WRITTEN BY FRANK J. CUNNINGHAM
A trail through the trees is a magical thing, a linear refuge from life’s strum and drum. It’s an invitation to walk, jog, bike, hike, and ski. Peacefully without cars, trucks, or motorcycles.
Trails are born of dreamers such as the visionaries who saw such a trail connecting South Haven to Saugatuck. They named their dream the Blue Star Trail, a twenty mile ribbon along the Lake Michigan shoreline, parallel to Blue Star highway. It would connect to the Beeline Trail north to Holland, to the Van Buren Trail south to the state park, and to the Kal Haven Trail east to Kalamazoo. And beyond.
And the appeal of such a trail? They knew that once you learn, you never forget. How to ride a bike, that is. Never forget the wind in your face. The thrill of speed. The ache of leg muscles. The laughter of friends. Biking is a pursuit with no age barrier. When you’re 78 you’re 12 again. For a little while anyway.
You can ride for an hour or several or make a day out of it. Start with a pile of pancakes in South Haven. Stop at the general store for a candy bar or a farm stand for fresh fruit. Bring the kids and picnic at a lakeside park. End in Saugatuck with a cold one on hot day, or a hot one on a cold day. You get the idea. Pancakes, burgers, beer, pop—the rewards of stretching your muscles, expanding your lungs, burning calories. Keep riding to Holland and really feel good about a very fit you. And the only carbon product you leave behind is your breath.
More so, it would be a place for a daily constitution or to push a pram in that first burst of Spring. Or clip on a pair of x-country skies and make fresh tracks under an ice blue winter sky, and maybe, just maybe, feel the tingle of a hoar frost on your skin.
Dreams such as this take work. And workers named The Friends. Friends of the Blue Star Trail who are neighbors. Talented, dependable, hardworking, patient neighbors dedicated to the dream. They like to play and party too—like their high profile summer social events: the Lakeshore Harvest Ride which brings hundreds of riders from around the Midwest to tour the scenic lakeshore farms and orchards. And the annual Toast to The Blue Star Trail cocktail party. The clink of glasses. The fast-emptying platters. The crumbled napkins and cross-hatched toothpicks. All fueling the din of happy chatter among friends, neighbors and supporters, all sharing the dream.
The Blue Star Trail is a legacy project, something that will endure into future generations. Building a legacy takes time, patience, and a willingness to defer the satisfaction of a completed project. And luck. Another way to say it is, this is one tough, long-term development.
But the dream of twenty miles has begun with the first mile.