Running through the Dunes forest

Daily Photo

Yellow rock at the Dunes

Daily Photo

Dunes grass

Daily Photo

Rocks at the Indiana Dunes National Park

Daily Photo



Spent this morning working next to Jessica, as she worked from home. Well, this morning and this afternoon, because work just never seems to end. That, and a client was pushing live work I had spent the last two months doing. Leaving in the middle of that would have been an, uh, unwise choice.

Our plans were originally to work until 1 or so, then head to the beach. Instead, I worked until 4 or so. We waited for a short bit for Gabby's cousin to head home, then dashed off to the Lake. You know, the BIG lake: Lake Michigan.

Gabby was excited.

No, really.

Originally, we were going to dash up to the Dunes as quickly as possible. However, as we detoured around a freeway interchange under reconstruction, I asked Jessica to continue on the side road we were on. We did, and a drive that could have taken about twenty minutes, took us about forty-five glorious minutes. The drive was a tour down memory lane.

We drove by the radio tower out on old 49 (there being a new 49 bypass that was pretty much unnecessary, and now makes the old 49 highway a much less travelled, much more charming road). I have no idea if this is really a radio tower, though.

I do know the tower is near the 49er Drive-In. I thought the Drive-In had gone out of business years ago, and perhaps it had. These days, however, it's open and, even at 5:30 PM, had cars starting to line up to get in at 8.

I very much enjoyed driving along the backroads. Jessica knew exactly where to go to get to Mount Baldy, a name I knew, but didn't recall exactly. That is, until we showed up, and oh, my, did the memories come flooding back.

My favorite memory of that dune is of my mom running down the dune with me. I was probably eight years old.

These days, the dune is fenced off to stop its drifting progress. Too many feet walking on it have caused it to move away from the shore in an accelerating pace.

So, we walked around the fence and along the path we were allowed to walk along. Gab immediately took off running, calling back, "Catch me! Catch me! Run! Run!" In sandals, I can't say I was particularly interested in running. However, running in sand always has an allure, so, praying there weren't any glass shards in the sand, I removed my shoes and ran after Gab, laughing the whole way.

Well, laughing until the path turned up.

And up.

And up.

Oh, yeah, the dune is TALL.

Eventually, we reached the top, to the spectacular view of Lake Michigan.

Gabby wanted to go gown to the water and swim.

Brrrrrr... Oh, and ewwwwwwww!

I definitely wanted to head down to the bottom, but only to run back up to the top, not to swim. Jessica wanted to stay at the top, so she did...

And down Gab and I went.

I didn't particularly want to get wet. Sure, it's the middle of June, and it should be 95° and 95% humidity, but we were at the lake shore, which is nearly always much cooler than twenty miles south.

And, the weather wasn't exactly normal. It was actually pleasantly cool.

Gabby, on the other hand, wanted to swim. I convinced her to look at rocks for bit. She immediately found me a crinoid.

Talk about bringing back memories.

I used to sit for hours looking through the gravel at my elementary school, trying to find these fossilized crinoids. The gravel was crushed local limestone, and was full of crinoids. Those crinoids were the only reason I would go outside for recess, much preferring to spend time in the bathroom instead of outdoors "running" and "playing."

When Mom and I went back to Indiana in 1994, I convinced her to go to the school and look for more crinoids. We found a half dozen, which I still have tucked away in a memory box.

Eventually, though, Gab couldn't stand the boring rock looking, and took off down the beach.

Initially, I thought this was charming.

Until she didn't stop.

And didn't return.

And then I was worried. The last thing Jessica called to me as I dashed down that dune was, "Keep an eye on my child!" and here I had let her not only out of my reach, but far enough away that, should Gab think that the water was okay, and a rip tide catch her, I'd have a difficult time catching up.

In anger (at myself, for letting her get so far away when Jessica asked me not to let her) and frustration (when she couldn't hear me calling to her, or, as Bella does, chose not to hear me), I told Gab we were heading back up, we were done.

Oh, was that a mistake.

Gab let me know that I was mean and that she hated me.

I was crushed. Devastated! Emotionally destroyed!

Not really.

I charged up the dune, thrilled to be moving up it. It's nearly as much fun going up as it is going down, though the difference in stride length is about 4 meters. If you don't move your legs fast enough going up, you end up sliding back down. Quite entertaining.

When we arrived back at the top, Jessica let us know that it was okay for us to swim (I hadn't thought it was, having misunderstood a comment she had said), and back down we went.

Gab decided she wanted to find sea glass (she found about 10 pieces), while I decided I just wanted to pick up and take home pretty rocks.

I settled for pictures of said pretty rocks, as they usually look better when wet anyway.

Happily, Jessica came down to join us on this walk along the beach, this time in the opposite direction of the first walk, and towards the beach access to the parking lot, making a return up the dune unnecessary.

Gabby had fun playing in a found sand tower....

... and ended up finding a chicken and rooster in the sand.

Jessica was really funny about the rooster. She suggested to Gab that she lie down in the sand and put the rooster on her nose, letting me take a picture of her.

Which she did.

And cracked me up.

Eventually we started heading back out of the beach, around the dune. I enjoyed seeing the beach transition to forest, with the dune grasses keeping the sand at bay.

The whole journey to the Dunes was a fabulous birthday present from Jess, to compliment my new Viking shirt.