Waves of peace and pleasure
living, from Reeds Lake in East Grand Rapids
to the shores of Lake Michigan, creates its
wondrous way of life.
By Angela Klinske
Sometimes when Eric
and Kathy Wynsma get their three kids ready for
bed, they’re not really going to bed. In
lieu of a bedtime story, donning pajamas is a
prelude to boarding their Boston Whaler, chugging
across Reeds Lake to Rose’s Restaurant
for some takeout bistro fare, and voyaging around
the lake for a sunset cruise.
Meanwhile, on the shores of Lake Michigan, Marcia
VanderWoude is lulled to sleep by the sound of
waves lapping the shoreline.
All upon a mid-summer’s
night of lakeside living.
As the last evidence
of winter succumbs to spring skies and warmer
breezes, lakeside dwellers everywhere are gearing
up for an all-too-short yet gratifying season
of boating, swimming, fishing, beachcombing — all
the attractions that propel lake lovers to this
luxurious way of life.
Having spent their childhood summers on lakes,
the Wynsmas wanted their kids to build memories
on the water. So the couple spent many summer
weekends lugging the kids from Grand Rapids to
the home of one grandparent or another, on Lake
Michigan and Silver Lake in Rockford. The commute
from city to lake became a bigger burden as the
young family grew. Their solution? About two
years ago, the couple purchased property and
built a year-round home on Reeds Lake in East
Now, while other
folks fight Friday rush-hour traffic and tote
coolers and suitcases to their
weekend getaways, this family has made lakeside
leisure a daily way of life, relaxing on the
beach, sailing and waterskiing. And with Eric’s
downtown office only five minutes away, the chasm
between work and play diminishes to one beautiful
About 30 miles due west, the street names say
it all: Whispering Sands. Hidden Treasure. Rolling
Dunes. Atop the largest freshwater sand dunes
in the world, Marcia VanderWoude, author and
president of MLV Consulting LLC, has found paradise.
Lake Michigan provides respite from the corporate
world. “Chez la bonne
santé” — French for “at
the home of good health” — is scripted
above the door of her beach house, from which
VanderWoude enjoys a 30-mile panoramic view of
“I walked on the deck, looked at the view and knew immediately that I wanted
it,” she said of the home she purchased 15 years ago.
And yet Michigan
winters are a little too brisk for VanderWoude,
off to La Costa, Calif., for consulting work until warm weather returns sometime
in May. Meanwhile, her husband, Ken Weidenaar, stays here, where he works as
a reverse mortgage specialist at Wells Fargo & Co.
During a phone interview in mid-January, VanderWoude inquired longingly about
the lake she calls home.
Are there waves today?” she asked plaintively. For VanderWoude, there’s
nothing like the sound of waves resonating through open windows. But winter
can be brutal on Lake Michigan summer homes.
Big winds blow across the lake, sometimes 70 or 80 miles per hour,” VanderWoude
said. “The house feels like it might blow over; the windows actually
move. Sometimes the waves reach 18 feet.”
arrives back at the beach house this spring,
and paint her deck furniture, getting it ready for another season.
Her big plans this summer? Paddling her purple
kayak along Lake Michigan’s coast (longer
than California’s), hosting a “girlfriends” retreat,
and sharing grilled salmon with friends and family. She’ll
take advantage of the lazy summer days by reading, knitting and writing.
offerings also await Richard Bereza, an orthopedic
surgeon at Spectrum Health who lives just up the road from VanderWoude.
As the sun radiates
down on the Lake Michigan shoreline, Bereza will prune his lush garden
of hydrangeas, hostas, ferns (30 varieties), hemlock trees and exotic
There is nothing that quite compares to Lake Michigan in the summer,” said
Bereza, who described the lake as a world-class treasure. “My
favorite thing to do is get up, bike to Grand Haven (he and wife,
Judy, keep six
bikes on hand for guests to make the trek with them), get coffee,
power walk to
the pier, and go to breakfast.”
At home they relax in their beach cabana, entertain friends and enjoy nighttime
views of the popular Grand Haven pier. Their three grown children travel from
New York and Florida to visit their childhood summer home, and to golf with Dad
at nearby Wuskowhan Players Club, recently named one of the top five golf courses
After a long day of swimming through the health care system, performing surgery
and managing a practice, Bereza makes the 27-mile commute back to the Big Lake
for a refreshing summertime swim, grilling a summer supper and tending his garden.
I never get tired of it,” he said. “It’s
like a mini vacation.”
That’s just what Eric Wynsma said about Reeds Lake: “It’s
like living at a resort full-time.”
Wynsma, who owns
Terra Firma Development, caught the sailing bug
from his dad. He races his Laser sailboat on
Lake as captain
Yacht Club, competing annually in the Chicago to Mackinaw
Race on his friend’s
40-foot Farr 395.
The kids love to yell, ‘Go, Dad, go!’ as he races past the house,” wife
Kathy said about the 90-plus races he competes in throughout the summer. Last
summer, Eric gave sailing instructions to children Ella, 8, and Murphy, 5, in
the family’s swimming pool before letting them
venture out in their own Opti as junior members of
the yacht club.
join them in a couple of years.
Sailing is big on Reeds Lake. The Grand Rapids Yacht Club, housed on the 283-acre
lake, offers sailing classes from beginner to advanced, youth through adult.
Competitive fleets race in local and regional regattas.
The lake is the center of year-round activity,” said East Grand Rapids
Mayor Cindy Bartman. “In the winter it’s
ice fishing, ice boating and even a golf tournament
The summer is boaters and
water sports of all kinds. Often, one can watch
our high school crew team practicing
Rose’s is a frequent Reeds Lake gathering place. Originally a bathing beach
destination, then a local popcorn shop, Rose’s
is now a favorite spot for dining or takeout (that
your boat and
enjoy the scenery).
Wildlife abounds around the lake, which makes it a favorite spot for bird watchers
and nature enthusiasts all year round,” Bartman
As winter memories melt away with the snow, and summer promises its faithful
return, Ella Wynsma suits up for her second summer of wakeboarding (think snowboarding
on the water) and waterskiing, while Murphy hunts for Eastern painted and box
turtles. Eric gets ready for a new sailboat racing season. The Wynsmas have seen
owls, loons, foxes, turtles, and most recently, a bald eagle.
If all else fails and the kids are bored,” said Wynsma, “just stick
the kids in the boat … and go explore!” GR