Why a Lake Michigan Lodge Story?
I write about the tourist lodges and resort towns of the Great Lakes because there is no place like them on earth, and I love them.
A bit of history: Back in the early 1800s, the population of Michigan exploded tenfold as the auto industry and mines required many laborers. Immigrants from Scandinavian countries were joined by people from Europe and the UK, and they all scrambled to settle in. My family came from Cornwall, Denmark, Poland and Ireland. These immigrants cut down old-growth timber and built log homes, lodges and boarding houses that reminded them of their homelands. On their precious days off, they’d travel to “camp” near one of Michigan’s abundant lakes and rivers—to cool off with a swim, and catch their dinner on the end of a fishing rod or stick. The children would nap in the shade of the trees, while the adults would sit and tell stories of their past and present day life. Often, they’d build small cabins and shanties to return to time and again—always to get away from the congested cities, and always bringing with them as many people as possible.
My Aunt Mary had such a camp in the Upper Peninsula, on Big Shag Lake. The upstairs was one big uninsulated room, with blankets cordoning off different sections, and beds crafted out of birch trees. I’d lay in bed at night, often still in my swimsuit, and have dreams about rocking back and forth in a boat, because I’d have spent every minute of the day on the water. This is where my entire extended family stayed when we came north for my orientation at Northern Michigan University. Lakes, lodges, and stories are ingrained in every fiber of my being, and I’m thankful for that heritage. My sister gravitates to the water; my brothers take their fishing rods, campers and tents to the lake every chance they get. My children seek out camp fires, shorelines and woods. And wherever two or more are gathered, we tell the family stories. Over and over again.