Thursday, September 12, 2013

Perspective: Michigan Lakes

I knew that Minnesota was known for its lakes, and in theory that Michigan was defined by them.  But on this trip, anyway, Michigan won out. 

Camping three nights at a campground near Kalamazoo with several lakes, I enjoyed long swims in the cool and reasonably clean water -- nicer than the shower rooms, with their creepy crawlers.  After a week or so speaking at churches in Michigan and Ohio, I headed north from almost the very bottom of the state.  What amazed me was that one could drive 340 miles up a peninsula created by two lakes, without ever catching site of either.  Finally, coming over a rise, there was the bridge across the isthmus between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.  After a brief and not very pleasant swim to the right of the bridge -- I take that to have been Huron -- I headed north, then the big swing west on Highway Two. 

What charmed me about northern Michigan were the trees.  They were mostly old friends: cottonwood, birch, aspen, maple, cedar, fir, pine, some hemlock -- pressed together like weeds in fertile soil, stunted perhaps because of the winters.  "How beautiful this will look in a month!"  I kept telling myself.  Every so often the road would take me through an attractive little town with white houses and old churches.  And then in the morning, past lakes like this one, with mist rising and only wanting a loon and a dusting of fall colors to make the scene perfect. 

The best part of those first days of driving west, was the swim in Lake Michigan: an ocean of fresh water, cool to the touch and clear, with sand under my feet, and other bathers shouting in the waves off to my left.  I should have stayed longer. 

These woods are inhabited by refuges from Scandinavia: Finns, Norwegians, Swedes, and Danes -- along with moose, bear, and deer.  The fly in the ointment, for me, was the fact that the deer often carry ticks, which in turn carry lyme disease, which made me cautious walking through the woods. 

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