Pure Michigan

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Have you ever been to a small lake town? It sure is a different world coming from an urban city like Cincinnati — or just from literally anywhere else.

A friend of a friend was having a bunch of his friends over for a weekend at his lake house in the tiny town of Brooklyn, Michigan. And by “tiny,” I mean there was a McDonald’s, a pizza place and J.R.’s Hometown Grill & Pub. The population was only 1,206 in the 2010 census. Yeah, we’re talking extra small town.

The host was none other than Austin Wuerfel — better known by his nickname “Waffles” as a play on his last name. When we asked how many people would be coming on the trip, Waffles casually estimated 20-30. Marcella and I glanced skeptically at each other. That seemed like a lot of people; Waffles had to be exaggerating, right? How big could his house be? We just went with it.

When we finally neared the town of Brooklyn, which is just about an hour north of Toledo, Ohio, we spent at least 30 minutes just on back roads. Marcella, Waffles and I arrived at the house at last, parked in the driveway and unloaded our things: swimsuits, blankets and lots of booze. Waffles lugged in huge jugs of distilled water. Oh yeah, one interesting small-town feature: the water in Brooklyn is from a well, and it smells like sulfur. If you’re not familiar, sulfur has a smell similar to rotten eggs. So for the weekend, we came accustomed to washing our faces and brushing our teeth with bottled water. That was interesting.

We had the advantage of being the first ones there, so we claimed our bed and got ready to go out on the water. And no, Waffles’ house was not big, but more like a three-bedroom man cave owned by his dad to spend long, relaxing weekends without a care in the world. But Waffles definitely didn’t exaggerate when he said 20-30 people were coming. We packed in that small house like a can of sardines.

The three days we were there all kind of run together at this point; I couldn’t tell you what happened on which day. What I can tell you, however, is that the time was well spent. In the late morning, we’d throw on our swimsuits, lather in sunscreen, pack our coolers full of beer and head out on Waffles’ pontoon. We’d go over to the sandbar in the lake where it was shallow enough to stand and dock the boat to casually hang out. At night, we sat by the fire, drinking and befriending the 20 strangers who lived together for a weekend. I never got so many bug bites in my life.

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That long weekend was probably the closest my princess self will ever get to camping, but even though we didn’t quite sleep in a tent, believe me when I say it was pretty darn close. I was out of my comfort zone, but that was some of the most fun I’ve ever had. Nothing like sharing a house with 20 strangers to create a perfect setting for some pretty epic adventures.

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