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Sunday, August 15, 2010

101 Places to See Before You're 12 - A Big Dune

A Big Dune

We spent one day on our trip doing a LOT of driving on the coast of Michigan in order to get to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.  If you'll check out this map you'll see the yellow line where we drove one morning and the arrow indicating Sleeping Bear Dunes.

The drive was long - we went through countless cute little towns that I would love to return to visit someday. Along the way we stopped several times to enjoy the views.

The boys decided to see where this trail led them.

Thomas scaring me by jumping from rock to rock to rock to rock...

We made it to Empire and then took the Sleeping Bear Dunes scenic drive.

The Native American legend is that there was a fire on the Wisconsin side of Lake Michigan.  A mother bear and her two cubs went into the lake and tried to swim across to the other shore (Michigan).  They didn't realize how big Lake Michigan is.  The mother made it across, but the two cubs drowned just shy of the shore.  There are two islands at Sleeping Bear called North and South Manitou Island in honor of those cubs.  The mother laid on the shore watching and waiting for her cubs and a large dune formed in that spot.

Below you can see North and South Manitou Islands.

We saw a lot of dunes along the drive.

Beautiful landscape all along the way.

Pretty dunes.  But nothing prepared us for...

...this observation point along the scenic trail!

It is really hard to show in photos how steep this dune really was.  Or how beautiful it is dropping straight into Lake Michigan.

This photo here shows about 1/3 of the way down.

The guy in the tan shorts, white shirt and white hat is standing about half-way down.  That's as far as I let the boys go.  Many families weren't letting their kids go that far.  From that point, it's a pretty steep slope straight down.

Here I am from another observation point showing the portion that you can't see from the top of the dune.  People returning have to walk using their hands to get back up.

But I'm sure when you're down there it's gorgeous!  I would love, love to return with David (and the proper shoes) and do this hike down and back up.  It was killing the boys not to get to do it.

After Sleeping Bear we went to a small town off the dunes and played on their beach.

It was a peaceful weekday afternoon and we all needed a little time out of the car (me especially!)

Thomas built a dam.

And Brennan built the Great Wall of China.

From the Book:
#49 - A Big Dune
A barrier island, a mountain of sand, a shifting desert:  sand dunes take different shapes in different places.  In coastal areas, they're fragile:  each year the sea claims a little bit more of them.  You can look, but you can't walk on them.  Even a little human activity can harm them.  In desert areas, they can stand up to anything.  You can hike up, roll down, or even "sandboard" across them.  And even though the wind constantly reshapes them, they remain more or less in the same places for years.  Lovely to look at or fun to play on, sand dunes are definitely worth a visit.

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