Chairman Bao is a Shih Tzu. We travel a lot. I drive. He watches. We've logged at least 10,000 miles and he's never once said, Sweetheart, don't you think you should stop and ask someone?

Friday, July 14, 2006

The Chippewa Indians say that long ago, a mother bear and her two cubs were driven into Lake Michigan by a terrible forest fire. They swam and swam. When the mother bear finally reached shore, she scrambled up onto a bluff to wait for her cubs, but the cubs didn’t make it. So the Great Spirit Manitou created two islands to mark the spot where they drowned, and then he created a huge, solitary sand dune – Sleeping Bear Dune – to represent their faithful, grieving mother.
A sand dune is simply a pile of sand deposited by wind. Beach dunes sit on the shore and are made of beach sand. Perched dunes sit high above the shore on plateaus, and are made of glacial sand. Sleeping Bear Dune is a perched dune. It’s about 2000 years old, with a geological history of growth, stability and change which is geologically interesting but not nearly as evocative as the Chippewa legend. However, sand dunes do migrate, burying trees and even structures. There used to be some US Coast Guard buildings here, but they were moved in 1931 because the dune was about to engulf them.
You’re looking at the far southern edge of the dune. Here, the young and the restless (and the totally irresponsible) can climb all the way down to Lake Michigan. The problem is that they’ve then got to climb back up again. Some people – like the bear cubs – can’t make it, and have to be rescued by helicopter or boat. A sign warns, The return climb is extremely strenuous.
All the sand confused Bao, probably because in his experience, where there’s sand there’s an ocean, and waves. Bao dislikes waves, and any other natural force that's bigger than he is, and kept stopping and looking with typical Shih Tzu caution back over his shoulder.
When we reached the lookout, he gazed with trepidation at the line of climbers struggling back up the side of the dune. Don't worry, I assured him. We're not going to do that. And we didn't. My friend Edwina and her husband Bob have a spacious house on Crystal Lake (that’s the one I told you about yesterday) and two cats who don’t like dogs and were therefore locked in the laundry room for the duration of our visit. There we are on the pier. Bao took one look at the lake and resolutely dug in his paws, so we couldn't go all the way out to the end, which would have made a much better picture. He's generally a wonderful traveller, but he definitely prefers galleries, museums, restaurants and shops to the great outdoors.
We had a quiet afternoon, and a restless night -- for the second straight night, hordes of unsupervised children were thundering up and down the corridors of this otherwise pleasant Best Western motel, screaming and slamming doors, until well after midnight. Give me a dog, anytime!
By the way, it isn't really 3 AM (although it feels like it!) I just haven't been able to figure out how to adjust the clock in my computer, which still thinks it's in Tucson.


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