Just Over This Hill

Sunday September 19, 2011

I really should bring some kind of clock or alarm to keep in the v-berth because every Sunday morning Matt and I sleep in past ten o’clock since we have no idea what time it is.  And unless someone is coming out to visit us it feels like there is no reason to get out of bed and we stay there even longer.  We finally rolled out at 10:45 without aspiration to do much of anything.  A big pancake breakfast sounded good but we didn’t have any of the fixings (mental note, pick up for next week).  Enjoying the next best thing, cold poptarts, we still didn’t have the urge to get the sails up.  I sat and worked on blogs again for awhile but it wasn’t long before my mind needed a break.  Pulling out my nook I made my way to the v-berth and got comfortable under the sheets while I caught up on my Harry Potter.  Soon Matt was next to me with his Opus, probably reading something that was actually useful.  This also only lasted an hour before we were both ready for naps, a mere three hours after we had woken up.  Something about this boat just instills a bug in you that makes you want to sleep all-day-long.

Once we had slept for another hour and ensured that there was no way we’d be able to then fall asleep at a decent hour that night, we rolled out of bed for the second time that day.  Contemplating what we wanted to do over grilled cheese sandwiches we didn’t know if we should call it a day and head home or sieze this decent fall day  and force ourselves to do something.  I suggested we take the dinghy over to the sand dunes we were on last weekend to do a little more exploring.  Packing up a small backpack with our jackets, a few bottles of water and our camera, we loaded ourselves into the dink and began to slowly motor to the other side of the lake.  We passes all the racers making their way back to the yacht club for celebratory drinks and comrodery.  Feeling like the small fish in a big pond we motored past other sailboats and powerboats passing through the channel and finally ending at the foot of the dunes.  Dragging the dink on shore we started the initial climb which embarrassingly left me a little breathless.  Once we were at the top of that hill I spotted the area I wanted us to hike to, the highest point I could see at the moment, hoping it would give us views of Lake Michigan.

From where we were standing I could see a direct path up and over three more dunes (going up and down each one), or an off the beaten trail path with a flat route over and only up the last hill.  The second route looked to take us back behind a few trees where I was sure a nice sandy path would be running along the whole thing before depositing us at the bottom of the one large dune.  Following the path less taken it brought us out to a paved road, part of the campground attached to the State Park.  I was sure the path I’d seen from the top of the hill had to be around somewhere so as soon as I saw a path of sand inbetween the brush and trees I forced us on it.  Within 20 feet it dead-ended into a forest full of pine needles and sticks.  In our bare feet we tried to avoid this by tip-toeing through parts of open sand to what looked like another trail.  That was also a dead end.  Concluding that we would eventually have to walk through the pine needles and branches I hurried my way though without a problem, but Matt ended up with a small cut between his toes.  Finally back on sand we realized the easiest way to the top of the highest dune would be to go up and over the initial three dunes that the path less taken put us right next to.  All that work to end up right where we started.  One step forward, two steps back I guess.

After a lot of huffing and puffing on my part to get to the top (Matt basically ran up it), the view was well worth the work.  From this point we could see both Muskegon Lake and Lake Michigan, as well as the tops of masts making their way through the channel.  Sprawling on the sand to catch my breath we watched boats sail on both lakes as the sun tried to peak through the clouds.  Making our descent we followed a trail along the trees the overlooked a steep ridge into a valley filled with leafy green trees.  It was breathtaking.  We were both surprised at how much the landscape looked like Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, a place we’ve been visiting every summer (except this one) for views just like this.  It was nice to have this as a back-up sinc I was actually getting a little depressed that I hadn’t had my dune/lakeshore/scenic trail fix this year.  No doubt I still prefer Sleeping Dunes for the vastness of it along with the crystal clear water in Carribean blue shades, but this was definitely not a bad substitute.

Walking back to the dinghy we probably found the easiest way possible where we didn’t have to climb up any more dunes and only went down one, although it did drop us out on shore about 100 yards from the dinghy.  Climbing back in it we checked the fuel and figured as long as we were out we might as well make one more stop.  Matt had told me about another lake adjacent to ours that even had a bar with a dinghy dock.  This was something I had to see.  On the way over the wind began to pick up and waves hitting the front of the dinghy caused a cold spray to keep splashing me.  Ducking down to put our butts on the bottom we continued to motor at a slower pace until we reached the small channel that connected the two lakes.  Once inside it was dead calm, the wind had all but completely died out.  We admired the other boats in the slips, realizing this must be where all the large power yachts were kept because this place was full of them.  There also seemed to be a lot of Michigan/State rivalry here with some docks decked out in blue and maze with others in green and white.

Motoring under a small bridge we came up to the Bear Lake Tavern, and sure enough there was a nice sandy spot for us to put our dinghy on should we want to go in for a pint.  Then the channel opened up to a nice quiet lake with beautiful houses dotting the shores.  Right away we spotted a gorgeous blue house with white trim on the other side of the lake.  We’ve always wanted a blue house and this one was fit with waterfront property and a gazebo.  Had it not been for Matt keeping me out of the water I would have swam over there and asked if they would mind an extra houseguest for the next ten months.

Checking the fuel in the engine we saw it was running low and topped it off with what little we had left on us.  Deciding it would be best to head back now and hopefully not have to break out the paddles we turned around.  On the way out a gentleman and his wife passed us in their dinghy, him propped up on a lawn chair drinking a beer.  Now that was the right idea.  If only we had lawn chairs with us on the 4th of July we would have been all set!  Exiting the channel into Muskegon Lake the wind and waves picked up once more and we were back to sitting with our butts on the floor.  Luckily the paddles did not have to come out and we even had enough fuel to get us to the marina once we were packed and ready to head back home.  Not too bad for a day we were about to spend in bed.

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