The Big View

The view from the overlook on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore makes every visitor slow down and stop. There’s something about the endless and gentle pattern of waves on Lake Michigan seen from far above that makes everyone step out their shoes and step inside themselves while they gaze in wonder at nature’s majesty.

Photo by Daniel Nielsen,,

Wreck off South Manitou Island

The Francisco Morazan ran aground near South Manitou Island on November 28,1960. It had left Chicago the day before, loaded with 940 tons of general cargo. The ship’s captain was 24 years old. His wife, 29 and pregnant, was aboard the ship, as were 13 crew members. The captain’s wife was lifted from the ship on Dec. 2. The crew abandoned ship on Dec. 4 and were taken to Traverse City aboard the icebreaker Mackinaw. The ship’s owners could not be located and the rusted remains of the ship still rest where it ran aground a few hundred feet from the island’s shore.

Francisco Morazán served as president of the Federal Republic of Central America from 1830 to 1839. The nation, which ceased to exist in 1841, covered land today occupied by Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.

The nearby beach, where this photograph was taken, is a beautiful spot for swimming and a picnic. The island is part of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.


All images on this website are copyright Daniel C. Nielsen,

Castle in the sand

Late September sand castle near Otter Creek, on the shore of Lake Michigan just west of Traverse City. Temperatures are dropping here, and this well could be the last sandcastle of the season. Once daily high temperatures dip into the mid-60s, most of us lose interest in spending long days at the beach. And lounging in the sand lacks the charm of a hot summer day when skies are overcast and wind-driven sand grains pelt your skin. But the Lake Michigan beach still offers a great taste of nature – you just have to bundle up a bit.