Pawley’s Island residents and Michigan natives Kim and Tom Fous invited us to spend Labor Day weekend a few years ago on Higgins Lake, where they have a summer cottage.
I’ve been to lake regions in the U.S., but at that point in my life, having lived on various coasts, I would never have considered traveling to a lake in Michigan had I not known these friends. And I should add that the South Carolina coast is every bit as hot and humid as central Florida, so there was the appeal of cooler, moderate summer weather as well. Leaving the heat was a bonus, not a reason to go – we love these people.
A few hours’ flight into Detroit and a few more in the car and we were there! It was well worth the trip, and as usual, when we left, I wanted to see more of the entire region. Higgins Lake, located in northern Michigan, was formed as a glacial ice sheet retreated. It is therefore not only crystal clear but very, no make that excruciatingly, cold as I found out when asked if I wanted to go night swimming. No one should challenge me after I’ve had a few libations – I’m ridiculously prone to do almost anything. I would probably think bungee jumping a worthwhile experience after a few cocktails, and bungee jumping is most emphatically not on my bucket list.
Anyway, I agreed to take a running jump off their dock into Higgins Lake’s sub-zero water with Kim to the tune of REM’s Nightswimming. And it was great. I immediately went numb and didn’t feel a thing. I mildly wondered if this was what hypothermia felt like, but before I could find out, we got out.
The next couple days were very warm, in the high 80’s as I recall. We kayaked, sailed, jet-skied and motorboated all over the lake by day, but the 30-degree temperature drop at night gave me enough pause to reconsider night swimming again. Evenings were spent around their fire pit and, because they are exceptional cooks, prepping of dishes took hours.
On Sunday night, a nor’easter blew in. We played board games and yukked it up with the help of great food and drinks, and with the storm came much cooler weather. So, our final day was spent in sweatshirts and jeans, hiking trails and checking out the local shops and pub for burgers and beer.
Bill and I have been fortunate to travel a lot in Europe in the past 10 years, but you know, Michigan is in our front yard, and it’s easily one of the prettiest places on the planet. Unsalted and shark-free though it is, the real appeal of the place is unspoiled, un-hyped charm, unlike so many of the more popular places, giving us one more reason to love America the Beautiful.