enjoy this trip. We didn’t want to be rushing from place to place like we all do in our normal lives. The drive is part of the journey. Plus with a tank full of gas and a mug full of coffee, anything is possible.

Anita searched and had found a beach in Manistee that we decided we would stop at. We could let the kids play, the dog run, and we could all stretch our legs and explore more of the Michigan coast. We found the North Beach access about an hour and a half later. The entrance is tucked behind an industrial park and you would never know something amazing started in this spot. We pulled into the parking lot and only one other soul appeared to be using the area. That is one of the advantages of homeschooling and traveling when nobody else is. We all got changed in the van and headed down the path a little skeptical. From first appearance you would not think much of this spot. The path leads you through the woods and down some stairs. Eventually the canopy opens up revealing turquoise colored water, a white sandy beach, and an incredible shoreline covered with forest, drift wood, and scattered beach homes. We couldn’t believe how beautiful the beach was. Some people had told us that the west coast of Michigan is the Caribbean of the Great Lakes but we certainly didn’t believe them. It’s hard to describe the color of the water. It’s also very deceptive because although it looks like the Caribbean it certainly is not as warm. We all jumped in anyway, except for Anita of course.

Coming from the southern part of the US, it is extremely hard to find a secluded beach anymore. Most of them are overrun with tourists and old fast food boxes. The beach in Manistee could have been used to film a movie. It was pristine. We spent our time exploring, swimming and picnicking. We saw only one other person the entire time we were there. After soaking up the sun and taking the time to watch life slow down we packed up our belongings and headed back up the staircase to the van.

Back at the van we washed off, changed clothes, and settled in for the second leg of our trip to Young State Park. During the drive we reflected on the fact that when we had the camper we never would have taken the road less traveled to this beach. We would have gone from point A to point B because campers are bulky and a pain to pull. With the van we realized we were willing to explore and venture to unknown places. Thank god we did because this beach was a place we will remember forever. Next stop, Petoskey.

Coleman Two Burner Camping Stove –

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