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Brandee at the Sand Dunes

This morning started out at a reasonable hour. Hurrah for partying responsibly!! We’d be able to get to Indiana Dunes National Park early. Mags gave us some more make-up tips and a tutorial before we gave hugs and headed out the door. I didn’t even know that I was looking for a make-up tutorial but it was fun to learn some new tips. 

A big part of my intention for this trip is to work on living out my bucket list. The route and activities are designed to hit on specific items on my bucket list.

  1. Visiting all the national parks. There are currently 62 of them and I’ve been to 4 before this. Just to be clear, I am not talking about the National Forests, National Monuments, or State Parks. I am specifically talking about the places designated as National Parks.
  2. Visiting all 50 states. Prior to this trip I have been to 40 states. Upon conclusion of this trip that number will increase to 45.
  3. Visit the coast in every state that has a coast. Lots of coast line to see on this route.
  4. Seeing Niagara Falls
This trip includes 5 national parks and we hit the first one here, Indiana Dunes National Park. We found an outlet in the park to stop the car and head down to the beach of Lake Michigan. This was Brandee’s first time seeing a body of water that large. It was fun to experience that with her. Have you ever watched someone see the ocean for the first time? Always fun to witness that first experience with someone. 

Brandee said that she was in complete awe. That it was so much bigger than she anticipated. The view was breathtaking and fascinating. 

We stopped at the park information center to see what resources we could find. Indiana Dunes covers quite a bit of ground and we didn’t want to backtrack too much. We thought it would be helpful to look for information on what parts of the park would be on our route for the day.  The gentleman working at the information desk gave us some great tips on places to hike and where to climb the sand dunes. We did not do that given the weather and our time constraints however, after hearing about the options, it would be something I would probably recommend. He also gave us some great tips on driving routes and other hiking paths that were shorter and a little less strenuous.

Seeing Indiana Dunes

It was a little chilly on our trek to the beach so we dug out the winter gear for the rest of the national park experience. Armed with my warmer clothes, a map I couldn’t read.. Thank goodness for google maps… and  a desire to see something new and totally awesome we headed out into the elements to explore the park. While we didn’t climb a mile up the sand dunes, we did climb the small piles of sand near the water. We also drove along the coast to witness mother nature’s beauty from the car. Yeah, kinda wimpy, I know.

We continued our nature drive and saw a sign for Mount Baldy which hadn’t made our list of places to see. We are already getting good and finding places to stop that aren’t on our list. Mount Baldy was a large sand dune. Indiana Dunes National Park has massive sand dunes, who knew? It was incredibly cool to see the trees almost completely buried in the sand but still growing.

We finished admiring the sand, the beach and the swampland and continued on to our next stop.

We were now headed to South Bend, Indiana. Although slightly out of our way, this was a must see on the list. I have a special someone in my life that requested personally taken pictures from the Notre Dame campus. Parking on Friday’s is free, very helpful when you’re on a budget and lucky for us, since it was Friday. We parked the car just in time to be able to get our picture taken with the Heisman Trophy. Our timing couldn’t have been more perfect. We had no idea that this was something we could do, yet we parked the car at 2:03 and the allowable times for picture taking opportunities was from 2:00 – 5:00pm.

I wanted pictures from inside the arena but they were having a closed practice while we were there. Luckily we met the nicest door attendant who, upon hearing my boyfriend really wanted a picture of the arena informed us where “the second floor bathrooms across from the arena were”. He also said, off the record of course,  that if we just happened to peak our heads in we might be able to sneak that picture, but we absolutely did not hear that from him. That’s a secret between you and me.  Just remember, if you don’t ask, the answer is always “no”.

Angie in front of the Village of Climax Sign

It was finally time to get back on the highway to our next stop, Detroit, Michigan. As we were rolling down the highway, we noticed and exit for a village named Climax. Well, of course we had to stop there, everyone hopes for s top there, right? Wink, wink…

Picture of Catan Game

It was around 9:00 when we pulled in to Marc and Michelle’s house for the night. We were greeted warmly and openly with a big hug from them.  I could immediately tell that this was going to be a fun stop. We settled in and were getting to know each other when I noticed that they had Catan. This game is a top 10 game at my house and happens to be Brandee’s favorite. I mentioned it out loud and the next thing I know, we’re in the middle of the game. If you’ve never played, from my family to yours, we highly recommend it.

All in all, I’d say the day was a success. You can never go wrong when the night ends with a hug, new friends and great conversation over a game board.

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