Monday, August 5, 2013
Kohler Andrae State Park.
Possibly the best gift my parents ever gave me was teaching me to appreciate our state parks. My dad is a science guy. Like this, not this. So we went frequently when I was little, and it's only recently that I've realized how much I've missed it since high school and college have forcibly rerouted my time and priorities. Now that I've realized the way my four years in an urban high school slipped my love of the outdoors away from me, I'm actively turning back around. Maybe hanging out in a nature center is nerdy, but I've never shied away from nerdiness before, so why would I now?
It was my birthday on Wednesday, so after a lovely day of celebration with my friends an family during the week, my parents and I packed a picnic and headed north on Sunday to Kohler Andrae State Park, home of some of Lake Michigan's lovely dunes. My dad is in the process of trying to teach me how to use his fancy old manual focus camera properly, and this was a day of practice. I've always struggled with taking pictures of landscapes, because while I know there are photographers that can, I often feel that a photo only captures a flat image of what a natural place looks like. Not how it feels. The dunes are one of these places. Walking through them reminds me of a movie I loved when I was small, The Sand Fairy. It was full of magic, and that's what this place is like. I took a lot of pictures of the wildflowers and the sandy hills covered in their carpet of creeping juniper, but I'm not including them, because they're just not enough.
After we packed up our lunch of tuna salad and nectarines, we walked on the trails and down the shoreline. The cuffs of my pants were wet and covered in sand, and that was happiness for an afternoon.
This park also happens to have a really cool nature center, to the point that I look forward to having my own kids to bring along. They have a table full of wild furs for kids to touch, some snakes and frogs in tanks, the classic taxidermy displays, and an observation deck that looks out over the lake.
It's such a beautiful place. It reminds me of why I love Wisconsin, and why I'm proud to call it home.