May 31, 2015

My Peaceful, Relaxing, Part-Time Michigan Retreat Home by Jaymie Simmon

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.

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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  1. Interesting information, Jaymie. This is one state I haven't visited but now I want to. We winter in Florida and many of the people we have met there are from Michigan and prefer warmer winters than they have at their permanent homes. Your book title grabbed my interest. I wish you success with sales.

  2. I don't live in MI either--I'm a Native Texan and still here. But our son chose to get his phd at the U of MI, and then without consulting me, met a MI girl and married her. I asked..."what's wrong with Texas girls?" I knew he would never come home to live in Texas again..and I was right. Now he and MI DIL have three boys, our only grandchildren. When the were little, and we enjoyed road trips, this gave us the perfect opportunity to drive to Ann Arbor, stay in an Extended stay for a week or two, and cater to the grandchildren.
    On occasion, we visited and stayed in a cabin at Sleeping Bear Dunes, went to the Lake, and a few more places of which I don't recall the names. Mainly, we enjoyed Ann Arbor, and of course Lansing which had one of the best State Museums--and we've seen quite a few.
    Thanks for sharing your memories. If I'm lucky enough to win your book, my contact email is
    I write Western Historical romances, the mild sort with lots of action and adventure. Celia Yeary...Romance, and a little bit of Texas.

  3. I used to vacation up along Bellaire Lake, where we could take a boat onto Torch Lake and then onto Lake Michigan -- if we dared, with a boat that small. Beautiful country up there.

  4. Wow, interesting view of Michigan and your experiences there. Thanks for sharing these lovely images. Radine

  5. Back in the early 60s I lived in Highland Park, MI, and worked nights at Detroit's Cobo Hall as a janitorial maintenance managerial trainee. I got to see and hear many of the jazz greats in their performances that were offered to us free. Michigan is a beautiful state, though I got to see mostly the urban Detroit. Thanks for your interesting article!

  6. Sal Buttaci:

  7. I enjoyed this look at Michigan. I am a Missouri Ozarker, so I enjoy beautiful scenery. Hope to make it to Michigan sometime.

  8. I"m with you, Celia. One of our sons also went to college in Michigan, Flint, to be exact. Now he's getting married in September to his Michigan-born fiancee, and they're house-hunting. I just know I want to be out of Illinois, so if we ever get to retire, I want either Minnesota or Michigan; and if grandbabies appear, there will be no contest as to which one I'll choose!

    We've been camping at many of the state parks, trying to find one that is convenient for all of us, and allows for us to enjoy being with our son and our soon-to-be-daughter-in-law. I love camping in Michigan.


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