Sunday, July 24, 2011

On leaving Michigan

A week ago we left the upper peninsula of Michigan, and I really thought we'd be done with lower Michigan in two days. Well, I was wrong. We spent a full week peeking at lakes on both sides, Huron and Michigan.
I had always thought the popular western side, along Lake Michigan, was pricey and crowded and overrated. Of course, that was based on one quick drive thirty years ago on a beautiful sunny Sunday. This time, I took my time. And it was crowded, if the day was a sunny weekend, and who could blame all those people for wanting some of that sandy dune shoreline, with water that is at times warm enough to swim?
The towns are quaint and full of flowers. At least ten towns along the shore plant petunia borders along the curbs from one end of town to the other. Then they water and weed all those beds. It seemed worth it to me.

But the most amazing feature of the shoreline are the dunes.  Formed by sand blowing from prevailing southeasterly winds, the dunes shift and mound and grow, advance and retreat, trap inland lakes and then reclaim the lakes back into Lake Michigan.  In Sleeping Bear Dunes, a man named Pierce Stocking, a lumberman who loved the dunes, decided to share them with the world.  He thought if he built a road through the dunes, then we could all stand on top of 200 foot mountains of sand and share in the exhilaration of the blue waters and the wind blowing our faces.  And he did it.  Now a National Seashore, the Sleeping Bear Dunes are accessible to everyone, and Pierce Stocking Drive is the highlight. 

Thank you, Mr. Stocking.

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