September 25, 2013

9/10/13 - Indiana Dunes NL

There are five Great Lakes, and I can name them all. Maybe I can't recognize each one on a map, but I know where Lake Erie and Lake Michigan go.  Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is a negotiated tract of land between Gary and Michigan City in Indiana along the southern shore of Lake Michigan.  Steel and power plants at both ends, with the Port of Indiana in the middle in exchange for 15 miles of beach for the park.

A ranger at the Visitor Center suggested that because it was so hot today, the Bailly/Chellberg Trail would be a good hike for us because it had shade.  The path through the woods took us to the Bailly Homestead and an 1820s fur trading post.
We followed another trail to the Chellberg Farm, a 1900-era farmstead.  I liked the pump house.  George liked the maple syrup shed.
Interesting, but not the reason I wanted to go to a national park with "Lakeshore" in it's name. (Hello? Lakeshore?  Lake AND shore!)

At the Visitor Center, I had seen a postcard with a picture of a big long set of stairs up and over a sand dune.  I asked a volunteer where to find it, and she pointed out West Beach on the map.  Since it was after 3 pm (it must surely be cooling down some), I decided we should head west.  George pointed out that 98 degrees isn't a whole lot cooler than the earlier 102.  I pointed out there was a breeze.  With a big sigh (he's really good at big sighs), he led off towards the Dune Succession Trail.

It was a pain walking in the soft sand until we got to the stairs. (Remember:  stop and take pictures when you need to take a break.  Nobody will notice you're having difficulty breathing.) 
So!  What goes up must come down...and downstairs is easier than upstairs.  There are 250 steps all told.  At the bottom of the steps is a dune to climb.  Look at all those steps!!!
 And finally the beach...Lake Michigan is really big!   It's really difficult for me to look at a body of water when I can't see the horizon and register that it's a lake, not an ocean.  I think it's one of those prior history things.
Apparently on a clear day, you can see the skyline of Chicago to the west.  We couldn't...but to the northeast is a steel mill.  (Lovely, don't you think?)
We wandered along the shore for a bit, then headed back to the parking lot.  The trail leads through the middle of the biggest Bath House I've ever seen.
On the way back to where we were staying in Michigan, we made one more detour to the Century of Progress Homes.  They were built for the 1933 World's Fair in Chicago, then moved here by barge a couple of years later.  Now they're leased out and being renovated.  The one below is the Florida Tropical House, bright pastels and all.  Wonder if it gets cold in the winter?

More pictures here:  Indiana Dunes Natl Lakeshore

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