A Few Magical Days At A Magical Lake – Higgins Lake, MI
We wrapped up our stay in Mackinaw City on the week-end and headed directly south into the “innards” of Michigan. Our stop on the top of the “mitt” had marked the high-point of our travels in Michigan thus far, and we weren’t really sure how we’d feel about leaving the Great Lakes for a place that hadn’t been on our radar (at all) when we first planned our trip out here. After all, everyone knows that all the “action” and sightseeing is on the Great Lakes Lakeshore. What could we possibly find in the interior that could even come close to matching everything we’d seen so far?
But magical things were about to happen and not just once but three times in a row (there’s that three thing again).
The first magical thing was a tease, a complete tease, but it was pretty darn amazing nonetheless. After weeks of hot, humid, heavy, sticky weather the summer temps suddenly broke. And quite literally overnight too. We went from sweat dripping off our backs and afternoons stuck inside with AC and dehumidifier on full blast to survive, to hanging comfortably outdoors in the sun with the paws. No bugs, minimal humidity and temps just perfect for the flip-flop barometer.
Having grown up in Asia I’m not a stranger to this phenomenon. I mean the humidity in Asia is infamous, and when I was a kid we moved north from Singapore (which is pretty much smack on the equator) to Hong Kong (on the Tropic of Cancer). That’s when I discovered the bliss of actual seasons and the transformative moment in fall when humidity drops. So, you’d think I’d be used to it, right?
But I’ve been completely spoiled by my adult years, most of which were spent in dry Western US. I’d totally forgotten the switch, filed away the memory in the dark archives of my brain and entirely blanked on how it made me feel. I could breathe again, I felt like hiking again and I wanted to spend my entire day outdoors. It was like tasting ice cream for the very first time. Frikkin’ awesome! The tease only lasted the few precious days we were in the area (summer humidity has come back with a vengeance since), but Fall had shown herself and now I know she’s not far away. Oh, I can barely wait!
The second magical thing was the time of year. With Labor Day just around the corner parents and their kiddies are heading home for the start of school. For fulltime RVers that means mostly empty campgrounds and the ability to travel once again without reservations. It’s a sweet, sweet time that we look forward to every single year and this year more so than ever.
I’m not sure if it’s the extra hot weather which has squeezed more people into less spots, or if folks are just feeling better about the economy and getting out more, but RV camping has been the most packed I’ve seen since we started on the road almost 7 years ago. I love that families get out in nature (I don’t begrudge them that. it’s how I grew up too, after all), but it sure does make our kind of RV travel more complicated. Summer RVing is just crazy.
We’ve got one more “big hurrah” (Labor Day itself) before everything calms down, but it’s literally right around the corner. I can smell the freedom…
The third magical thing was a local discovery thanks to our friends. Matt, Tracie and their two young kids are old-time friends of ours from our time working in the Tech Industry in San Jose, CA. They’re both Michigan locals (born and raised), and moved back here from CA several years ago. Spending time with our buddies was a big priority for us when we came to MI, and Matt had been teasing us for months with a special place that he wanted to take us to. He’d grown up taking his vacations here, and he had some sweet memories that he wanted to pass onto his two kids. Plus it was off the tourist trail aaaaaand dog-friendly. How could we resist?
Higgins Lake is a 9,900 acre (40 km²) spring-fed body of water known for its stunning clarity. It was formed as the glacial ice sheet retreated many thousands of years ago, and has been noted as one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. It’s around 4 miles (6.4 km) wide, 7 miles (11 km) long, goes down to around 135 feet (41 m) deep and encompasses 21 miles (34 km) of wonderful, peaceful shoreline. Thanks to its central location and spring-fed goodness it boasts some of the clearest waters in Michigan and is a delight for recreation & fishing alike.
For RVers there are two state parks to chose from, one at each end of the lake, both similarly rated. For our stop we chose the southern-most one South Higgins Lake State Park (review coming). This particular park has TWO dedicated dog beaches and we were able to snag a spot literally steps from the dog area. Pure WheelingIt perfection!
We arrived on a sunny, comfortable afternoon to a nearly completely empty campground and setup our or rig on our enormous site within view of the water. Within seconds of jacks down we’d walked the 15-feet to the shoreline with Polly and had our paws in the water. What a sight! The shallow, sandy shoreline is aqua blue and stretches for what seems like a quarter mile out. Then, the bottom drops and it turns a dark, rich royal blue that stretches for miles more. It’s so quiet that you feel continents away from everything and the gentle lapping of water against the sand is so relaxing you literally feel like you could just sit on the beach and veg forever. At the height of summer this place must be a total zoo, but at that moment it was literally paradise.
We spent days just hanging with our friends and our ass(es) in the sand, taking Polly in the water (best swim therapy EVER) and just watching folks bobbing around on canoes, boats, paddle boards and floating seats, many with their dogs in tow. We chatted and bonded, played with the kiddies, drank many more margaritas than we should and did…literally…nothing. I was having such a good time I barely even took any photos (a real rarity for me). After the crazy pace of travel and sightseeing from our last few weeks, this felt like a total vacay and was a much-needed stop.
It was hard to tear ourselves away from this relaxed spot, but more friends were calling aaaand another lighthouse (of course). This time we’d be hitting the right side of the MI “mitt” and squeezing our beastly dimensions into a rather tight spot. That story coming next….