Angela woke at 5:30 to the voices of LaToya and Louis discussing raccoons. She looked up to see LaToya at the door of the tent watching the culprits hanging around the cooler. She was trying to determine whether or not they had actually gotten into it or not. She unzipped the door and all but one of the masked bandits dispersed. Angela headed out with a “Git!” and stomped over to the cooler. The leader only wandered off about ten feet, but it was enough for her to see that their nimble little fingers had indeed unzipped the cooler and they’d been fighting over the day’s lunch meat and cheese! She yelled at the remaining raccoon and it skittered up the tree, then poked it’s head around the trunk as if to say, “I’m still here…”
After a short, but fabulous night’s rest in my own bed, I drove back with Elise and Cora to the campground by 8:30AM. We threw everything into the van to go back to Chicago: tent, sleeping bags, the rest of our clothes, etc… and only kept one bike trailer, the first aid kit, and the cooler with our lunch. We were traveling light today! LaToya’s family, however, were traveling with all our gear tucked into every nook and cranny around them. Hopefully some of it worked well as comfy pillows for the ride home.
Before we got too far, we wanted to get a couple broken spokes fixed on my bike. So, we rode a few miles to Chesterton Bicycle Station, a great bike shop just off of the South Shore stop in Chesterton. The owner took at look at the bike, said he could do it that morning, and suggested we peruse the nearby shops while we waited. So, off we went! And the first store we found: a used bookstore. Brittany promptly sat down with a book, and we didn’t see her again for an hour. The rest of us went to a park across the street, and Caleb and David made up a game involving little round seeds that they found. I think it was a game like marbles, but I’m still not sure.
We were soon on our way… with just 60 more miles to go. It was such a beautiful ride–there are amazing bike paths through northwest Indiana and into Illinois, including the Prairie Duneland Trail, the Oak Savannah Trail, and the Erie Lackawanna Trail. All asphalt paths, taking us through Gary, Hammond, and many more communities. Since I was the only one with a bike trailer, we cruised along pretty quickly. Our typical speed with trailers was 10-11mph; without the trailers, we were clipping along at 12-15 mph. It was so much fun!
At almost the exact halfway point, we reached the Cabela’s superstore in Hammond, IN. We grabbed some lunch meat and cheese from the Wal-mart across the street, then ate sandwiches underneath a pine tree in the Cabela’s parking lot. We had to take a look inside, and were amazed by all there was to see: a massive freshwater aquarium, mounted animals of every type, a trout stream, and every type of camping, fishing, and hunting accessory you could think of. We were entertained for at least an hour.
Back on the bike paths for the second half, we soon found ourselves going through Wolf Lake Memorial Park–on a causeway through a beautiful natural area within a quarter of a mile of the Chicago Skyway. Awesome!
Our friend, Brian Parache, is an avid cyclist, so we invited him to ride with us along the last part of our trip; he biked down from Soldier Field and met us with about 20 miles to go, in Calumet Park. It was so fun to have him travel with us! From that point, we met up with familiar sights and the kids began to call out, “this is where Mommy’s chain came off and we saw the huge boat!” and other mishaps from our practice trip. Excitement built as the kids realized we’d travelled this route before, and we could certainly do it again, but faster!
Our group continued on, finally hitting the bike path along Lakeshore drive and we knew we were getting close. The sun set just as we approached the Shedd Aquarium. We stopped for a few minutes to sit on the grass, share a few memories from the trip for which we were thankful to the Lord, and pray as a family. It was special to take that moment to celebrate the accomplishment of our trip, and give praise and thanks to the Lord for making it happen.
The rest of the trip was a blur; we were moving quickly (even after 63 miles!) and finally pedaled back into our garage around 9:30pm. We were exhausted, but exuberant. Brian’s mom, Julie, had come to our home beforehand and cooked a huge meal of tacos for us. It… was… awesome. What a night to complete our dream trip! We made it!
We so enjoyed eating and visiting with you at Warren Dunes Park. Jerry and I have shared your visit with so many of our friends and the constant comment has been, “They did what?” We were/are amazed at maturity of your children – their commitment to hard work, to each other and to the Lord. Not a complaint was heard and, near the end of the journey, they were still happy and thankful! You have done a wonderful job as parents. I still think you should write a book about this adventure. Thank you for including us in your journey. You all were a WITNESS to us!
Sue and Jerry