Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Big Lake's Fury

A few weekends ago we took an overnight trip out to Lake Michigan. I had never seen the big lake in the winter so was eager to get to the beach.

We stayed in a cute little log cabin motel a few miles outside of the Saugatuck/Douglas area. After breakfast at the Kalico Kitchen we drove down to Oval Beach. It was a windy day, sustained in the 20's with gusts near 30. Snow flurries driven on the wind bit into my skin as I walked to the top of the dunes.

Within minutes my fingers were numb, but I hardly noticed when faced with the raging waters of Lake Michigan. I have never seen breakers this high on the big lake--my guess is the crests were 8 to 10 feet or more. The roar of the surf drowned out all other sounds.

Once down on the beach I could barely see the lake itself for the giant piles of ice, some of which were well over my head. Only the biggest waves were clearly visible.

The huge waves slammed into the frozen wall of ice at the shore, sending water, sand and blocks of ice high into the air.

The sound made me think of a semi full of stemware slamming into a bridge abutment over and over again.

Here's a three frame sequence:

We weren't the only crazy ones out in this weather. Small flocks of Goldeneye flew up and down the shore. We even saw a few land in the towering waves.

We stayed at the beach for 45 minutes or so, then drove up to Saugatuck. A charming town even in winter, we did a little shopping and had a wonderful lunch at the Pumpernickle Cafe, where I had one of the best chicken quesadilla's I've ever had, made with a tomato/basil tortilla. Yum!

If you are ever in this part of Michigan I highly recommend a visit to Saugatuck/Douglas. Lots of art, great food, and a state park just north of town with wonderful hiking trails through the coastal dunes of Lake Michigan.


  1. There's something magical about snowy, small-town streets. I think of warm cafes and people sitting around tables with mugs of coffee. Your post was like a snippet of what I've imagined. Thank you!

    Now, those beach scenes, WOW...the crashing waves looked like gysers. Good job, Marie, in capturing the power.

  2. Yes, Kittie, I was all over that small-town-in-winter thing! And the lake was amazing--I've never seen anything like it in person.

  3. Marie: Such action photos. I know the feeling: so engrossed in nature and taking pictures that you hardly feel your fingers going numb. Love that loss of self. Jack of Sage to Meadow.