The photo above was one of my first photos I took in my life. The ripples on the sand dunes brought back some fond memories. Flashed back 17 years ago on my first trip to the States, Stephen gave me a small Nikon Coolpix digital camera, my first camera ever. We traveled to Niagara Falls, and then came up to Michigan, canoed at Grayling, climbed the Sleeping Bear Dunes, toured Point Betsie lighthouse, and traveled to Traverse City. Stephen and his family usually came to spend the summer by the lake when he was a kid. We are revisiting this area to recall the precious memories.
We camped at Platte River Campground. The paved asphalt campsite was reminiscent of Ellen’s driveway, but we were surrounded by tall trees and were living in the nature. It rained overnight. It seemed to clear up a little bit early in the morning. So we headed out and started our tour for the day. Anticipating rain, we drove along the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. The one way drive took us through the covered bridge, overlooks of Glen Lake, Lake Michigan, and dunes. The rain started to pick up at the overlook of Lake Michigan. The west wind swept across the lake and brought fall like chill. A few bushes and trees have changed colors. Amid the rain and wind, we were still awed at the beauty of Lake Michigan. 450 feet below the sand dunes lay the sapphire water. The edge of the water on the horizon blended into the sky. From the overlook of dunes, I saw mist moving above the forest in the distance. Unlike the Great Sand Dunes in Colorado where few vegetation could survive, grass and bushes rooted on the Sleeping Bear Dunes. Waves and wind constantly shape the shoreline. The geologic force can be seen at the overlook of North Bar Lake. North Bar Lake was a bay of Lake Michigan. The sandbar by the mouth of the lake was built up by the waves over time. Eventually, North Bar Lake will become a lake like South Bar Lake that was cut off from Lake Michigan.
We stopped by the Sleeping Bear Dunes at Dune Climb. People were climbing the dunes amid the rain and wind. I also joined them. It was actually easier to climb the sand dunes when the sand was wet. A little girl walked down the sand dune, soaking wet, followed by her father way behind. It took me no time to climb to the top of the first dune. I quickly returned because of the rain. Stephen said the dune looked smaller than what he remembered as a kid.
The Maritime Museum was closed for restoration. The boardwalk took us to the edge of Lake Michigan. Round small pebbles gleamed below the water and on the shore. I couldn’t resist the temptation and rock hounded along the shore. Later, we saw the demonstration of a blacksmith at Glen Haven Historic Village. Leaving Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes, we headed back to the campground and changed my wet clothes. Then we headed south.
Our first stop was Lake Township Park where Platte River empties into Lake Michigan. Lots of seagulls stayed on the sandbar. Platte River found its way cutting through the sandbar at the mouth. In the northern distance were Sleeping Bear Dunes and Empire Bluffs protruding into Lake Michigan. The water of Platte River was clear and gentle. It might be a good place to swim or canoe.
It might be our third time visiting Point Betsie Lighthouse. The sound of crashing waves were heard before we had Lake Michigan in sight. The trees have grown taller and blocked part of the lighthouse from the place where we took photos. The sky was grey. Huge waves crashed against the dark steel fences, making loud sounds. A young couple dove into water and rode the tide. People bent over or squat on the beach searching for beautiful rocks. I also picked up more pebbles.
Our last stop of the day tour was Frankfort. A small charming tourist city by Betsie River. Frankfort Light Lighthouse stood at the end of the pier. A couple of boats were coming back from the lake. Close to the shore was a seagull riding the tide. It dove into the water time after time pecking things. We walked close to it. Guess what? There floated a huge dead fish by the seagull. The seagull was eating the fish bit by bit. What a feast for the seagull! Kids walked into the water and played with each other. A boy appeared carrying a surf board. A minute later, he laid on his stomach on the surf board paddling along the shore. On the beach, several girls sat in the swings and swung high in the air, giggling. Their smiling faces brighten up the grey sky. A nice and peaceful place to enjoy life indeed!