Iím up early and on the road by 8:00 AM. My first stop is just 20 miles away, the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. This 15,000 acre preserve stretches along the bottom of Lake Michigan. After a quick stop at the Visitor Center to get the stamp, I ride along the beach. But I donít dawdle for long, as I want to get north to my real goal for the day: Michigan. Iíve never really been to the Great Lakes State. I went to Detroit once, but that doesnít really count. Besides, the day I was there, Tonya Harding had the crap beaten out of Nancy Kerringan, so Iíve tried to forget the whole thing anyway. I swear, I had nothing to do with that horrible incident. Yeah, right.
The highway helps me get north fast and in a few hours Iím in Manistee, getting up coastal Route 22. The weather is flawless. Itís so crystal clear you wonder if itís real. A bank thermometer in Manistee reads 68 degrees, 30 degrees cooler than where I was 24 hours ago. What a difference a day makes.
Past Parksdale, what little traffic there is disappears and the road starts to get windy. After Arcadia, I get my first good look at the lake from up high. 712 feet above sea level actually. This isnít a lake. This is an ocean! I know thereís land over there somewhere, but the curve of the earth hides it from view. They should make a law that states if you canít see the other side itís not a lake, itís a sea.
At Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, I really get to experience the beauty that is the northwestern shore of Michiganís lower peninsula. A hilly region fringed with massive coastal sand dunes and dotted with clear lakes, itís a masterpiece of wind and water. I ride the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive and stop for panoramic views of Sleeping Bear Dunes, Glen Lake, and Lake Michigan. The sandy bottom of the lakes makes the water as blue as the Caribbean.
The highlight of the day has to be Dune Climb, a towering sand dune 460 feet off the lake. If you have the ambition, itís a quick slide down the hill, but an hour to get back up. People turn into ants as they start the climb back up, lost in a overwhelming slope of sand.
I spend the rest of the afternoon winding up the coast and by 6:00 Iíve arrived at the Williams home on Torch Lake in Alden. Kip Williams is a life long friend of my buddy John Allee, and heís invited me to spend the night. The Williams family has had this house on this lake for generations. The setting is serene. At three miles across by twenty miles wide, Kip tells me the lake reminds him of Manhattan, another place that has been so important in his life. By the way, Kip is a film director and his latest project "The Adventures of Sebastian Cole" is in theaters now. Check it out.
As soon as I arrive in Alden, weíre out on the water for a family cruise down the rambling Clam River. We take out the old Chris Craft, a true classic and one of the last real wooden boats made by the company in the 60ís. The wildlife on the river and the setting sun are spectacular. Itís a perfect end to a perfect day.
Okay, so my cell phone didnít work today. But nothing is ever perfect.
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