History, Rising Flood Waters, and Michigan Coastal Lands

Yesterday, we took visiting Arizona family to the west coast (of Michigan) to do the Saugatuck Dune Rides and walk the cute town of Saugatuck, 90-minutes from our home. On Sunday morning, the forecast for Monday was for 90% chance of thunderstorms with 1″ of rain possible per hour during times. But weather is weather, so we waited until Monday morning to hope our one day to experience the coast would be viable. Even with reduced percentage For rain, and dark grey clouds, we left for our adventure.

We first went for the Dune Rides, one of five left in the entire country (with a second one also in Michigan). Our driver Nate, and his prattle, jokes, and historic information was perfect. Even I, who have done the rides several times as well as researched the area for my book, The Town That Disappeared, learned new things.

We had lunch nearby in a 6-month-new restaurant called The Guardian. The food was great; the waitress was amazing; and the history of the place (again with the history) was interesting, from horse barn to theatre to restaurant. Plus…famous guitars!

On to the town of Saugatuck. Being late June, we hoped to find a parking spot. It’s always so very crowded. First came the Water On The Road sign, Then a side street with several parking spots. We grabbed one of the first. This wasn’t our first time to Saugatuck. A bird in hand, and all.

Two shocks: 1) there were plenty of other parking spots and the streets weren’t at all normal-June crowded; and 2) the high water of the Kalamazoo River.

Condos across the river had been evacuated with the lower floors flooded. Parking lots were water. The Chain Ferry could not run because of high water and strong(er) current. Sad, but survivable.

The many cafes with outdoor seating and cute, artsy downtown stores were the same delight as always, with those blocks even somewhat crowded. This lifted my heart for the beautiful tourist town with rising flood waters.

I’d been to Saugatuck many times, but had never seen the river so high. Although it rained steadily all the way home, I was thankful the thunderstorm forecast with 1″ per hour was wrong for the day. But the Kalamazoo River is long – and runs through Battle Creek where we live. Rain anywhere along the river would make it rise.

Flood warnings remain in effect, but the stores, restaurants, and nearly all attractions in the Saugatuck area remain open. Go visit and support them. I thank you.

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