I’m not a fan of country music. Nor am I fan of “Jesus taking my wheel”, I usually like to take my own wheel thank you very much. But on this particular day, Jesus, Mohommad, sheez, even the Queen of England could have reached right over and grabbed the wheel from my son that day!

He turned 17 and in my infinite wisdom I decided to give him an adventure he wouldn’t forget. We hired a 4 wheel drive and went flying about on 300ft sand dunes – with the entire family in the car, flying.  Oh, and let’s not forget the other hundred or so 4-wheel-drivers flying about in any direction they desired. I felt like Mad Max out there. Mad Max minus the leather, Mad Max with a family and no prior experience.

The brochure had shown a family waving at the camera, a little wind swept, smiling and enjoying the view of beautiful Lake Michigan on a sunny day. Yes, I thought to myself, a little adventure for the young ones, and some picturesque sights of natural beauty and calm waters for me. Nowhere on the brochure did it mention the words “life-threatening”, “fear of god”, or “make sure your life insurance is paid and living will is up to date.”

Oh it all started out with fun and games. Laughter, excitement, and a few “whoo-hoo’s” with our clammy little hands in the air, until that is, we rounded the corner into the state park. We soon realized we had entered another world. Oh I see, this is where all the monster trucks come to play! Noise, exhaust fumes and boys with their very expensive toys ruled this world. Yet we soon learned, there were no rules.

Our little family in our little rental, edged through the chaos until we faced our first sand dune. It loomed over us almost laughing at us. “Come on” the sand dune teased. Then it yelled “faster” as my son planted his foot on the accelerator, finally threatening him to plaster his foot flat down or throw us onto our back, hurling us all toward a sandy death. I gulped my fear  into my chest but it scratched it’s way back up my throat and came out screaming. I white knuckled my 17yr old’s seat praying to a god I hadn’t spoken to in years. There was certainly plenty of screaming and quite possibly a lot of swearing, but I can’t be sure as I think I may have blacked out for a while.

Upon prying my eyes open at the top and realizing we were all alive, I saw the most spectacular view I’d ever seen. Lake Michigan was gleaming on that sparkly-sunshiny day, and the white sand melting into the blue blue water looked like a magic trick. There was a whisper of a breeze and seagulls spotted the sky. Without a doubt, it was absolutely stunning! I breathed the biggest breath of air I had ever taken since moving to America…..ahhhh yes, it was good to be alive upon a mountain top that day. But I saw something else up there which will remain with me forever. I turned around to see my husband clutching onto our kids with their great big smiles and crazy wild eyes laughing at me. And once I realized we had all escaped death, I looked back at my 17yr old driver, and saw the face of triumph. And right then in the midst of exhaust fumes and some questionable characters, I understood how this day really was the perfect gift.

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  1. karri says:

    Been there, done that with my dad at the wheel of our dunebuggy at Silverlake…thank you for this, you took me right back and made me laugh so hard!

  2. Bill Lawton says:

    You make it live so very vividly Meg. Brilliant gift and a triumph all round! M

  3. Joan says:

    Oh Meg, you took me, breathless, right up the dune with you along with my mother’s heart.  I saw my own son and my family in that dune buggy.   So very well done!!!

  4. kim says:

    Brilliantly written, thank you!  
    I remember doing this in Dubai with my kids.  All the men and boys (rewrite: all the boys) loved it, I though we were going to die.  When I got out of the car I said “I am NEVER doing that again!”  my 7yr old boy exclaimed: “What?  That was the best day of my life!”  

  5. Libby says:

    Fabulous Story. Thanks.

  6. Carla says:

    Ah, I remember the dunes at Silver Lake. Is that where you were? Very funny story and can so relate. The best experiences are with family. This will be a story you will relive for many, many years! 

  7. What a fantastic mother you are! I’ve never thought of doing the opposite of what I’m expected to do! My boys would have LOVED this and I regret not doing something similar, although I’m not sure my blood pressure could take it 🙂

  8. Meg says:

    It sure was hard going against every fear I had! But the heart-stopping moments sure have created some good memories 🙂

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