Monday, February 9, 2015

Memorable Moments 2014 - Part 2

It's hard to believe we've been full-time RVers for two years and two months!  We are already planning our 2015 travel adventures.  Meanwhile, here are some more memorable moments from our 2014 RV travel season, shown photographically (in chronological order):

Two-fisted beer drinking at the Hop Cat brew pub in Grand Rapids, Michigan. YUM!

A moment of tranquility at the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, Michigan

Sculpture on a grand scale at Frederik Meijer!

The Jolly Green Giant's garden at Frederik Meijer. (No trick photography or Photoshopping!)

A large sculpture taking a nap at Frederik Meijer!

The greenhouse complex at Frederik Meijer. Big doesn't quite describe it!

Pondering world affairs in the Oval Office
(Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan)

The 6 a.m. temperature in Traverse City, Michigan on July 16, 2014.  Brrrr!

Who ever heard of a herd of buffalo in Traverse City, Michigan?  We did; saw them too!

At the Traverse City, Michigan downtown waterfront.  The music in the flowers must be Cherry Baby!

Working his way through college in Traverse City, Michigan – the cherry capital of the world.
Best cherries we ever tasted!

One of the most enjoyable things we did, as well as the most physically demanding activity of the year, was the dune climb at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park, in Glen Arbor, Michigan.  Located about 28 miles west-northwest of Traverse City, the dunes abut Lake Michigan.  The trek from the parking lot to Lake Michigan and back is "only" 3.5 miles, yet it took us about three hours to complete it!  We started out right as the park opened at 8 a.m. on a beautiful day in mid-July.  (You wouldn't want to start much later in the day.  Although cool breezes off Lake Michigan are nearby, by afternoon in the summer, the sand and the air temperature in the dunes can get very hot.)

The sand is very slippery; getting a good footing can be difficult. There is one dune after another to climb and descend until, at last, one reaches the holy grail: Lake Michigan.  Descending a steep dune can require almost as much exertion as ascending. As you'll see, it's worth the effort for the view alone.  The initial climb, shown in the photo above, is 130 feet, with an incline of 15 degrees.  (If you can't make it to the top of the first dune, forget about doing this hike – the initial climb is relatively easy compared to some of the dunes that follow!) There were lots of kids doing the dune climb (where "kids" is defined as folks much younger than we are), but not many fellow young geezers.  We were elated to have been in good enough shape to do the dunes.  (As a side note, after about a third of the way to the lake, there is no cell phone service, which is great for peace and serenity, but a problem if you'd need to call 9-1-1.)

As each successive dune peak gets higher, the view gets more dramatic.  Here is a panorama of Glen Lake, which is to the east of the dunes.  The parking lot (right of center) and the people on the right give you a sense of distance and height.

From one of  the highest dunes in the climb, at a height of 260 feet, the view is breathtaking.  In this panorama, you can see Lake Michigan in the distance on the left, and Glen Lake to the right of center. (From this location, there is still lots of up-and-down hiking to get to Lake Michigan!)

Rugged landscape as we trudged on toward Lake Michigan.  Good thing we took lots of water!

Here we are at the end of the dune trail.  Lake Michigan, at last!  The lake water was very cold (no surprise), and very clear (a pleasant surprise).  

Lots of  people write their name on a rock at the Lake Michigan shore to commemorate their dune climb triumph.  Can you see our rocks (outer edge of the pile, at about 5:30)?  Janet wanted to take some rocks back with us, so we loaded about ten pounds of them into her flannel shirt and took turns carrying the payload on the return trip across the dunes.  Ten pounds never felt so heavy!

Photographic proof that we were way up north!

In the next Memorable Moments installment, it's on to the upper peninsula of Michigan.