Tawa’s Point State Park etc…

“The world’s big and I want to have a good look at it before it goes dark.”
-John Muir

Tawas Point State Park and North

Our trip into Michigan “Chasing the Wind” took us Northeast to Lake
Huron and Tawas Point State Park. Tawas Point is a well-known
kiteboarding spot which is rideable in pretty much every wind
direction. I had been reading quite a bit about how awesome the area
is for kiting. It is a peninsula spot with a shallow, sheltered bay on
the west side and open water which often receives swell from the east.
All of the spot research was for naught as the wind decided not to
show up during our trip. I can see how much potential the area
contains for kiting, but did not get to sample any of the awesomeness.

Driving northeast towards Lake Huron, the countryside is beautiful, if
a bit flat for my liking. The Huron shore is fairly undeveloped with
modest cottages along the famed Highway 23. On my map, the road is
denoted as a scenic highway. The bar must be set fairly low for that
description as the drive from Bay City to Tawas did not stir the
senses, north of Tawas City though…the road starts to gain some
scenery points.

Tawas Point State Park

Arriving at Tawas Point State park, we quickly checked into our
campsite and then set out the lawn chairs. The campground itself is
nice, but nothing to crow about. Justine did some solid research and
found us a campsite that backed up to the woods with a trail down to a
secluded beach on Tawas Bay. We were also very close to an awesome
playground which the girls loved. On my first little jaunt through the
woods and down to the water, I scared up a variety of wildlife and
stumbled onto a family of deer wading through the water and nibbling
the water plants. The sun sparkled on the water and my hopes were high
for a solid kiting experience. After we got the RV habitable after the
long drive, we took off on a family hike through the woods to the bay.
The girls spent a solid amount of time wading in the knee deep water
hunting snails, clams and little minnows. Watching the girls play in
the sand and water makes all of these trips worthwhile. Unstructured
play in nature is key to a child’s development and I’m happy to

deal with all of the hassles associated with a 1980’s camper to give
them these priceless experiences.

We had planned on spending a couple days at Tawas Point and then
letting the wind forecast decide our next destination. The rest of our
time at Tawas was marked by torrential downpours and a definite lack
of wind. The first night at Tawas dumped rain on us, I’m glad that I
spent hours of time and countless tubes of sealant finding all of the
leaks. We remained dry in our camper overnight while the rain pelted
down on us. We awoke the following morning to find that our campsite
was a lowpoint in the campground. We were a bit rained in, but the
sandy soil drained quickly. After checking out the radar, we saw that
the rain storm extended from our location west to Minnesota. We packed
up the RV and drove into town to walk around. We found a nice
bookstore and the best bagels in Michigan.

The rain cleared up around noon and we headed back to the park. While
the girls napped, I rode my bike to the local kite shop (Motor City
Kite Boarding) and chatted up the owner. He seemed like a legit kiter
and his shop was small, but nice. It’s located in a boatyard
overlooking Tawas Bay. It looks like it was a decent little launch
spot in the right winds.

After chatting him up, I rode out to the point and checked the wind
again. I need at least 10 kts of steady wind to keep my biggest kite
(14m Ozone Catalyst) aloft and the wind just wouldn’t cooperate. I
checked all the spots and the potential is there, just not when I was
there. The shop owner gave me the classic, “you should have been here
last weekend line”…

After our second night at Tawas Point and frustrations aplenty, we
decided to move up the coast to Harrisville State Park. We had
considered aborting the whole operation and driving home, but the
spirit of adventure fortunately prevailed. Harrisvile State Park
provided the much needed change of scenery to restore our faith in
nature. Driving into the state park with the windows down, the crisp
smell of pine forest soothed the senses. The campground is fully
wooded and beautiful. Lake Huron showed off hues of blue I had only
seen in the Florida Keys previously, albeit the water was in the 50’s.

Harrisville State Park
The beach at Harrisville State Park is great. The woods run down to
the white sand and the water is crystal clear. Evie and Alba got right
into the spirit of exploration by checking out some wetland pools
along the beach. Evie and Alba found a pair of frogs mating and then
spent the next couple hours watching them. They also found some other
little girls on the beach and teamed up to build a sand castle for
their dolls. Justine and I sat back and watched them play. The wind
never materialized for me to get the kite up.

Justine and I agreed that we would like to come back up north and
spend more time working our way around from Harrisville along the
northern shores of Michigan. The farther north one goes, it seems that
the crowds thin out and get a bit more mellow. In terms of kiting
potential, it seems that there should be wind aplenty…I just didn’t
find it.

Pinckney State Recreation Area
The following morning, we set off on the trip south. We decided to
camp one more night in the Pinckney State Recreation area on the way
south. The campground was decent, but packed. We were fortunate to
again have a campsite that backed up to the woods. We took the girls
on a nice ride through the park, found the playground, and checked out
the lake. The park was busy, we later found out that there was a
women’s only triathlon the next morning.

After the girls went to bed, I sat up around the fire and tackled some
light graduate school reading. It’s always funny to listen to snips of
conversation from surrounding campers. I don’t know if everyone
realizes that voices travel well at night, in the woods. I took solace
in the fact that we don’t have the only kids that have meltdowns while
camping, as I heard several parents tactfully dealing with cranky
kids.

Future Plans for Chasing the Wind
During this trip, the extent of my kiteboarding was chatting with a
kite shop owner, checking spots, and flying my trainer kite. The winds
just weren’t cooperating. It seems as though I’ve spent more time as a
kiter moving my gear around than actually using it. The frustration is
real. It sucks to spend significant time and effort going to a kite
spot and then not have any winds to kite. Progress has been slow in
becoming a proficient kiteboarder. That doesn’t mean I will be stuck
there for long. I’ve been seeking out a local spot and keep abreast of
the wind forecasts. I’ve taken some forays to a new spot locally, but
it requires a dicey launch of some slick, sharp rocks. Don’t worry
though, I’ll get it figured out and be ripping blissfully soon enough!

Keep on keeping on people. Stay tuned for more adventures as our Happy
Clan continues to Chase the Wind!

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