Aug 12, 2011

How I spent my Summer Vacation, Or, Oceans are Silly

Midwesterners enjoy the ocean just as much as everybody else does. We just choose to be more sensible about it than other people.  When we Midwesterners go to the ocean, we don’t get in an aeroplane and fly to west to California. We don’t pack our station wagon and head east to Maine. When Midwesterners go to the ocean, Midwesterners go north.

You may argue that the Great Lakes are not technically an ocean, and you are right. Technically. However, I am here to tell you that the Great Lakes are far superior (heh) to any ocean you have to compare them to.

1) Fresh Water

Water should quench your thirst. Water should not make you more thirsty. I think that’s in the Bible. “Salt water” is an oxymoron. If it isn’t, it should be.

Remember that time when you were eight, and you went to Myrtle Beach and you only brought one water bottle to share with your sisters, and you swam in the ocean and the salt water parched your little throat, and you drank the whole bottle of water, and told your mom that you were thirsty and wanted to go back to your hotel room but she said no, because you had just gotten to the beach and the hotel room was far away, and then she said that there’s no way that you could be thirsty because you were swimming in water?

I don’t remember that either. Must have been a weird dream. But anyway, salt water is completely counterintuitive and a sign of a fallen world.

2. Size

I love the idea of a great expanse of water, but eventually you have to apply the law of diminishing returns. I can stand on the shore of Lake Michigan and look out as far as I can see, and still feel the bigness of the world, but I can drive to the other side in a couple of hours. Conceivably, I could watch the sun come up on Oak Street Beach in Chicago, grab breakfast at La Sera, noodle around in Old Town for a few hours, and still make it to St. Joseph in time to buy some antiques and eat chicken salad* before watching the sun set over Silver Beach.

Oceans are inefficient.

3. Creatures

Now, I enjoy a cephalopod  as much as the next girl, but I like them in their proper place. On YouTube. I prefer my beach visits to be terrifying-creature free. Sure, oceans have dolphins and narwhals and other cuddly creatures. But they also have these. You know what the most pressing fish issue is in the Great Lakes? The Asian carp invasion. Yup, that droopy little face is the stuff of nightmares.

Did you know that innocent beach walkers have been known to step on jellyfish while waking on a coastal beach? You don’t even have to be in the water for the ocean to get you.

This is why you should visit the Great Lakes and leave the ocean to people with an unreasonable expectation of bigness and high saline tolerance.

All joking aside, oceans are nice to visit. I’ve seen two of them. I’m glad I did. But really, if I have to choose, I’m perfectly happy to spend a day on one of our pretty Midwestern beaches, that are near fresh water, of a reasonable size, and terrifying creature free.

That’s how I spent the first half of this week. It was wonderful, and restful, and I spent the whole time with my mom and sisters. I enjoy them more than just about anyone else in the world.  I’m feeling much more myself than I was a week ago.

St. Joseph Point Lighthouse

St. Joseph Point Lighthouse



Melissa and the Kite

Melissa and the Kite



Sunset on Silver Beach

Sunset on Silver Beach



*My free time is mostly spent eating soft foods and looking for antiques. I’m going to make an excellent old person.





  • While I cannot agree with your overall premise, I grant that your lake looks very nice, indeed.

    p.s. Has anyone told you that you aren’t supposed to drink the ocean? Ok, then.

  • My biggest objection to the ocean is the post-swim crustiness. My mom, sister and I once camped for 4 days on the beach in south Texas (which is arguably the worst ocean in the whole world), and the crustiness was ever present. It made for an adventure, at least.

    I love your loyalty, Jesse Dear. I hope you can come visit and enjoy our little Michigan lake.

  • Looks like a beautiful lakeside vacation! I just got back from visiting an ocean (or the Caribbean Sea, but what’s the difference, really) & it was nice, but I don’t really swim in oceans (too many potentially scary creatures like you said). Plus the water was super salty. But I will say that I’m a fan of the white sandy beaches that certain oceans in other countries seem to have. Those brown grainy sands here just aren’t the same.

  • You have TOTALLY sold me on the beauty of the lakes! Silver Beach even has BIG waves…I never knew! Something else for the bucket list. Another great blog offering, Jess!!

  • Although I am west coast born and raised I am also crippling phobic of sharks and, if I’m being honest, all ocean life. I couldn’t agree more.

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