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July 2, 2002
Michigan sand, surf and sun (Gail)

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A return to a magical spot from childhood

Our visit to Silver Lake was a return visit for me. My parents had brought us here when I was a child. I have wonderful memories of those trips and wanted to share them with my family. My parents loved to travel and were undaunted by dragging five children along (driving of course) to places like Florida, Canada, and all around the Great Lakes region. Silver Lake was one of those magical places, a lake you could walk out into for what seemed like forever. And the dunes are incredible. We have old home movies of my father (much younger than I am now, weird) tumbling down those dunes head over heels.

Truthfully we never did walk out onto the big live dunes, the temperatures were just too hot. We did spend our time over on the Lake Michigan side playing on the beach and in the dead dunes (called that because they no longer move).

When we arrived I noticed how much smaller Silver Lake seemed to be. I later found out this is not just a trick of aging. The live dunes actually "eat" about one foot of lake a year. As a matter of fact a road that once went to the far side of the lake is now much shorter because the dunes have covered it. Our room was perfect, overlooking both the lake and the dunes, facing towards the sunset. It wasn't Rarotonga but it was beautiful. Of course you had to ignore the touristy places renting everything you could possibly want for a day at the lake but they were down the street so they didn't spoil the view.

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The view from our room

Our first night we walked down the street (this is a very small town) and had dinner. The menu was a bit limited. Russell order fried shrimp and French fries. I had a hot roast beef open face sandwich. This is a traditional type of sandwich for my sisters and me whenever my family would travel. I had it for all of us. It was great. After dinner Russell declared he couldn't eat like this for three nights, it was too much fried food. Of course he then picked up donuts the next morning for breakfast. I guess we have been too long away from the familiar. Ultimately I picked up some fresh fruit to counteract all the grease and we did much better. The next day the boys discovered chili dogs, root beer floats and chocolate malts. This we bought from the Dog and Cream roadside stand. It's a typical beach town place, complete with a dancing Scooby Doo singing (continuously) Surfin' USA standing on the order counter.

After our dinner we went over to Lake Michigan (five minute drive) and explored the dunes near Little Point Sable. The boys had great fun racing far ahead of us to hide so they could spy on us as we walked by. We were once again glad their shirts are yellow and orange, makes them easy to spot as they skulk around. I am sure the couples who were trying to have a quiet moment to watch the sunset were not so happy to see these two little boys come running through. We had planned on just checking out the beach but ended up staying one and one half hours to play and watch the sunset over Lake Michigan. For those of you who have never been here, it is an amazing lake. It is about 60 miles from this point to the Wisconsin side so you can't see the other side and it has tides and waves. It is easy to imagine that this is an ocean, though the waves are a bit smaller.

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The boys on the dunes: tiny spots of yellow and orange

We spent most of our last day at this beach, arriving at 2 pm and finally leaving about 6 pm. We had a great time. The only problem was the strong wind that was blowing continuously. It blew the sand everywhere, covering our beach towels, stinging our skin (think of a light sandblasting). Russell and Cameron tried to throw the Frisbee but it was just about impossible. We had great fun running in the wind with my kanga opened with wind pulling us along like a sail. We learned just how much blowing sand loves suntan lotion; we were all lightly covered with the stuff.  Even with this covering of lotion and sand we all (except Cameron) got sunburned, me worst of all.

To counteract this mess we all played in the water, bobbing along in the surf. The waves were just big enough to be fun for the boys, not threatening at all. They loved that the water was warm and they could walk out so far and were still able to stand up. We had to instruct them to keep an eye on our beach stuff so they wouldn't be pushed too far down the beach by the waves.

We also did our usual beach stuff and got right to work on our sand creations. We brought two ice buckets, two of our soup bowls and two cooking spoons from our kitchen suitcase. The sand here is perfect though the wind does dry it out quickly. Russell and the boys created a fort at the water's edge. I created yet another dragon. She was our biggest yet and we decide she needed a nest of babies to protect. Joss created eggs and baby dragons in a nest and Cameron carved large eggs out of the solid sand, they cracked when we put them in so it looked like the babies had come out of them. We also created a large castle fortress. I think it was the best we have made so far. We have learned from our trip. The boys scrounged rocks (citizens) and grasses (flags) from the dunes and our castle was complete. When we were out in the water I was very pleased to see people stopping to look and take pictures.

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Joss helps the dragon guard her nest
Building a better castle fortress

This has been a great end to our trip. I realize we still have two days on the train traveling back across. We are excited that we will be roughly following the Lewis and Clark Trail. These last few days have been days of closure. Our last 'Mom' haircuts, last hand laundry, last meals eaten in our room. We have left bits and pieces of our life this past year all around the world. Our spices and skillet are in Edinburgh, our pan is in Michigan, some of our cast-off clothing is in Germany and France and England. We left coats in Australia, a visor in Ireland and books everywhere.

We are excited to be heading home. Though Joss, the boy who didn't want to leave home a year ago surprised us all this evening when he announced that he is not sure he wants the trip to end.


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