A Whole Lot of Sand

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Lake Michigan, Michigan

We have been visiting the Sleeping Bear Dunes for many years, beginning when our children were small and they tried to climb the big dune so they could walk across it’s top to where they could see the water of Lake Michigan. I remember hearing one daughter yelling in panic to me. She was almost half way up and couldn’t proceed because she was afraid she was going to fall of. I had to climb up to hold her tight as we slid down the very big sandy hill.

It is now a National Shoreline and it is possible to drive to the top and walk along a boardwalk to view down the long, steep face of the dunes to the water below. People can go down this hill, but there are warning about the 2 1/2 hour walk back up and the cost that climbers would incur if they needed to be rescued. I can’t comprehend how many grains of sand are making up these massive dunes. These are high dunes!

I was amazed when I processed these photos they triggered my height anxiety. I know I was safe when I took the photos but when I look at them I feel the fear my daughter felt – I experience the fear of falling down the hill.

I hope this is enough sand for Cee’s CFFC: Sand or Dirt.

Art Show on the Beach

The beach beckons from the edge of the road.

When we drove over the Mighty Mac bridge into the Upper Peninsula of Michigan we turned right onto highway U.S. 2 that goes along the southern part of the peninsula towards Wisconsin and beyond. The first 48 miles runs along the upper shore of Lake Michigan, with sandy beaches beaconing people to stop for some beach time. Looking south across Lake Michigan you can see Chicago – if you have really good vision (300 miles or so) or good imagination. Sorry but I didn’t have a long enough lens to see it in the photo above, but it would be to the right.

This is a two lane, heavily used stretch of road but there is enough of a shoulder on the south side of the road to pull over. In the summer months the cars are parked bumper to bumper and there are lots of people scattered along the beach. In September there were only a few vehicles and we pulled across both lanes to park the truck and camper.

The above photo looks west and the boulders were place there to protect against wave erosion that would quickly undercut the road. This is the Hiawatha National Lakeshore so it is protected but there is always a tension between protecting the environment and maintaining/building for infrastructure and commerce. In this case nature frequently wins as it blows sand and snow across the highway.

But I wasn’t thinking political on the beautiful day. I was seeing nature’s art everywhere I looked. Would you like a peek at the gallery? Click on a photo for a slide show with the title of each of Nature’s creations. I would also love to hear how you would title each one.

The gentle waves had built a little cliff face, and when I stepped down onto the wet sand and bent over I saw the delightful artistry of the water along that face.

I had so much fun just being alone with my camera on the beach. Looking and being in the moment and clicking my shutter when nature made itself known to me. As I left I turned and took another (several?) more photos of the beach before hopping into the truck and heading for Lake Superior.

Mushroom Houses

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One of the perks of living in a state that caters to tourists is that we can be tourists – close to home. Earlier this summer we spent some time along Lake Michigan in the northern part of the state. We drove and explored from Wilderness State Park (in the northern most part of the Lower Peninsula, just west of the Big Mac bridge to the Upper Peninsula) down to Charlevoix (pronounced Shar’ la voy) just north of Traverse City.

Charlevoix is best known for its mushroom houses, designed by architect Earl Young. They are houses that trigger my imagination, make me think every day would be a funday if I lived in one. No two are alike but there is usually something whimsical in the design. I wonder if the people who live in them have pointy feet and ears and are a little shorter than the norm?

Blue is a Great Lake

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A hundred shades of Lake Michigan blue, looking west from Sleeping Bear Dunes, Michigan.

I’m in love with the magnificent vastness of the Great Lakes. It is impossible not to be spellbound by the hundred shades of blue layered beyond the shore, reaching to forever. Of course it helps if you have waded into the cold water and summoned the courage to dive in – feeling the cold aliveness against your face. The magnificence is magnified by the knowledge of the strength of their waves that erodes shorelines and sinks ships. Ask people who live on their eastern shores and they will tell you about the power of the storms that come across the five lakes, holding tons of snow to be dumped over the colder land.

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Lake Superior blue turning sunset rose from a beach at Pancake Bay, Ontario, Canada

I had the good sense to take these two photos on beautiful summer days, when the air was warm and the breeze was gentle – but I didn’t forget the water is cold.

I was inspired to share these photos and words by Patti’s Lens Artist Photo Challenge word “blue.”¬†Click on the link to see other interpretations of blue.¬†We will be headed to Lake Superior’s southern shore on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in a few weeks and posting these photos has me geeked.