Now that the Dollympics are over I have one more summer post for you to see. On our way home from our family vacation in Ludington, MI we stopped at Grand Haven for the Coast Guard festival. We had been warned that there would be thousands of people there but we hadn’t thought about how difficult it was going to be to find parking. We crept along going one mile an hour on this road until finally my mom and I got out of the car to find a bathroom and my dad just kept driving until he found a spot which ended up being about 30 blocks away. I had just enough time before we got out to grab Lea and stick her in my bag.
We left my dad at the end of the canal which eventually would lead to Lake Michigan. Across the canal was a big hill which had Hollywood letters on it that read Coast Guard City USA.
We thought that was pretty cool.
Lea had fun taking selfies on the docks.
On the other side of the sidewalk was a grassy area with different colored tape crisscrossing all over it:
We asked some people there why that was there and were told that around 10pm they shoot off some of the best fireworks in the state on the Coast guard hill and the tape is people reserving their prime firework seats. They actually come Thursday night (the show doesn’t start until Saturday), tape their spot, and then come back later and put their blankets on it:
We were pretty wowed by that. The nice people we had asked invited us to camp out on their blankets to see the fireworks but unfortunately we had to tell them no because we had to get back home the same night. I’m really hoping to get to see the fireworks next year.
We walked along the canal toward Lake Michigan looking for the coast guard boats. The canal was just as crowded as the sidewalk with boats parked in the docks, and other boats traveling down the canal.
We walked on the sidewalk that lined the canal but across the grassy blanketed area was a street lined with fair rides and tons of food.
After a long walk we got to the coast guard ships. They had a plaque with the history of some famous ships to sail along the great lakes.
Next to that was a bell that came from one of them.
Then, we got in line to tour one of the coast guard ships. This one was the smallest one (with the smallest line to get in, too). It’s job is to cut through the ice for the big boats in the winter.
You might expect the bow of this boat to be 3ft thick steel, but it’s actually less than one foot thick. The design of the boat, like the two pipe – like rims that jut out of the side, help to cut the ice.
When we got on board we headed to the captain’s cabin:
This is what the captain sees when he looks out the window.
The engine room:
We could tell we were not in Chicago because many of these rooms, like the engine room were totally unoccupied except for us tourists. Anyone could have gone right up and fiddled with the dials and buttons. No one did, but talk about security…
This hatch leads to an even deeper part of the boat which we weren’t allowed to go down to, but it was not air conditioned and we could feel the hot oven like air coming out of the hatch.
When we finished with the ice cutter, we got in line to go in another boat and Lea got brave enough to ask to come out of her basket. Here she is in front of the ice cutter:
The next boat is actually a Canadian coast guard boat. It’s a police boat and it’s job is to catch drug dealers, smugglers, and illegal immigrants between the shores Canada and the US on Lake Huron and Lake Ontario.
While we stood in line a Royal Mounted Canadian Policeman in full uniform addressed any questions the tourists had.
Lea was too shy, but my mom was brave enough to take a pic with him:
And then we entered the ship.
The captain’s cabin:
Lea had a lot of fun sitting in the captain’s seat,
Looking through the telescope:
And checking the weather gauge:
One of the officers let us look through her binoculars. I had never looked through such powerful binoculars in my life! You could seriously see a bug from very far away through those.
We had noticed the flags lining the tops of all the coast guard ships and asked about them. The officer said each flag represented either a letter, or a phrase that told other ships what it was doing, for example if a ship was refueling, they’d hang up flags that said that and that meant for other boats to steer clear. They’re kept in these cubby holes. I asked her if she knew what this boat’s flags said, but she didn’t know.
We went on two more boats, but they were very similar to what we had seen already so I didn’t take very many pictures.
The biggest ship is manned 24 hrs a day and they asked us to be quiet as we walked through the barracks because people were sleeping.
It was really cool to see the ships and learn about what they do and how they work. I hope to come back next year to see the firework show.