Friday, October 23, 2015

Part Three: Our Mini Michigan Vacation-Sleeping Bear Dunes

On the third day of our journey we took a drive to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.  Sleeping Bear got its name long ago from an Indian legend.  Apparently long ago in the land that is now Wisconsin, a mother bear and her two cubs were driven into Lake Michigan by a forest fire.  They had to swim, but it was a long way across the lake.  The mother bear made it and waited on top of the dune for her cubs.  The cubs didn't make it and the two islands off in the distance named Manitou Islands represent the cubs.

The drive to the Dunes was beautiful.

One portion of the Dunes involves a scenic driving tour called the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive.  Pierce Stocking was a lumberman in Michigan and conceived the idea of building a road in this terrain so others could enjoy the Dunes. 

A covered bridge starts the drive.

You could bike the drive because it is only 7.4 miles, but there are some very steep uphill and downhill grades.  I wouldn't make it on a bike, that's for sure.  We visited Traverse City during the summer of 2012.  That summer was so hot that the people of Northern Michigan were shocked.  They very rarely get temperatures in the high 90's.  As a result the sandy dunes were too hot to visit let alone walk on.  That is why we wanted to return on this trip.

The second stop of the drive is a view of Glen Lake.

A sand dune is basically a pile of sand deposited by the wind.  The prevailing winds move the sand across the plateau.  The wind was blowing so hard on that day,  it was easy to see how the dunes can change all the time.

This is the eastern edge of the dunes.

While we were there a couple was trying to take some wedding pictures.  The wind was so brutal they couldn't even stand in an upright position.  We nearly got blown off the cliff.  Thank goodness for having good enough balance to keep us from falling over the edge.  Of course, hiding behind a big sign helped us maintain our footing.

All they wanted was a wedding photo at the dunes.

We had sand in our eyes and ears and who knows where else.

We continued along the scenic drive seeing a variety of trees and vegetation.  Along the way we saw the ghost forest.  With the dry sandy conditions, it is hard to believe some of these plants and trees can survive.  They have adapted over the years.

Next we drove to another area.  At this point you could actually climb the dunes or at least try.  My husband and brother in law didn't even want to try.  My sister and I did.  It felt like walking on a stairstepper.  With every step, we slipped back a foot.  It was quite the workout.

After a nice lunch in a local establishment, we headed home.  It was a fun day.  We were even able to catch a virtual geocache.  If you want more information about the Sleeping Bear Dunes, the park service has info.  There is so much to see and learn in this area of Michigan, you could stay a couple weeks and not see it all. 

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