Monday, July 19, 2021

We Left the Kids at Home and Went to Chicago: Day 1 at Indiana Dunes National Park

Indiana Dunes has grown up since that cold, rainy day six years ago that I took my freezing, uncomfortable children to Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

It's now Indiana Dunes National Park!

Earlier this summer, Matt and I undertook upon a Big Experiment, designed to answer an Important Question: what chaos would occur if we left our children home alone and went on a long weekend trip without them?

The kids both thought that this experiment was a fabulous idea, even Will (Will loves to travel, while Syd loathes it). I don't think it was necessarily the added trust and responsibility that enticed them, but the freedom to stare at their screens for 60 hours straight without an adult asking them to do something to prevent their muscles from atrophying or to get some Vitamin D absorbed into their skin.

In other words, everyone was looking forward to a quite pleasant long weekend!

If you were to leave two teenagers home alone, what would be your biggest fear for them? For me, it was that they'd choke, of all things! Like, I literally did not leave them any grapes. I reminded them how to do the Heimlich on themselves against a countertop. Whenever I talked to one of them while we were gone, I'd be all, "Where is your sister? When is the last time you saw her? Go do a wellness check while I'm on the phone with you."

Spoiler alert: nobody choked, and on this day in particular, while the kids were holed up in separate rooms staring at screens and ignoring each other and the beautiful day outside, Matt and I were hanging out together, soaking in that beautiful day and all the Vitamin D it had to offer:

Not gonna lie: I thought this was a nuclear power plant and I'm a little disappointed that it's not.

Check out how you can see the Chicago skyline from here. We're going to be part of that skyline in just a few hours!

There weren't a ton of people on the beaches on this random Friday afternoon in July, so Matt and I could walk along the lakeshore and explore while pretending that we had the whole place to ourselves.

We've just come directly from the orientation film in the visitor's center (I mean, of COURSE!), so I'm all excited to see the real-life evidence of the interaction between the dunes and the land beyond it:

Mt. Baldy, in particular, is creeping inland quite quickly, and it was interesting to see it covering trees and encroaching on former walking paths:

Since you know that one of my Special Interests is People in Peril in National Parks, you won't be surprised that one of the reasons I wanted to see Mt. Baldy is because of this incident in which a six-year-old fell into a hole that mysteriously opened up in the dune. I'm fascinated by the new science that the near-disaster uncovered, and the fact that it's still not 100% understood.

Also not 100% understood: the corpse of this terrifying lake creature:

Do we or do we not think it's weird that the Great Lakes have no giant underwater creatures living in them?

I don't know if the many fallen trees and pieces of driftwood are further pieces of evidence of erosion from the dunes, or if they come from elsewhere, but they were beautiful and interesting and we took lots of photos:

Before we left to finish our drive to Chicago, I came to my senses and remembered that I couldn't keep any of the pretty rocks I'd been collecting because we were, duh, in a NATIONAL PARK, so I took a picture of my favorite and then sadly put them all back:

Next stop: Chicago!!!

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