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Circus Trip 2018: Indiana Dunes NP

Day 73, Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Indiana Dunes National Park
Author’s Note: At the time of my visit in 2018, Indiana Dunes was designated as a National Lakeshore.  To avoid confusion, I am using the National Park designation it currently holds.

From my family in Galesburg, Michigan, I drove about an hour and 40 minutes to Indiana Dunes National Park.  I was back in Indiana and had a chance to do some state sign posing!  It is located along about 20 miles of Lake Michigan, with the western part of the park located in Gary, Indiana.

Indiana State Sign

Indiana Dunes protects the sand dunes along the southern shore of Lake Michigan, located about an hour from Chicago.  This area of the lakeshore had many steel mills, and glass companies at the turn of the 20th century found the sand ideal for their glassmaking.  As a result, the dunes were shrinking from all the sand that was being trucked away, and pollution was a huge problem.

Indiana Dunes was authorized by Congress as a National Lakeshore in 1966, and its designation upgraded to National Park status on February 15, 2019 by President Donald Trump.  In 2020, annual visitation was approximately 2,293,000 people.  As it is only about an hour from Chicago, it makes for an easy day trip.

Indiana Dunes National Park

I checked out the Century of Progress Architectural District, a collection of five homes that were relocated to this area after the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair.  These homes are privately owned, so you can’t see inside, but it is interesting to see the outside!  The architectural style of the time was very unique and these are good examples!

Indiana Dunes has several trails to the lake, and is a well known spot for birdwatching.  So I wanted to check it out!  I hiked the Dune Succession Trail, a one mile trail that included some dune habitat, grasslands, deciduous forest and of course, the beach and excellent views of the lake.  There were also quite a few mosquitos – YUCK!

I didn’t do too much exploring that day, as I was getting acclimated to traveling again, but there is lots more to see at the park, including more historic homes and farms and many more trails.  I will have to go back there sometime to check it out!  After my visit I got back on the road and headed south to the KOA campground in Springfield, Illinois.  I was going to be heading west along I-70 and was making my way south to do that!

COVID Diaries: Day 707

I got home late Monday night from two weeks on vacation in Minnesota.  It was a much needed respite, and yet so very cold!

Getting home on Monday wasn’t easy though.  There was a winter storm warning in Minnesota that was due to bring 14 inches of snow.  Thankfully the snow came later and it wasn’t bad getting to the airport.  My first flight was great!  My second flight was canceled due to high winds.  I ended up taking the shuttle bus home, but my bags didn’t come with me.  I got one bag back last night and my second got home today.  And all the Minnesota cider I had nestled into it survived!   

Unfortunately, I got home to a cold snap so encountered temps of 25 degrees and black ice on my commute, making for a treacherous drive on Tuesday.  But the sun is out!  And it warmed up to 44 this afternoon, making it much warmer than Minnesota now.

It was so nice to have a getaway, but it just reminded me how much I want to go on a long road trip again!  But probably not in the dead of winter.  Well, maybe in the dead of winter in the south.  At any rate, a road trip is on my mind.  Hopefully soon.

My vacation was spent doing many cold weather activities.  Hiking, snow shoeing, visiting an ice castle and an ice maze, ice fishing, frozen waterfalls and other fun winter activities!  I had a great time, but didn’t always stay warm!  In the evenings, I got to work on a puzzle, watch movies, play games or just read. 

In other news, my state’s Governor finally announced that he would lift our mask mandate no later than March 21, long after most other states.  So that may mean that the COVID Diaries may finally come to an end, and it will be time to have a new “thoughts on life” series.  One can only hope.  Stay tuned! 

COVID Diaries: Day 683

I’m ready for winter to be over, but I’m trying to embrace it while it lasts.  The last week or so has been cold and clear, with some blue sky days and some that were foggy.  It was back to rain today.

Cora is fully embracing the winter – lazy days spent snuggling in her puff.  These cats really have the life…

Yesterday a girlfriend and I went to TJ Maxx and to the outlet mall to do a bit of clothes shopping.  I have purchased next to nothing in the way of new clothes over the last two years, what with not traveling, and mostly working from home.  It’s been time to get rid of some things that were getting ratty, with faulty zippers and faded colors.  I was way too successful with sweaters and tops, but I can’t complain, as usually it’s the other way around…

On our way home we still had a bit of daylight left, so we stopped by a newer park about a half hour from home.  We checked out a trail, and the viewpoints at the top of Little Mountain.  This is one we will definitely need to visit again! 

I finished my Minnesota puzzle and started a new one.  The fairly monochromatic pink on the new one is going to be more challenging.  I’m making some progress, but it’s a bit slow.  She’s so pretty though!  The photo is a picture of the box – I haven’t made it very far yet.  It was a Christmas gift from my mom.

Shelley and I walked downtown to steak night mid-week.  It is always so delicious!  I was so hungry though, that I totally missed taking a photo of my steak.  I did manage to snap a pic of the chocolate cake we shared for dessert.

 

I’m looking forward to the day when I’m not going to work in the dark and coming home in the dark.  Sunset is after 5 pm now, so that day is coming!  I feel like I only ever see the sun on my days off and when I can squeeze in a lunch walk, which isn’t everyday.  

I need a vacation! 

 

 

COVID Diaries: Day 634

Well, after three atmospheric rivers, and a lot of flooding all over the county, the weather systems are calmed down for a little while.  One man died, many farmers lost a lot of their livestock, and thousands of homes and businesses will need to be gutted and rebuilt.  The county is dotted with sinkholes and roads that are eroded away from the rushing water.  

The flooding finally made it to my hillside street, in the form of a blocked culvert that started overflowing into the street, and sending a lot of gravel out of the neighbors’ parking areas and into the street.  Fortunately, it didn’t erode underneath the street.  Really, since that is all that happened near me, I have nothing to complain about.

Then we moved onto snow.  I woke up Monday morning to a dusting of the white stuff, but it didn’t create any issues for my morning commute.  It snowed again a little on Thursday morning, but not enough to even stick.  Friday night brought a new storm of wind and rain, and plenty of snow in the mountains.  It made a mess of my yard, bringing down a couple of big branches that I’ll need to cut up and get rid of.  The yard work never ends this time of year!

I really get tired of the constant battering of wind and rain on the coast this time of year.  But given the tornadoes in the Midwest, I probably still have nothing to complain about here. 

Last weekend my friend Shelley and I took a long weekend and went to the coast.  We rented a room in a little motel, then got upgraded to a two bedroom suite with a full kitchen because the TV wasn’t working.  We beach combed,  and checked out the sights along the coast.  It was a nice getaway, despite the rain and cold.  We bundled up and managed to do ok. 

I’m not ready for Christmas, but I did manage to get my ornaments made for my family’s homemade ornament exchange; for me, who has no crafting skills whatsoever, this is a big accomplishment each year!  I’ll try to remember to share them all once I receive the ones from my aunt and my cousin. 
 
2021 has been a brutal year.  Our insurance broker at work always says that you are bound to have one or two bad years out of every five.  I’m hoping I can apply that to life as well.  I hope you all are hanging in there; there is a light at the end of the tunnel!  Just a few more weeks; 2022 is bound to bring something better! 
 
I hope you are all well. 

COVID Diaries: Day 577

Sometimes, I day dream to maintain my sanity.  I think about all the things that I’ll have more time for once I retire.  All the things I want to do, or do again, or see.

Travel: I cannot wait to get back on the road and travel regularly again.  A new job a few years ago, then COVID, and I’m itching to stretch my wings again.  I have so many places on my bucket list!

Reading: Admittedly, I read a lot now.  But there are so many books and so little time!  History, historical fiction, biographies, novels… So many books sitting on my shelves and on my IPod just waiting to be picked up and loved.

Rock-hounding: This is a new pursuit.  I mean, I have always loved rocks, but I have gotten way more interested in the last year. Probably because it’s outdoors, and away from other people.  You can walk gorgeous beaches, or meandering rivers, and see what you find.

Photography: I have enjoyed photography for a long time.  Ever since that day at Yellowstone National Park when I was about six, and my dad told me I could take one photo of anything I want.  I chose an elk carcass.  Yes, that somewhat morbid nature has remained with me.  Yes, I still take photos of carcasses…  But I also take photos of beautiful landscapes and live animals!

Hiking: Getting out and enjoying nature and exercising has been so healing and grounding for me.  I dream of taking new trails and going to new parks.

Puzzles: I have so much fun working on a puzzle!  Enough said.

Family: My job has meant long hours, and sometimes a long commute.  I’ll have more time to spend with family and friends!  Hopefully, coupled with traveling, hiking, rock-hounding and puzzles.

Maybe I’ll pick up some new hobbies too.  I have always wanted to cook better; maybe it will be a time to work on my skills. I would like to do a vegetable garden too!

That day is getting closer all the time…

Weekend Musings: August 7, 2021

I know, I know, it’s been a hot minute since I’ve been around!  But guys!  I got to go on vacation!  I got home Thursday night from a week at the Oregon Coast with my friend Jena, and it was amazing.

We did a ton of beachcombing, looking for agates, beach glass, seashells and fossils.  We visited multiple beaches, checking out what was at each one.  The weather was pretty cold and windy the whole week, so we got sandblasted each day and ended up washing sand out of our hair with every shower, but we were happy!  We dug in the gravel beds until our nails had dirt and sand embedded underneath.  We poked around in tide pools and flipped over rocks to see what was underneath.

We tried out a number of different breweries and one cidery, and sampled all the delicious food. Seafood, burgers, fish and carne asada tacos, nachos, totchos; we had so much good grub!

We watched the sea lions on the docks, saw a seal bobbing in the surf, and found pelicans on the sandbars.

We visited a couple of the historic coastal lighthouses.  The Yaquina Bay and Yaquina Head lighthouses were both built in the 1870s, and although they are in Newport, Oregon, now, back then they were very remote!

 

We shopped in the local shops and got started on our Christmas shopping…  And of course I got gifts for myself too!

I practiced my photography and played around with the photoball that my dad got me the Christmas before he died.

It was sooooo much fun!

Of course, Cora and Yellow are happy that I’m home, and enjoying lap time and pets.  And I’ve been enjoying a lazy day at home after 8 straight days of constantly being on the go.  I mean, how can you relax when there are more agates to be found?

 

COVID Diaries: Day 431

I had a great weekend.  Friday was my day off, and I ended up being kind-of lazy.  I did walk to the store to pick up fruit to make fruit salad for book club on Friday night.  We were able to meet on the rooftop of a downtown building, with fabulous views!  I love the company of these smart, compassionate women, and our topics of conversation ranged from COVID, to jobs, to love.  The love part makes a lot of sense, as the book, my pick, was about healing from a broken heart. 

 

Saturday was chores day.  I did get quite a bit done that I intended.  I did a deep clean vacuuming, including the stairs, the corners with the wand, and the hardwood and linoleum.  I did a lot of laundry (sheets and blankets and jackets), and folded most of it.  I did dishes, and put things away and broke down some boxes to recycle.  I mowed the lawn and raked up the heavy clumps of grass that were left behind.  Even better though, I had a chance to spend a couple of hours sitting in the sunshine, reading.  Heaven! 

Today, Tiffany and I went to lunch at a place a bit south of us, that has excellent food.  My elk burger was so delicious that I ate the whole thing! 

 

Then we went to check out a state park we had never been to before.  Rasar State Park was well worth the trip!  We spent a couple hours walking the few miles of trails, talking, and were mostly alone the entire time.  The trails take you down to the river, which is a feeding ground for bald eagles in the late fall and winter.  I’m going to have to come back in the winter…  They have a small campground with camping cabins that look like they would be fun to stay in too! 

We came home happy; there just something about nature that is so good for the soul.  And our timing was wonderful, since it started raining about a half hour after we got back.

In COVID news, our Governor FINALLY announced a full reopening no later than the end of June.  Yay!  It’s about time!  Of course, there’s still a chance that he could move away from that, but hopefully it happens.  I guess that means you have 5 more weeks of COVID Diaries, before I’ll have to abandon it for a new series! 

COVID Words of Wisdom: It is not your job to make other people comfortable with who you are.  Be wary of those who don’t want you to change or grow.  Grow anyway — there is no alternative.  Keep Moving.  -Maggie Smith

 

COVID Diaries: Day 374

The weekend has arrived again!  I had to work yesterday on my day off, as one of my employees had a family emergency, so it was nice when the workday was finally over! 

I had a friends dinner date on Thursday night at a new pho restaurant in town.  So simple and so delicious!  It’s so nice to be able to eat in a restaurant again.  We followed it up with a walk to the University, since it is now light out later in the evening. 

Friday night I took a long walk in the Arboretum, and then back down through the University.  It’s so nice to have this wooded park just a few blocks from my front door. Afterwards, I tried a new Raspberry Lemonade canned wine.  It was ok; not great, not terrible.

Today I had to do the unpleasant task of buying a new washer.  Why are these things so expensive and why oh why can they not make quality things the way they used to?  In my first house, the dishwasher was 42 years old and still worked fine.  You are lucky if you get 7 years out of an appliance these days.  But I am now the proud owner of a brand new Speed Queen top loading washing machine with exactly no bells and whistles, which is exactly how I think it ought to be.  Hopefully it will last… 

To reward myself for getting this chore done, I went to the Lost Giants cidery and got a 6-pack of their new Passionfruit Guava cider.  It is soooo good! 

I hope you are all having a fantastic weekend!

 

Circus Trip 2018: Acadia NP, Day 2

Day 53, Thursday, September 6, 2018
Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, Maine

I had another full day in Acadia National Park, and it happened to be my birthday!

I started out by checking out the Bass Harbor Head Light.  You might not know this lighthouse by name, but I’m pretty sure you’ll recognize it.  The Bass Harbor Head Light was built in 1858 and sits 56 feet above the mean high water mark.  In 1876, they added a fog bell and the tower.  The light was originally fitted with a 5th Order Fresnel lens, but a 4th Order Fresnel lens was installed in 1901 to give it more light. It had a range of 13 nautical miles (15 miles).

You can descend a wooden staircase to access the rocks below the lighthouse.  This is the best view of the light, so make sure you make the extra effort!  The rocks have plenty of tide pools to explore as well.  I love seeing all the little sea creatures in their natural habitat.  I spoke with a local man who was doing the stairs for exercise, and he gave me a great recommendation for where to get a delicious lobster roll – I tucked that tidbit away for lunchtime…

I went for a short hike on the Ship Harbor Trail to a small secluded cove, and saw only a few other hikers along the way. The view was nothing amazing, but it was nice to get a hike in the woods.  I did see a cute woodpecker and took approximately 927 terrible pictures of him!  The photo I included was my best bad bird pic of the day…  Then I headed over to the Seawall to explore the area.  It is a beautiful rocky beach, with picnic tables and plenty of space to stay away from the crowds.

By this point, I was hungry, so I headed over to Charlotte’s Legendary Lobster Pound to try out their lobster roll!  I ordered a lobster roll ($19.95) and a blueberry soda float ($5.95).  They were both delicious!  I hung around and talked to the owner for a bit because it was raining – he was very friendly and even tried to convince me to move to Maine.  Believe me, I’m tempted!

Behind Charlotte’s are some goats that the kids will love, and an old family cemetery.  One of the tombstones said that the teenager died at the Connecticut State Hospital in 1872, and it made me wonder why the family chose to place that on his stone.  The owners of the restaurant have an appreciation for the history of the area, and maintain the small plot.  I found some deer munching on fallen apples too!

 

My last stop for the afternoon was at a lakeside swimming area.  It was too chilly to consider jumping in, but there were some hardier souls than me!

Acadia National Park really impressed me.  I loved the gorgeous shoreline and the natural diversity within the park.  I can’t wait to visit again!

 

COVID Diaries: Day 316

Another long long week…  Another weekend!  Except I have a meeting in the morning on my day off because I wasn’t quite able to get to everything I needed to get done.  Sigh…  Cora doesn’t mind; she just likes that I’m home.

The COVID cases here continue to be high, so unfortunately the lockdown continues, even as most other states are lifting theirs.  Our surge started after the new lockdown went into effect, so let’s just think on that for a moment…  I’m tired.  The vaccine rollout is a mess; our county has literally no vaccine at all.

We got about a flake and a half of snow this week before it petered out and the sun came out.  I think I would have preferred a foot of snow!  I mean I work from home anyway, so why not?

The weekend of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day my friend and I went on a little Sunday Funday jaunt nearby.  We found an old ship from 1917 that was scrapped and turned into a breakwater in the 1960s.  The trees growing out of it are pretty tall!  I’ve lived here all my life and had no idea this was close by until I was searching around for fun oddities to go see.

It was a gorgeous sunny day, and we had a great time!  It was so refreshing to have good weather in January! That made lunch outside tolerable, maybe even nice?  The fish and chips certainly lifted my spirits!

We also spent some time exploring a nearby state park that I’ve driven by a million times, but rarely stop at.  We walked the beach and hiked to a view of the Deception Pass Bridge.  What an incredible day!

I started a new puzzle, but haven’t made it very far.  The panorama format makes it look so small, even though it is 750 pieces!

I was thinking on life the other day and came up the idea to pass along some words of wisdom.  I mean, I’ve done a lot of living; it’s nice to think I might have learned something along the way.  Some will be mine, but I might share snippets from others too (attributed of course).  So here you go!

COVID Words of Wisdom:  If you are lucky enough to have a woman who tells you what she needs, make sure you listen and at least try to deliver. If you don’t, she won’t stop needing it, but she will stop needing it from you.