By Jacqueline Widmar Stewart
Post-Tribune, Monday, May 26, 2003, Lifestyle Section, p. 1
Jacqueline Widmar Stewart is an all-season fan of Lake Michigan. Having grown up in Beverly Shores, she remembers walking on the snow-covered sand with her mother and sister, and appreciating the barrenness of the frozen lake in the middle of winter.
Widmar Stewart eventually moved to California, but has since returned to Lake Michigan so her children could share the same experiences that were such an integral part of her formative years.
"It's not just a beach," Widmar Stewart said. "You have miles of water meeting rolling land. It's a stage for amazing activities to take place."
And just in case those residing in the same counties as Lake Michigan have become jaded to its offerings, Widmar Stewart wrote a book to remind them - and the rest of the world - of how special it is.
"This area is a combination of amazing things... From one point in Indiana Dunes State park you can see 30 different kinds of trees... I wanted to have a guide to recognize the value of this are and the importance of protecting it," she said. Such information can be found in her book The Glaciers' Treasure Trove: A Field Guide to the Lake Michigan Riviera.
The star of her book is the 42 miles of beach between Lake Street Beach in the Miller section of Gary and Warren Dunes in Michigan. She points out market stands, places for lodging, spots to pick blueberries and a host of other recreational opportunities. But that's not all.
The lakeshore's geological history is covered in the book, and explains how glaciers dug out the rivers and deposited plant life that was foreign to our soil. The modern history is also included and answers curiosities like how a national park came to exist in the middle of heavy industry and commerce.
The history is fascinating, but on Memorial Day weekend, the start of the beach season, the best way to show your appreciation is to get out there and get your toes in the sand.
Because each beach has its own personality and attracts different crowds, the following list might help you find a beach to suit your taste this summer.