We finally got away to one of our favorite places: Saugatuck, Michigan.
Saugatuck is a small lake town, set on a widening of the Kalamazoo River just before it empties into Lake Michigan. It’s a trove of shops, restaurants and bars along with a vibrant arts community represented by local artists and artisans, along with a community theater. And did I mention the boats? Lots and lots of boats!
There are no brand-name hotels in town; for those, one must travel back to the interstate highway (I-196) or to Holland, the next town to the north (which is what we did). But there are plenty of quaint little motels/hotels/inns and bed-and-breakfasts throughout the town if that’s what you’d rather do. (They’re pretty much fully booked through the summer.) Also, plenty of cottages, homes, condos and townhouses are available for vacation rentals.
Saugatuck has a rich history, going back to when the timber industry was a major industry in Michigan. There was a small lumber town built closer to Lake Michigan called Singapore, Michigan, which had the local sawmill. When Chicago, Illinois burned to the ground in the Great Fire, most of the lumber to rebuild came from across the lake in Michigan, and companies clear-cut the woods, leaving only the cottonwoods, which weren’t a desirable type of wood.
Then the winds off the lake brought the sands inland, creating large sand dunes up and down the coast of western Michigan. With no wooded areas to stop it, the sands piled up, eventually burying the town of Singapore. I’m told that the last time any of the town was visible was the summer of 1975, when the top of the church steeple was still visible. Apparently only three buildings were left by then, the rest having been “slid” up the frozen Kalamazoo River and set into place in… you guessed it… Saugatuck.
I have lots to say about the trip, but not so much for this blog. What I wanted to say was that while visiting a store, I found a series of 7 books written by local author G. Corwin Stoppel. They’re mysteries, all featuring the town of Saugatuck prominently in their stories. I started to read the first book the night I bought it, and I liked it enough to buy the rest on my last visit to town and to that particular store (which was, oddly enough, not a bookstore). I liked the characters and setting immediately, and I was happy to support a local author. They appear to be self-published, and I have found several typos and awkward turns of the phrase in the first book (so they could use some better editing), but I’ll overlook that sort of thing if I’m given a good story, which so far, THE GREAT SAUGATUCK MURDER MYSTERY has done.
It’s a great area to live in, and even a nicer area to retire to, if you can afford it. I’d love to be able to afford it, but if I can’t as a dentist, it’s highly doubtful I’ll ever be able to as a writer in retirement. Still, it’s nice to dream…and I did get a good story idea out of this visit.