I don’t live in Michigan, but I do call it home for a few weeks each year. My earliest memories of it are family vacations in a rambling cottage on Lake Au Train in the Upper Peninsula. I was just a kid then, but I can still feel the sand in my toes, the shock of wading into the 55 degree water of Lake Superior, the chilly breeze at night, the mosquitoes, the ice cream, and the soup simmering on the cabin stove. The days went on forever. The sun didn’t set until 10 pm, and after that came hide and seek in the woods and ghost stories around the campfire. Those endless days are etched in the memories of all of us lucky enough to go Up North in the summer.
These days, my trips to Michigan are by car and sailboat. My husband, Captain Harry, spends the early summer preparing for and running the Chicago to Mackinac Island sailboat race. I support the effort by driving up from Chicago to meet him and his crew when they arrive. The crew takes the car home, and I climb aboard for the much slower journey back to Chicago. Over the years, we have called at nearly every port on the Western Shore. Each is special in its own way. Mackinac Island is a step back in time with horse drawn carriages (no motor vehicles allowed) and the 19th century splendor of Grand Hotel. Lake Charlevoix is a delightful summer venue for water sports enthusiasts, and the trip wouldn’t be complete without a stop at John Cross Fisheries, where the daily catch is transformed into the most glorious smoked fish dip in all the world. The annual Coast Guard Festival in Grand Haven is a ten-day celebration of boats, food, and parades honoring the men and women who serve in the Coast Guard. Saugatuck is our favorite because of its rich mix of boutique shops, galleries, great restaurants, and beautiful Oval Beach. When you go to Saug, don’t miss dinner at Restaurant Toulouse, where the coquille St. Jacques will leave you weak in the knees. http://www.saugatuck.com/index.asp
As a writer, I look forward to Michigan for rest and rejuvenation. I especially enjoy finding a spot on the beach or among the rolling sand dunes and letting the vast blue expanse of Lake Michigan inspire me. Michigan isn’t only fun in summer, though. It is a popular fall destination, where for several weeks in October the whole of the north woods explodes in a staggering display of color. It also is a winter holiday destination, where the snow is abundant, stays white all winter, and is conducive to the whole panoply of winter outdoor sports. And of course spring is when the flowers come. I’ve travelled all over the country, and no one, repeat-no one does flowers like the Michiganders. Maybe it’s because they want to take full advantage of the short summer, or maybe it’s because Beauty is Michigan’s other name.
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