Recently I planned a last minute trip to the Leelanau Peninsula to celebrate my 8th wedding anniversary with my husband Eric. As a couple, we have been lucky enough to live and travel throughout the US and take advantage of our incredibly diverse country. Living in Chicago, the San Francisco Bay Area, and now Michigan has given us a taste of living across the US. Crabbing and clamming on Samish Island in the Puget Sound, hiking the Bay Area Regional Parks, floating down the Russian River through Sonoma, and biking Chicago’s lakeshore paths, has filled us with awe at the sheer beauty and magnitude of this country.
Few sites are as close to my heart as the Lake Michigan, the dunes along the Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore, and the innumerable inland lakes and rivers on the Leelanau Peninsula.
Sleeping Bear National Lake Shore
As a young Michigander, I spent my childhood looking forward to weeks of camping at DH Day State Park, where we would ride our bikes, run the trails, and swim in the lake from dusk to dawn. I remember peering into the windows of old buildings in Glen Haven, hearing the eery history of shipwrecks told at the maritime museum, and the experience of pumping and hauling our drinking water from the ground wells back to our camp.
It’s hard to explain the sense of home I felt showing Eric the natural beauty that characterized the best memories of my childhood during our visit to Leelanau. It’s impossible to explain the feeling you get climbing Sleeping Bear Dunes, and once you’ve finally made the grueling hike across the sands to the lakeshore, to convey the wonder you feel when you look out onto Lake Michigan and at the Manitou Islands.
Anniversary kyaking trip on the Manistee River
Today, many of us will pack up and head to places that share a similar place in our hearts. We will celebrate the 4th, be close to our families, and engage in traditions held since childhood. In these celebrations, please take a moment to reflect on the rich and complicated histories that have made this nation, the magnitude of our natural resources, the irreplaceable role that these landscapes play in bringing joy to our lives. I know I feel pretty lucky to share this land.