_______ November 11, 2016 ________

Guest Blogger:  Adventure to Indiana Dunes

aNNa’S NoTe:  Lydia wrote a fantastic blog about our mini vacation, last week, on her homeschool weblog.  I thought, ‘Why write what she’s already done a fantastic job of writing?  I’ll just add the pictures and a few notes, and let her do my work, today!’  ((<< Yes, that’s cheating.))  You’ll forgive me for not sharing the link to any of my kids’ homeschool weblogs… there are too many nasty people out there, and I can’t lead trolls right to them.  You understand.

(Pictures and green stuff is mine.)

Indiana Dunes!

This past weekend we took a two-day trip to Indiana Dunes!

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We packed up and left at about two o’clock on Saturday with our camper and headed off down the highway!  We stopped at Long John Silvers for lunch on our way down.  It took about two and a half hours, but we sang along with good music to pass the time!  😛  When we were about to pass the line, I grabbed my phone to see if the time would change automatically.  Dad’s doesn’t, but mine did!

aNNa’S NoTe:  In reading travel blogs, I found out about the National Parks’ Junior Ranger program.  It burns mimg_8775-444x437e, that we did ALL of Indiana and missed all of those badges we could’ve done!  But then I also found out that 2016 is the Centennial year for the National Parks… and there’s a special Centennial program for kids, that gets them a special badge.  I really wanted to go to one – and the closest is Indiana dunes.  We’d never been before, it’s an adventure… and there’s a State Park campground right in the National Park… so we could take our camper.  The only thing I worried about was Brian’s leg.  But he said he could make it, after putting it off two weeks, so we went.  And just in time for the beautiful color!

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We made it to the Visitor’s Center and got what we needed to get the Junior Ranger badge and Centennial Badges.

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Centennial book, and Indiana Dunes Jr. Ranger books.

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Then, we headed off to the campground.  The campground had two cool towers as we drove in.  They weren’t tall, but they were old and cool looking. The campground was pretty nice, though, other than the bathrooms.  The bathrooms weren’t terribly kept-up or sanitary.  But the park had nice cement spots and lots of trees!

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After we had gotten situated, we went on a little hike.  We didn’t know at that time, though, that we had climbed the biggest of the three dunes!  Holy lotta stairs!  But the view was amazing!

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img_8701-444x282((The colors were brilliant, and gorgeous in the setting sun.))

img_8709-555x416We could see Chicago from the top! And Gary Indiana, but that wasn’t as pretty.

img_8707-444x278((She forgot to mention Mantis.  BIG Mantis.))

img_8712-444x333A-not-so-Mt.Tom-dune.  But still a fun photo op.

img_8715-416x555Then we climbed down the other side of the dune and took a walk along the beach.

img_8752-444x333There were beautiful stones there that were flat and smooth and some of them
had caramel and teal stripes running through them!  They were so pretty!

img_8722-555x416As we were walking down the beach, the sun was setting over Gary.  Through Mom’s camera, it made the entire town look bright red!  But it was a pretty sunset!  And the water wasn’t too choppy out, but we didn’t go in it.  That would’ve been c-c-cold!

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aNNa’S NoTe:  There are different levels for younger kids – big kids do ten pages, little kids do three… my kids were required to do them ALL.  They worked together, and had no problem.  It was a LOT of writing, though!  I also took this time to look over the places we’d need to go to get the information for the Jr. Ranger book, and made a little itenerary on the maps of our next day.  We also found out that there’s a Three Dune Challenge at Indiana Dunes, and if you complete it, you get a prize… so we were planning on that, too!  We are nothing if not ambitious!

We went shopping after that to pick up food and milk and ice cream for supper and then we worked on our badge booklets at the camper for a while before crashing.

img_8738-444x294The next day, though, the time had changed!  So instead of only going one hour back, we jumped two hours back because we weren’t Indiana people!  We ended up getting up wayyyyyyy too early that morning.  But it did give us extra time to do what we wanted to do!  ((Time change plus the extra Indiana hour was a TOTAL blessing, or we’d never have fit it all in!!!))

img_8746-444x286Up and out, bright and early!

img_8747-444x333We counted one hundred and forty seven arrowheads
((over the course of ONE day!))
and saw a bright pink house on the lake shore.

aNNa’S NoTe:  Along the lake shore are five houses built for the 1930 World’s Fair.  They’re ‘Century of Progress’ houses, and made out of strange material, supposedly age-proof and economical.  They were fun to go and look at, even though they were a ‘Mom wants to see them’ thing.  The family is amazingly flexible about stuff like that.

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We got information at Shore Park, while by the houses.

img_8784-425x444We got to go to a bird feeding event…
((Needed a ranger-led event for our badges!))

img_8807-416x555…climbed three big dunes…

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Dune #1:  Mt. Jackson.
img_8817-404x444Dune #2:  Mt. Holden.img_8824-444x223Dune #3 – Mt. Tom, our second time up it!

[We] biked uphill a lot, visited an old trading spot, and explored the areas around!

img_8835-555x416Chellberg Farm.  There was no scarecrow for our scavenger list,
so we had Aaron pose up on a pole for us! 

img_8833-444x235The place was busy, especially with photographers/customers…
we didn’t see anyone else doing Jr. Ranger activities.

img_8838-365x555It was a balmy 65 degrees, in November. 
Perfect weather, perfect colors!

img_8840-416x555Bailly Homestead.  An historic trading post.

We were *supposed* to do a hiking loop at West Beach, too, but ((((thankfully!!)))) the park was closed for maintenance.  It would’ve put us in a tighter frame for finishing on time… and it was a ‘marsh’, so we weren’t thrilled with the activity, anyhow!

img_8842-444x322and finished up our booklets!

aNNa’S NoTe:  We took a bike ride (homigawsh, uphill all the way, and our legs were already jelly from the 3-dune challenge and hiking the homestead and trading post and beaches!) to the Visitor’s Center to drop off our work and finish the last activities for our books.  Here the kids are doing the U.S. equivalent of brass rubbings.  The Park Ranger was FLOORED that we got both books, all of the activities, and the dune challenge done all in one day.  (Frankly, so was I!)  She couldn’t believe it.  I’m still a little in awe of us, myself.  And the next day, we were exhausted...!!

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We earned our Indiana Dunes badge, our 3-dune challenge sticker, and our Centennial ranger badges… and they gave us National Park patches for doing such a hard day of commendable work, too!  For visiting during the State Park’s anniversary, we got free postcards, as well.  And the kids got to keep the pencils we’d been given to do our Ranger books with.  This might not sound awesome, but those pencils are SOOOO kewl – they turn colors with the heat of your hand – from green to yellow, or purple to pink!  Hot stuff!!!

We got home [Michigan] about nine o’clock on Sunday night.  We did earn our badges and we had a great trip!  Although biking uphill and climbing three dunes is very tiring. 😛

I think that’s all I have for now!  Thanks for reading!
Lydia  ((and her mom))

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