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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.