Since we were going to be here for the whole summer, I kept a lookout on facebook for interesting things to do. Last weekend’s event was something I found a few months ago. Apparently, one of the local campground owners, who is also a Jeep enthusiast, thought it might be fun to have a Jeep gathering on the dunes. He picked the first weekend in June, and started putting the word out on facebook.
What he thought might be a gathering of 30 or 40 Jeeps soon turned into a massive event – eventually drawing in over 700 Jeeps from all over Michigan and several surrounding states!
I took quite a few pictures myself, but don’t have the capability to get these aerial photos, so I borrowed some from the Jeep Invasion facebook page, including this one. If they have the SLSD Jeep Invasion 2016 watermark, they’re somebody else’s photo.
We had quite a few Jeepers staying in our resort, and as the festivities were getting ready to start on Friday, they were filing out.
The Invasion kicked off on Friday evening with registration at the nearby golf course.
People who had pre-registered on facebook picked up their paperwork and goodie bags, and others registered. There was food, T-shirts to buy with the Jeep Ivnvasion logo, vendor displays and give-aways,
fun stuff for the kids,
and a live band.
There were lots of people, and everybody was having a good time.
I’m not sure of the percentage of attendees who were first-timers at the dunes, but from many of the comments I heard, I think it was pretty high. Fortunately, they could get lots of advice, and all of the supplies they needed to be “dune-ready” right there at Friday’s event.
I was helping in the office Friday night, so I had to get back, but Tom stayed a little longer, with friends Dave and Cathy, to listen to the music and see if either of them won the winch kit being raffled off . . . neither of them did!
Saturday morning was the Jeep Parade and Show at the dunes. This was the main event of the weekend, and with 700 Jeeps in attendance, this was going to take a LOT of coordination! The organizers did a really good job of planning it all out – the Jeeps would all gather back at the golf course beginning at 8am, and would travel in groups of 50 to the dunes. The event volunteers would make sure everyone was “dune ready” before leaving the golf course, so that they could bypass the DNR checkpoints and go directly out onto the dunes as a group.
The concept was solid . . . but unfortunately due to some lack of communication on the part of the DNR, it didn’t quite go that smoothly.
The early groups arriving at the dunes didn’t have too much trouble and managed to stay together as they traversed the dunes . . . I borrowed a couple pictures from facebook of those groups arriving at the dunes.
Tom had to get the pool cleaned and opened up before we headed over there, so we did not arrive at the golf course until almost 10am.
There were still Jeeps waiting to head over to the dunes!
We got checked in and took our place in line . . . at the very end of the line!
With flags and stickers in place, and tires aired down to 15 psi, we were ready to go! Bringing up the rear!
The process worked through the first DNR checkpoint, and we got into the line in the staging area all as a group, but after that it all started to fall apart.
According the the arrangements made with the DNR, we were supposed to be able to bypass the staging area and go directly into the entrance road to the dunes, but unfortunately the guy who knew that was on vacation, so we all ended up in the normal line. As always happens, people in the staging area do not go to the end of the line, they just cut in wherever they want . . . and some of the Jeeps were letting them in . . . then they would let somebody else in, and so on. Pretty soon, our group of 50 Jeeps was no longer together, and when we finally arrived on the dunes, nobody knew where to go. They hadn’t given us a map of where the Jeeps were going to gather, and we couldn’t see any large group anywhere. Some of the Jeeps stopped at Test Hill, but we knew that wasn’t where we were supposed to gather, so we continued on toward the beach, looking for a giant group of Jeeps.
We finally came around the back side of a small dune and spotted a large group, so we headed that way . . . we found them!
Most of the Jeeps were parked, and people were walking around or sitting in chairs near their Jeeps.
We found some of the campers from our resort and chatted with them for a while,
and we spotted the Dana Spicer Jeep that was customized by the guy who installed our bumper (a Dana engineer), but he wasn’t there . . . some other Dana employees brought it out for the festivities. We talked to them for a while, and Tom got a new hat.
We saw lots of nice looking Jeeps, and quite a few nice older ones,
like this Willys Jeep,
but the most interesting one was probably this 4-wheel steering version.
It was pretty cool – he was getting lots of attention!
One of the Rangers stopped by in his Raptor, too.
According to the schedule, the Jeep Show was supposed to go on until 1pm, and there were going to be some prizes awarded at the end of it. By noon, though, the crowd was breaking up and thinning out quite a bit, so we decided to take off, too.
Tom said, “Do we go over the dune?!”
“Of course!”, I replied!
So we went . . . and we made it! Looking back down at the Jeep Show,
and over at Test Hill in the distance.
Lots of Jeeps made the climb up the big hill . . . and some didn’t quite make it!
On our way out, we passed by the “drag strip” where several trucks, 4-wheelers and dune buggies were having fun in the wet sand, so we stopped and watched for a few minutes.
We drove around the lake on our way back to the resort, and it was pretty rough with black clouds building in the west, so Tom went ahead and aired our tires back up when we got back . . . we wouldn’t be going back on the dunes after the rain.
Some of the Jeeps went up on the dunes for sunset, which is always fun. We didn’t go, but I did borrow a cool photo from facebook that was taken from an airplane flying over.
The last event for the weekend was the Blessing of the Dunes on Sunday morning. We missed that one, too, but I heard they had a pretty good turnout.
All-in-all, I think it was a pretty successful weekend, and I’m sure that the Jeep Invasion will probably become an annual event at Silver Lake Sand Dunes!
One of the Jeep Dealerships created decals and handed them out at the registration event on Friday – from what we heard, they didn’t have anywhere near enough, so we were pretty lucky that we got one. Bryce carefully put it on the Jeep!
Our first decal . . . it’s pretty bright!