Indiana Dunes State Park / National Lakeshore

October 15-17, 2013 — We decided to take one more “shakedown cruise” – Fred’s U.S. Navy term for our early camping trips; I’ve been referring to them as our “training wheels” camping trips.  After this one, we take Charley into the RV shop to drain the water, winterize the pipes, and move him inside for winter storage.

Indiana Dunes State Park and the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore cohabitate right along the shores of Lake Michigan about an hour east of Chicago – a very easy trip to make from the big city.  The facilities looked to be brand new and were very nice.  This campground didn’t have as many trees as other, more mature campgrounds, but since we were one of the few people there this late in the camping season it didn’t seem to matter much.

The word for the trip was ‘rain’ – as in we were hardly ever without rain.  We did get to test out our oven as I cooked our first evening’s dinner (chicken tetrazzini) in it; it turned out great.  And we tested the heating system – notable that we could heat the place up in all of about two minutes; a good thing to test out and feel confident in.  We also put our bedroom TV and DVR player to the test because of the above-mentioned rain.  This system, too, checked out fine and we thoroughly enjoyed the Albert Brooks movie Lost In America.  David’s (Brooks’) line, “My wife and I just dropped out of society” seemed to have extra poignancy as we watched the movie this time!  “I want to touch Indians” drew good laughs, as well.  And who can forget the nest egg?!??

We did manage to get a 7-ish mile hike in between the raindrops one day – a moderate hike on a couple of different trails – through a quiet bog full of [wet!] fall leaves on the way out with the return trip back on the [chilly and windy!] lakeshore and across the dunes.

Of note, we visited this place during the insane U.S. Government Shut-Down, so unfortunately the National Lakeshore (NLS) part of the shared Visitor Center was closed.  While this was not a huge loss for souvenir-buying sake (in fact, no loss at all), it looked as though it was going to be problematic for me, once again [nightmares of our visit to Hawai’i Volcanoes NP] because I needed my National Passport stamp for my journal!  Fortunately I mentioned something to the volunteer on the state-sponsored side of the center who pulled open his top drawer and told me that he just happened to grab the NLS stamp before that side was shut down.  He said he did it for people just like me who might want the stamp even though the NLS was officially closed.  Great man!  Another close call, but another stamp for my book – yay!

Also of note, we cut the trip short by one day as the forecast called for lots more rain and we were just not in the mood to take cold, wet hikes.  We committed to coming back in nicer weather, although it was quite nice having the area almost entirely to ourselves – I guess rain will do that to a place….