In order to escape the July 4th fireworks barrage, The Queen and I decided get out of town. As it turns out, Northeastern Indiana is the land of 101 lakes. Who knew? I did not. So, I looked at a map. Sure enough, there are little lakes everywhere between South Bend and the Ohio state line to the east, the Michigan state line to the north and Fort Wayne to the south. So, you say lake, we say go. And go we did.
If you do not believe me, check it out – http://www.lakes101.org/. These are not just ponds of water, they are full on, pretty blue, busy with boats, big ole houses lining the shore, and cute fellows carrying fishing poles lakes.
Stop number one on the July 4th Lake Jaunt was to The Village at Winona on Winona Lake. The village is adorable and filled with shops featuring local art (more on that in the near future), jewelry and the like. The village sits on a canal separating two sections of the lake. There is a bakery, coffee shop, an outdoor outfitters store and two nice restaurants. You could tell that at the time of our visit the locals were enjoying a nice quiet evening before the chaos of the holiday began. It is a super quaint little place right outside Warsaw, Indiana. In fact, it reminds me of Smith Mountain Lake, although Smith Mountain is much bigger, near Roanoke, Virginia. It has some cutesy little villages on the water as well. Both places are worth a visit and get my votes for pretty.
Stop number two was Pokagon State Park. Turns out it is pronounced Po-Kay-gon not Po-kah-gon. A great big thanks to Sister Mary at church for straightening me out. Sometimes my Appalachian tongue is not a good translator. In fact, at times I wonder if I am all that good at speaking my own language. But people continue to tell me it is charming, so again, I am keeping it.
Pokagon is a on Lake James and Snow Lake. It gets its name from two leaders of the Potawatomi Indian tribe, Simon and Leopold Pokagon. The Potawatomi tribe owned and transferred about one million acres of land, including what is now Chicago, to the federal government by treaty for the bargain price of three cents per acre. The least we could do is name a park for them. I am very good about reading maps and brochures. Anyway, it is a cool park. It has a very busy beach on Lake James, which is a popular, loud, fun lake. There are lots of lovely lake homes covering the shores so there is a high level of activity here. It lives on the web at http://www.in.gov/dnr/parklake/2973.htm. In fact, it is so busy that there was a mass of about 25 boats tied together and floating during the midday together in the middle of the lake. Can you say floating trailer park.
Pokagon also has a Toboggan Run. Honestly, I had no idea what this was until I read about it. Where I am from a toboggan is a hat. And here, the hat that I call a toboggan is a sock hat. Tomay)to, toma(h)to, sock hat, toboggan, let’s call the whole thing off. It looks fun, but I cannot really tell how it works? I am going to have to make a return visit in winter to check it out. I do know by reading the warning signs that you could lose your sock hat while riding it.
Our final stop on the July 4th Lake Jaunt was the Chain O’ Lakes State Park. Fortunately, this one I can pronounce properly. This park defines peaceful and green. The park is made up of lakes linked together by channels. The super cool thing about the 101 lakes in Northeast Indiana is that they were formed by glaciers. The glaciers melted about 15 thousand years ago and left behind these lakes and flatlands. Interesting, for sure and . . . you guessed, pretty. Chain O’ Lakes is very lush and filled with walking trails (although not well marked) and picnic areas. You can boat, fish, and enjoy the beach. Although, the beach at Chain O’ Lakes Sand Lake is considerably smaller than at Lake James, but it is also less crowded. There are no private homes on the lakes in Chain O’ Lakes park so it is very quiet, green and lovely. The Queen thoroughly enjoyed herself. The squirrels, not so much. Check out Chain O’ Lakes at http://www.in.gov/dnr/parklake/2987.htm.
Yes, yes, my southern friends, there are lakes in the mountain South. Many of them, in fact. Not quite 101 but plenty. In Southwest Virginia and East Tennessee there are lovely lakes. Most are TVA lakes, so they don’t have the super cool glacier history but they do produce electricity, which is awesome. It takes all kinds. The obvious difference is that in the mountain South, the hills appear to shoot right up out of the water, which is pretty. A great example of this is South Holston Lake in Abingdon, Virginia or any of the TVA lakes in the foothills of the Great Smokey Mountains near Knoxville, Tennessee. Otherwise, it seems that most lakes are created alike. Thankfully, they are all over the place for all the kids to enjoy.