Summer in Michigan – If You’re not in the Water, You’re Near It

Set the flux capacitor to Summer 2007! We’re going back in time to my first trip to Michigan, with thanks to my journal for the observations. This will be a nearly visual-free experience, however, as the photos were lost in the Great Computer Crash of 2011. If you want to look at the state’s beauty (and why wouldn’t you), take the easy route and check out tourism photos. Yes, I did every single thing they show here.

For starters, Michigan is visible from space. Technically all of the states are…as the collective…but the unique mitten shape is discernible. Get on with your bad selves. Plus, nearly half of the state is water (is that still true if there’s a drought?).

There’s Nothing Subtle about Michigan

There’s a lot of everything: blue sky, 100 inches of snow, solid sun. Trees upon trees upon trees–dense and green. Lake Michigan is so vast you would think it’s the ocean. Cherries are everywhere:roadside shacks with hand-painted signs and you pay on the honor system. Rows of perfectly aligned trees: saplings held up by braces; mature held down by the weight of the fruit. Wind blows strong–hold on tight.

Sleeping Bear Dunes

Ojibwa Indian legend says that a forest fire forced a mother bear and her two cubs to cross the lake. Sleeping Bear Dune is the mother, who after reaching shore, climbed a hill to look for her young, who (sniff) never reached land.

Sleeping Bear Dunes

Photos courtesy of

Look left, right, front, or back and there’s a lake. Maybe it’s Lake Michigan, maybe it’s not. I never quite got my bearings (sorry for the pun).

The dune climb is a designated area for we humans to trample on the delicate grounds created by – wait for it – wind, water, and time. To keep us heathens from traipsing all over the place, they dedicate this one dune for us to enjoy, killing foliage along the way.

It’s a ridiculously steep climb combined with foot-sinking sand (we do more before 9:00 am than most people do all day). From the the top is a beautiful view of (some) lake, a farm house, and its land. The people climb, tumble, laugh, and play in the sand.

Soo Locks

Soo Locks

Photo courtesy of

The largest waterway traffic system on earth, freighters move from one body of water to another through the Soo Locks – a feat of engineering.

Before the Locks were built, they rolled boats along greased logs in the street! It could take 6-12 weeks, depending upon the load weight.

Indian Lore

Driving past the thousands and thousands of trees, a story came to mind.

Do the different species have different personalities? Do they fight for space or like touching each other? Do they miss their friends who die to rot, storm, or fire? Do they begrudge having to hold up a fallen tree until it disintegrates, or is it a pride to be supportive? Do the pines get irritated when an elm happens to seed–and deign to grow–among them?

I can see how the Native Americans (and many cultures) could devise stories about stars, bears, nature to teach a lesson. There’s a lot to observe; a lot to learn.

Mackinac Island

Conde Naste is most impressed; and I suppose if I were at a swank and quaint hotel, I would have been, too.

No cars on the island, only bikes and horses. Many, many bikes and 600 stinky horses. But still, it’s charming. The main drag is overpopulated with fudge and souvenir shoppes. One block in, and both the local homes and their gardens bloom; lovely.

Me being me, I was fascinated with the life and society of the college-students-on-summer-break who work on the island. To minimize ferry costs and commute time, they live locally. Is there a caste system? Reenactors, wait staff, bike porters for the hotel?


Have you been to places without cars? What did you think?

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