Sleeping Bear Dunes

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Last weekend we drove to Traverse City which is located in the northwestern corner of Michigan. The drive there takes you through three hours of nothing. At least, in the end the roads got quite curvy and were fun to drive. Finally no overcautious people and crazy speed limits taking all the fun. Also, we took the Tiguan for a short off-road tour on some unpaved forest paths and saw a live turkey on the way. We staid in a wooden cabin half an hour outside of Traverse City. In the city itself there is nothing going on this time of the year and the weather was’t that good either. We had a fun wine tasting tour, though, where we visited four different vineyards and tasted their wines. Three of them were rather disappointing and definitely too expensive for their quality. The Chateau Grand Traverse was our favorite and we bought a few bottles. It was explained to us that the vineyard is one of the oldest in the region and that it was built with support from Germany.

On our way back we made a stop at the Sleeping Bear Dunes.

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The rather silly name originates in an even sillier legend:

According to the legend, an enormous forest fire on the western shore of Lake Michigan drove a mother bear and her two cubs into the lake for shelter, determined to reach the opposite shore. After many miles of swimming, the two cubs lagged behind. When the mother bear reached the shore, she waited on the top of a high bluff. The exhausted cubs drowned in the lake, but the mother bear stayed and waited in hopes that her cubs would finally appear. Impressed by the mother bear's determination and faith, the Great Spirit created two islands (North and South Manitou islands) to commemorate the cubs, and the winds buried the sleeping bear under the sands of the dunes where she waits to this day. The "bear" was a small tree-covered knoll at the top edge of the bluff that, from the water, had the appearance of a sleeping bear. Wind and erosion have caused the "bear" to be greatly reduced in size over the years.

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The dunes are definitely worth a visit and with warmer weather and less rain it would probably be really awesome. The dune formation is huge. It took us about 40 minutes to cross them to get to the shore of Lake Michigan.

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The shore provides the right stones for some stone “flitsching” action (whatever that is in English…).

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