Sleeping Bear Dunes

_MG_6709Yesterday we took a day-trip to the Sleeping Bear Dunes.  This is an annual trip for my kids, and I’ve been going here for the past 25 years.  As a young girl, my brother and I would partake in the junior ranger program every summer, and back then the park felt like an undiscovered treasure.  This year’s trip was rather heartbreaking.  There was so much traffic and so many people.  I could see the devastating effect that the crowds are having on the dunes.  It is such a fragile ecosystem.



_MG_6743Acts I witnessed in the span of 20 minutes: a lady putting out her cigarette butts in the sand and leaving them there, a family leaving their trash laying around after a picnic, a young boy pulling out tufts of dune grass (their root system is what anchors the grass and keeps it the dunes from eroding), and of course selfie sticks galore (no one seemed to be breathing in the beauty, rather everyone was on their phones).  The trip, despite the beauty that is still there, left me feeling distraught over the future of my beloved Northern Michigan.  I wonder where the line is between inviting people to witness these national natural treasures, and closing them to the public in order to protect the fragile ecosystems.  As Northern Michigan becomes more popular, Walmarts are popping up on what used to be farmland, the traffic in and out of Traverse seems never-ending…  I’m not sure what to do with these feelings, besides using them as a springboard for important environmental conversations with my boys.  My greatest fear is that when my kids are grown there will be nothing left here to show them.






6 thoughts on “Sleeping Bear Dunes

  1. Lisa

    i hope you can get past your experience at the dunes and continue to find the beauty of your surroundings wherever you are. I have friends living in beautiful, large new homes built in the last decade where I remember seeing farms and wooded areas. I live in an older house in a less prestigious neighborhood but I cherish my shabby chic quirky home and small yard with many mature trees. It is sad and frustrating when others do not have an appreciation for the simple unspoiled beauty of our woods, beaches, farmland and older neighborhoods.
    I enjoy reading about your adventures with your lovely family. I received your new book yesterday and plan to make several your recipes very soon! It is a beautiful book ! Great job!

  2. Lori

    Very scary. I think about these things too. It’s so sad that people can be so careless with nature and not realize the impact they’re having.

  3. Michelle DW

    My husband’s family is from Michigan and my husband has shared many childhood memories of Sleeping Bear Dunes. One day I’ll make it there. I also have similar fears to the one you described. As I visit my favorite towns and see the mom and pops replaced with national chains, I fear the day when no matter what town we visit, the only options for food will be Chipotle, Panera, and Subway. When that is the case, why even venture to new places? I think you are right- having conversations with our children around is perhaps the best thing we can do. Congrats on the book, can’t wait to pick up a copy!

  4. Helle

    I understand your worries. Sadly that seems to be the way things are going in so many places. I often wonder when we go to a lovely area, why the many people who come leave their rubbish behind, throw wrappers and empty cans in the forest, leaving the area in a state that makes nobody, themselves included, terribly interested in visiting – if it weren’t for the cleaning crews that the taxpayer pays for that keep the places pretty. As for selfie sticks, don’t get me started. Gripe over – I hope there are still enough lovely places and experiences that you and your family can make during your holiday.

  5. Xan

    Oh golly how my heart aches as I witness this kind of thing myself. We have many spectacular regions all around Australia that are falling victim in the exact same way. Traveling vicariously through your photos (these ones and those from your previous summers) the beauty of that area is breathtaking and really should be deeply respected. I hope those people wake up soon and realise what a privilege it is to enjoy these wonders. At least your boys are getting taught this though you and your husband xo


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