Open Road Press

Sand Dunes State Park

Part V of a six-part series on the Bishops’ bicycle tour on the shores of Lake Michigan

Once back on Michigan turf, we retraced our original route down the lower half of the lake’s shoreline in search of our transportation home.

Camping Anyone?

Our return trip featured our fifth camping gig. It’s not easy to camp after cycling all day—and with more riding on tap the next day.

Camping contradicts the intensity of our touring. While casual campers shoot the breeze, grill hotdogs, and tend to their children, we’re scurrying about to pitch the tent, charge electronic devices, clean our clothes and bodies, and plan for tomorrow. We don’t fit the mold.

We’re amateur campers at best, but we do believe in the value camping brings. It breaks the motel routine, slows us down, and helps us appreciate the finer things in life. Some may disagree, but for us, camping is not one of them! Yet, an upcoming visit to a city farther south would put things in better perspective.

Sand Dunes of Yesteryear

Debbie’s mother hails from the upper Midwest. She attended summer camp in the region and visited Saugatuck Dunes State Park upon occasion. Since we would cycle by it again on our trip back to the car, we decided to stop to take it in.

Bicycles are not allowed on the trails to the dunes nor would they make the trip very well. The narrow, bumpy, wooded pathways would see to that. Therefore, we left our bicycles resting against a picnic table near the parking lot.

I always think twice before leaving our loaded bicycles unattended on a tour. Everything we need to make it to our destination lies on those bicycles. So do things that would be expensive to replace and other things we couldn’t replace. Parking the bikes is always a risk/reward dilemma, one negotiated between head and heart, curiosity and contentment, wisdom and wariness.

sand-dunes-state-park-beachWe walked under the heavy forest canopy for a mile or two, choosing between forks in the road along the way. Finally, the trees and brush yielded to the bright blue sky and the expansive sparkling water it covered.

In the foreground, we discovered the millions of grains of sand we’d been expecting. A glance to the south revealed a picturesque coastline lined with sand beaches and a distant hill. Few beachgoers had come to enjoy it, but for those of us who had made the effort to hike there. The beauty and the exclusivity justified the jaunt. Cycling shoes make clumsy hiking boots, but the chafing and the sand that would accumulate in them were small prices to pay.

sand-dunes-state-park-trailDebbie cooled off in the lake while I snapped photos. She now knows where her mother spent summers. And we had just recorded more memories to savor when we can’t venture to places like this again. Satisfied with the spoils, we retraced our steps to reclaim our bicycles and belongings and to resume our tour.

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