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Posts Tagged ‘Lake Michigan beach’

A Winter Beach Walk at Good Harbor, Sleeping Bear Dunes, Lake Michigan

Posted by Jody on March 6, 2013

Today’s Featured Guest Writer/Photographer is Beth Dole:

Sleeping Bear Dunes in Northern Michigan has wonderful beaches, and few ever get out to explore their winter beauty. This week Good Harbor beach made national news for a peculiar formation of ice balls on the beach (see last picture).  I couldn’t wait to get out there and check them out, but by the time the weekend rolled around the dynamic beach had of course changed. Now it was frozen sand and ice, with frozen ice balls. The beach was icy enough one could ice skate on it, the rocks were frozen solid with great ice formations to explore.

Winter Wonderland at Sleeping Bear Dunes (Photo by Beth Dole)

Winter Wonderland at Sleeping Bear Dunes (Photo by Beth Dole)

My advice to all is to visit the beach all year round, winter can be delightful on the beach.

Winter in Sleeping Bear Dunes (Photo by Beth Dole)

Winter at Sleeping Bear Dunes (Photo by Beth Dole)

Winter at Sleeping Beacr Dunes (Photo by Beth Dole)

Winter at Sleeping Bear Dunes (Photo by Beth Dole)

Winter at Sleeping Beacr Dunes (Photo by Beth Dole)

Winter at Sleeping Bear Dunes (Photo by Beth Dole)

Winter at Sleeping Beacr Dunes (Photo by Beth Dole)

Winter at Sleeping Bear Dunes (Photo by Beth Dole)

Winter at Sleeping Beacr Dunes (Photo by Beth Dole)

Winter at Sleeping Bear Dunes (Photo by Beth Dole)

Winter at Sleeping Beacr Dunes (Photo by Beth Dole)

Winter at Sleeping Bear Dunes (Photo by Beth Dole)

Winter at Sleeping Beacr Dunes (Photo by Beth Dole)

Winter at Sleeping Bear Dunes (Photo by Beth Dole)

Ice Balls (Photo by Leda Jo)

Ice Balls (Photo by Leda Jo)

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is located in Northwestern Lower Michigan along the shores of Lake Michigan. The Visitor Center is in Empire, MI about 25 miles from Traverse City. Miles of sand beach, bluffs that tower 450’ above Lake Michigan, lush forests, clear inland lakes, unique flora and fauna make up the natural world of Sleeping Bear Dunes. High dunes afford spectacular views across the lake. Sleeping Bear Dunes is as old as continental ice sheets and as young as the 1970 Establishment Act that set aside the Lakeshore for preservation of the natural resources and for public use. The most prominent features, and those for which the park is named, are the perched dunes above Lake Michigan. These immense sand dunes are “perched” atop the already towering headlands that are glacial moraines. The dune overlooks at the Sleeping Bear, Empire and Pyramid Point bluffs are about 400 feet above Lake Michigan. With 65 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline and numerous inland lakes and streams, the park is wonderfully water oriented.

About the Author: Beth Dole is the mom of two teenagers, avid outdoors person, loves the beach, can be found hiking, biking, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, trail running, kayaking in the north country when not writing blogs about heart disease. 

A couple more helpful links:

The Official Website of the Sleeping Bear Dunes Visitors Bureau



Please stop by and visit Beth at her very informative and helpful blog: Rehabilitate Your Heart.


Just a note: Beth, you are so right! Any time of year is the perfect season for a trip to the beach. Your photos are absolutely wonderful! Many, many thanks for sharing your beautiful, beachy part of the world with us! ~Jody


Posted in Featured Guest Writer, Great Lakes Beaches, Sand and Shoreline | Tagged: , , , , | 30 Comments »

“The Beachmaker” – Turning Shells into Sand

Posted by Greg on June 4, 2012

Have you seen the billboards and signs posted around lakes, beaches and boat ramps asking boaters to wash their boat to prevent transporting unwanted hitchhikers from lake to lake? Zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) are one of the hitchhikers they are talking about!

Zebra Mussel Shells (Photo: Greg Books,©Beachmakers LLC 2012)

According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources :Zebra mussels and a related species, the Quagga mussel, are small, fingernail-sized animals that attach to solid surfaces in water. Adults are 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches long and have D-shaped shells with alternating yellow and brownish colored stripes. Female zebra mussels can produce 100,000- 500,000 eggs per year. These develop into microscopic, free-living larvae (called veligers) that begin to form shells. After two-three weeks, the microscopic veligers start to settle and attach to any firm surface using “byssal threads”. It is the only freshwater mussel that can attach to objects. They are native to Eastern Europe and Western Russia and were brought over to the Great Lakes in ballast water of freighters… Zebra mussels can cause problems for lakeshore residents and recreationists. Homeowners that take lake water to water lawns can have their intakes clogged. Mussels may attach to motors and possibly clog cooling water areas. Shells can cause cuts and scrapes if they grow large enough on rocks, swim rafts and ladders. Anglers may lose tackle as the shells can cut fishing line. Zebra mussels can also attach to native mussels, killing them.

Zebra mussel shells lining the lake shore (Photo: Greg Books,©Beachmakers LLC 2012)

How does the zebra mussel infestation affect beachgoers, specifically? The massive amounts of razor sharp shells washing up onto a lake’s shore makes walking barefoot on the beach nearly impossible.

Zebra mussel beach on Green Bay, Wisconsin (Photo: Greg Books,©Beachmakers LLC 2012)

What’s being done about this beachy menace? R.J. Elsing of Beachmakers L.L.C. (Pulaski, Wisconsin) has invented a machine that sucks up the piles of shells left behind on shores of lakes infested with zebra mussels and turns them into beach sand. According to an article by, The machine sucks up shells through a large hose, which sends them into a chamber where a ‘tornado effect’ spins the shells around, crushing them as they are tossed against the interior walls, until they disintegrate into sand…Elsing said the machine he was using can crush about 17 cubic yards — or one dump truck load — of zebra mussels per hour, though he’s working on a machine that would process the shells three times faster.

How cool is that?  Good old American ingenuity – turning menacing zebra mussel shells into beach sand!

Want to see how it works? Here’s a Fox 11 News clip.

Here’s to a summer full of  barefoot days at the beach!

Posted in Great Lakes Beaches, Monday Miscellaneous, Sand and Shoreline | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Fun in the Sun, Chicago Style

Posted by Jody on April 24, 2012

One of the best things about growing up in Chicago was the super-easy beach access!  Chicago has always had a wonderful mass-transit system, but our family was lucky enough to live within walking distance of Foster Beach, in the Edgewater community.  My mom, her four eager kids, and our neighbors, the Donnellys, would all pack our arms full of  towels, sand pails and shovels (and whatever the adults thought we needed for a day at the beach), and happily set out in our flip-flops. Although it was only about a 3/4 mile walk,  it somehow seemed like we had trudged much farther when we finally crossed under the Lake Shore Drive overpass. That’s when we knew we had arrived! WoooHooo! We were spending the day at the beach!

Foster Beach, Chicago, Illinois

Chicago actually has 26 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, and the best part is that every single mile is free and open to the public! With the official start of the “beach season” beginning across the country on Memorial Day weekend, you’ll be sure to find at least one of Chicago’s 33 beaches to be your perfect combination of sand, sun and fun!

Montrose Beach, Chicago (Photo:Alanscottwalker/Wikimedia Commons)

The Chicago Park District manages Chicago’s lakefront year round.  The Windy City’s beaches are always open but you’ll need to look to the Park District’s colored beach flag for current swimming conditions. Chicago has a simple, standardized, three color beach flag system. The Chicago Park District website suggests: “When you are at the beach, look for a flag near the beach house or on a lifeguard stand. These flags are part of the Chicago Park District’s flag notification system and indicate the current water quality or weather conditions at your local beach.”

Green – Swimming is permitted. Water is calm and water quality is safe based on current monitoring for E.coli bacteria.”

“Yellow – A swim advisory is in effect. Caution is advised while swimming. Water and weather conditions are becoming unpredictable. Restrictions may be implemented. There may be an increased risk of illness based on current monitoring for E.coli bacteria.”

Red – A swim ban is in effect due to severe weather and/or water conditions, which may be hazardous. There may be a risk of illness based on current monitoring for E.coli bacteria.”

So simple! ~Now, let’s go get some sand between our toes, Chicago style!

Posted in Beach Safety Tips, Great Lakes Beaches, Sand and Shoreline, Tallies & Tips | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Gotta Love It! Oak Street Beach, Chicago, Illinois

Posted by Jody on February 24, 2012

I just love visiting Chicago! Sure, I’m partial to my hometown, but with 26 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline and 33 sandy beaches, what’s not to love?

Oak Street Beach (foreground) from John Hancock Center (Photo by Bonfire2k4/Wikipedia Commons)

Oak Street Beach is one of my absolute favorite spots in the Windy City.  With 15 miles of swimming beaches to choose from, you’d think it would be hard to pick favorites.  But this trendy spot, just off Michigan Avenue, is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the incredible energy that is Chicago! Oak Street Beach is worth the trip for the people-watching alone.  During the summer you’ll find swimmers, sunbathers, rollerbladers, runners, ramblers and bicyclists. Families with strollers and bookworms with best sellers all share the same urban oasis.  With its close proximity to Downtown and the famous Magnificent Mile, this popular beach attracts locals and tourists from all walks of life. On a good day, they turn out by the thousands!

According to Chicago’s official tourism site, “Oak Street is home to the largest area of deep water swimming in the city (1/2 mile (800 m) over 10 ft (3 m), and is training grounds for hundreds of triathletes and distance swimmers. Until 2006 Oak Street Beach was also the only place in the city where SCUBA divers could dive close to the shore.”

One more reason I love visiting Chicago! Childhood friends ~ at Oak Street Beach in February (Jody, Ellen and Mary) Photo by Alaina Diehl

This photo (with my good friends, Ellen & Mary) was shot on a beautiful, sunny, 58°F February day. There were a few crazy people in the 33°F water, though! Could it have been the Lakeview Polar Bear Club wrapping up their annual Polar Bear Plunge at Oak Street Beach?

Parking is limited near Oak Street Beach.  You may want to explore CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) options. Better yet, if you’re already in the vicinity, complete your Gold Coast experience with a walk to the beach along the paved Lakefront Trail.

The Chicago Park District administers all 26 miles of Chicago’s beautiful lake shore.  Chi-town’s open lakefront parkland and all 33 well-maintained, sandy beaches are free of charge to residents and visitors, alike. Gotta Love it!

~By the way, Chicago’s Navy Pier (also free) is only about a mile from Oak Street Beach. It’s another one of our crowd pleasing, family favorite Chicagoland attractions!

What is your favorite Chicago beach? (I’m partial to Foster Beach, too!)

Posted in Friday Finds, Great Lakes Beaches | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

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