The Moving Dunes

Thursday, July 26, 2007 -- Last full day at Silver Lake State Park, MI

It looked like rain all morning so we stayed close to home. I did yesterdays blog post and we made reservations to stay a couple different places during the next two weeks. This time of the year, reservations aren't really needed during the week... it's possible to get a place almost anywhere. Weekends are a different story. Without a reservation there's a serious chance we'd be staying in a strip mall parking lot -- at least around here. By mid-August vacationers will be wrapping it up as the kids head back to school and the pressure on camping sites will start to ease.

Around noon we finally got going and headed for the dunes, specifically, the pedestrian access point near the north end of Silver Lake. Here, the dune is advancing into the forest, and doing so with drama. The picture below shows the sand advancing from some distance away.

The next two photos show some detail, at the margin, where the sand meets the forest floor.

It's a scene from a science fiction film, but it's real. I don't know how fast it's moving, but the photos leave one with the impression that it's advancing inches or more each day. Just a fascinating place to see.

We climbed to the top of some of the highest dunes where we heard a small kid, maybe 8 or 10, say, "it's like I'm in an endless video game, there's sand wherever I go." And there is, for miles around in every direction. Dunes like this fascinate while grass covered hills of the same size don't. Is it the novelty of it? The uncommon nature of it all? The thought that it's almost alive... moving... growing here... shrinking there? I don't know. But I do know that it's a kick being on top of one. I may actually, now, better understand the dune-machine gear heads that have a passion for driving machinery around these piles of sand. It's an environment that's unique, challenging, and, probably, just plain fun.

We took a few pictures of a selection of dune-machines. It's a wide range of stuff, but don't let these pictures narrow your thinking about what a dune-machine is. Almost anything on wheels can (and probably has) be modified to work. Check out the photos we took in a new photo album called Dune-Machines.

With rain and clouds around, we scratched going to the beach (like we needed more sand anyway), and drove to the next town north, Pentwater. After a walk around town and a quick beer at one of the local establishments, we headed back home for a fire and some preparation for moving tomorrow.