The Suitcase Lady

Dunes

June 17, 2014, 9:56 pm

We have been ripped off. The sandy bluff in our front yard on the western shore of Lake Michigan is 70 feet high. Across the Lake and about 60 miles north, one of the dunes in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Michigan is 450 feet high.

The prevailing westerly winds are the culprits. They create sand dunes that pile up spectacularly on the eastern Lake Michigan shores. A few years ago when we saw the skyscraper height dune at Sleeping Bear for the first time we were speechless. We stood on the top and the people who had ventured down to the the beach looked the size of ants. Watching them climb back up 40 stories of shifting sand was painful. The upward trek takes about an hour, and many people abandon walking and crawl up.

Every time we visit our reaction is the same. Our minds can’t grasp what our eyes are seeing, much the same way that Niagara Falls and the Rio Grande Gorge are sights which have no reference points and can produce wonder again and again.

This year we noted a new sign had been posted at the top of the phenomenal incline. It read:

WARNING
STEEP, ERODING BLUFF
KEEP OFF
MAY CAUSE INJURY OR
HEAT ILLNESS
RESCUE FEES WILL BE CHARGED

In other words, if you are macho enough or thoughtless enough to think the climb up this dune is a cakewalk, you will pay dearly for your stupidity.

Fortunately, neither my husband nor I harbor any needs to conquer that sand mountain. We just soaked in the view from the observation deck above and played in the upper parts of the world’s tallest sandbox. We also laughed at this line from the park’s visitors guide: “Wisconsin is 54 miles due west, but thanks to the curvature of the earth, you will not see any cheeseheads waving back at you.”

Dune-People

Note the people in the upper left hand corner to get some sense of the scale

 


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