July 9, 2014

Day 298 - July 9, 2014: Sleeping Bear Dunes

Today was devoted to seeing Anne's family, including her sister Carolyn and husband Steve and their daughter Rachel and husband Anthony. The four of them are staying at our house for a short vacation and drove up to Sleeping Bear Dunes for the day. Plus, Anne's sister-in-law Mary K. and husband Emilio drove up from Texas and are staying near Traverse City, where they recently purchased a spot in a recreational vehicle park.

We all met in Glen Arbor for lunch and then drove to Empire, picked up passes to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Forest, and drove out to Empire Bluffs for the most incredible views of the dunes.

The gang paired up

Anne, Carolyn, Rachael and Mary K.
And us, of course

Next we moved on to the Pierce Stocking Scenic Trail, which is a 7.4 mile drive that winds through forested land and goes up and over the dunes and features lookout points along the way. The most interesting stop is number 9, which has an incredibly steep and wide open dune dropping a few hundred feet to the water's edge. Tourists, who are adventuresome and in good shape, come to hike down and back. A large sign at the top warns of the strenuousness of this hill, and that it make take up to 2 hours.

Rachel and Anthony had heard about this climb and came excited and prepared. They got down in 7 minutes, put their feet in the water, and hiked back up (sometimes on all fours) in 23 minutes. Oh, to be young again!

The steep and challenging Sleeping Bear Dunes
In 2011, ABC's Good Morning America conducted a nationwide poll which voted Sleeping Bear Dunes the most beautiful place in America, and after a great and fun day, we all certainly agree with that conclusion.

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