There are very few places left in the world where the presence of humans cannot be seen.
Even in some of the most remote places, evidence of humanity, whether it be signs, structures or garbage, is almost sure to be found. However, there are still a few spots where human intrusion is completely nil and void.
A few weeks ago, my youngest brother was granted a leave from his deployment in Kuwait. We spoke very frequently about what it was he’d like to be doing with his free time while back in Michigan and, aside from knocking down a few beers (Kuwait is a completely dry country), he wanted to see some beautiful landscapes and spend as much time on the water as possible.
As my wife and I began to plan out a phenomenal camping trip, it became ever so clear that the Manistee National Forest and the Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area would be as spectacular a trip as any. These areas are only a few hours drive away and they are some of the most visually stunning places I’ve ever laid eyes on. We eagerly awaited his arrival home from Fort Campbell and increased the size of the trip by adding our daughter and her boyfriend to the mix.
After a hardy welcome and a few of the ever-coveted cold beers, we set our sights on the trip ahead of us. In hopes of beating any sort of crowd or congestion, we decided to do a simple one-night stay in the dunes right on the shore of Lake Michigan. All of us hurried through our workday to get on the road as soon as possible and, by some miracle, we all succeeded.
By 3 p.m., we were on the road heading north on a Monday night. Because my wife and I had visited the area on a few separate occasions, it was evident that we made the right decision; there were fewer cars and people than we had ever seen before.
As we navigated our way along the four-mile hike back to the lake, the greens of the trees and the smell of fresh water in the distance had us all hungry for the sights. Even so, I think it hit my brother the hardest after such a long deployment in a place where the only thing to look at is dirty sand and concrete.
With the lake in our view and the dune sand beneath our feet, we established a great place to camp and spent the remaining hours of sunlight enjoying the refreshingly cool water and gazing at the unspoiled miles of shoreline that is so rare to find these days. With a small fire built, we sat cooking a small meal and discussing the finer things in life before dozing off under the stars.
I find it truly amazing that sometimes even the greatest views can be enhanced by the company of the people we love. On this particular trip, sharing the views my wife and I had found so long ago with close family was the perfect blend in the magnificence of Michigan.