Memorial Day Weekend in Michigan is a big deal. Pools and parks are opening, campgrounds are booked solid, and the traffic is a nightmare if you’re heading north. Which is exactly what we did mid-morning.
My little sister Jessica, our practically adopted neighbor girl Maddie, my mom and me went up to Silver Lake to ride the dune scooters at Mac Woods. This company has been around for decades, leasing land from the state to take people on 40-minute tours of the natural sand dunes deposited by glaciers eons ago on the coast of Lake Michigan.
The dunes have changed dramatically in the past century and a half. Once lush areas were forested after the Great Chicago Fire, and the remaining stumps look like they would fit perfectly into the sets of Mordor, their jagged and weather worn roots reaching across the sands.
The shifting sands move, slowly swallowing up trees and vegetation in it’s path. These trees are actually about 30 feet tall, but just the top 5-10 feet are showing over the top of the dune.
Our tour guide Bob was hilarious, and made a point of stopping at various points in the ride to explain the landscape, environmental impact, and conservation efforts that have happened throughout the years. He has been doing tours with Mac Woods for 47 years, working the summers on the beach and teaching middle school science before retiring.
We got to spend some time at the lakeshore, and the water was freezing! The neat thing about being at the lake is that as soon as you start driving near it, the weather is completely different. It can be 85 and stifling humid in Grand Rapids, but as soon as you get to the lake it can be 72 and breezy, such was the case on Monday.
After our dune ride, we headed South and stopped at Little Sable Point Lighthouse. It is the oldest operating lighthouse on Lake Michigan, and is a sight to behold! They have started offering tours to the top of the lighthouse, but we opted to walk the beach instead.
The disappointing thing about our time at the beach was the amount of plastic trash in the sand. Every section we stepped on had bits of plastic – straws, lids, bottles – shards of plastic that will be on this earth for 500 years. It is so sad and preventable!
Overall, the day was a success and it was super fun to experience the outdoor offerings of our state.