Tracks near 250W

Daily Photo

Dunes grass

Daily Photo

Rocks at the Indiana Dunes National Park

Daily Photo

Looking tired


Wow, the old house is looking old.

The trees were hacked

At least the one of the trees my dad planted when I was six was still growing.



You know, I hadn't realized just how quaint my hometown is.

Best birthday gift


So, today is my birthday.

Right. Not something I usually go around saying in a public place. Hey, everyone, I share the same birthday (day, people, not year) as John the Baptist! Nearly the best day every to maximize present distribution (the best day theoretically being the 25th, or six months from Christmas), but not for maximum presents (since school is out, and birthday parties less well attended).

Today is the my first birthday in ten years that I haven't spent with Kris.

That's the downer.

The upper is that this is the first birthday in 20 years that I've spent with my dad.

And that's the BEST gift a girl could receive.



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.

Fairy hunting


I spent most of today flying to Indiana. Well, not Indiana really. More like Illinois, with a drive over to Indiana. Andy dropped me off at the airport, thankfully without the drama of last time.

Every time I come out to Indiana, I eat my meals nearly exclusively at the local Panera Bread. I'm not nearly as obsessive with Panera at home, eating at a local Panera once with Mike. Come to think of it, I eat at Panera regardless of where I travel, if I'm able. Something about tasty salads, delicious sandwiches and free wi-fi just lures me in.

Last time I was out, I really wanted a Panera salad after my travels, but, because I had to wait an hour and a half for a car, I arrived too late.

Jessica remembered my lamentations from last time, because she's wonderful, picked up a salad for me as I was travelling. Shining beacon of light wonderful, I might add. Yay, Panera! Yay, Jess!

After dinner, I was told we were going fairy hunting. Turns out, Blake, Jessica's niece, had seen a fairy recently, and Gabby wanted to see one, too. The two of them feared the local fairies might be in trouble, as evidenced by the spots on the leaves of various trees around the yard. We were to head out around the (eight year old) house to look in the (not so very old) trees and shrubs around the house, looking for fairies.

Pretty much like snipe hunting.

So, off we went, Jessica, Gabby, Blake and I, two flashlights in the kids' hands, and Jessica and I yakking away about silly adult topics.

Our first fairy?

Looked like a frog.

Gabby has pretty much no fear of frogs, pretty much no worry about warts with this girl. She just reached down and picked it up, dropping it late in the jar she was carrying, then out again.

Me? I was squealing in (semi-) disgust.

We didn't find any fairies, per se. The girls said they heard fairies talking to them when they climbed a tree in the front yard. Jess and I smiled, and tried to distract them with other "fairy sitings," also known as "light through a garden bauble".

Didn't work very well. The two small ones were completely convinced the trees were where the fairies were.

Not here again


Gah. Why didn't I learn last time?

I can't believe I was retarded enough to rent this week's car from the same rental agency that made me wait an hour and a half for a compact car last time I was here, only to give me a mid-size car when the line of people waiting for cars grew to five people, all of us waiting longer than 45 minutes.

I am not happy with my choice.



ad managed to arrange to leave work early today, which meant we were able to spend more time together today before I flew to Arizona to spend most of the week with Mom, Eric, Sam and Jackson (pronounced with enthusiasm as Jak-sooooo-own). I had taken the dog on a walk earlier, and had something I was dying to show him. He eventually agreed, and off we went to walk the dog for the second time that day.

At the end of the street, I pointed to the street sign. Dad looked up, and, after a few moments, started laughing.

Lincoln never spelled his name so well.

Off to the left of the bend in the road (or the right if you're facing the other way, of course), was a dirt drive. I've often looked at this road, and assumed it led to the road close to the elementary school I attended as a child. I leashed up the dog and started walking down the road, forcing my dad to follow me. He was surprised when we crested the hill and saw a vineyard. I was surprised when we crested the hill and saw fields and woods for a much farther distance than I realized. Sure, this was the short cut to school when I was small, but it was still a long, long walk for a 10 year old.

We walked back along the fields talking about not much. Dad commented several times that we were trespassing, and seemed far more nervous about doing so that I expected him to be. The fields are ones that I'd really like to own, as well as those across the street. Have to get a move on if I actually want to have that happen.

While talking on the walk, I mentioned the tournament and how I had met Alex Thorne. I commented that he was 5'6" 115 pounds, and that the 115 pounds was the weight I wanted to drop to. I told Dad I was rethinking that weight, as Alex seemed awfully skinny: more that he hadn't grown into his height than undernourished, a few more years and he'd be bigger. Maybe 115 wasn't such a good idea for me.

Dad then commented that yeah, he always thought I was too skinny growing up, that he was happy I finally gained some weight. He agreed that 115 would probably be too thin for my height.

The opinion surprised me. I never knew my dad thought that. I can't say I ever thought that about myself except in passing maybe once. It's interesting what you can learn when you just start talking to someone and his guard is down because he's worried he's trespassing in his neighbor's yard.