The Michigan Caribbean
Isn't it funny what fresh eyes and a little distance - or 10 or 20 years of distance - can do? Also on my late-summer Michigan visit, I took an afternoon trip to the Lake Michigan beach town where I spent many summer weekends in my youth. Unfortunately, it was that early-teen period of youth when I would much rather have been back in Chicago with my friends on weekends, so I didn't appreciate it much.
But on this visit, coming over the crest of a bluff down one of the lesser-known public access ways (no $10 parking fees here, thank you very much), the lakeshore looked like a little slice of heaven. I was stunned by how pristine, almost tropical, the beach and water looked.
Uncrowded, tranquil, this was just the kind of beach I'd been searching for up and down the coasts of Cape Cod. Heck, even the Caribbean! Isn't everyone searching for the perfect beach? The perfect stretch of white sand with hardly anyone on it, that goes on and on without interruption by some stupid resort or beach club, so you can walk for miles, just like in the promotional ads that drew you to that particular beach in the first place.
Look no further; it exists on the eastern shores of Lake Michigan. Just a tad bit colder maybe, and with slightly less exciting snorkeling.
This is the lighthouse pier, town icon and favorite destination for beach walks, as in, "Want to walk down to the pier?" It's always nice to have a destination.
Long before the low-rise jeans craze, this is where I witnessed my first plumber's crack, casually displayed by a dude fishing in the rain off the side of the pier. The image is seared in my memory. I was shocked and horrified: how could he not know what was happening? Somebody had to help this man!
Little could I guess that years later, for all women in America under the age of 25 this would be become the standard look in fashion. I guess South Haven always had a lot going for it, even back then.