Eclectalife, Michigan — July 8, 2013 at 9:30 am

My Socialist Independence Day Vacation in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore



I’m sitting here sipping on my water bottle this morning, the last piece of My Socialist Independence Day Vacation: it’s filled with the deliciously pure water from the D.H. Day Campground just outside of Glen Arbor, Michigan. Anne and I spent the past week there and I always return refreshed but also reminded that one of our greatest national treasures is our National Park system.

Take a look at this picture:

Yeah, it’s a cute picture taken by Anne of our pit bull Sunni playing fetch in Lake Michigan (Anne documented this, his first camping trip, in photos on her Facebook page.) That’s the majestic Empire Bluffs in the distance. But it’s also a great example of why this socialist place, paid for and owned by ALL Americans, is so special. How many people do you see on that beach on this warm sunny day? Almost none. It’s a place where you can kick back on a perfect sand beach on a summer day with your dog and see almost nobody else. And that’s on the mainland. Go out to the Manitou Islands for a backpacking trip and you can be on your own for days at a time if you wish.

There’s a great book called Sixties Sandstorm that tells the story of the Sleeping Bear Dunes area becoming a national park. I’ve read it twice and both times I came away wondering if, in today’s political climate dominated by tea party types who reject anything done collectively as a society, it would ever have happened in the 21st century. It’s a great solace to me that my “power place”, the place where I got married to Anne nine years ago, in fact, is there; protected and maintained forever for the people of the United States. Given the corporatist drive to privatize everything, I can’t help but think this place, which was chosen as “The Most Beautiful Place in America” in 2011 by Good Morning, America, would be mined for its sand and turned into a commercial sideshow a la Niagara Falls by those who would make money from it.

But, it’s not and so we are able to enjoy its fabulous beaches, its unique geological features, the quiet forests, and the idyllic rivers anytime we wish. And, even on the busiest tourist weekend of the year, find empty beaches where we can reset our mental and emotional levels back to zero and refresh our souls.

In a rather interesting moment of randomness and irony, we were watching the 4th of July parade in Glen Arbor (where dog bones rained from the sky for Sunni’s enjoyment), this was tossed to me from one of the parade floats:

Even in The Most Beautiful Place in America, the story of our state’s largest city was part of the experience.

Other highlights included:

  • Breakfast with Betsy Coffia and Rochelle Noel, the organizers of the recent Save Our Public Schools rally at the Capitol
  • A beautiful morning hike to the top of Alligator Hill where you can see nearly all of the park dunes from above, towering over the spectacular Lake Michigan
  • Fireworks along Sleeping Bear Bay on the 4th of July where no fewer than seven different displays were happening simultaneously
  • Meeting a new friend, Peggy, from Saugatuck, involved with the “Until Love is Equal” LGBT rights group out of Holland
  • Watching the sun set over South Manitou Island (twice!) from Sunset Beach, the place where Anne and I got married nine years ago this August

So, Hooray for Socialism! and our ability to work together collectively to do amazing things as a union of caring citizens. I hope your holiday was as socialist as ours was.