Over the last couple years, there have been many articles written about spending less time in front of our tablets, phones, TVs and computers and giving more attention to green spaces and parks so we can explore the great outdoors, commune with nature, absorb the sun’s rays, etc. There are many physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health benefits attributed to getting outside. For a wonderfully written article on this subject, read This is Your Brain on Nature from National Geographic’s January 2016 issue. I literally crave the outdoors and will get moody if I don’t get outside (just ask Heather), bask in the sun’s rays (even if it’s cloudy) and do stuff. The only thing that will keep me indoors are mosquitoes.

Recently, we visited Heather’s home town of Traverse City, Michigan, and we have a tradition of climbing Sleeping Bear Dunes. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore covers a 35-mile stretch of eastern Lake Michigan and rises 450 feet above the lake. It truly is something to behold. After driving into the park, having a picnic and stopping at a few scenic overlooks, we arrived at the parking lot of the main Dune Climb. Excitedly, we got out of the car and immediately started to take off our shoes and socks. I have always enjoyed hearing and seeing peoples’ reactions when they look up at the mountain of sand. As we started up the dune, I heard one woman giggle, “I didn’t sign up for this.” Then she took a step forward and started the climb. I saw another couple, who didn’t look like they would be able to climb the dune, steadily make their way to the top of the first rise. They took their time, held hands and took it one step at a time. Very cool.

My boys make it like a workout. I’m not sure where they get that from. Must be a boy thing. They jog their way up and then run, leap, tumble and bound their way down. Repeating over and over again. As always, the experience was invigorating. We were in the moment. Sand between our toes, wind in our hair, sun on our faces.

What always amazes me about climbing the dunes or any other outdoor adventure that is not formalized (you’re NOT thinking about reps, time, number of steps, calories burned, etc) is that you can always do more. You are tapping into something. Fun? Relaxation? Energy reserves? I don’t know what you call it, but we sure earned our ice cream from The Dairy Lodge later that afternoon.

Carrying Bruce up Sleeping Bear Dunes
Climb #3. Kyle, Bruce, Roy and I make the ascent.
Bruce challenged me to carry him up so he could rest a while.

Bruce and I running down the Dunes.
On your mark! Get set!

Picking up speed.