Indiana Wants Me

Last fall Indianapolis was on our way to Lake Michigan, and offered another state capital, so why not stop?


We circled several blocks near the capitol building but, unlike every other capital we had visited, could never get very close.  (Kuddos to the Hoosier State for enhanced security!)  The downtown did look interesting but since it was hot, we chose to see it from the comfort of the air-conditioned van rather than walking around.  Annie agreed.  We found the stadium of the Indianapolis Colts professional football team and parked in some shade near it for lunch.  We considered taking a lap in Wanda on the Indy 500 track but didn't want to show off.  So we left the city, traveling the interstate for a while before electing to do some smaller roads through rural areas to reach the Indiana Dunes National Park Visitor Center.


At the visitor center we purchased our America the Beautiful Annual Pass, allowing us access to all national parks, monuments, historical sites, etc for $80.  That’s a great deal!  We knew there was no overnight parking allowed in the national park but, based on something I had read, I asked one of the rangers about my options.  He confirmed what I knew, but then said we were allowed to overnight in the visitor center’s parking lot—but no “camping”.  The parking lot seemed to offer a nice buffer from nearby highways so Jenni and I agreed we would just slide back into their parking lot when we were done for the day.   Armed with a map, we drove to Porter Beach where we secured the only open spot in the parking lot.


At Porter Beach we quickly remembered how difficult it is to walk in sand.  Annie simply gave up after thirty yards and laid down on the sand.  We coaxed her to the water line of Lake Michigan but she remained unimpressed. 


We did not stay long.  After checking out some of the sand dunes, we gave up our coveted parking space in search of a better beach which we found a little to the west at Portage where we enjoyed a nice walk (without Annie). 

We drove over to West Beach which had great amenities for those spending time on the beach including concessions and cold showers.  There was a brief discussion about showering there but when we confirmed there was only cold water, we passed.  By then the winds were quite fierce and we decided to return to Portage for sunset and dinner in the parking lot.  It was a great show of colors.  As it grew dark, we drove the short distance back to the visitor center parking lot for the night and slid into a spot adjacent to the pet walking area so we could just slide the door open and let Annie out.  There was a large field of natural prairie grasses and wild flowers next to us.  We had a pleasant and quiet night.  


When we woke up the next morning, we waited for the Visitor Center to open at 8AM so we could use their restrooms and hot water.  Then we refilled several of our water bottles using their filtered water station.  Our plan was to visit an historical cabin and homestead on park property but the directions to the parking exceeded my comprehension and patience so we punted on that excursion and moved east along the shoreline to Beverly Shores on Lake Front Drive.  It offered an historic section of “modern” homes from the 1933 World’s Fair Exhibition in Chicago.  Several homes had been relocated to the south shore of Lake Michigan and offered an interesting study in architecture.  Each house was a different example of "modern architecture" in 1933--the most notable one looked like Barbie's pink Malibu house.  From their vantage point, far beyond the crashing waves, we could see the Chicago skyline thirty-five miles away.


When we were done dreaming about living in a pink, modern-style, Barbie beach house we said goodbye to Indiana Dunes and headed to South Bend, IN—home of Notre Dame University.  We last visited the campus in 1994 and I just wanted to relive that memory.  Evidently I should have just stuck with the memories, as is so often the case, because very little of the present-day campus seemed to match my memory.  Whereas I could remember once walking around the football stadium this time it seemed as if they had moved it and boxed it in with a dozen buildings.  We remembered easier access to the cathedral with the gold dome and the mural of ‘touchdown Jesus’ as well.  Admittedly, it is not easy to maneuver a big white van across a college campus.  Technically we never stepped foot on campus this trip but we did spend time driving around the perimeter and one brave assault to the center of campus using the main entrance while students were changing classes.  I forgot for a moment that pedestrians have the right of way.

From South Bend, IN it was a relatively short drive back to the shore of Lake Michigan.  This time we landed at St. Joseph, MI where we found a lake overlook park and set out our solar panel briefcase to harness a little battery life while we relaxed.

I have previously shared our incredible Culver's drive-thru experience that night  but it's here if you want a laugh. 

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