My Town Monday: Field Trip! Sleeping Bear Dunes

Field Trip! These summer months are great for seeing the sites around Michigan. So today’s field trip is to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lake Shore.

The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lake Shore is located up here… the fingertips of Michigan. Right about here.

Or for those of you not used to using your hand as a map, here.

The Dunes are ever changing because of the wind that comes of Lake Michigan. Then, as plants take root, they hold the sand down, for a while, evolving into a different type of landscape. If sand buries the plants, it may become sand dune again, rather than supporting growth.

Here’s a web album from my trip with Hubby (June 2006, our five year anniversary.)

If you don’t like tear-jerker stories, then you totally don’t want to know the story of why it’s called Sleeping Bear Dunes. I’m no softy, but this story traumatized me… It’s the italicized part, for easy skipping.

The Legend of Sleeping Bear Dunes:
A long time a go, there was a fire in Wisconsin. A mama bear and her two cubs were forced from the forest. They got to the edge of Lake Michigan. They would have to swim. Mama and the cubs began swimming. It was a long swim. They swam for hours and hours.

Finally, Mama Bear reached the shore of Michigan. She looked back into the water and she couldn’t see her cubs. She lay down on the shores of the lake and watched. But the baby bears never came. They had gotten too tired and drowned.

But the Mama bear kept waiting. She was certain her babies would come. Eventually, she fell asleep. Sand swept over Mama Bear, burying her on the shore where she waits to this day. The Great Spirit was impressed with the Mama Bears determination and faith. The Great Spirit raised two island, North and South Manitou Islands, to commemorate the cubs.

Here’s a nice Aeriel shot of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lake Shore and North and South Manitou Islands.

You can take a ferry to the islands. And Empire Michigan, the town nestled along the National Lake Shore, is only a short distance from Traverse City. Well, “short” in “upper Michigan” vernacular, which is a little bit longer than “short” in busy places. It’s worse in the U.P., where us foreigners read a sign that says “Museum Just Ahead” and not realize it’s “just” ten miles. I was ready to admit I’d missed the turn…

Visit the new My Town Monday site for links to other posters.