Yesterday was pretty low-key. We took the kiddo for a stroll along the shore and let him play on the playground there. In the afternoon, a leisurely drive to see the Mission Point lighthouse was lovely. After a swim, dinner was at Red Lobster. I know, it’s lame to eat at chain places when you’re on a trip, but in our defense, we have four nights here, and we had a gift card to use. It had been too long since I had Cheddar Bay biscuits! Liam charmed our waitress and all of the others, dancing to Pharrell Williams’ “Happy”.
Wednesday–what a fun day! We decided to venture out of town a bit and check out the Sleeping Bear Dunes, just about a half-hour drive away from us. The morning began overcast and cool, and only got colder as the day continued (down to around 55 at one point, and very windy). Thank goodness we wore our jeans and brought extra warm clothes for Liam! He snoozed a little on the way to the dunes, but woke up when we stopped at the Visitors’ Center. He oohed and aahed at the little museum display inside, showcasing various wildlife of the area including a cougar, owl, and beaver. (Fake ones, but he still gets super excited to see them!). Since he loved looking around there so much, we ended up getting him a small stuffed bear as a souvenir of his first family vacation. He hugged it tight and loved holding it as we drove the few miles further to get to the actual dunes.
I had heard the story of the Sleeping Bear dunes years ago. I believe my nieces and nephews received a picture book telling about a mama bear and her two cubs who didn’t quite survive the journey with her. We opted to go directly to the dune climbing area rather than do the scenic drive. We took turns carrying our own little cub as we climbed this steep wall of sand. It was just beautiful, both while climbing and at the top. We foolishly looked at the backpack we’d brought before going up the dune, but decided to leave it in the car. After all, why would one want bottled water or an extra sweatshirt or a snack after making an arduous sandy climb? Yeah, we regretted that decision…oh well! Nate was the tough guy and carried Liam the majority of the ascension. I kept offering to take him, but he kept declining my help. So I ran a little bit of the dune…yikes, that was a tough workout! I wish I had been close to something like this back when I was coaching cross-country! This place would be such an awesome hill workout for me and the kids!
So, we reached the top of the dune…and lo and behold, we could now see the next level of dunes! So of course, being a bit competitive with myself, I insisted we push ahead and get to the next height. The views from the top were breathtaking! We couldn’t see more water from the second level, but a rugged, hilly, woodsy area. It was great watching other visitors making the trek up the dunes, lots of small children running and racing each other, even an elderly woman hiking up with a cane and a helper. She made it the whole way…we saw a man waiting at the bottom who said she was his extremely determined mother-in-law.
We thought Liam would be more interested in playing in the sand, but as soon as Nate tried to let him sit down, he pulled his feet up and his hands started shaking. Maybe he just needs a bit more time to get used to this new stuff…he used to have the same reaction to grass, and now he’s fine with it. Anyway, he was carried the whole way up and the whole way down the dunes. By the time we reached the bottom again, it was getting awfully cold, so we put some more layers on the baby and grabbed our snacks from the car. He loved the gulls as well.
After the dune climb, we drove a few miles down the road to a maritime museum and viewed some old boats and learned about Coast Guard history. Lots of neat artifacts to see.
Little dude was worn out and slept on the trip back to the hotel. Traffic getting back was awful-construction was blocking a lane right in front of the hotel, so it took awhile to get there from half a mile away. Once there, though, Liam slept another hour, so we all got some rest.
We chose a very casual diner-type place for dinner called The Cottage, and the food was delicious. We rounded out the evening with a walk around the restaurant’s neighborhood, a short drive out of town, and ice cream at Sweet Treats, located where we got our pizza the first night. Liam was so sleepy by the time we got to the ice cream shop, but perked up quickly at his first taste of ice cream. Wow, he loved that and kept begging for more!
Seeing our son’s excited expressions every time he discovers something new is a joy. He loves the simple things, evidenced by the way he coos every time the hotel elevator door opens. He crawls around and gets into everything. He loves to go after the hotel room drawers (some child locks would have been helpful, that’s for sure)! Traveling with a toddler is definitely more of a challenge than without one, but it’s totally worth it.