Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Beat the heat in South Haven

Hello! Like many other parts of the country, we've been very hot all week. Besides going to our local beaches, another way to beat the heat around here is to visit one of the many lakeshore towns in the region, and that's what our daughter and I did yesterday. 

We headed down to South Haven, where our first stop was the ever-popular:

 Great ice cream! I first learned of Sherman's Dairy Bar in 1979, while working at a nearby resort that summer. My co-workers and I sometimes went there three times a week (by the time we got out of work most nights, there wasn't much else open; South Haven was a rather sleepy town back then). 

The lettering of the menu boards looks much the same as I remember from 1979:

Of course, prices have changed, but the sundaes are worth the splurge. I can personally vouch for the hokey pokey, which is their version of a turtle sundae. Another sign on the premises explained that the "Tour of Sherman's" is a sampler of six of Sherman's ice cream flavors of the customer's choosing - actual tour of Sherman's not included, unfortunately. 

Sherman's sells their ice cream in cartons to go, and a sign trumpeted the fact that they still sell true half gallons, not cartons that look that size but actually contain less. 

After our stop at Sherman's Dairy Bar, we continued on into downtown South Haven. At the very end of the main downtown street, you will see the above - a walkway that leads down to Lake Michigan, with the South Pier lighthouse at the very end of the pier. From this vantage point, we were cooled off by a very refreshing lake breeze.

Instead of looking ahead toward the lake, I turned to my right to take the above photo - it's a marina along the Black River, which flows into the lake. 

The Black River lends its name to a great used bookstore a block away. It was well air-conditioned, had plenty of comfy chairs for browsing, and had lots of books to look through - what could be better? Although prices are higher than for thrift store books, sometimes I'll buy something at a used bookstore because I hadn't been able to find the volume at a thrift store. Yesterday was no exception; I bought two books and our daughter bought one. 

For a short while, I left my daughter alone to browse at the bookstore (she's old enough for me to do so) and went a couple of blocks away to Murphy's Mall, a terrific antique mall. I drooled over the displays; seemed like I saw something I wanted in most of the booths. The prices at Murphy's always seem good, but I resisted the urge to buy anything. 

As I'd said, South Haven was more low-key in 1979; the downtown seems more chic now. Like the downtown where I live, there are now art galleries, an olive oil store, trendy restaurants, housewares for cottages and more. Yet here and there are businesses that clearly have been around for decades, so there's a bit of the blending of the old and the new. 

I returned home feeling I'd come back from a mini-vacation, yet the preponderance of out-of-state license plates (especially from Illinois) reminded me that South Haven and the other lakeshore towns in my region are, indeed, summer vacation destinations for thousands. Those folks have to travel around two hours or more to reach our area, while we can reach South Haven in about a half hour!