THE BLOG
10/02/2013 07:30 am ET | Updated Jan 23, 2014

Love Letters: Michigan Lakes

Lisa Palmer was born and raised in the mitten state (where she happily resides) and has been recognized as a Detroit Style Maker by Style Detroit Magazine. Palmer is now a partner in Lillybee University, a lifestyle collegiate brand that aims to outfit stylish female sports fans.

Dearest Lakes of Pure Michigan,

Your sparkling blue water and sandy beaches attract Michiganders each year, but peak the curiosity of all those who hear of your beauty. Once seen, experienced, visited, it doesn't take long for you to captivate native and tourist alike. You wrap your serene arms around us and by the end of summer leave us wanting more.

I first traveled to Northern Michigan after high school, to pitch rustic teepee tents and camp alongside the sandy beaches of its eponymous lake. I was reminded on that first trip of the Friday afternoons in lower Michigan when my schoolmates started to whisper about traveling North with their families to visit lakeside cottage's, returning on Monday with fun tales of adventure. Hearing the post-weekend stories as a small town, wide-eyed Midwestern teen, I'd drift away and create my own perfect cottage in my notebook doodles and young dreamer's mind. I fell in love with the romantic notion of visualizing my future little family inside a charming white cottage nestled along your pure waterside.

Years later, I'd have the opportunity to return again and truly begin my own Northern Michigan story enveloped in the relationship of my greatest love, fulfilling those dreams from days long gone by. In our five year courtship, my husband and I fell in love absorbing all the lakes had to offer, eventually purchasing a family getaway on scenic, crystal blue Torch Lake. And when love blossomed into engagement it took us almost all of five minutes to decide that we'd take our vows and celebrate them on the native soil of our ardor.

It was a warm day in June; 150 of our closest friends and family enjoyed a weekend of the oft- described million dollar sunsets while strolling the sandy white beach of the Lake Michigan shoreline on the grounds of the charming Inn at Bay Harbor. They sipped champagne from vintage tumblers and relished warm, sweet crème brulee.

Northern Michigan has become our home away from home, our secret escape from busy lives and entrepreneurial chaos; it didn't just spark the creative juices of Hemingway. I wrote my first real business plan on the beach of the Grand Traverse Bay.

Weekend getaways also offer silent moments in a very hectic life to reconnect with my creativity and seek inspiration. Now those weekends stretch throughout each summer as me, my husband and five-year-old son, Quinn, soak in the small towns with city charm. We spend the last ten days of every August immersed in the remainder of a Michigan summer, under the magnificent warm rays on the beach or poolside (McClure's bloody marys in hand). We take day trips to our favorite spots and work on discovering the new, which after all these years we still manage to find. We welcome mornings with fresh blueberry pancakes in the village at The Original Pancake House and spend lunchtime in great eateries we find along the way or stop by some of our number 1s. American Spoon Foods Cafe located in downtown Petoskey's historic gaslight district is always on the list - who can resist 24 flavors of house made gelato? And then there are day trips to Pond Hill farm where squash rockets launch freely and Michigan homegrown goodness is ready to head home to your dinner table. We catch the ferry to Mackinaw Island to visit the magnificent Grand Hotel where hundreds of guests sip high tea and sit on the white wooden porches overlooking the great lawn. When my husband and I escape for alone time, we work on our beer club scroll of 69 beers at Knot Just a Bar right below the gorgeous nautical penthouse we danced the night away in at our rehearsal dinner. It's taken us 8 years to complete the beer scroll and finally ink our own name on the wooden walls in the fun, faux-nautical saloon. At the end of each day, we cozy up in our cashmere at dusk and roast s'mores around a lakeside campfire, watching the sun create a neon orange skyline.

Even though my husband knows our secret "someday" plans are to live in the East, if I have it my way Northern Michigan will have our summers. We'll spend them on the shore on one of the pristine lakes, take in the crisp summer air and watch the season change on an old porch with some rocking chairs. They'll have a fresh coat of white paint and an old Pendleton blanket thrown over their backs. I can just see us sitting there - rocking, enjoying a glass of your finest vineyard wine.

As September nears, I will refuse to let you go, but know when I am with you or away, you will always have my heart. Michigan, you're beautiful, your warm summer air and crisp fall nights will continue to embrace those that find comfort in you.

Fondly, Lisa

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