The lakefront at Lakeside Melodies on Little Pleasant Lake in Three
Rivers, MI. (above)
COMING TO THIS SPACE SOON!
Videos of defensive bluegills (underwater) & beaver dams & a cute baby
coming as soon as I can edit them!
Click each thumbnail for a larger image & slideshow.
Little Pleasant Lake was exactly as its name promised in late spring.
This was our humble cinderblock "Jazz" cottage facing the lake and a large lawn.
Insert worms and hooks here.
Ana and Daddy survey the grounds of Lakeside Melodies Resort upon arrival.
It was far too cold for any heavy duty swimming.
Andrew is so cool eating his KFC on the patio.
Ana shows off some of our Wal-mart finds. She may be hungry.
A tree near our cottage was covered in caterpilars.
Tiny newborn caterpilars on their silky nest via microscopic mdoe.
Andrew took the Viper kayak out on its maiden voyage while Daddy held the line.
Meanwhile, Anastasia's fingers got into everything nature was offering.
Are butterflies edible? There is only one way to find out.
Andrew paddling through the lily pads, although he claimed he could only go in circles.
Andrew's aiming for a bluegill, if there are any in this lake.
We quickly found out this spring-fed clear waters were home to tons of small fighting fish.
Each of these was a different non-world record breaking bluegill, crappie, or smalmouth.
The bluegills were spawning, males aggresively guarding their round nests in the shallows.
Andrew is mapping Little Pleasant Lake in this old canoe.
Fishing in the "Viper" proved to be a breeze.
The bluegills were biting more in the day and the smallmouth bass more at night.
Ana considers the properties of grass.
This resort surprisingly was a haven for the teeny tiny things in nature.
More Anastasia science experiments.
A few herons were nesting in the vicinity, and we were visited by a swan.
A large frog emerged from the swampy beach.
Jessica circumnavigated most of the lake in the new kayak.
Jessica saw a beaver and great blue herons in the tall grasses.
The smallmouth bass starting biting as the cold front weakened.
Digging through the sand seemed to be the coolest thing to do with the under 6 crowd.
"Kiss me, you fool!"
"I cannot kiss you because you are too small."
One of the many, many skittish turtles that live in the lake.
Our last fish was this half asleep, bass.
To the east of Three Rivers is Amish country.
We crossed over the 1887 Langley Covered Bridge on the St. Joseph River a few times.
As we passed the Berrien County line, the woods and dairy farms gave way to vineyards.
After the front passed, we hit the greatest beach in the Midwest: Warren Dunes.
An impression of a seagull.
Anastasia was enjoying the Lake Michigan sand for the first time in her life.
Berrien County is known for its fruit stands and truck farms.
The ever-encroaching Mount Baldy dune in Michigan City, Indiana.
Andrew and Dad read about the movement of sand dunes.
The path to Mount Baldy beach in Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.
We found the lake and avoided the huge swaths of poison ivy.
Looking east on Lake Michigan's shore toward the Michigan City cooling tower.
The quickest way to get over the dunes.
A stately roosting egret in the swamps near Beverly Shores in the Indiana Dunes.
We found a pair of Canada goose families near a dead end in a eutrifying pond.
The goslings were carefree as their parents kept a lookout and a sharp eye on us.
A fern forest alongside the Cowles Bog reminded me of being much farther north.
Dates: Memorial Day weekend, 2013
Lakeside Melodies Resort
Explored: Southwest Michigan &
the Indiana Dunes
Dodge Grand Caravan, the Viper and Sea Eagle kayaks
New Frontiers: First kayaking outing,
southernmost housekeeping resort
Jessica, Andrew, Scott, Anastasia
Trip Diary (written on the road
The school year had been a grind so far. We have dealt with one
huge news-making strike in which our very livelihoods were on the line,
constant pressure from a dictatorial mayor, who increased the length of
the school year and day, and... The list could go on. We also had a
stressful school year thanks to a blessing: the birth of little
Anastasia. Whatever the case, when the long Memorial Day weekend came
around, we were set to take full advantage of it.
Usually we go on a great unplanned road trip for
this day. The past two years we rediscovered familiar cities and
enjoyed big special events, but this year, I (Dad), wanted to take
it easy. A few weeks before the break, I called a few places within
a few hours drive of home. One in Paw Paw, MI, seemed promising
until they decided kids were a bit much for them. So I looked around
and found a very curiously marketed little housekeeping resort near
the Indiana-Michigan border in Three Rivers, MI, called Lakeside
Melodies. It somehow had openings. The place looked basic, but it
promised solitude, a lake, and an easy going weekend.
We packed up on Thursday
and left Friday after the traditional Chicago holiday weekend
traffic jam ended. It would be a late arrival, but the owners of the
resort worked with that. The drive saw the sunset before we even
escaped Illinois. Soon enough we were racing across The Indiana Toll
Road looking for Exit 107. I was glad to be on the road even though
I couldn't drive thanks to a serious gout attack that struck very
night. In fact, I considered
canceling the whole trip, but friends explained that I could sit
around at home in pain and agony or sit in front of a beautiful lake
in pain and agony. I chose the later.
We arrived at about 11:45
pm, Michigan time. Everything was
exactly as promised. The little cottage was spartan, and had a
simplicity that took me a few moments to pleasantly adjust to. The walls were
made of cinderblock, painted white inside and out. There was a
little patio with patio chairs and a table. Inside were two
bedrooms, one with bunks, a sparsely decorated living room with a
small 18" TV that did a fine job getting local channels from South
Bend. The bathroom was adequate for our needs. The kitchen
was plain and a bit beat down. I remember the owner half-jokingly asking me if I
wanted to buy the place when I made my reservation a few days
It was unseasonably cold, about 38 degrees, so
the owner provided a couple little space heaters to take the edge
off. This cold came down after several days working in an
un-air-conditioned school choking with heat and humidity all week.
The moon was full and I could see the reflection
of the lake about fifty yards in front of the cottage. I saved my
judgments for the morning and got to sleep as best I could.
The next morning, dew was on everything. I
hobbled around the grounds and assayed the situation. The lake was
beautiful and small, about 35 acres, not including the long,
meandering, narrowing channel for the outflow to the south. Andrew
followed, excited at the prospect of test driving our new 10 foot
Viper kayak. But first we needed groceries and lunch, so we
headed a few miles into town and explored the three rivers of Three
Rivers, the Rocky River being the prettiest. The historic St. Joseph
River included canoe launches and parks.
We bought healthy snacks and dinners at Wal-mart
and then carried on back to the cottage after stopping for greasy chicken.
While I ate, I inflated the Sea Eagle kayak for its second voyage.
We dragged the boats down to the shore and I tried out the Viper
and was quite pleased to find that not only did it not sink under my
290 lbs, but that it stayed straight, was comfortable, and
I let Andrew have a try by attaching a rope to
the end and staying on shore. Soon we were attached via rope in both
kayaks, exploring the lake, the lake which is the real star of this
place. It is semi-private. The lake does not allow motors and was
perfect for kayaking.
Little Pleasant Lake receives the outflow of
all-sport Pleasant Lake via a narrow, fast moving creek that runs
through the resort property. The point where the creek meets the
lake is hidden by tall aquatic grass, but is the spawning ground of
bluegills. I spotted several here defending their indented nests in
the sand. They fought each other and they fought my hook and
underwater camera. Bluegills have been known to attack snorkelers
who come too close to these pothole-looking nests. I caught several
bluegills at this point.
To the west is a place I call 'Turtle City' because
the first time I paddled through here, turtles seemed to be
everywhere... On logs, on lily pads, swimming to and for. Some were
as small as a finger and one, big snapper was as big as a large
pizza... A large pizza that bites.
To the west of here the lake curves southward and
the shore is heavily wooded. This might be why a couple blue herons
hung out here most of the first day. The second day, it was the
haunt of a swan for most of the morning and afternoon. And
late in the afternoon, we spotted a beaver in the water here.
Now the lake begins curving east and is rife with
lily pads. There is a large, beautiful home here on a nice piece of
uphill land. It was for sale. The property was full of bird feeders,
flowers, and had two docks for boats. This marks the point where an
underwater canyon (about five feet deep) cuts into the shallow
mud. The channel narrows as one paddles south and varies greatly in
depth from a couple inches of mud to several feet. Turtles and
bluegills swim about here, the former burying themselves in the mud
when they saw the kayak. In fact, most animals were afraid of the
The channel opens up wide after a bit, and on one
hill is a white house. The little pond is very shallow and was the
haunt of a wading heron when I first saw it. There are fish all over
this pond, including one large pike. When I first saw the pike I
thought it was a snake, but the scales and fins and torpedo shaped
head gave it away. I would guess the pike was about three feet long
and had a wide light-colored back. The wilderness f the back makes
me think it could be a very large grass pickerel. It couldn't be a
Muskie this far south. I tried to follow it, but he was off in the
weeds preparing for another ambush.
The channel is hard to spot here if not for a
boat up on a hill through thick rushes and rotting eutrifying water.
The channel is about ten to twelve feet wide here and shallow. It is
a maze to get through, but once trough it opens up a bit and the
channel deepens, but does not widen. The channel meanders for a time
and then narrows to about two or three feet at a large beaver dam
surrounded by cat tails. The current here is tremendous, but my
kayak couldn't fit through, so I turned around and moseyed back to
the entrance of the out flowing channel by the big beautiful house.
To the east of the channel is another huge
underwater field of bluegill nests and then the lake shore curves to
the north. Following the shoreline north we paddle over the best
spot to catch big fish. I caught my biggest legions here and spotted
very large bass-shaped fish in the weeds. The drop off on this lake
is very steep. The owner told me this lake might be over forty feet
deep, and that one guest used a depth finder and clocked it at a
hundred feet deep. This is not entirely surprising, since the lake
is the product of a spring. This might be why the water is so clear
despite bordering a farm on its east shore.
This farm had a little path through the grass and
here was the best fishing spot for larger fish. I needled the kayak
into the weeds, anchoring myself and cast a bobber and worm out
toward the drop off, slowly pulling the bait in. I got a little
fighting fish almost
To the north, the fish are more jittery and
scatter in all directions when confronted with the kayak. The drop
off is closer to shore now and then we are back to the resort dock.
Not too far south of the dock, one can pull in smallmouth bass. I
caught several here and liked the fact that they did not have the
spines of the bluegills. One that I caught at night, in the dark,
must have been asleep. I didn't even know he was on the hook and
then when I took him off the hook and put him back in the water he
just sat there beside me as I sat on the dock... He did this for
over ten minutes before I couldn't see him anymore. A fingerling was
sitting beside me on the other side, even when I reached into the
water and stroked his back.
Andrew made friends with the rambunctious kid in
the cottage next to us and played. It was funny. He thought an ice
breaker would be to show off his rocket launcher. It did prove an
ice breaker when the other kid brought of his own rocket launcher to
show Andrew. They had a ball in the sand. I heard Andrew proselytize
the boy, probably because he was constantly trying to steal Andrews
Our other neighbors rented two houses and
consisted of about a dozen people. It was a large Mexican family that seemed
to like to yell in every language... particularly at a girl named
"Jessica." At night they stayed up drinking, too late, singing old
songs to each other. Fitting, since the place is
called Lakeside Melodies..
Each cottage is named for a style of music. I kind of like that we
are staying in the Jazz cottage. In case one isn't aware they are in
the "Jazz" cottage, the
front room is decorated with posters of Coltrane and Miles Davis.
So it was a nice weekend mostly... With cold
nights. We ate together, played games together, laughed together,
dealt with each other's temper tantrums and fits, tried to figure
out how to kick out an invading mouse together. My gout slowly
cleared up and I found time to pray and think and be still for a few
moments... I let the red winged blackbirds and bullfrogs sing to me.
Tomorrow, we head toward home, but I intend to
take a long route and will post an update to this description later.
Update: We woke up to light rain. I was glad I
prepared the kayak and brought stuff in from outside last night so
that I could rest easy in the morning. I also cleaned up the
kitchen. Within a few minutes a mouse was scampering around in a
garbage bag. It might have come into the house one of the many times
Andrew left the door open. I took the mouse out with the garbage as he enjoyed
the garbage popcorn kernels.
Anyway, it was going to be a very wet day. The
rain was never heavy, but it was persistent and light. I went out
and packed the van in the rain as Jessica and Andrew picked up in
the house. After bidding adieu to our host, we went off toward the
east to see the covered bridge by the Sturgis Dam. Along the way we
passed beautiful river banks and woods. The road twisted along the
St. Joseph River, passing a park full of Amish buggies, until coming
to the longest covered bridge in Michigan, built in 1887. We rode it
twice. Because of the dam, the bridge no longer passes the river and
ends at a causeway halfway across the river turned lake.
We returned to Three Rivers and headed west along
Dutch Settlement Road, a beautiful road that cuts through hills,
lakesides, and forests and small fruit farms along the way to the
lake. In Dowagiac, we changed roads, but continued in a straight
westerly direction. As we passed the Berrien County line, the rain
stopped and the sun tried a few times to peek out of the clouds to
play with the vineyards that this area is famous for. We obviously
passed the warm front because my sinuses blew up and I had a huge
headache. Jessica had the same problem.
We stopped for a diaper change at rugged Grand
Mere SP on the lakeshore and then a few miles south stopped at our
familiar beach at Warren Dunes SP. It was far too windy and cold
for a swim, so we played in the sand. Anastasia was particularly
enjoying the texture of the sand in her hands, and, unfortunately,
in her mouth. After an hour or so of this fun, we headed to Warren
Woods SP, an old growth forest that embarrasses the dying, sad
"forest preserves" of Cook County, IL.mi scoped out the rivers
around New Buffalo for future canoe adventures.
We crossed the state line into Indiana and ate in
Michigan City, before visiting Mount Baldy in the Indiana Dunes NS.
I was sad to see the dune fenced off from the public, but respect
that it has been blowing out far too fast into the city. We enjoyed
the beach here before heading west into Beverly Shores. The area is
full of bogs and swamps and these were full of interesting birds. We
stopped our loafering at the bog on Mineral Springs Road near
As the sun set, I realized it took me nearly ten
hours to drive 50 miles. It was time to get home. I hopped on the
Indiana Toll Road and finished the remaining 60 miles in about one
hour. We were home and ready for baths. It was high time to wash off
the fish, dirt, sand.