2011 Vacation Day 5 - Tuesday: Such a pretty town... Holland

This morning we headed out for Holland State Park in Holland MI. Our main destination is Saugatuk, but there are no campgrounds around there to stay at. Holland is only a short distance above, so it will work out fine as a starting point.  Holland is a Dutch town, found by immigrants from the Netherlands and their architecture and ambiance is Dutch. An easy drive, which took us about 3 1/2 hours.
Actually it took a little longer as we got side tracked by a massive RV store we saw from the highway. We had cruised by the exit, so we doubled back and found it no problem. On the way in, Dale eyed a Target store, so our stay here immediately bacame a little longer. Great RV store, lots of gear. Picked up a few items, one being an accumulator tank that I have been thinking about installing in our water system. The prices on RV gear is a lot cheaper in the States. On the tank alone we saved $40 bucks. That's a good chunk of coin. We also picked up a spare sewer hose, again at a great price. Over to Target, a few more purchases, then on the road again.

There are 2 campsite areas in Holland S.P., a wooded area, and a beach area. When booking the site, I had a look with Google Earth, and discovered that the beach campground was in fact a large paved parking lot within the sandy beach area, with each site marked off on the pavement with painted lines. No thanks. We checked into the treed area and headed for the site we picked many months ago. Perhaps a little squeezed in, but the location and proximity to the beach is excellent. The campsite for us is really only a place to stay. Sightseeing is the main reason for being here, so the site is not that important.
Headed into town. Holland is not that large, and has quite a nice old downtown section. The core is centered on 8th Ave. and is about 5 blocks long. The core is lovely. It has lots of older well maintained buildings, wide sidewalks, tons of flowers, and is overall, impeccably maintained. There are lots of interesting shops and spots to grab a bite. Really nice to walk around here. We ate at the Holland Brewery. Quite a large place, but it has great atmosphere. A huge bar runs the entire length front to back, with lots of high and low tables throughout. They brew on site, and I had a nice IPA. Food was pub style and very tasty. They also sell their beer in big old fashioned jugs, as numerous people, well, mostly young guys, were bringing these back to be refilled.

Time for a rant. We never fail to notice how a city or town maintains itself. We have been all over in our travels, and have visited both cities and towns. We have seen that it IS possible to keep the sidewalks clean, to put flowers in planter boxes, to empty garbage cans, to make an area welcoming to both residents and tourists. Holland does not seem to be an affluent city. There are not overt signs of wealth everywhere. So how could they afford this level of maintenance? It just seems to be a nice small American city. The core area is beautiful. Clean, colourful and inviting. Now this is not to say it is all like this. There is a huge metal recycling plant near the harbour, that looked a little rough, but this was soon forgotten as you arrived into the downtown. Every city has issues, but most seem to be able to maintain some key areas. Places that people flock to, both residents and tourists. How do they do it?

Our city, Ottawa, is not able to do it. Our core areas on the whole, look like crap. Little to no flowers, dirty sidewalks, overflowing garbage cans and general disrepair. The only thing that saves our city somewhat, is the NCC. This federal government agency that manages an area around the Rideau Canal and of course Parliment Hill and the Governor Generals residence. They do a fine job. However, this is only a small area of our downtown. Our core areas, such as the Byward Market, The Glebe and Westboro, which attract both residents and tourists, could be so much better, if only for a little effort from the City. How hard can it be to sweep and wash down sidewalks, to plant flowers and empty garbage cans. Pretty basic stuff. Seemingly impossible for Ottawa to undertake. We certainly have a much larger tax base and higher taxes than Holland! A little effort would make such a huge difference, but it never happens. Same old grunge every summer. In the Glebe, most all of the planter boxes are filled and maintained by residents, otherwise there is no way in hell they would ever see a flower. Our city politicians and staff managers need a huge collective kick in the ass!

After dinner we drove past our campsite to the park's beach area. Sure enough, those Google satellite images were correct...the beach campsite is one huge parking lot. Simply massive. Packed in there like clams. Kinda crazy. Imagine how hot this area must get on a stinker of a day.
 There is a lighthouse on the point which is called 'Big Red'. It has a real Dutch feel to its design. Took some pics of the sunset then headed back to the site.

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