Day 4 - 16 July 2017 IL, IN, MI
The day begins, hopefully with no car problems but another comfortable night in the trailer. Mabel woke me up at 6:00, nose at the window because the screen tent blew over. Half asleep I took it down and spoke with the man who helped me push the camper last night. He told me, a few years ago, he was in his RV at Branson during the tornado and it flipped him around a bit but he was ok. The campers at this KOA were very nice and I spoke with Paul Lundmark as he showed me his homebuilt trailer that had all the amenities of home including a killer kitchen with a place for everything you need to camp. His knife collection would make a chef at Benihana’s jealous. The inside was very comfortable and surprisingly large with enough room to sport a TV, decorations, and a couch that rolled out to a bed. His breakfast was getting cold so I left, impressed with his ingenuity and abilities. I tried to catch up on the trip but spoke more with my friend across the path (Branson) a very proud and hardworking man who is now able to enjoy a slower pace of life. He closes on a house next week and will be back in Illinois full time.
The trip North was uneventful, saw more corn fields and experienced a little city driving through Gary. Our destination was Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore to see beach and maybe a few waves. It wasn’t hard to find and after parking in a spot I wasn’t supposed to, (the nice maintenance man told me to move) we headed to the shore. It was packed and there were all types of people enjoying a cloudy 78-degree day. Some were picnicking just off the parking lot and seemed to have one foot on the asphalt and one on the sand. Others were in hammocks and of course the experienced beach goer with just a towel. As I approached the beach the combination of the waves, sand, and aroma of suntan lotion brought me back to when I was a kid hanging out at Sagg Main; just old enough to walk to Left Left Sagg for a possible glimpse of nude ladies. The simple things in life. We passed the pavilion and the swimming area to where dogs were allowed to find a spot to sit. Mabel didn’t like the waves, they were high enough to be called waves, and sat in the sand watching the goings on. She liked the life guards but didn’t pay attention to those walking down the beach. We stayed until we had our fill and walked back to the car.
Notre Dame in South Bend was our next destination and it wasn’t far from where we sat on the shore. The campus from what we saw was beautiful; ornate buildings sitting behind manicured lawns. I couldn’t get close to the golden dome but we did see the football stadium from afar. After touring what we could on the campus I stopped at athletic fields for Mabel to get some exercise but I guess she didn’t feel like leaving a “present” on the grass. So, we jetted out of Indiana with our sights set on Michigan.
The plan was to follow the coast with a picturesque view of Lake Michigan to our left. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get close and had to stay on Hwy 196 which wasn’t bad ride. Mabel and I made a few attempts to get closer to the lake by using the Blue Star Hwy but were usually thwarted as the road turned back to 196. We did have an “almost encounter” with a turkey by the side of the road. It was standing still until we approached then started a parallel trot only to take flight as I passed with its trajectory path over the top of the windshield. I had the sun roof open and could see his feathers as he travelled over the car. Close call but no cigar.
Finally, we pulled into Holland State Park and set up in our spot which was very close to the road so I could see people as they passed. But they could see me too so not a lot of privacy. This park had a different feel, the spots were tight and people social but more so at their campers, not as much walking around as the last KOA. The bathroom complex was top shelf though. We decided to walk down to the beach, about a quarter mile away, and a passing cyclist let us know the Northern Lights were possibly visible between 11:00-2:00. Awesome, never seen them even with all our time in Minnesota. Mabel was skittish because of the wind so we didn’t stay long. But we did peer out at the darkness of Lake Michigan, its gloom broken by a small lighthouse marking the channel. It was nice to be on the water! Mabel finally had enough and became scared by people so far off I was surprised they were seen.
We backtracked along what looked to be summer rentals (people playing bags to loud rap music at 11:30) and a general store that had just closed for the night. The camper was a welcome rest from a busy day.