So last week we did a little Midwestern tour vacation type thing. John and I were invited to a friend's wedding in Petoskey, Michigan and when I'm given an excuse to go to a part of the world I haven't been to before I usually take it and run with it. Like we did here back in 2012. So instead of flying up for the weekend, we made a 10 day vacation out of it. I'll do a vacation recap of some sort soon (or maybe just a few posts about different topics relating to it instead of a flat-out recap) but this part I need to share before I forget all of the ridiculous details.
So. Traverse City, Michigan was one of our stops. I mentioned we were headed there on my blog before and sweet Jess gave me the BEST advice on restaurants and things to do. Honestly, we only ate at restaurants she suggested and they were all so delicious. Anyways, the whole reason I picked Traverse City as a pitstop of our vacation was because of it's proximity to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore which my friend recommended (coincidentally the same friend who was getting married!).
For trips in the past, I had the benefit of time on my side. For the Europe trip in 2007, Alaska trip in 2008, etc, I had done so much research that the trip was planned (and at the same time not over-planned) months in advance. I hate hate hate getting to a place and trying to figure out what to do/eat/see while you are there. It's always a huge waste of time as no one can make a decision and we spend precious time Googling reviews and things to do, etc. So I don't necessarily like to plan out all of the minutes of the day, I just like to have restaurant options in a list and things to do in a list so that it is easy to just pick something from the list and GO with no time wasted. I didn't get to spend the same amount of time on this trip as those. Something tells me it has something to do with this crazy thing:
Anyways, where were we? Okay. So for this Sleeping Bear Dunes place, I hadn't done a lot of research ok? I knew that in the summer the kiddos in the area liked to climb these big sand dunes and run down them into the water of Lake Michigan. I'd seen this picture of them doing just that. That was about all I knew but I felt like that was enough to visit the place. Personal recommendations rate REALLY high in my book.
|There's not even water in the picture. I guess I was just assuming.|
So we get there. At the park entrance is a booth to pay your park entrance fee. My dad happened to notice something on the sign about getting a free lifetime membership to national parks if you are disabled. He is disabled with a bum foot and was able to provide the paperwork to prove it so we got in free. Awesome. They gave us a magazine type brochure that we didn't bother looking at. We'll get to that later.
We park in the parking lot and sort of just follow the crowds. There is a huge sand dune behind us so we start to head that way. It is really overcast and cloudy and cool, but I'm no dummy when it comes to the sun - I know he can still bite ya even on cloudy days so I get out the sunscreen and take care of me and Charley's skin and then we set off. My dad mentions something to us like he's really not sure if he can make it up this dune and we tell him not to worry about it - if he can't do it we'll all just come back down.
We notice everyone around us is carrying their shoes and walking up barefoot so we do the same (except my dad - shoes are important to stabilize his foot so he kept his boots on.) We start up the sand dune excited for what we'd see when we got to the top.
You see that guy up in the upper right of that picture? That's my dad. He obviously had no problem getting up the dune and he did it way quicker than any of us.
Once at the top it was confusing. There was yet another dune. Fine, we were all still good, no problem. We climbed that one too anxious for the view from the top of that one.
From the top, yet again, just another sand dune. It didn't really feel like we were going up, down, up, down, so at some point I make the comment that coming back should be easy because it would all be downhill. It seemed like all we were doing was climbing.
Okay, so at this point we are getting a little confused. It honestly truly felt like the beach would be just over the next dune and then it wasn't. But then we'd think we were so close that we weren't turning around then...surely we were almost there! I'm sure the views are going to be worth it just when we get over this next dune.
|I for sure yelled out to him "CAN YOU SEE THE WATER YET?" as I huffed my way up behind him.|
Okay maybe the next one.
NINE dunes later (with my dad with his bum foot, John who carried Charley for a lot of it leading the way and my mom and I bringing up the rear with a lot of huffing and puffing) we get to the beach. My mom and I are exhausted and SO THIRSTY but so thankful to have made it, but at the same time are really wondering about the hike back to the car. We spend some time at the beach which was a rocky beach where everyone seemed to sign their names on the rounded stones along the beach. The water was fah-reezing cold so no refresher there.
After taking some pictures and resting a bit, we started to head back. Luckily, I say, it's mostly downhill this time.
It wasn't. It was just as much uphill as the first time. I don't know how I wasn't realizing we were going up, down, up, down but I didn't. I was in some sort of sand induced haze I think. The walk back was just as bad. Some man took pity on us and gave us a bottle of water - I think we just looked THAT BAD. What kind of idiot hikers walk all this way with NOTHING? We do. We are those idiots.
Charley was starting to fall asleep while riding on John's shoulders on the hike back so he decided to then carry her. And jog. He JOGGED back up and down sand dunes carrying 30 pounds of limp noodle. He makes me sick - in a loving way, of course.
But we made it. Isn't that great? We didn't die. That's the positive. And sure, we are all a little proud of ourselves for making the journey.
When we got back in the car I decided to pick up that brochure to see what exactly it said about the hike we had just taken.
#7. Dunes Hiking Trail. 3.5 miles. STRENUOUS. Hilly, all sand, and no shade. [....] Plan ahead. Take water, sunscreen, hat, shoes and a snack.
Oh, and remember the part about making sure I sunscreened myself and Charley pre-hike? Well I forgot my back. This picture was from a few days later at the wedding. The wedding where I never took off my cardigan because, well, because I looked like this!
So. I think the Sleepy Bear Dune place really is a nice place to visit and see the beach, especially later in the summer where the water wouldn't be quite so cold. But maybe read the brochure first. I bet there was a spot elsewhere in the park where it didn't require 3.5 hilly, sandy, miles to get to the beach. And I bet that spot was justttttttt lovely.