how to live, travel and explore the world from your van

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore on $20 a day

This is part of an 18 week, 7,532 mile, Vanabode road trip detailed in the book from Amazon
titled Big City Wild Country East Coast Road Trip on $20 a Day for just $2.99
See East Coast Road Trip for more pictures, itinerary, maps and trip overview.

After a fresh raspberry, ripe blueberry, maple syrup coated granola breakfast, we run up to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park. We eliminate the ten-dollar daily fee by flashing our America the Beautiful national park pass, but we pay twelve dollars to camp overnight. There are only six camping spots left so we are grateful to pay to play.

tiny man in big lake sleeping bear dunes np

I have never seen a body of water this clear, except Florida’s natural springs, the Bahamian beaches in Nassau, and the Colorado River waters in Lake Powell, Utah.

A breeze picks up, rifles through my papers, and threatens to send these words into the water. I trade my writing pad for my pedicure kit, then soak, slice, scrape, and buff my feet until they are as smooth as the palms of my hands. Kelly exfoliates my back by vigorously rubbing it with fine sand while I lift a dumbbell for exercise. Once warmed up I do a few sit-ups and push-ups, dash down the beach for two hundred yards, and get nice and hot, well warm anyway.

Having delayed long enough, I finally dive into the chilly clear water. We swim around together for thirty minutes and laugh about some of the things we have seen lately. I grow increasingly cold until I finally give up and walk out, then sit on the beach to drip dry in the cool afternoon wind.

Below: It might be a sandy area but super cool flowers like this blossom and bloom nevertheless.


We hike two miles round trip up and across humongous, steep, silky sand dunes and into the forest above. Even the dunes we played on out in Oregon, Washington, and Nevada cannot top these for sheer size. We are rewarded with great views of the lake, river, pond and forests at the top. Kelly and I take turns shooting pictures as we plunge barefoot down the hundreds of feet of sand dune at break neck speeds.

Jason Odom stagger runs out of control down the dunes at sleeping bear

Once you start stagger running down you either go faster or face plant.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore National Park Michigan

Above: That is ME sitting up there about a mile away. Pictures are deceiving and cannot hope to show just how far you have to go up to reach the top of these dunes.

Sleeping Bear Dune of sand

Above: Now a little closer.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore National Park

Above: Finally the hope spread as close as you want to be.

dunes and one of the lakes in Sleeping Bear

boat part of sleeping bear national park visitor center tours

Above: The Visitors Center is somewhat of a museum as well with many old boats both inside and out that you can tour and touch.

Visitor center working blacksmith shop in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Park.

Above: Next we visit the national park blacksmith shop, the only one of its kind left in the entire great lakes region. We discover hundreds of tools, machines, hand crafted iron and steel work, wagons, carts, hammers, axes, and a real fully functional blacksmith shop. A well schooled old world blacksmith hammers out a black steel hook from raw metal and then gives it to a blind girl sitting next to me.

We hit the sack about 9 then awaken at midnight and walk by starlight to the shore. The beach barely whispers over the pebbles. We sit alone in the sand and star gaze, kiss, and enjoy each other’s company. Ships offshore light and blink their way across the unearthly dark waters. To our right a mile or two away, campfires smolder on the beach, reflecting in the clear waters an arms length away.

For thousands of unforgettable experiences on this affordable 18 week 7,500 mile road trip
Click to see the book "Big City Wild Country East Coast Road Trip on $20 a Day"
from Amazon

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