We were staying only about 40 miles from Lake Michigan, so we took one day to drive to the Lake. Having visited Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore in Michigan, we were somewhat disappointed with the Indiana Dunes area. That may have been partially due to the weather as it was very hot and humid. Had the weather been better we would have explored the area far more than we did, but it was easy to see that Indiana’s dunes are far less impressive than those of Michigan.
We entered the State Park first, and drove to the beach. Indiana’s beaches and dunes are formed by winds coming off Lake Michigan that drop sand when the wind hits existing plants and dunes. All of the trails in the park involve dune climbing to some degree. Due to the heat, we decided against hiking.
There is a huge stone beach house that has been let deteriorate. Pictures at the Nature Center attested to it’s former affluence when it contained a dining facility overlooking the waters of the lake. Now, it is but a shell containing only a tiny snack bar and restrooms facility on the bottom level.
We then drove to the National Lakeshore, which is not simply or quickly done. The national property seems to wind in and out of privately owned land, and much of the roads were under construction.
INDIANA DUNES NATIONAL LAKESHORE
Our first stop was at the Visitor Center, hoping to find a video or slideshow to better acquaint us with the park. Unfortunately, an earlier storm in the day had knocked out power. Running on minimum power from a generator, the park attendants were unable to show us the video.
As the day was still heating up, we again decided to walk in a shaded area, rather than on the sand and dunes. We drove to the preserved Chellberg farm, dating back to a Swedish community of the 1850’s. A short hike through the woods took us to the clearing containing a “sugar shack”, barn, house, etc. The trail then completed a circular trek through the woods back to the parking lot. For a short slideshow of our hike, click on the photo below:
We did not take the time to drive the additional 13 miles to the National Lakeshore beach area. Later we wished we had, when we were told it was much nicer than the beach at the state park. Perhaps on a future visit ….
During a recent visit with son, Tom, we spent some time in nearby Potato Creek State Park. An unusual name for a state park, isn’t it? Native Americans once collected plants with potato-type roots on this area’s creek banks. The early settler’s English translation for the native name for the plant was “wild potato”, leading to the name Potato Creek.
Later, a man made reservoir was built on the creek, due primarily to the dreams of a man name Worster. Darcy Worster kept the dream of a park alive in the minds of state officials by sending them his hand-crafted insects periodically to “bug” them about creating a park. Finally, in 1969, they agreed, and the 6 square miles finally officially became an Indiana state park in 1977.
The Quaking Aspen trail gave us a chance to cool off in the shade of the woods.
On a cross country trip this summer, they stopped by to spend a couple of days with us. We met at McCormick’s Creek State Park. We’re used to being there as camphosts, but this time we returned as campers.
We went on a day trip together to Vincennes, Indiana. Vincennes, lying on the border of Indiana and Illinois, is the oldest city in Indiana, dating back to its beginning as a French trading post in 1732. In 1779, George Rogers Clark (brother to William Clark of Lewis and Clark fame) led a battle against the British at Vincennes. Despite tremendous odds and a bitterly cold winter, Clark and his soldiers took the largest land conquest of the Revolutionary War from the British.
A majestic memorial marks the site.
Inside, impressive mural surrounding the rotunda tell the story of the battle.
This photo gives you an idea of the scale of the building and the statue of Clark.
The Indiana Territory, as the area became known, was much larger than the present day state of Indiana.
Vincennes served as it’s capitol until 1812, when a new building was built in Corydon.
There is a small area preserved in Vincennes containing that first territory capitol. Built as a tailor’s shop, it is a modest building.
Standing next to the capitol is Jefferson Academy, founded in 1801.
Now Vincennes University, it is the oldest public institution of higher learning in Indiana.
Just down from the capitol building is a little white house containing the Elihu Stout Print Shop. As the new territorial legislatures soon realized, the public had to be informed of their government’s activities, and the first state newspaper was born.
Other notable “firsts” of Vincennes include:
Site of the First Catholic church in Indiana. (1749)
Site of the First Presbyterian church in Indiana. (1806)
Site of the First Masonic Lodge in Indiana. (1809)
Home of the First bank in Indiana. (1814)
Host to the First medical society in Indiana. (1817)
First county hospital in Indiana. (Good Samaritan Hospital 1908)
First Post Office in Indiana.
First sheriff's department in Indiana.
If you happen to be in Western Indiana, and enjoy historical sites, be sure to visit Vincennes, Indiana. For more information, visit this site:
We spent the month of June camp hosting at our favorite Indiana State Park, McCormick’s Creek.
Usually when camp hosting at the park (this is our 5th summer), we are on A Loop, but this year were parked on B Loop, which is a little more wooded and shady.
Although we had more rain than we would have liked, there were days when we could hike the park trails.
The site had an area that traditionally stays muddy, but with the help of park employees, we mulched the area and added a little color.
We had several hummingbirds feeding daily.
The month became like a retreat for us. I enjoyed catching up on reading, and Ron began carving another wooden chain.
This is the 6th chain he has carved. One hangs in the Nature Center of the Park.
In addition to several visits from family members, we enjoyed visiting often with fellow camp hosts, Bennie and Mabel Smith. Some evenings were actually cool enough to enjoy sitting near a fire.
We took a weekend off from the month to celebrate Christmas In the Summer with our family, traveling to brother Gary’s cabin in eastern Kentucky.
The location is beautiful, with the cabin overlooking the Daniel Boone National Forest.
Seventeen family members spent the night in the small cabin, making for a lot of fun. (We even had a Charlie Brown Christmas tree!)
June was a good month for us. We left the park at the end of the month to spend a couple of weeks with family, but will return to camp host for another month starting July 15.