Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

I could write a love letter to Michigan summers.

pulling on long sleeves with your morning coffee to ward off a chill. reflections of light and sound off the surface of the lake. knowing the difference in scent between cedar and pine, campfire smoke and your neighbor's barbecue. sleeping with the windows open at night. adrenaline and wind in your hair as you glide across the water on a single ski. the feel of just enough sun on your skin - that you start turning pink but don't burn. shaking sand out of your shoes and not caring that it got there. sunset strolls down the pier or around the marina before stopping for ice cream.

the sand dunes and blue waters of West Michigan hold a lifetime full of memories for me. we visited often when I was a child, and in recent years I've spent nearly half my summers here. this week I have been hanging out with my family in Ludington, and we drove 2 hours north up to Empire to visit the dunes on Tuesday since the weather was clear and sunny.

I probably don't need to explain why Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore was voted the most beautiful place in America by GMA in 2011. but for me, I love it because of the memories here. at the end of the Pierce Stocking scenic drive there is a steep bluff that we would run down as kids. from the top, you can't even see the shore. the sand gently curves outward before plunging at a very steep angle towards Lake Michigan. though there is a warning sign posted that the trip may take 2 hours, my sister and brother-in-law and I decided to take the challenge.

the descent was easy, and the views from the bottom were stunning. Lake Michigan was showing off with water just as aqua and blue as beaches I've seen in Bali and Boracay. [it was a lot colder - but hey - the Great Lakes only fully thawed out a few weeks ago.]

the climb back up was a little tough, but we made it in about 30 minutes including a few stops for water. a few decades ago, I think it took me half that time. just be prepared to get sandy.

if you aren't up for the bluff, you can watch the crazies adventurers from the nearby observation deck, or hike over the dune crest for more views. there is also a "dune climb" further along the drive - that takes a few hours round trip but isn't as steep. pretty much, you can't go wrong because the views are amazing everywhere in the park.

can you see why Lake Michigan makes me all heart-eye-emoji? combining childhood nostalgia with stunning scenery is always a win. [ps- thanks to my sister for snapping all these photos of me! I will admit she made it back up the bluff faster than I did.]


Dunedin // Larnach Gardens

New Zealand is home to some stunning plant life. the gardens surrounding Larnach Castle are no exception - a wide variety of greens and blooms are arranged around the grounds. the site is not as massive as the Botanic Gardens we visited in Christchurch, but still large enough that we spent an hour wandering [and taking photos] before going inside to see the castle.

the Larnach Gardens and grounds are filled with lots of little nooks to explore. we found sweeping views of the Otago Peninsula, stables converted to living quarters, a glass-topped gazebo, and what appeared to be some kind of dungeon.

the sole occupant of the dungeon was this antlered statue which I found to be SO. CREEPY. it was giving me a very True Detective/ Carcosa kind of vibe. there weren't any signs around to explain what this place really was, or why this thing was in there. it was all very mysterious. it's giving me the creeps just looking at it so why don't we move back to the flowers?

these roses against the wall might have been my favorite.

if you visit Larnach, you can choose to pay admission to just the gardens, or add a little extra to go inside the castle as well. it's a great place to spend an afternoon wandering. there's even a little snack and beverage cart set up near the castle, so you can drink your tea or long black coffee while strolling through the gardens.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...