Friday, June 21, 2013

Michigan 2013 Trip - Day 8

The last day of the trip.  After a restless stay at the Econolodge we took advantage of their Continental Breakfast (with grandma having a little bit of trouble figuring the toaster out).  Before heading back to Mansfield there was one more sight to see, Sleeping Bear Dunes.

Sleeping Bear Dunes is a long stretch of shoreline on Lake Michigan.  In addition to great views, there are restored buildings and places to climb the dunes.  The main place to climb is located right off the main road and this is a good place for kids to climb.  You start going up and then run back down to the parking lot.
The more popular climbing dunes.

The other place to climb is a little more perilous and this is where the "Running Shoes" of this blog comes into play, it's definitely an athletic feat. It's located along the scenic drive and a large warning sign says to stay off the dunes.  This is not mandatory but rather the park's way of covering themselves as several people attempt these dunes only to need emergency rescue later.  You see, instead of climbing up first, this section of the dunes you start at the top and merrily bounce down 450 ft. to the coast to dip your feet into Lake Michigan.  Once down, you have to climb back up though.  It averages people 1 to 2 hours to climb the dunes (I did it in 35 Min.!) and several can't make it due to heat exhaustion, regular exhaustion (the climb is exceptionally steep), or heart issues and have to be rescued to the tune of over $500.00.
450 Feet of Pure Steep Climb

Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes

The Warning Sign for the Dunes.
Climbing the non-steep part of the Dunes.

Warning for the Video:  This is a video of going down the dunes at a fast place.  It is shaky and possibly nausea inducing.  But it does show just how swiftly you descend the steep dune.

For those not interested in climbing, there is a boardwalk with a lookout that allows you to stay on the top of everything and not exert yourself.  Once I was done tackling the sand-dunes, we headed South to Empire, where we ate at Joe's Friendly Tavern.  Mom and Jan got some nice juicy burgers with fresh cut fries, grandma stuck to her soup and salad again, and I got a duck quesadilla with a cherry sauce on it.  The cherry sauce was fantastic and the duck wasn't too greasy so it was a good experience overall.  Not only does Empire have this restaurant though, they have a fantastic beach that has a lake to swim in on one side of the parking lot, and Lake Michigan on the other side.  There's a memorial lighthouse and several jungle gyms for kids to play on too.

Empire Memorial Lighthouse

Empire Beach
One the way South we also came across the Point Betsie lighthouse, which was closed for visits, but still neat to see from the beach.
Point Betsie Lighthouse

The last stop of the day was in Frankfort where we picked up some more smoked whitefish, some cherry beef jerky, and sour cherry drops.  All of which were delicious.  And then sadly, it was time to head back to Mansfield.  Due to our late start, we arrived back in Mansfield at a little after midnight.

Smoked Whitefish, yum!

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