Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Platte River and the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail

Saturday, July 28th

It promised to be a gorgeous day, with highs in the 80s and plenty of sunshine, so shortly after breakfast we blew up the tubes and loaded everybody in the trucks for the drive to the Platte River at the southern-most end of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

The Platte River is a shallow, gently flowing river that ends at the Lake Michigan beach, and is very popular for canoeing and floating.  You can rent both, or you can bring your own.  Everybody except Tom and Paul got out at the fishing weir, where it was just a short walk to the river where tubes can launch.  They parked our truck, with all the beach gear, down at the end – and were lucky to get one of the last parking spots at the beach!  Then they brought Paul’s truck back up to the weir, where they met up with us.

The float trip from the weir to the beach takes about 2 – 3 hours, and being Saturday, it was mighty crowded!  It was a great day though, perfect for a leisurely float down the river!   

When we reached the beach, we packed up the tubes and grabbed the towels and coolers out of the truck, and headed out to the beach for a picnic lunch.


Surprisingly, even with the number of people floating down the river, the beach wasn’t too crowded.  We ate lunch, did a little swimming, and rested in the sun until it was time to pack up and go back to the RVs to rescue the dogs.

We did have one little glitch as we left . . . Paul had kept his key in his pocket, and these new electronic keys don’t do well when wet!  The key fob wouldn’t work to unlock his doors, and although he could unlock them manually with the key, it set off his alarm!  Then, he couldn’t get the truck started with the key!  Since it was 5:30pm on Saturday, we thought he might be in real trouble!  After 20 or 30 minutes  with the key fob taken apart, though, he was finally able to start his truck!

So, if your truck or car has one of those new all-in-one key fobs, don’t get it wet!!

Back at the campers, the kids set up for a cornhole tournament, and we got a fire going to cook our dinners of brats, hot dogs, and pizza hobo pies.




Tom read his book for awhile before joining the tournament (I think he’s read more than me this trip – he’s really enjoying this book, “American Icon – How Alan Mulally Saved Ford Motor Company”)


Casey kept her eagle eyes on anybody who was eating, waiting for anything that would fall (or get tossed!) her way!


Once it got dark, we all sat and enjoyed the evening around the campfire.  We called it a night pretty early, though – all that water and sunshine tends to make you tired!

Sunday, July 29th

After mass on Sunday, we said good-bye to Paul & Tari & the kids, as they headed home, and we loaded the bikes into the truck to drive to Glen Arbor to check out the new Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail.  It’s a wide, paved, multi-use trail, and the first phase just opened on July 4th. 


It’s just over 4 miles long right now, and goes from Glen Arbor, through national park land, to the Dune Climb.

There’s no parking lot at the trailhead in Glen Arbor right now, but people park along the side of the road, or in the church parking lot just up the road.  That’s what we did, and then we were off on our bikes!


The trail takes you through the woods to the D. H. Day State Park – Michigan’s 1st State Park, and then to the beach in the historic village of Glen Haven.


We stopped at the Glen Haven General Store,


which is part store and park museum.  Nicolas was checking out the pictures of the old “dunemobiles” that used to take people for rides on the sand dunes (before it became a national park).


Continuing on, we rode along the edge of the dunes until we reached the other end of the trail at the Dune Climb.


We took a bathroom and water break here, and watched people climbing up and running down the dune.


Nick and Bryce had already had their fill of climbing dunes, so they passed on this one!  But Bryce did have enough energy to chase a seagull!


Once everybody was rested,


we got back on the bikes and made the return trip to Glen Arbor, where we treated ourselves to an ice cream!

This was a really nice bike trail, and definitely something to check out if you are in the area!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sleeping Bear Point Trail

Friday started out pretty rainy, so we spent the early part of the day inside reading and watching movies, but by 3pm the rain moved away and the sun came out, so we decided to get in a hike.

We considered the 3.5 mile hike to Lake Michigan from the Dune Climb, but thought it would take too long, and decided that the Sleeping Bear Point Trail, also part of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, would get us to the same area of the lake quicker and easier, and added a 2.8 mile loop over the dunes and through some forest, so it would be more interesting.

We drove through the historic village of Glen Haven to the parking lot at the trailhead, and headed out into the meadow of dune grass.


We quickly came to the spur trail that went down to Lake Michigan, and crossed the sand valley,


to where the lake came into sight.


Nicolas began his hunt for petoskey stones,


but without getting his clothes soaked, he didn’t have much luck.  Tom checked out the water – it was cold!!


The waves were a lot bigger than they were the previous day, too!

We could have walked for miles on this beach,


but it was a little rocky for swimming!  Not quite warm enough, either!


Before long, it was time to move on and hike the loop trail back to the trucks.


Most of the trail was on the dunes, so we all ended up carrying our shoes.


The recent rains made walking easier though – the sand was cool and even hard-packed in some areas.  At the tops of the dunes, the views were spectacular!



In some areas, we were hiking through narrow paths in the dune grass,


but other areas were as wide-open as a desert!


The kids have limitless energy, it seems, as Nicolas would take side trips up the sides of the dunes,


and the four younger kids got waaaaay ahead of us!


We took our breaks at the top of each new sand dune,


and just kept plodding along.  Eventually, the trail headed into the woods,


and the cool shade was a welcome relief.  So were the trucks when we arrived back at the parking lot!


It was a really nice hike, strenuous in places, but never a shortage of beautiful views.  We found out later that this trail was recently named the best Hike-to-View of all national parks, by National Geographic!  We would agree!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Pyramid Point and Good Harbor Bay

Thursday started out a little cloudy and cool (low 70s for a change!), so we decided it was a good day for a hike. 


The Pyramid Point trail is a fairly short hike, although steep, through the woods to a sand dune bluff overlooking Lake Michigan and the Manitou Islands.


When we reached to top of the bluff, the kids decided they were up for the trip down to the water.


It was REALLY steep, and Bryce ended up taking a tumble on the way down!  A few scrapes . . . a bunch of sand in his hair . . . but otherwise no harm done!  Nicolas decided he was up for the challenge, too, and headed down after them.


Almost to the bottom (or at least as close as we could see from up above!)


Back up top, we were enjoying the views,


when Tom got a phone call from Nicolas at the bottom!  No broken bones . . . no casualties . . . he just wanted us to time his ascent back to the top!

The 4 younger kids got a head start, and Jensen was the first back up to the top.  Nicolas overtook the other three, and made it up in 13 minutes!


He paid for it though – he wasn’t feeling too good when he got up to the top!


Seven minutes later, the rest of the group made it up to the top!


After some water and rest, we took the trail back to the trailhead and parking lot. 


Lots of pretty birch trees along the trail.



By the time we go back to the trucks, the sun was peeking through the clouds, it was warming up a little, and we were seeing bits of blue sky.









Just up the road a bit is Good Harbor Bay, and a public beach on Lake Michigan.


Well, I guess we’ll stop here!  We had all packed lunches, so we spread out the blankets and had a picnic on the beach!



After lunch, we went in search of petoskey stones,


and the water proved to be too much of a temptation for the kids (regardless of the fact that they didn’t have bathing suits on!).


We didn’t find a lot of petoskey stones, but we did get a few to take home with us –


now I just need to find somebody to tumble & polish one to make a necklace for me!

When the clouds started moving back in, we packed up our stuff and headed back to the campground.  After some cornhole and dinner, we started a fire and enjoyed a nice cool evening around the campfire.  What a pleasant change after all those 90 and 100 degree days!

This morning we woke up to a nice gentle rain . . . it greatly needed, but tends to make a muddy mess of the campground!  Oh well, we’ll just spend some time inside, watching a movie and reading until the rain ends.  The next couple of days are supposed to be sunny and beautiful, and we can get back to the beach!