Saturday, May 11, 2013

US Hwy 20: Indiana Dunes

I had never heard of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore before, but I spent the entire day exploring it and am really glad I did. Covering 15,000 acres along 15 miles of the southern Lake Michigan shoreline, it's an intriguing combination of beaches, dunes, wetlands, forests and history.

Created by glaciers of the last ice age and continually influenced by millennia of wind and water, many miles of sandy beaches are the area's most prominent feature. The lakeshore is nestled between two immense industrial areas that invariably appear as backdrops in photos.

Behind the beach is a series of rolling ridges, with the eponymous dunes situated in various locations.

The dunes are visually stunning, rather imposing and very hard to photograph. Several approach 200 feet tall as they continually evolve, move, grow, erode and reform.

Between the beaches, dunes and the surrounding woodlands lies an extensive range of bogs and wetlands.

All together, they are claimed to have one of the world's richest diversities of species, to be preserved forever from industrial and human overwhelm.

Well defined and clearly mapped trails range throughout the entire park.

I didn't care much for the bog walk, but several miles along the beach were a welcome leg stretch.

The wood trails were beautiful, finally giving me a sense of spring having arrived!

Besides the nature attractions, there's some interesting human history here.

The area was settled by a few families in the early 1800s, and their homesteads have been very well preserved.

The facilities were not open at this time in the season -- of course! -- but wandering around them gave a pretty good impression of their residents' lives as trappers and farmers. The good old, simple days!

As always, Happy was my constant companion throughout the day.

With this photo, I'll let you draw your own conclusions about how much she enjoyed it.

I don't have much to report about Michigan City itself, besides that it's basically just an old crossroads town.

Several malls along the highways offer every kind of modern chain store and restaurant, while the old downtown area is fairly worn and a little rough.

How many times have I written that on my old US Highway road trips?

I've had a good day here, so I'm going to continue east tomorrow… Stay tuned!

Click here to see exactly where I am posting this from on Google Maps.

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