Scenic Drive, aptly named, hugs the sandy shoreline of Lake Michigan, just north of the Muskegon State Park. Parking on the shoulder of the road, my wife–with daughter Analise in tow–spread a blanket on the white sands. They remained behind to catch up with an old friend while I hiked south to the dunes in Sunday clothes and (somewhat stiff) dress shoes. The collared shirt, socks, and leather shoes we left trail side for the ascent up the dune. The vista from the top was more than worth the ten minute climb through a hot and shifting earth studded with twigs. From those heights, a faint haziness obscures the horizon, giving the great lake a dream-like quality.
The dune climb was followed by an equally long swim in the vast waters being churned by the winds. Thoughts out there on the lake concerned just what was to be done if caught in an undertow. In hindsight those thoughts may have been well-founded: there was a red flag flying at the entrance to the State Park that day which, I’m sorry to say, didn’t register much of a warning in my conscience mind.
With life and limb intact, our family made its way north on Scenic Drive to the Whitehall and Montague area. We stopped briefly at the site of Michillinda Lodge where my wife and I spent our wedding night almost three years ago. An empty lot remains where the lodge once stood, having since burned to the ground in a “spectacular fire”. But fresh grass grows there now–a hopeful sign.
The winding road to White Hall and Montague skirts White Lake and boasts many stately country homes which have the antique charm of the early 1900s. At 3:00 in the afternoon on a Sunday, Montague is sleepy town of brick buildings, vintage shops, and art galleries. The promise of live jazz music at a local espresso and wine bar had brought us here, though the bar had closed a couple of hours prior to our arrival. Who, however, could be disappointed with the discovery of Brigadoon, albeit nearly uninhabited? What a spell was cast by this part of Michigan’s west coast, scarcely appearing on a map.