To all our readers who regard it as such, we wish you a happy, healthy New Year. We are running, as we always do at this time, a story not about the holiday but about one of its main themes, forgiveness and the change that requires. We know that doesn’t sound funny, but stick around. There’ll be laughs a-plenty, we promise, and some depth as well. Hey, it’s what we do!
People always want to know how autobiographical our strip is. Sometimes it’s more and sometimes it’s less, but the story of Len and Abby’s camping trip is definitely based on a real event. Last summer Patty, myself and my daughter went hiking in Northern Michigan’s Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes National Lakeshore. I’m a Michigan native and I visited the dunes regularly as a kid. I’ve always regarded them as one of the most beautiful and magical places on earth, all the more so since so few people outside Michigan know about them. It’d been a good 10 or so years since I’d visited and I was eager to show them to my daughter, who’d never been there at all.
Long story short, we set out on a 2-mile hike to Lake Michigan on a cloudy and drizzly morning. We clambered up enormous sand dunes and were rewarded with a wide vista of dark, green storm clouds heading straight for us. Reluctant to give up and go back, we decided there was a good chance they’d blow over and kept going. Big mistake. We ended up a mile in on a rugged, difficult trail, with absolutely no shelter, getting pounded by a raging downpour.
After huddling for awhile next to sandbanks we pretended were keeping some of the rain of us, we turned around and headed back. The rain never slacked off as we struggled up and down steep sand hills, getting wetter and wetter, terrified of lightening bolts. I’ve rarely seen a more welcome sight than the parking lot when we finally reached it. Of course, it was once we finally reached shelter that the rain decided to stop.
And we still had to ride bikes a couple of miles back to the hotel.
It wasn’t that fun, but it built character. And the dunes, as always were awesome. I hope my daughter makes it back there some time on a sunny day. Meanwhile, we have, with some changes, a story to tell.