Indiana Dunes National Park

006Earlier this week, we day-tripped to the nation’s newest (and Indiana’s only) National Park – Indiana Dunes. It has long been designated as a “National Lakeshore”, but was upgraded to the 61st National Park just 4 months ago in February 2019. It was so new, that the Visitor’s Center National Park sign had just arrived a few days before!

I grew up in Indiana, but can’t remember ever going to this 15,000 acre Park. We were a bit confused when we arrived, because the Park is not one contiguous block, rather it is several discontinuous sections arranged along a 15 mile stretch of the Lake Michigan shore, with the Indiana Dunes State Park sandwiched somewhere in the middle. Seeing us huddled over our cell phones next to our motorcycle along a back road, a helpful Park employee stopped, gave us a Park map, and pointed us in the direction of the Visitor’s center. Thanks!

After watching the usual movie and getting our bearings, we headed off to the Bailly Homestead and Chellburg Farm. An easy trail connected these historic homesteads, and included signage explaining the history of the area. The Farm included farm animals – pigs, goats, cows, chickens and turkeys! The Chellburg farm house is fully restored to the 1900’s era, but it was not open during our week-day visit. We could peek in the windows, though.

We hopped back onto the bike, headed for the lakeshore and happened across the Century of Progress homes. Constructed for the 1933 Chicago World’s fair, five of these architectural concept homes were moved to their current lakeshore location. Each sported innovative construction and features for the time. Currently, they are leased to private owners who are rehabilitating them, so they were not open for tours (darn).

While meandering around the beach area, we happened to meet another prospective full-time RV couple – a bubbly former teacher and her almost-retired husband. They plan to live almost exclusively off the grid in their small Class B unit. It’s always fascinating to meet the folks that are attracted to this life and their individual lifestyles.  We exchanged contact information and, who knows, we may meet up down the road!

Moving on, we headed to Mount Baldy beach. Rising 126 feet above Lake Michigan, Mount Baldy is moving at the rate of 4 FEET per year! Beach sand moves when the northwest wind exceeds 7 mph, which I imagine happens a lot. We weren’t allowed to climb to the summit due to the sand instability, but a short trail takes you around, up and over, to the beach. It was surprisingly cool along the lakeshore, kept that way by the chilly lake breeze. Just a few miles inland the air was as much as 10-15 degrees hotter.

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After the beach, it was time for a late lunch at the Shoreline Brewery in nearby Michigan City. Their microbrewed beers and food were excellent! The brewery is located next to the Michigan City power plant which has a tower that LOOKS like a nuclear plant, but isn’t (just coal and gas fired). So they sell T-shirts that say “Don’t drink the water, drink beer”!

That works for me.

 

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