Some Like It Hot
Wade's Hot List includes hiking the shady trails of Beach Coast area State Parks and attending Venetian festivals where you can watch lighted boat parades.
By Wade Rouse
The first time I stepped onto a “Beach Coast” beach was a warm, mid-summer afternoon. I ran down the boardwalk like a kid, kicked off my flip-flops, jumped into the sand, and screamed.
“Hot!” I yelled, hopping around like a human Pogo Stick. “Ow! Ow! Ow!”
I dropped my beach bag, my chair, and my water bottle and sprinted to Lake Michigan, where I buzzed into the water like a crazed duck, hoping to save the soles of my feet.
“Cold!” I instantly yelled, again hopping around, this time like a wet Pogo Stick. “Oh! Oh! Oh!”
Yes, a Beach Coast summer slowly reveals its secrets, one at a time, like the Da Vinci Code.
I love a scorching summer like the one we’re currently enjoying--hot summer days that make you want to run barefoot across the sand and spring head first into the lake. Days that make you feel like a kid.
The beach itself – as hot as it can be – is one of the reasons I moved to the Beach Coast. The vista is stunning, the sunsets magical, the water unsalted, and friends continue to be astounded by the view, shocked that they are not looking at the ocean.
Living in landlocked Missouri for so long, being able to spend a day looking out at the water is like a never-ending sigh to me. It brings me back to center. And whenever I begin to sweat, I can simply immerse myself in the lake, scream, and remain cool for another hour.
This past week, I went for a run along the beach (yes, I wore tennis shoes), and – when I finished – I yanked a few towels from the back of my SUV and plopped down alongside the lake and began compiling my first-ever Beach Coast “Hot List.” While I kept it generic, I know the topics are universal and will call to all of those who love summer here. For those who like the heat, here’s what I think is hot about the Beach Coast:
Wade's Hot List
Drive along the Beach Coast, and discover the unique personality and beauty of the towns that dot the lake. Whether a first-time visitor or a lifer, you will find that each town is like a child, special, filled with its own, one-of-a-kind personality, from laid-back beach town to artists’ haven. You will not find a cookie-cutter town anywhere, no matter where you stop.
I run or hike a different state park every other week or so, and they are breathtakingly majestic. I have trudged up dunes, taken in the vistas from historic lighthouses, and camped out under a grove of cool pines. These natural sanctuaries remind you of what is so special about the area.
I can pick up a tchotchke or an expensive oil painting, a fabulous antique or handmade piece of pottery … I can eat at a Zagat-rated restaurant, or snag a corndog at the beach, and then top off my day by picking up a cone filled with scoops of homemade ice cream as big as my head. And most of the shops are independently owned, which is another bonus.
You want a one-of-a-kind festival or weekend event? You’ve got it: blueberry festivals, art festivals, Venetian festivals, pancake festivals, harbor festivals, film festivals, home and garden tours … you can fill your summer calendar and learn a lot about the area.
When I finished my Hot List, I was – appropriately enough – sweating. I looked over my list and then out across the beach. It was a weekday, the crowds had yet to come, and I smiled, knowing I had a hot summer afternoon all to myself.
And then I came full circle, doing exactly what I’d done the first time I arrived on the Beach Coast: I sprinted barefoot across the burning sand – Ow! Ow! Ow! – and then into the cold lake water – Oh! Oh! Oh! – but, this time, I stayed, floating, watching my shadow dance on the sandy bottom below, realizing – no matter how much you might be able to do or see – sometimes the only company you really need on a hot summer day is yourself and the only thing you really should do is nothing.
Wade Rouse is the author of three critically-acclaimed memoirs, including "America’s Boy" (a Borders Best Book/Literary Memoir of the Year), "Confessions of A Prep School Mommy Handler" (a Target “Breakout” Bestseller), and his latest, the best-selling "At Least in the City Someone Would Hear Me Scream: Misadventures in Search of the Simple Life," which was chosen as "Must Read" by NBC’s Today Show, USA Today, the Detroit Free Press, Grand Rapids Press, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Chicago Magazine, Chicago Public Radio, Michigan Public Radio, and many more. The paperback edition of "At Least in the City Someone Would Hear Me Scream," which chronicles the misadventures of two neurotic urbanites who quit their jobs, and leave the city, cable, couture and consumerism behind in order to move to the woods along the Michigan Beach Coast and recreate a modern-day Walden, was published June 1st.
For more, visit www.waderouse.com