Wednesday, July 9, 2008

My Favorite Place

Every summer we head to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Leelanau County, Michigan, for four days of pure summer bliss. Imagine a place with no traffic lights, chain stores, or fast food restaurants. Imagine a place with crystal blue lakes, inland seas, and towering sand dunes; fossilized rocks, sandy creek beds, and cherry orchards; vineyards, harbors, and historic lighthouses; a place where the vacationer's only recreation comes from embracing sand, surf, dunes, and cherries. That place is Leelanau County.

I feel bereft because we just got back from our vacation, and I can't believe I have to wait a whole year to go there again. Usually we go later in the summer, but other obligations forced us to take our trip earlier this year. It doesn't seem right to have it behind us already rather than to still be happily anticipating the get away.

I can't be truly melancholy, though, when we had such a wonderful time. The weather cooperated beautifully!
My son spends his days at the beach constructing elaborate sand cities.

My husband likes to help. My daughter has a keen interest in hunting for rocks. (This is worthy of its own post, so more on that later.)

We all enjoy going on hikes to explore scenic land and waterscapes, although this year the mosquitoes were so horrible we went on only one hike. Fortunately I had bug spray in my backpack, so we saved ourselves from the onslaught, but after that we were afraid to try kayaking or tubing or anything else in the woods.

Watch out for mirages in the dunes! All that shifting sand, rolling terrain, and bright sunlight make things appear not as they are.
One of our traditions is a stop (or two, or three) at Cherry Republic in Glen Arbor. They are serious about cherries at Cherry Republic. Everything in the restaurant and gift shop includes cherries somehow. Cherry ketchup, cherry hot dogs, cherry mustard, cherry bread, cherry jam, cherry cookies, cherry pie, cherry chicken salad, cherry chicken chili, cherry salsa, cherry lemonade, even spoons and bowls made of cherry wood. We eat at least one meal at Cherry Republic, go back again another day for pie and ice cream (12 flavors of ice cream, each with cherry as an ingredient), and then make another stop to pick up food items to bring home.
Here is this year's haul, all of it just for us! I know I can always mail order from them online (or sometimes I can even find some of their products in gift shops far, far from Glen Arbor), but it's not the same as buying it at Cherry Republic headquarters.
This year we arrived on the 4th of July. There were no official fireworks scheduled, but individuals put on their own impressive displays over Sleeping Bear Bay.
We were also treated to a bright crescent moon hanging over a sherbet sunset.

Did you know you can reach out and hold the sun at sunset on the beach?
I can't wait to go back again.
Visit my Flickr page for more vacation photos.