Day 47 – August 2: To Indiana Dunes State Park

by Jeff

34 miles

Leaving Warren Dunes State Park, we traveled along another fairly busy highway much of the day: the Red Arrow HIghway.. Until age 11, I lived just across the Indiana border, only 5 miles away from New Buffalo… and today’s journey took through an area where I had a lot of memories. We left the highway at one point to begin riding along the lakefront–again, we saw so many huge, beautiful houses on the beachfront (and a lot of Illinois plates in the driveways!). Growing up, when my family wanted to go to the beach, we would go to the New Buffalo City Beach–so on our ride, we had to make a stop to swim there. It was magnificent, especially since the temperature was in the high 80s. From there, we picked up the route along Highway 12–a busy road, indeed. At one point, a woman rolled down her window to shout at us, “This is not a bike path!” Yeah, we knew that, but there wasn’t any other way to get to where we needed to go…!

Shortly after that incident, Elise crashed when she hit some loose gravel at the bottom of a hill. It looked just awful, but she came through with just a few scrapes. It was painful, but we were grateful that it wasn’t so much worse!

We got off of the highway at our first opportunity, and began to ride along the beachfront. The homes were in communities named Michiana Shores, Long Beach, Grand Beach, etc… and they were packed closely together. Lots of gorgeous homes, as well as beautiful views of the lake. Coming into Michigan City, we stopped at the Armory for the National Guard–my father used to work as a fisheries biologist for the Indiana DNR, which had an office in that building. He passed away 16 years ago, so my kids don’t know much about him; it was a neat opportunity to tell my children about his passion for the environment, fish, and all the fishing we used to do. When you have nothing but time, you begin talking about things you may never have talked about before… and that became a pretty special part of this whole trip.

After Michigan City, our route took us back onto Highway 12. Ugh… this was miserable: not much shoulder, and a lot heavier traffic. At one point, a driver pulled over and said he could barely see us in the shade of the trees. He then opened his trunk and gave Jeff a bright fluorescent green vest with reflective tape. Honestly, I felt a little stung by his rebuke, but it was also really thoughtful and helpful.

Two flats on the way delayed our arrival at Indiana Dunes State Park, but it didn’t keep us from swimming as soon as we could. It was going to be our last opportunity this trip to take a dip in Lake Michigan, so the kids and I cooled off.  It was glorious!


Woo-hoo! We made it to Indiana Dunes!

We had some special visitors that night: our friend Latoya drove our van to the park (from Chicago) and brought her family to camp with us that night–some of her kids had never before camped (yeah!). Dinner was simple, yet plentiful: brats, Italian sausage, and hot dogs. Our plan was this: the next day we had 63 miles to bike.  We couldn’t possibly make that distance with all the weight we were pulling, so we decided to drive everything we wouldn’t need back to Chicago. So, while dinner was being prepared, I loaded our van with most of our gear: tons of kitchen stuff, the bike trailers, clothes, etc… anything that would not be used in the tent that night. When darkness fell, Elise, Cora, and I piled into the van and drove back to Chicago, to sleep in our beds for the first time in 47 days. And, it was amazing! I unloaded our van first, so I didn’t get to sleep until 1:30AM, but the bed was absolutely heavenly. Even though we would get up at 6:00AM to drive back to Indiana Dunes, then bike 63 miles… it was absolutely worth it.

Only one more day to go to complete the adventure!

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