Wednesday, August 14—Empire, Michigan, and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

 

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Our travels today took us only 150 miles from Mackinaw City to Empire where we had reservations at Indigo Bluffs RV Resort. This is the last leg of the trip before starting home.

We arrived at Indigo Bluffs, checked in, and were escorted to our site in the ritzy “owner” section. It exuded luxury, with stamped concrete pads and adjoining patios, fire pits, well manicured lawns, wildflowers, cascading rock pools—you get the picture. It was so nice we almost felt guilty. Set-up was easy, with no leveling required, and electrical, water, and sewer hook-ups were easily accessible. The satellite dish had a wide open view of the southern and southwestern sky, and found the satellites quickly.

After a quick lunch, we drove to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Visitor Center, talked to a seasonal ranger, and picked up maps, etc. 130814 WIMI E 009 he 7.5 mile Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive was our first foray into this National Lakeshore. The drive was mostly through thick forests and was up, down, and around steep hills. We couldn’t believe the large number of people visiting the area—almost bumper to bumper—and predominantly from Michigan. A wide-open view of Lake Michigan appeared at the first major overlook. The next couple of overlooks provided views of vegetated sand dunes as far as the eye could see. And the last stop on the drive proved the most awesome of the trip, with dunes extending from the shore of Lake Michigan upwards to a height of 500 feet at about a 60° angle. Many folks were slipping and sliding their way down the steep sand slope while many others were trudging back up after making the quick descent. It was a pretty awesome sight, and photos cannot do it justice. I walked down a short distance and ascending the slope really stressed my hip joints.

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From the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, we made our way a short distance north to the Dune Climb, where many kids were enjoying the biggest sandpile they had ever seen!

We wrapped up the afternoon by driving along several natural lakes and through many small villages along the National Lakeshore area. The countryside contained many orchards, vineyards, and corn fields, and reminded us of Door County, Wisconsin. Of course, Door County is only about 50 miles to the west, across Lake Michigan! We were amazed by the clarity and turquoise color of Lake Michigan, and of the natural lakes in the area.

Indigo Bluffs RV Resort hosted a “meet and greet” in the evening, meant to provide a very low key sales pitch; and it was so low key that we were never approached, nor heard anyone push sales of the luxury RV sites. We met most of the couples occupying sites in the park (some owners, others renting either seasonally or by the night). We really took a liking to our next door neighbors, from Magnolia, Texas. He’s a beginning fly fisher, and they are quite active in their large Methodist church in The Woodlands in Magnolia. I volunteered to provide fly casting instruction to him when schedules permitted. Two other couples with whom we became acquainted were from Quincy, Illinois, and Conroe, Texas, respectively. By the way, heavy hors d’oeuvres were served and included dips, chips, cheeses, pastry, and pork barbecue sliders with wine, beer, and/or soft drinks—dinner!

 


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