My Trip to Sleeping Bear Dunes

Good morning my lovely readers! As some of you may know, I recently acquired a lot more time in my schedule and I have been taking full advantage of that newfound freedom in many ways.

You see, I have been dying to go on an adventure, just like I used to when I was little. With me losing my job, I thought that it was a fitting time to go on an adventure on my first free weekend in a long time. It seemed like a good idea at the time, however, mother nature seemed to have a very different plan for my trip.

I had woken up bright and early at six in the morning to start my trip. (I wanted to wake up at five in the morning and leave by six, but my phone had turned itself off in the night.) After yelling at my phone, I got dressed, fed the cats, and then started getting my stuff around for my day trip.

Where was I going, you ask? Well, Sleeping Bear Dunes! It’s a place at the top of Michigan, a 4-5 hour drive up the state, to get to it. If you’re using your right hand as a map, I was going from the bottom left of my palm, to the top of my pinky. (For those of you who don’t know, Michigan is in the shape of a mitten, hence the hand/map reference.)

The morning drive up there was truly incredible! The leaves were amazing to look at, a few of the small towns I drove through had beautiful Christmas decorations, and driving through some of the big towns made me nostalgic for my childhood of taking long road trips with my family. I even got to see a rainbow thanks to all of the rain!

The rain had plagued the trip the entire way up to Sleeping Bear Dunes, which made for some crappy driving. However, the rain had created the perfect opportunity for taking pictures of the clouds, which were absolutely breathtaking on the trip up!

There were plenty of amazing sites I had seen one the way up. One thing I had seen on the side of the road was this HUGE American Flag hung up that was the size of a house! Another thing that I was surprised to see along the side of the road was wind turbines! I hadn’t seen any of these since I had left Germany and it made me nostalgic for that as well.

When I had finally reached Sleeping Bear Dunes, it was noon and I was ready for lunch. The rain had finally stopped long enough for me to get out of the truck, breathe in some fresh air, and enjoy the scenic views. I had stopped at a rest stop across from some dunes and made myself a sandwich. It was too cold to sit at the picnic tables, but I had bundled up and taken a walk around the rest stop to take pictures for you guys to see.

While I was at the rest stop/picnic area, it started snowing and I took that as my cue to leave. I quickly packed up, got things ready for my return trip, and hit the road! I was only at the rest stop for a little under an hour, but the point of the trip was to take a drive, not to stay at one destination.

Upon driving back, the snow had started to pick up drastically! I was only a minute down the road from the rest stop when the snow turned to slush on the road, and I had started to slide.. I honestly didn’t think about the roads getting that bad that quickly, but before I knew it, I had slid off the road and into a ditch!

I’ll admit… I was terrified! It was cold, snowing, I was by myself, I was five hours from home, and my mind had gone blank on what to do.

My first thought was to try to get out of the ditch on my own, but the mud was too much, and my truck was stuck too deep. There was no way I was getting out on my own and I knew it. It didn’t take long, however, until a gradian angel found its way to me in the form of an older gentleman and his sweet dog Snoopy.

While I was sitting there in my truck, in the ditch, an older gentleman had pulled up in his car and offered his assistance. He had been walking his dog on the paths that wound through Sleeping Bear Dunes when it started snowing, and he had loaded up his dog and was headed for home when he spotted me. When he had seen me stranded there, he had stopped to make sure that I was okay and asked me if I needed any help.

This kind old man was a local there and knew exactly who to call. He had made the call to a local tow truck place for me, letting them know exactly where to find me (because I honestly wasn’t sure where I was exactly), and then he stayed with me for a while to make sure that I was alright. He kept me talking to help me remain calm, and his sweet dog Snoopy was right there to comfort me as well. He had talked about his wife, his dog, and how he had retired up there at Sleeping Bear Dunes because it was a beautiful place to be. Meanwhile, I had talked about how I was going to college and how I wanted to start a farm someday. A simple conversation with a stranger had made me feel immensely better about my situation, and he had told me that everyone slides off the road at least once and that I was going to be okay.

(A special shout out to this man, as well as all of the other people who had stopped that day to make sure I was okay, for offering help to a stranded stranger. The kindness of strangers is truly astonishing, especially when all hope feels lost.)

It was an hour before the tow truck had come for me, and another hour getting my truck out of the ditch. I felt so bad for the guy who had to pull me out, as he truly had a bad time getting my truck out of the ditch.

First off, the roads were covered in an inch of slush. Every time the tow truck driver had tried to pull my truck out, the tow truck itself started to slide into the ditch! The second problem was the logs in the ditch. Getting my truck over the logs would be an easy-ish accomplishment, however, the tow truck driver was concerned that getting over the logs would take my back bumper off because it was so low to the ground.

After a half-hour of tugging and pulling my truck out of the ditch (to no avail), the tow truck driver had me put the truck in 4-wheel-drive and slowly drive my truck out as he was pulling me out (which somewhat fixed the problem of his truck sliding into the ditch as well). After my truck finally started moving in the mud, we got it up on the log and he had put smaller logs under the tire so that my back bumper wouldn’t fall off. Finally, my truck was out of the muddy ditch, unscathed, and back on the road!

This was the start of a terrible drive back home! (But at least I was on my way back home!)

By the time my truck had gotten back on the road, I had lost two hours of daylight and it was three in the afternoon. I still had a five-hour drive back home (in good weather), I had two hours left of daylight (it gets dark by five), and it was snowing profoundly… Needless to say, I did NOT enjoy the drive back.

The trip back took about six hours, most of which was done in the dark, and the snow was coming down so hard and thick that I couldn’t see two feet in front of me half the time, and the other half I couldn’t tell what was road and what was not!

I had made it back home just after nine at night and I was tired, hungry, and my whole body was sore and stiff from an entire day of anxiously driving. I had hugged my parents, taken a long hot shower, and told myself that it would be a long time before I took another trip like that again. (Especially by myself.)

As with everything though, I learned some very valuable lessons from my little day trip..

  1. Strangers aren’t always bad and out to kill you. Some strangers are sweet and want to help.
  2. I learned that I am a lot stronger than I thought.
  3. I learned that if it so much as starts looking like snowy weather, I turn my 4WD on!
  4. I learned that audiobooks are a great way to pass the time on a road trip.
  5. I learned that I am capable of driving great distances by myself, through big towns, on busy roads, in terrible weather..
  6. And mostly, I learned that I could handle anything that life throws at me. WITHOUT losing my cool.

~

The next morning, I had woken up to a light dusting of snow over everything. It wasn’t as bad as some of the towns I had driven through up north, which had a few inches, but the snow was a terrible reminder of the trip I had taken the day before.

That morning, I was embarrassed that I had slid off the road and gotten myself stuck in a ditch. My whole body was still aching from the anxiety of driving through the snow at night at 30MPH. And although I knew I would have to drive again the next day, I took that day off to sleep in and rest.

It’s good to know that I can drive that distance if I need to. I drove a total of 12 hours that day, roughly 500 miles, and I did it all by myself. It’s not a trip that I would want to take again any time soon, but it is a HUGE confidence boost when you get yourself into trouble like that, and you know that you can get yourself out of that mess as well.

This awful trip hasn’t given me a fear of driving, and I will most definitely be taking more trips like this in the future. This has, however, given me a greater respect for driving in bad weather, and it has caused me to be a little more cautious on the roads.

Stay tuned for more trips! And as always, smile, have an amazing day, and remember that ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ (Kelly Clarkson). ❤

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