I'll always have fond memories of Grand Lake St. Marys.
We made it a family tradition to drive to Celina each summer, rent a campsite, and enjoy ourselves for a weekend or two. We even spent C's first birthday there.
I mean, sure, we were rained on and caught in at least two severe thunderstorms, but we're used to it. It literally happens every time we camp at Grand Lake St. Marys---which is why we always bring a battery powered radio and camp next to the concrete-walled bathrooms. It's always an adventure. I love it.
Unfortunately, the beautiful 13,500 acre lake fell victim to a toxic algae in 2010 due to runoff from farms. The water always had a green tinge to it, but after the algae buildup, it was BRIGHT green and a blue/green slimy, foamy film covered the surface of the water. Signs were posted all around the lake warning people not to fish, swim, or even take their boats on the water. People started selling their homes. The Grand Lake St. Marys tourism industry was devastated.
For the first time in our lives, camping at Grand Lake St. Marys was not an option, and that was very saddening for all of us.
I never saw the algae first-hand, but if you want to see photographs of the algae, head on over to Lake Champlain International.
On the positive side, in January 2012, the Dayton Daily News reported that the EPA was still working to make the lake a clean, safe place.
I haven't been back since the nerve toxin was discovered, but I still find myself reminiscing about all of the wonderful memories we've made at that lake. I spent a great deal of my childhood laying on that sandy shore, splashing in the cool, shallow lake, and making friends on that playground. I spent time as a preteen taking walks around the campground with my sisters and cousins, crushing on any cute boy that passed by. And as an adult, I remember running to the lake on a very windy night with my husband, my sister, and her boyfriend. We stood there with the wind blowing through our hair, and watched those waves crash onto the sand. A time I'll never forget.
I feel like I left a piece of myself there.
Grand Lake Saint Marys is a place that I will tell my grandchildren about.