Day 53 of our Journey

Here’s a confession. We’ve been fully loaded with all this great camping, hiking, and outdoor gear (thanks ColemanMountainsmithBrunton, and SteriPEN), but have gone nearly two months without sleeping outside. So we headed to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

Rockin’ our Coleman campground setup.

The campground here is very popular because it’s quiet and right on Lake Michigan so we were worried we might not get a spot when we arrived at 6 pm, but we got a spot and strated setting up camp. It felt great to finally be using all this terrific gear­ and not just carrying it around.

Then it was time for a lovely meal of Tamarind Tree boil in bag Indian food, which is honestly yummy despite the fact that both “boil” and “bag” can be used to describe the stuff. Not to mention really quick and easy to make should you arrive at camp late in the evening without the energy or supplies for a big involved camp cookout. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to find it in stores lately, so email us if you know of a place that sells Tamarind Tree meals, or if you work for Tamarind Tree and just want to send us some. Seriously. We’re nearly out.

Our freshly logoed Silverado in front of Sleeping Bear Dune.

Heeding the warnings of the park ranger, who advised us that raccoons and skunks are a campground nuisance, we cleaned up all food thoroughly and packed everything back into the truck except a bottle of Maker’s Mark and the cooler. Apparently, our heeding skills need some work, however, because at about 3 am we woke up to what sounded like someone running back and forth dragging a bag of rocks down a paved road.

There’s only one way up the dunes.

We peeked out of the tent and waved our flashlights around maniacally (sorry campground neighbors). Presently, a non-plussed raccoon the size of a small pig was caught in our beams. The little devil had been clawing at our Coleman cooler trying to get the lid open (they may have thumbs but thank goodness they haven’t read the owner’s manual yet).

Tantalizing trails like this kept us out on the dunes even under the high noon sun.

As soon as that guy sauntered off (reluctantly) we heard a scuffling, huffing, wheezy sound behind us. As if to add insult to injury, the raccoon’s boozy buddy was diligently trying to get into our bourbon bottle! Well, enough is truly enough, so we shoved every last scrap into the truck and returned to the tent, confident of our place at the top of the food chain.

Lake Michigan looks almost Mediterranean from this vantage point.

A bit of wood bleached by the sun and wind until it looks more like sculpture.

The next morning we drove our Silverado to the park’s namesake, a giant sand dune that looks a bit like a sleeping bear if you have a really, really vivid imagination. The climb started right from the parking lot up spectacular, white, fine-grain sand. The top of the main dune offered trails going off in various directions and we are unable to resist the urge to see what’s “over there,” so we pushed on and soon found ourselves hiking over completely exposed sand at high noon. Be smarter than us and start your climb in the early morning.

One of many crossings of the 45th parallel.

 

Here’s more about travel to US National Parks & Monuments

Here’s more about travel in the USA