I decided to make Michigan my permanent home in an unlikely spot—while bodysurfing waves in Lake Worth, Florida. I’d hitchhiked from my hometown of Grand Rapids out to Colorado, then meandered my way back east and down along the seaboard.

I thought I’d found Nirvana in “The Sunshine State.”

I was in my 20s, lost, confused and unsure about my life’s compass; after thumbing this way and that, Florida seemed a good fit. But faced with the prospect of whether to take a job as a carpenter’s apprentice to an old salt remodeling waterfront homes, my mind wandered back to my precious land of four seasons—Michigan.

How could I leave in my rear-view mirror the northwest wind that whipped waves on Lake Michigan into a pandemonium? Or the inland lakes and rivers that abounded with fish and the promise of canoeing adventures? Where else would I find the romance of so many lighthouses, the lull of crickets and cicadas and fireflies?

So I thumbed my way back to Michigan, married a girl who abandoned a future in Maine for life with me, and we put down stakes. In a year or two, we hope to retire to the small cottage I hand-built 30 years ago near the “Big Lake” in the beautiful confines of Oceana County and continue staying put.

Tom Rademacher, Great Lakes Energy


  1. We enjoyed Tom Rademacher’s story. A voice from the past. Thanks for sharing.- Richard Mallery.a.k.a Dick E. Bird

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