Steven (unzeugmatic) wrote,

Man, What a Great Lake

The 2005 Midwest Morris Ale was held in Lexington Michigan, about 20 miles north of Port Huron. I took two days to drive there, by way of the U.P., accompanied by two fellow Braggarts. Despite all predictions, the weather was glorious and sunny for nearly the entire drive. It was the first time in years that I drove through hundreds of miles that were completely unfamiliar to me. The drive itself became a key part of the vacation.

To get to the UP from Minneapolis you can head due east across Wisconsin until you nearly hit Green Bay, then north and around, following the shore of Lake Michigan. Once you enter Michigan you are in full view of Lake Michigan itself for the bulk of the trip. Beautiful as this made the drive, it seemed wrong to me that all the miles and miles of breathtaking lakefront property were taken up by a highway. Aren't there better uses for such a glorious resource? Still, to drive for hours and hours along Lake Michigan is awe-inspiring.

We stopped for the night at St. Ignace, just at the north side of the Straits of Mackinac that connect Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. This is the town from which the ferries to Mackinac Island launch. It wasn't yet tourist season, so the hotel was reasonable and nearly empty. We had dinner and then breakfast the next morning at simple downtown establishments. Everything downtown, including the hardware store, overlooks the water.

In the morning we drove across the famed bridge that crosses the Straights, down to Saginaw, then due east to Lake Huron. A small jog south took us to the YWCA camp where the Ale was held, right smack up along Lake Huron. If you wanted you could camp right on the beach. The main buildings all had porches that looked out over the lake, across to Canada, and we spent a lot of time drinking beer and taking in the view. A huge orange moon over Lake Huron is an amazing sight.

The various Ale tours were held in towns along the lake, including Port Huron itself where some of us danced on the deck of a boat. The final mass dance spot was a lakeside park, where Ted H. led the closing processional down to the water (turning just before immersion, although some folks behind him took a brief splashing dip). Scores of Morris dancers heading lemminglike to the unsalted sea is a rare and heartstopping sight to behold.

Back at camp we all kept returning to the lakefront, to sit around the campfire or just to walk along the beach. It is one heck of a lake, beautiful by day and beautiful by night. It was overwhelming.

We came home in a day, across Michigan and down around Chicago, completing the circle around Lake Michigan we began on our way out.
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