Arabian nights, ‘neath Arabian moons
A fool off his guard
Could fall and fall hard
Out there on the dunes
Okay, so it wasn’t exactly exotic Agrabah, but this weekend we traveled from the Grey Cottage up the length of Indiana to Lake Michigan. We went with my sisters and their families to soak up some sun (hopefully!) and splash around at West Beach, on the Indiana Dunes.
The drive itself was about 6 hours. We left crazy early (4:30AM!) and made lots of stops for bathroom breaks, stretching and breakfast. As we neared the northern end of the state, we drove through wind farms. There’s something strange and quixotic about all these huge pillars, in neat perfect rows, with their arms slowly spinning.
We got to West Beach right as the park opened, and quickly staked out a section of sand. For the first hour or so, we had a good space all to ourselves next to two big driftwood logs. Then as the day got sunnier, the crowds continued to build until it seemed like the whole beach was covered in bodies.
When we first got there, it was overcast and the water was almost completely calm. It was a little eerie, seeing what looked like a still ocean. The water was surprisingly clear — you could see your feet even when you got out shoulder deep. At first, I was worried because the sand seemed like gravel, but it was only that way for a few feet before smoothing out into something soft and solid beneath my feet.
And yes, it’s shockingly cold when you first get in, even in the middle of summer. But you get used to it fairly quickly, and as the sun came out in the afternoon, the cool water felt great. The kids had a wonderful time, playing together in the water, burying each other in the sand, and building sand castles.
One problem we didn’t expect was biting flies. We don’t really have them around here, but the more people showed up on the beach, the more flies appeared. Next time, I plan on bringing (and applying) as much bug repellent as sunscreen. Although I didn’t get bit as much as the other adults, probably because I spent most of my time in the water.
We have friends on the Florida panhandle, and we do enjoy going down there. The water and sand is a beautiful color. But this was half the drive, so we could do it in an ordinary weekend. In fact, my sisters and their families just treated it as a day trip, and drove back Saturday afternoon. And although the waves eventually kicked up, I was able to float and swim more in Lake Michigan than I usually can in the Gulf, where I feel like I’m constantly fighting the currents.
After the rest of the family headed home, we headed up the road to our hotel, the Best Western Indian Oaks. We’d reserved a “lakeview” room, which had me puzzled because it seemed way too far away for a view of Lake Michigan. Turns out the lake in question is a waterbird sanctuary surrounded by trees. The room did indeed have a gorgeous view from the Adirondack chairs on the balcony.
We saw a pair of swans, a flock of geese, a few ducks, a flock of seagulls (a real one, not the 80’s band), a heron who decided to camp out on the deck railing outside the indoor pool, a ferocious red wing blackbird, and five crazy diving waterfowl we couldn’t identify.
We rambled around Chesterton, which had a ton of restaurant options, and then crashed early. (Hey, we were on the road at 4:30AM. Don’t judge us.) The next day, Maddie and I got in some “just us girls” pool time. Chris and I got in some quality balcony birdwatching and couples catch-up time. Then we packed up our gear and headed back south.
So now we’re back, and feeling relaxed. I hope your weekend was also awesome. I’m still trying to figure out how the summer can possibly be more than half over already.