I suppose that one of my two favorite places on earth is Shoepac Lake, Michigan. We have so many fond memories of that place. Kathy and I stumbled upon it in 1970 while looking for a rustic place to camp.

That place is full of memories. We've camped there every year since we found it. Brian was there camping before he was a year old and Autumn at 4 months.

It is really nothing very special, just the memories that it holds. Kathy's side of the family, several of who are gone now, used to meet us there for a fabulous time. Swimming, boating, fishing, berry picking, and just sitting around a roaring campfire at night telling stories.

Many comical things happened up there, too. (although most of them weren't very funny at the time) One year we even got Mama to join us there for a week. I will always believe that she had a wonderful time.

Just getting out there after she had been unable to leave Daddy's side for three years really did her a lot of good.

I even got Mama in the boat once with me. The lake gets very deep very quickly. We were about 40 feet from shore and she kept asking how deep the water was. When I told he that it was about 60 feet deep there, she pulled on the sides of my little aluminum boat so hard I thought she was gonna turn it into a canoe. I tried to tell her that since she couldn't swim a stroke anyhow, she was just as safe in 60 feet of water as she would be in 10, but she wasn't buying any of that. I drove her all around the lake and when she would ask and I would tell her the water was deeper than 10 feet, she would have me steer a little closer to the shore. It was one of the most memorable times of my life.

We didn't use all the modern conveniences when we camped. I had a small utility trailer with a rack and a canvas on it that we transported everything in. On the trip Mama made with us, it was raining like monsoon season in the East when we were packing to get ready to leave the campground for home. We got the trailer all loaded and we were looking like a bunch of drowned rats when everyone piled into the car where it was dry. It was just then I noticed that we had a flat tire on the trailer and no lug wrench. I didn't dare try to make the 6 mile gravel-road trip to the nearest service station with all that weight on a flat tire. We unloaded the trailer, drove in to inflate the tire, and then back to the camp to reload again. By then the mud was about ankle deep. I don't think anybody quit laughing for days after that.

Shoepac is a small lake. It covers only about 10 acres. It was an old natural sink hole that northern Michigan is famous for. Something caused this one to flood many years ago. It is about 210 feet deep, ice cold, limited beach, sharp dropoff, rustic campsites with no electricity, hand pumps, and outhouses. GREAT place.

One of Mama's favorite times was when she would catch another family member going into the outhouse. Keep in mind that the outhouses had corrugated metal roofs. Mama would sneak down the hill and throw a hand full of gravel on top of the building. From inside, it sounded like a freight train collision. It really made her day when she could "scare somebody right out of their britches."

I really love that place. I suppose that it isn't the area so much as the memories. We made some great ones there, though. Kathy's parents, Tom and Margaret, her Uncle Rainy, Aunt Dorothy and Uncle Ray, all of whom are gone now, would always drive out from their home in Cheboygan 30 miles away and spend a few days with us.

I'm not much for the plastic, imitation type of place. I know that there are some really beautiful man-made places on earth, but nowhere can match the beauty of Shoepac Lake. It is really one of God's finest creations.

Reese McCoy©
February 1, 2001
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