June 11, 2015

6/5/15 - Sleeping Bear Dunes NL

A long, long time ago during a forest fire, a mother bear and her two cubs tried to swim across the great water. Only twelve miles from shore, the exhausted cubs drowned. The mother bear continued to shore alone. She dragged herself up on the land and faced the water, mourning her babes. As she gazed, two islands rose to mark the graves of her cubs.

The mother bear can still be seen (sort of, see below) on one of the dunes at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The islands called North and South Manitou Islands are included in the park.

It wasn't a very nice day to go to the beach, so as usual, I bundled up and George didn't, then we drove north. First stop was the Philip A. Hart Visitor Center in Empire. They have a little museum and a video--which is actually more of a slide show of really good photos with narration about the park. Way better than some, although I will admit that they didn't have to dance around political correctness.

It's pretty driving through the mixed forest of beech, maple and pines in the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. We drove under the Covered Bridge, then got out to take pictures.
We stopped at the Glen Lake Overlook, looking over Little Glen Lake and Big Glen Lake. It's foggy and you can't see much. Little Glen is the closest, and Big Glen is the one you can't see on the other side of the state highway causeway you can almost see. Trust me--I was there.
One of the stops on the Scenic Drive is the Dune Overlook. Reminds me more of a great big golf course hazard than a dune. I suppose that's because I can't see any water. (Isn't this place supposed to be a lakeshore?)
We drove on a little farther and finally found the water at the Lake Michigan Overlook. We had to look down for it though because the dunes are about 450' above the lake, down a very steep bank. They've built a platform so you can look without skidding downhill into the water.
From the viewpoint of the sign, it doesn't look particularly steep, so I thought they were being overly pessimistic. You could get down that bank pretty quickly, but only the young or foolhardy try. Then we moved a little further so I could see the angle from the side instead of straight ahead and understood what they meant! Apparently these people match the young or foolhardy description.
The angle here is more down than to the side, so it looks more like abstract art.  I like the patterns and colors, especially of the water. So I made it larger.
There's another viewpoint nearby that overlooks the Sleeping Bear Dune. The highest point is the mother bear's body. She's lying down, and the smaller bump on the left is her head. She looks a lot more like a bear in historical pictures, but sand erodes easily in the wind. Pretty soon she'll be flat, which is what can happen if you're depressed and don't eat. One of her cubs is in the distance--aka South Manitou Island.
The park newspaper makes a big deal about the Dune Climb and how strenuous it is. We'd been to dunes before so I was expecting something really dramatic. This dune, however, is only 110' high, so isn't particularly spectacular. I suppose if it was August and the temperature was higher than 52 degrees, and you climbed up and down all nine dunes on the almost 2-mile trek to the lake, it would be more impressive. (I suppose the park would get in trouble if they labeled the steep shoreline as the dune climb...but it would definitely be more challenging!) As it was, we were cold and weren't interested in climbing up anything but into the truck.
We drove on to explore the Glen Haven Historic Village, a steamship stop on Sleeping Bear Bay in the early 20th century. We checked out the Blacksmith Shop, General Store, Cannery Boat Exhibit and the Maritime Museum.
George in the Glen Haven Blacksmith Shop
Inside the Glen Haven General Store (I told her I'd post this!)
In the Cannery Boat Museum

Maritime Museum
My favorite was the Boathouse at the Maritime Museum. The volunteer explained how the Faking Box for the lifesaving equipment was used. Rope is wrapped around the pins, and a box was put over it. When you turn the box over and lift off the pegs, then the rope unwinds without tangling. (It looks like a nice macrame project to me.) They used it for a bullet on the Lyle Gun so they could pull people on capsized boats back to shore. (I wasn't paying a lot of attention there, so if you want more details, you should probably ask George. However, I did hear when he said the rope on the first picture is too tight, and wouldn't work as well as the one in the box.)  

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