We were fortunate that Robert and Bailey were able to take time off from their busy lives to visit us for a week while we were parked in Empire, Michigan. This area of North West Michigan along the coast of Lake Michigan is beautiful.
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is located in this area. During the Ice Age, continental glaciers moved from the North repeatedly burying the area under ice. Those massive glaciers enlarged river valleys and carved out the wide, deep basins of the Great Lakes. They also created “Perched Dunes” which are dunes formed by glacial sands deposited on plateaus high above the shore. The Sleeping Bear Dunes are an easily accessible, beautiful example of this type of dune. Bailey and Robert enjoyed the dune climb area. Every time one dune is scaled you hope Lake Michigan is on the other side…but no, another sand dune appears! After climbing several dunes, Sherry and Matt gave up. But Bailey and Robert made the 3.5 mile round trip to the lake and back.
Besides the dune climb, within the park is the historic village of Glen Haven. There is an old fruit canning building that now houses boats and equipment, a blacksmith shop and a maritime museum highlighting a life saving station.
The Pierce Stocking scenic drive located in the park has nice lake overlooks and a steep dune area where you can walk (or run) down to Lake Michigan. The climb back up is strenuous; some folks have to be rescued to the tune of $3000! Bailey and Robert successfully made the trip down and back up with Bailey leading the way up.
The small coastal towns were charming and the lighthouses unique. With the abundance of cherries grown here, one can always find a cherry flavored food item or wine. And since grapes grow well here too, there are wineries up and down the coast.
The Michigan lakeshore is a great place for rock hunting. Round, flat smooth stones are great for rock painting. But Michiganders tell us that prized stones to find are Petosky stones and Leland blues. Petoskey stones are unique rocks that sport a tightly-packed hexagonal pattern all over their surface. This pattern is the fossilized pattern of the prehistoric rugose corals. Leland Blue is a by-product of the iron smelting industry active during the 1800s in the town of Leland, Michigan. These pieces of blue-tinted slag glass waste are impurities formed after iron ore was heated. Hard to believe that these “useless” pieces dumped in Lake Michigan are now prized stones sought after by rock hounds!
All four of us enjoyed rock hunting at several beaches along Lake Michigan. We found some colorful and interesting stones to take home.
An interesting occurrence happened when we were rock hunting at Point Betsie Lighthouse Beach. We struck up a conversation with a Michigan woman, Sharon, who was rock hunting for the day with her daughter. As we talked more about ourselves we astonishingly learned that Sharon is a longtime friend of Diane who we had just visited at Pettibone lake (see previous blog post)!! Guess our meeting was meant to be. We plan to meet up again before we leave Michigan!
We took Bailey, an accomplished knitter to an alpaca farm where she purchased some wool. We had a chance to feed the gentle alpacas and we saw alpaca moms with their cute babies called “cria”.
There was plenty of time to sit, relax and catch up. Robert and Bailey even found time to use the rollerblades they brought!
The week with Robert and Bailey flew by and it was sad to see them go. Time spent with family is to be treasured, especially when your kids become adults and forge their own lives. Unfortunately Madison was not able to visit us this time, but hopefully in the future. We end this blog post with a view of the sunset.