Thursday, August 30, 2018

Fall 2018 events

Like it or not, Summer will end soon.  Fortunately, Fall is still great for outdoor activities around Kalamazoo.  Warm days and cool nights are perfect weather for camping or paddling.   Colorful leaves make it a great time to take a walk in the woods or to explore a local bike trail.   Sandhill Cranes gather in West Michigan before they migrate south for the season.  Area festivals celebrate Labor Day, fall harvests, fish, art, and birds.
Fall events around Kalamazoo

September 3-5 Lawrence Ox Roast Lawrence

September 3 West Michigan Labor Fest Grand Rapids

September 7-9  Paw Paw Wine and Harvest Festival Paw Paw

September 14-15 Grand Haven Salmon Festival Grand Haven

September 19-October 7 Art Prize Grand Rapids

September 22-29  Michigan Trails Week

September 22 Eco Raft RacKalamazoo

September 22 Fall Festival St. Joseph

September 29-30 Oktoberfest Grand Rapids

October 13 BontebokOktoberfest Binder Park Zoo  Battle Creek 

October 13-14 Cranefest Bellevue

October 12-14 Fennville Goose Festival Fennville

October 20-21 Arts and Eats Tour  Hastings, Middleville, Hickory Corners, and surrounding areas

October 18-21, 25-28 Zoo Boo Binder Park Zoo  Battle Creek 

November 10 Holiday Parade 11am- 12:30pm Kalamazoo

Also consider:

Southeast Michigan Labor Day events from MetroParent

Labor Day Weekend Events for Metro Detroit (Oakland County Moms)

Mackinac Bridge Walk
5 Spots to Sip Cider, Pick Pumpkins, and Soak up Fall from Discover Kalamazoo
Fall Scenic Drives from Pure Michigan

Fall recommendations from 52 Michigan Weekends

Fresh apple cider from VerHages Cider Mill.

Fall walks and rides on the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail

Event listings from Discover Kalamazoo

Gazelle Sports' calendar of West Michigan Races and Events

League of Michigan Bicyclist's Michigan Ride Calendar

Michigan Festivals and Events Association Events browser

Sarrett Nature Center's Event list Benton Harbor
Events from Pure Michigan 
The DNR has calendars of events for State Parks and Recreation Areas.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Paddle boarding at Ramona Park, Portage MI

My daughter was interested in trying standup paddle boarding (SUP) this summer and there are plenty of places to try it in West Michigan.  South Beach in South Haven has a rental spot right on the beach but, when we visited last week, Lake Michigan was really cold (only little kids would stay in the water) and, on an earlier trip, it was much too windy. (Kiteboarders were literally flying.)

I wanted a smaller, calmer, and preferably warmer lake.  Kzoo Kids suggested Ramona Park in Portage, which had the added advantage of being much closer to home.  Park admission was free for Portage residents ($10 per car for non-residents) and board rental was $12 for an hour.

Getting into a standing position on the board was easier than I expected and staying upright wasn't too hard.  I fell off in the first minute but stayed on the board after that.  Perhaps I should have read some Stand Up Paddle Board instructions before we went, but it felt okay figuring it out on our own.

We started by paddling with the wind, which was really easy.  The breeze was strong enough that we'd move along nicely, even without paddling.

The breeze, of course, worked against us when we turned back.  I had been paddling for a few minutes before I realized I was making no progress at all.  To actually go forward required much faster paddling or kneeling down on the board to cut wind resistance.  Kneeling was much less comfortable, but it did work.

That's pretty much how we spent our hour-- great paddling downwind, then struggling upwind.    Overall it was reasonably fun.  My daughter really enjoyed it and I'd do it again, but perhaps on a calmer day.