Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Yesterday was the day we set aside to explore Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The kitties were ready for us to leave. It was their morning nap time. Sadie was napping in her catio.

Smitty selected the window hammock for his napping pleasure.

Oh yes, and before I forget, I took some time to iron my latest finished quilt block. This is Block #3 of Stitchin' Wisdom.

Here are the three blocks I have for this quilt so far. The blocks are all the same color...just different lighting for each image.

Okay, and so let's get going. We drove about 25 miles west to reach the visitor center in Empire. We were looking for information about the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. It's named for the man, Pierce Stocking, who spent his youth working as a lumberman in Michigan's forests. He loved the woods and spent most of his spare time there, developing a self-taught knowledge of nature. He enjoyed walking the bluffs above Lake Michigan, and was awed by the views of the dunes, Lake Michigan, and the offshore islands. Because he wanted to share this beauty with others, he conceived the idea to build a road to the top of the dunes.

Before reaching the visitor center, we drove through some picturesque farm land. I didn't take pictures of many barns, but I caught this one with a quilt block.

Arriving at the visitor center, we picked up a self-guided tour pamphlet.

Planning for the road began in the early 1960's, and in 1967, the road, then known as the Sleeping Bear Dunes Park, first opened to the public. Stocking continued to operate the scenic drive until his death 1976. In 1977, the road became part of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Several years later, based on public opinion, the drive was named the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive.

Starting out, and indeed for much of the drive, we were winding through maple and beech forests. I can imagine this is gorgeous in the fall when the leaves change color.

The first stop on our tour was this covered bridge. Bridges were covered to protect the wood structure below. It was easier to replace a roof than it was to replace a whole bridge. The original bridge was severely damaged by porcupines, and it was replaced with this bridge.

Our next stop was the Glen Lake Overlook. Here's a little information about it.

The forested hill on the left is called "Alligator Hill." Supposedly it looks like the snout of an alligator. It's probably easier to see the alligator in the man-made sign above than it is in the nature-made actual scene. The features we're seeing today were created some 11,000 years ago when glaciers deposited sand and gravel in these areas. As the glacier melted, the run-off streams deposited great piles of sediment to form the hill.

Our tour book asked us to imagine a sheet of ice about one mile thick filled with sand, gravel, and rocks that left this hill of debris several hundred feet high. The "snout" of the alligator was formed by waves cutting terraces in a lake that once occupied this basin during the melting of the glaciers.

Our next stop was the "Dune Overlook." The dunes in this park are "perched dunes" because they are sitting on top of glacial moraine bluffs made of sand and gravel. They are formed by the prevailing westerly winds blowing the sand out of the moraine and depositing it on top of the bluff. 

Looking in a different direction, we could enjoy a panoramic view of the area. To our right was Lake Michigan. I'm guessing the ship you see in the image below is approximately the size of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

Looking north, we could see the historic D. H. Day farm. Day was a developer who had a hand in developing the historic town of Glen Haven, Michigan.

Here's a zoomed-in view of the barn.

Looking east, we had another view of Glen Lake and Alligator Hill.

Here's a little information about the original inhabitants of the area.

On our walk out to the overlook, I took pictures of every blooming thing.

Farther up the road, we enjoyed the Lake Michigan Overlook. This involved a short hike through the forest.

When we reached the overlook, we were confronted by this sign. And let me just say, my friends, if you're tempted to go down the cliff here, please leave your wallet with me so that I can pay the rescuers when they come.

In the image below, you can get some idea of how steep the terrain is here...it's loose sand. Tread carefully.

Looking to my right, it looks pretty much the same. We did see some young people go running off down the side to the lake below. Then we watched them coming back up. At least one was making the trip back up on all fours.

There was a platform where we could walk out and get a really good look.

Offshore, we could see the North and South Manitou Islands. Here's the legend associated with them.

I liked this inset portion of the sign because it shows where we're located in relation to the rest of the Great Lakes.

There was another small overlook for those stout-hearted enough to make the approximate quarter-mile hike over loose sand. We could get a good look at the beach grasses that help to stabilize the dunes.

Also...look how pretty these are. They had green berries, changing to red.

To our right, we could get another view of Glen Lake in the distance.

To our left, the vast expanse of Lake Michigan. Now, look closely at the image below. Nearly dead center, but a little off to the right, you'll see a white speck, almost like a missing pixel.

It's this little sailboat. Small boat...big lake.

Looking across the lake, we could see South Manitou Island and the lighthouse there. You can see some better pictures and learn a little about it by clicking right here.

Walking back, we could get another look at the first, larger platform.

This next image looks as if it was taken looking straight ahead over an expanse of sand, leading to the water's edge. Actually, I was looking almost straight down the vertical cliff of the dune. I wanted you to see the colors of the water. The brownish streak near the middle of the image is a sandbar.

Finally, we came to our last stop along the tour, the North Bar Lake Overlook. The dunes were only part of the show here...the views were stunning.

Leaving the scenic drive, we headed to the historic fishing village of Leland. It was a cute little place. The information I have about it says it might be the last of the great fishing towns in the whole state of Michigan. It was home to commercial fishing for more than 150 years. We passed a few barns along the way.

Most of the old commercial fishing establishments are long gone, and have been converted into shops and restaurants. We had lunch at one of the restaurants. On our walk, we passed by this gallery with metal sculptures in the front yard. I especially liked the giraffes.

We passed by some pretty gardens too.

And from there, we headed back to the RV. Smitty was able to get out for another walk.

Sadie watched from the screen door.

With my help, we located some more of this excellent Meowchigan grass.

And today we'll head off about another 200 miles down the road to Grand Haven State Park. There's a very unusual lighthouse there. We'll be camping in the park, and so there's no way to know if we'll have internet access until we get there. 

We have about five days left in our visit to Michigan before moving on to Ohio, which will be a new state for the side of the RV. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Right now, it's time for breakfast, and then for some slow-stitching before we get on our way.


Barbara said...

They dined on mince, and slices of quince, Which they ate with a runcible spoon; And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand, They danced by the light of the moon. ~ Edward Lear

Margaret said...

If you drive near Carson city, I recommend that you stop at Seven Sisters Quilt Shop. It is a wonderful shop with a unique story, which you can read at their website. and, a bonus, the bakery next door serves delicious sandwiches, salads and baked items. A win/win situation, if you ask me.
Pls forgive the lack of capital letters where needed - my keyboard is semi-broken, and will capitalize some letters, and not others, at some times and not others.
I’m glad you’re enjoying Michigan - there should be exclamation mark at the end of that sentence, but you’ll have to imagine it.

Quilting Babcia said...

The first barn photo is today's winner, that silo and the symmetry are outstanding.

Jay said...

I've never seen a silo like that on the first barn pic. So interesting!

piecefulwendy said...

What a fun place to explore and so many pretty drives and hikes. That cliff is quite something - yikes!

Jenny said...

Another very interesting day. I was interested to read that people in trouble had to pay to be rescued. Might make them think twice about doing stupid things.

Auntiepatch said...

My mother would quote "The Owl and The Pussycat" to us when we were little. I had forgotten all about it until I saw your quote in the comments! She knew every word of all three stanzas! Thanks for the memory of my mother you conjured. She was the smartest, kindest woman I've ever met.

Anonymous said...

Still enjoying the armchair vacation. Stocking is a realitive and my grandfather was a lumber man too. I
With all the pictures, you haven't shown a wonderful lake sunset. That are awesome.

Chase Klop said...

I hope that you enjoy Grand Haven. That’s my hometown!