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By Jack Oberlander (’20)

It was the Summer of 2018, the Summer of Jack. I had driven back out to Toledo, and the boys and I were ready to make moves. The entire school year, a big group of us had planned on going to Empire, a small town on the coast of Northwestern Michigan. After Evan and I found tents in his basement, we set off. We drove up in two trucks: Kollen’s truck Matilda, and Evan’s baby blue 2000 Chevy. 

The town of Empire is a small town, yet is home to two national parks. The Sleeping Bear sand dunes, and the rightly named “Four-Fifty”, a 450 foot sand dune that leads down to Lake Michigan. The girls wanted to go to the beach, but we boys were set on climbing this mountain of a sand wall. So we went our separate ways. 

To climb the Four-Fifty, you have to drive to the peak, run down, then climb back up. At the bottom, the thin layer of sand leads all the way back to the beach the girls were at. Since we wanted to walk back, one of the girls, Sarah, drove with us so she could drive the truck back. We got to the peak and sprinted down. It was a grueling climb back up, but not a long one. We all finished in just under 20 minutes. We had to go back down, and with tired legs, we descended a little slower. We ran right into the rock bedded water, and just swam for a bit. 

“Alright guys, let’s go,” I called, as I waded back to shore. They promptly got out as well, and we started our two mile trek back to the beach. On the walk, we skipped stones and tossed the disc while Kollen bumped some indie tunes from his speaker. After an hour or so, we got to the beach. 

”What took so long?” Sarah egged. 

“Chill,” I responded slowly. “We were enjoying the view.” On the beach was a basketball court. Mckinley, Evan, and I saw a few kids our age playing, and asked if they wanted to run a three v. three game. They agreed, and we started playing. 

“Check up, Youngblood,” Evan yelled at the 6 ‘4 man towering over him. At this point, the sun was starting to set. It was a back and forth game, with the girls cheering us on. It was easy to get lost in the pinkish-orange sky on the horizon of Lake Michigan. It was the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen. 

“Jack!” Mckinley yelled. “Get back on defense!” 

“My fault,” I said, as I sprinted down court. They won that game, but we played two more rematches that we won back. 

“Boys,” Evan stated, “I have never seen a sunset this beautiful.” 

“So true,” answered Mckinley. 

It was jaw dropping. All sweaty, we jumped into the lake. The cool water refreshed us, and the dimming sun glimmered on the top of the water. At nightfall, we went to our campsite. Kollen started a fire using a match and a frisbee. We made hot dogs. Charred hot dogs, but hot dogs nonetheless. We didn’t sleep in the tents that night, but out under the stars. In hindsight, that was a poor idea, but all’s well that ends well. And that was one of the best days of my life.

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