One thing I appreciate the most about Michigan is the fact that it really is the Great Lakes State. It touches on four of the five Great Lakes, though I have to say that my favorites are Superior and Michigan.
When it comes to its beaches, Michigan treats adults like adults. The various parks may offer lifeguards at various times, but the rule (as far as I have always known) is “if there’s no lifeguard on duty, you’re on your own.”
Not every state takes such an enlightened attitude. One summer I decided to take a swim in each of the Great Lakes. For my trip to Lake Erie, I went to Presque Isle State Park, in Pennsylvania. It was a fine setting, with several sections of beach. But shortly after I arrived, I saw a park employee zipping around on an ATV. His mission: yell at anyone who was swimming at a beach that lacked a lifeguard. (It was after Labor Day, when the park staffing was greatly reduced.) I was willing to swim without a lifeguard (as is the case 95 percent of the time when I swim in Michigan). But no, I was not allowed to do so.
The state park in New York was even more draconian. I had gone there for my swim in Lake Ontario. I found a beach, and noticed a swimming area marked out. I walked out to the edge, and it was barely over my head. I swam for a bit, but found the area far too small, so I went back to shore with the mind of walking down the beach and occasionally stepping in to wade.
And on my first attempt to wade into the water outside the designated swimming zone, the lifeguard yelled at me: “Get back inside the lines!”
I protested that I was not going to swim, but no matter. That which was not explicitly allowed was forbidden to me.
At that point, I was thankful that I had spent so many years in Michigan.