Grateful Heart Monday

Welcome to this week’s Grateful Heart Monday entry, where gratitude remains my only focus at the start of each week’s writing, which for today is for my recent trip to Saugatuck, Michigan for four nights and three days, where I actually experienced a few things I haven’t in a very long time.

First off, I want to say I’m grateful for even taking a small vacation, given I haven’t had one in almost a year due to the pandemic, which had made travel very undesirable. But, beyond that, Saugatuck, which is often said to be the Provincetown of the Midwest, was a place I had on my Midwest bucket list of places to see since moving to this part of the country, so I was grateful to finally get to visit it. Nestled midway up the shores of Lake Michigan, Saugatuck is an artsy-type of community where many LGBTQ come for beach getaways. My partner Chris and I were really wanting one of those, hence the desire why we chose this small town to visit during our birthday week in June.

The first thing I was truly grateful for during this trip was the weather. It is true what they say around here in this Great Lakes region that the weather changes every five minutes. Prior to leaving for our trip, the weather forecast for Saugatuck went from sunny and mid low to mid 70’s, to cloudy and mid to high 80’s, to muggy rain-soaked thunderstorm-filled days. Ironically, it was all far better than what was predicted, as the weather ending up being sunnier than not, raining for only brief periods, and where I got to experience an occasional dense misty fog rolling off the sea, which I found very serene, especially when the sea always looked so calm afterwards.

Beyond the weather, one thing I also had immense gratitude for from this trip was how many lighthouses I got to see. I really have an affinity towards them ever since my last relationship and try to see them anytime I’m passing through any coastal area where one is there. On the way to Saugatuck, we started with Michigan City light and worked our way up the coastline seeing five different ones till we got to Saugatuck. The second day there, we headed north up to Mears, Michigan to Little Sable Light and worked our way down the coastline doing the same till we got back to Saugatuck, catching another five. I’m not exactly sure why I appreciate these structures as much as I do, but maybe it’s because they’ve withstood the test of time, enduring so many major storms, the seas constantly bashing against them, something I often feel is quite representative of my life. I felt that the most at Grand Haven Light, as rain pelted the long cement pier Chris and I walked out on to see the duel lights. But, maybe the one I appreciated the most was Holland Light, as just when I got there, an afternoon of rain finally parted, a fog was drifting away, and the sun was setting. It was incredibly beautiful and peaceful, something I felt quite a bit with Lake Michigan during this trip, especially when I tackled an athletic activity I hadn’t in well over a decade due to my health issues.

I used to do quite a bit of athletic activities prior to 2010, one of which was kayaking. When I saw the resort offered free use of them on Lake Michigan, I debated whether I could do it. Always one to rise to the challenge of battling my ego, I hopped in a kayak early one afternoon and pushed myself offshore, heading south along the coastline alone. I was so thankful I did because the perspective of Lake Michigan when out on its waters is far different than gazing out upon it. I was amazed at how much mother nature had eroded away the cliffside and destroyed its natural beaches. How many man-made stairways I saw that were swinging in the wind, having been destroyed in the past year were countless. As I paddled for a good mile or so, I really did experience a serenity I hadn’t in a long while, so much so, that I went back out the next day and traversed up the coastline instead. All in all, while I did have some soreness from the task after two days and several miles of doing it, I was extremely grateful I had pushed through my ego, as I enjoyed it immensely.

Something else I also pushed through on this trip that I hadn’t done since 2010 was ride a bike again. The resort also offered use of a number of three-speed bikes. Chris and I opted to bike one afternoon together for about an hour, going through the local neighborhood and seeing some pretty fantastic-looking beach houses and yards adorning the cliffside. At one point, when Chris decided to take a break, I pedaled on for a few more miles on my own, which for someone that has been more inactive physically over the past decade was a pretty significant achievement.

Lastly, I want to thank the resort itself where we stayed, as it really has just about every amenity one would want on a vacation getaway. The Lakeshore Resort, built originally in 1952 and been family-owned ever since, has been totally transformed over the years to an exceptional level. Besides the kayaks and bikes offered there, they have a gorgeous in-ground pool, multiple Adirondack-chair seating areas around the property, walking trails in the woods they own behind them, two firepits, seating on multiple levels on the cliffside, one of which is directly at the lake’s edge, free yoga instruction, and plenty of gardens and grounds that were perfectly manicured and well-maintained. Everyone on the property has a great view of the lake and the sunsets I got to see every day there were stunning. Oh, and for the coffee snob in me, they also use a local place called Uncommon Coffee Roasters that was pretty dam good! When I can spend two entire days doing nothing but lounging around the resort I’m staying at it’s definitely a place I’m enjoying staying at.

Nevertheless, I’m really grateful for all these many positive memories Chris and I created on this trip, including also the cards we played together poolside and at sunset, the places we dined at downtown and up in Holland, and last but not least, the mother deer and her just-born fawn we saw nursing underneath her on our last day there. So much gratitude from our short getaway and one I’ll most certainly never forget.

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson