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2020 Summer Drive to Saugatuck

Updated: Aug 28, 2020

More photos to follow.

On Saturday morning, July 18th, we started our journey to Saugatuck. Our first stop of the day was in Spring Arbor at the Ye Ole Carriage Shop. There we spent time with Lloyd and Judy Ganton, the owners, and our tour guide team. Their museum consists of seven rooms filled with cars, motorcycles, bicycles and scooters, various non-reproduction car memorabilia and hundreds of restored pedal cars. There are also a 1950’s functioning kitchen and an entire room of non-reproduction Coca-Cola memorabilia, including a unique period counter, tables and chairs, and a Tiffany player piano. The museum’s focus on cars is primarily those built in Jackson, MI. Surprisingly, there were 24 such makes and the museum has 18 of them on display. Many of their cars are rare and a few are unrestored survivors. The Ganton’s have been collecting for 45 years. We found them to be both friendly and informative. Lloyd has a story about most of their unique items. This museum is a jewel and if you haven’t been there, you should put it on your list of things to do.

We stopped for lunch at Schuler’s Restaurant & Pub in nearby Marshall. We were seated in their private Heritage East room, at three socially distanced round tables. As usual, we enjoyed the lunch selection and we had ample time for some good conversations.

We reached Saugatuck later that evening, after stopping briefly to check-in at our hotel, the Comfort Inn in Plainwell. Upon arrival in Saugatuck, parking was a challenge, which is normal on the weekends and even more of a challenge now with some of the parking being used for outdoor dining. We had some special parking assistance from Patrick Nowak, a new member from Holland who got there ahead of us and was doing his best to save as many parking spots as he could in one of the public parking lots. The rumor that he was lying down in the empty parking spots to keep others out turned out to be false. We had dinner at the Coral Gables in one of their private dining rooms with a nice view of the bay where we enjoyed the company of sixteen JAGM members.

A walk down Water Street took us to the Star of Saugatuck dock. We boarded the paddle-wheeler at 8:15 PM and set out on the sunset cruise. The boat was limited to 50% capacity and everyone was assigned to a socially distanced table on the upper deck. The paddle-wheeler first took us east and around Lake Kalamazoo. The temperature was warm and the breeze was refreshing. We had a good view of the surrounding shoreline with the myriad of houses, businesses, and boat docks. Then we headed west down the Kalamazoo River and into Lake Michigan. Lake Michigan was a bit bouncy from the significant wind but with very little cloud cover. We experienced what the captain described as “the best sunset view of the year”.

Sunday morning we drove to nearby Ostego and traversed a one-way bridge. We found ample angled street parking and entered the Minne Sopharano’s Restaurant and Bake Shop for an enjoyable breakfast. The owner, an interesting 81-year-old woman, made sure that we knew about the history of her restaurant, even pointing out the relevant photos on the walls (just ask Nigel). She even brought out a pad of paper and placed it under a table leg to solve our wobbly table issue. Before our food was served, she brought out fresh and still warm, (and free) lemon poppy muffins to share. The food was good, the prices were reasonable and the attention paid to our group was a nice touch.

Our next stop was an attempt at a Saugatuck Dune Buggy Ride but this failed as they had sold out for the entire day before our 11 AM arrival. A major bummer as I had looked forward to it for weeks! But thanks to some quick thinking by Steve and Gary, a secondary plan came together, and we drove to the nearby Saugatuck Dunes State Park. This is a day-use park along a secluded strip of Lake Michigan shoreline. The park offers 1,000 acres of land and 2.5 miles of shoreline, with dunes that are over 200 feet tall. We parked and headed for the Beach Trail. If my iPhone app is accurate, we walked about 1.9 miles (nearly 4,000 steps), with some substantial elevation changes. Lake Michigan was quite angry with white caps from the significant winds, but the view from the top was quite nice. Discounting the sand in my shoes, it was a great way to help walk off breakfast.

Our last stop before heading home was lunch in Plainwell at Brewster’s Smokehouse. We enjoyed a leisurely lunch during some substantial rain. By the time we left, the rain had subsided as we headed back home.

In spite of the various restrictions and conditions in effect at each of the venues due to COVID19, this event unfolded rather smoothly and I had a good time. And judging by the comments I received, I think the others did too.


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