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Indiana State Dunes Camping Trip



Got home from work Friday night and finished packing, Rich (WINOLJ) came to pick me up. Looking with dismay at his already filled trunk I decided to take one for the team and leave my pillow at home (this is a mistake, don't ever do this. Sit on the pillow in the car if you have to.) I also decided to leave the muffins at home as they took up quite a bit of room relative to their nutritional value. Then we collected unhipster and it became obvious that steps would have to be taken to make sure everyone could ride inside the car. On our way to pick up lverhulst we stopped at Target and bought a luggage carrier and an Aerobie. The luggage carrier was a little problematic as it was designed to attach to a roof rack and Rich's shiny ride doesn't have one. So we attached the luggage carrier to the whoafuck bars (otherwise known as the holyshitbars and jesushandles) and went to get Leane. While we were doing all this pam called to say that we could take another car if need be since currently three cars would be at the site and there was a limit of four cars. This was good to know. We managed to cram all the fabulous food that lverhulst brought, and her luggage and sleeping bag (she also fell on her sword and left her pillow at home) into and onto Rich's long-suffering car. After that the drive was fast and we got there in no time. The only scary incident was when the driver of a totally jacked-up van kindly signaled us that the luggage carrier was slipping. We pulled over, tightened it and made it to the campsite fine.

Once we got in we found the campsites pamand spot had reserved and joined them around the fire, along with Kevin (WINOLJ). Brats were cooked, s'mores were made and we were shushed by Boy Scouts (who then proceded to make more noise than we were). Around midnight pam suggested a  walk to the beach. The path to the lakeshore from the campground glowed softly in the moonlight and there were actual moonshadows on the beach.  It was a cloudy night, the moon was in and out of the clouds but we did manage to spot Mars and enjoy having the beach quiet (except for the waves, yes Kids, Lake Michigan does have waves) and to ourselves. It was  clear enough on the horizon that Rich got a picture of the Chicago skyline on the far shore. You can clearly distinguish the Sears Tower in the picture. Cool!

Saturday we got up, had bagels and showers (the 'comfort stations' were awesome--as clean as could be expected, everything worked and there were no lines), then waited for the remaining two members of our party to show up. Once they arrived we packed lunch supplies and headed off to climb Mount Tom, the tallest sand dune in the park. It was overcast which turned out to be a good thing, otherwise we would all have been dead of heat exhaustion. The trail through the woods was pleasant and there were stairs to the top of Mount Tom, so the climb wasn't awful. The view was quite nice but marred a little by the heavy industry in the distance (think about it, if we could see Chicago, we could also see Gary). The descent toward the lakeshore did not have stairs. I ran down it taking giant strides, it was almost like skiing-very very fun. I was laughing out loud it was so exhilarating! We noodled around the lakeshore for a while then continued our hike, intending to picnic at the top of the second highest dune in the park. The only problem with that was it was also one of the steepest and had no stairs or boardwalk. I climbed it to scout the summit and see if there was a place to picnic (and maybe an easier ascent), about halfway up the only thing that kept me going was sheer bloody-mindedness. I was NOT going to let that dune beat me. I made it, finally, took some pictures, and then wheeeeee! ran down it, yelling "Incoming!" at the top of my lungs. So we went back and ate atop Mt. Tom, then back to the beach where unhipster, Rich and I helped spot find one of the four geocaches hidden in the park. After meeting up again everyone went back to camp except Rich, spot and I who played with the Aerobie Pro that I had bought because I couldn't find a frisbee and you can't go camping without a flying disc toy of some sort. We had been tossing it around at camp earlier but it wound up going into all the campsites around us. So when we remembered the giant deserted parking lot from our walk to the beach last night we decided to bring the aerobie with. It was lots of fun!

For supper that night we had Hobo Stew, chili,  and corn on the cob roasted over the fire. And of course, s'mores. pam, lverhulst, Monica and Charlie (WINOLJ) cut all the veggies and meat for the Hobo Stew while I was a very lazy person and sat around poking the fire and listening to spot tell hilarious stories about his high school experience. Around  eleven I decided I wanted to go back to the beach and Rich and Kevin walked with me. It was great! I managed to talk them out of turning on their flashlight so we walked down the path lit by moonlight. Very cool. When we got to the main parking lot a ranger(?) stopped us and said we weren't supposed to be there after eleven, but when we made disappointed noises and turned to go he said we could hang out for a few minutes.

The lake was very still, almost completely calm (this is fairly unusual) and it was hazy enough that we couldn't even see the glow of lights from Chicago. It was very cool. Since hardly any stars were visible and we didn't know if the ranger would be back we didn't stay that long but it was still  very peaceful and I'm glad we went.

When we got back the fire was still going and pam was telling some more ghost stories (she told us a few the previous night as well). After hearing another North Carolina folktale we tried to come up with some Chicago ghost stories but no one could remember much about her (ETA: 'her' being Resurrection Mary). Then it was time for bed.

Sunday we cleaned up, packed up the tents and the rest of our things and went geocaching again. This cache (possibly due to technical difficulties) was tough to find. Finally Monica spotted it and we could go to the Around the Clock diner for some much anticipated breakfast.



A good time was had by all, in fact while we were eating breakfast we were planning another trip in October, this time to Starved Rock.

Most of the pictures I took are already on line, I'll post a link in the next (friends locked) entry.






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