I was inspired by A Cup of Jo to make this week a travel-themed series. When you go on vacation, do you prefer to be by an ocean or a lake?
Until very recently, my upbringing in the panhandle of Florida and my utter lack of experience with lakes had made me biased against lakes. I have always loved the ocean. I love hunting for sand dollars amongst the shells on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico. I love the dramatic landscape of the rocky coast of Maine against the Atlantic at Two Lights State Park. I love the jawdropping views of the Pacific Ocean driving along the winding Highway 1 in California.
In my naivete, I thought that lakes were murky. Stagnant. Muddy. Most of the lakes I had visited had been small and man-made. One of my favorite authors, Shauna Niequist, often writes about summers spent on Lake Michigan, and through her luscious descriptions my mind began to open.
Then this summer, on our honeymoon, Greg and I spent a day hiking in Olympic National Park. We cobbled together several short hikes so that we would be able to take in the beaches, rainforest, and lake in one day.
We were advised at the Visitor Center that our easy hike through the temperate rainforest would end with a mile or so walking along the shore of Lake Quinault. I will never forget our first glimpses of the lake peeking through the trees. Gradually, our views grew bigger, the way watercolors seep across paper.
I was entranced. And my mind was changed! Lake Quinault was not murky, it was crystalline. It was not stagnant, but placid. Thinking about it more, it makes a lot of sense. I love the ocean for its sweeping views and closeness to nature, not for boardwalks or high-rise condos. A beautiful lake can offer the same introspection. And I've never been one for surfing (or swimming out far, for that matter) or lying on a beach towel for days. Many lakes are surrounded by good hiking and towns to explore, which are both things Greg and I are interested in when we plan vacations.
Now, at my desk in the middle of February, I'm dreaming of a lake vacation.
My best friend Julie's family vacations near this lake in Lugano, Switzerland. Doesn't it look like a dream?
What about you? Are you a lake person or an ocean person? (Or both?)
Photo of Lake Quinault taken by Greg.