Just a couple of weeks ago we went to the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in Colorado, today we found ourselves on the shores of Lake Michigan, once again with sand dunes. It is incredible to think of how Mother Nature forms herself. In the west, the dunes are an anomaly, an area where the perfect conditions come together to create an object unexpected between two mountain ranges. In the east, surrounded by so many bodies of water that make up the Great Lakes, it is totally expected. The summer winds bring the sand in to shore, the winter storms erode the dunes, the ice holds them firm so that in the spring, the seeds can take hold and help to hold the dunes in place for upcoming generations.
I’ve always been a fan of Lake Michigan, my mother’s family is from a small town near the shores, Shelby, Michigan. This is where I still have numerous aunts, uncles and cousins. Whenever we were going “home”, as a kid, this is where we went. My dad spent my first grade year in Vietnam, he moved us home first. When we didn’t have housing at the start of the school year in sixth grade, we, again, went home. Just one of those places that brings back some incredible memories.
I learned to swim at Stoney Lake, a little puddle of water where all by aunts had cabins. Whenever we were going to the lake, they meant Stoney. Every early summer morning, before the sun was really up, we donned swimsuits and met our instructors out by the dock. I went back once as an adult, what seemed so huge to me as a six year old was tiny looked at with mature eyes. One of the best parts about Stoney Lake was the channel that went to Lake Michigan. Several times a season, our cousins would get together and float the channel. We all gathered our tubes and floated through the small waterway that led to the big lake. When we arrived, there was big water, waves and lots of sand to play in. So much different than the little lake we were used to.
The dunes hold all kinds of secrets, from the tiny animals that have adapted to the history it has seen, spend time and explore your National Lakeshore…remember, this is one of America’s great treasures.