On the Way to the Wedding Roadtrip — Reports from Jim: Day 6 — Indiana Dunes to Fermi Lab

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Our road trip across the country on the way to our daughter’s wedding has begun! We’re taking the slow roads, avoiding the interstates, stopping to walk through the little towns we pass through if they catch our eye. For the next few weeks, we will be footloose and fancy free. And then we will be parents of the bride. So, please welcome my husband, Jim, to the blog. Jim is the photographer in the family, and he will be taking pictures and giving updates on the trip from his perspective.

Indiana: Sand and Science

Day 6 – July 20, 2012

Comfort Inn breakfast had doughnuts and pastries, which we avoided. Grabbed coffee and some round scramble egg things and took them up to the room (the egg things were to make breakfast sandwiches).

Decided that our stop today would be Indiana Dunes, but first some more coffee (for Kelly). Using Yelp she found a Starbucks not too far from our route (Chai tea for me and Lattee for Kelly). Got to drive through the OH and Indiana farm country, not a lot to see or report on.  My excitement came from the car.  I found gas for 3.47 (I had seen as low as 3.33) and went to fill up. The pumps had three handles, ethanol (85%), gas (90%) and diesel.  I had never seen the ethanol before (for Flex fuel vehicles, don’t even remember what it cost).  Machine insisted that I choose a grade after removing the hose. Felt stupid as I looked to see what to press, eventually I came across the right key but no idea what it was. For the next 50 some miles I got over 53 MPG!!!!!.

Lunch time arrived and I figures business 20 near Elkhart, Indiana would have something. Kelly and Yelp identified the Fly trap that sounded good. Elkhart was a nice looking city with wide streets and plenty of parking. We parked far from the Flytrap so we could stretch our legs and see a bit.  Unfortunately Yelp did not say they were not open for lunch. An ale place in an old theater (with movie marquee still there looked promising but was out of business). As we reached the end of the street we came across the 523 Tap and Grill. No idea what to expect as we went inside. The Elkhart site says “Sleek, sophisticated atmosphere. Bistro fare with a Mediterranean flair; calmari, pastas, filet.”.

It was very nice inside with great booths with high backs.  Attentive waitresses. I ordered a Cuban burger and a side of clam chowder (what possessed me to order chowder so far from New England I’ll never know. It was very good as was my burger and endless iced tea). Kelly had Tilapia sandwich and lettuce wraps which she shared.  If ever back in the area I would definitely stop in again. Prices were very reasonable, I think bill with tip was under $40.

Had a bit of a hard time getting back on my chosen route, road construction, railroad trains blocking our way, wrong turns by me had me doing some more aggressive driving which made my 53 mpg drop to mid to hi 40’s (finished the day west of Chicago at 46.4 mpg through a lot of stop and go traffic, I ain’t complaining as the car is rated 40 highway).

Finally approached Indiana Dunes. I had entered  the State Park in the gps (a follow up post will discuss gps in excruciating detail as well as more on the new camera).  Entrance was $5 a car + $10 per non Indiana passenger.  We would not be staying long and I wanted the National Lakeshore park anyway.  Drove along 12 but did not see the visitor center and soon saw the sign “leaving Indiana dunes” and we hadn’t seen anything! A few miles away we came to a visitor center near Well’s beach. Parked in overflow parking. After slathering ourselves with suntan lotion we had a pleasant, but windy, walk through some dunes until we rose and saw Lake Michigan and a nice visitor center. Kelly visited the ladies, while I took pictures of the lake. In the western distance I could see a city (Gary) and further around Chicago could be seen 40 miles distant.  There is a walk out to a getty which we took. May people swimming on the beach. We noticed paths and people climbing the dunes.  This is a big no-no at most beaches but was welcome here. So we walked on the beach and climbed (slogged) up the path. It is amazing how hard it is to walk up shifting sand, Kelly should include it in a book.  Breathing hard we reached the top. Found out later that this was all reclaimed land and the bowls had been acid pits (need that in a story).

A quick walk into the Lake (looks like an ocean with woosy waves). Not too cold at all.  The beach had a groin on its right stretching out to sea with a path we could walk (see above) ending in a small light house. At this entrance the water turned from blue to muddy. We guessed the depth dropped there and the waves were churning up the bottom. Kelly reported seeing purple sparkles on the waves that I couldn’t see. She let me look through her sunglasses and I could see them too. No wonder she sees the world as such a magical place!  My polarized sunglasses had no purple sparkles.

Hot, sweaty and covered with sand we made our way back to the car. Washed off just a bit and rehit the road through Gary on rt 20 (more on rt 20 later as well as we have to hit the road).  While driving to the Dunes mentioned Fermi Lab, which is near Chicago and which I never even thought of visiting. This became our destination.  Took awhile, and helped by us gaining an hour through the time change, we arrived at Fermi about 7.  The web says they are open to 8 in the summer and while tours are only Sunday and Wednesday you can visit two buildings.  The guard was friendly commenting on our Maine plates. He asked if we were here for the art show, huh?  Turns out there was an our show in the Wilson building so we went. First floor has some physics exhibits (for those who don’t know I am a physicist) and I picked up some brochures and took pictures of the neat building.  We visited the art show which had paintings and sculptures.  Drove by the Leon Lenderman science center at Fermi but I don’t think it was open (boo).  While sitting near the reflecting pool (Fermi is beautiful, lots of nature open to the public) we book a Fairfield hotel through PriceLine for $79 (best room of the trip).

Only bad thing was we hadn’t eaten dinner and we wanted to stop and eat, buy some wine and get water and ice. Near the hotel we found plenty of restuarants but no grocery stores. We did find a Big H Mart which we thought was a K mart at first. It is a huge Korean grocery store.  We ended up at Panera where I had a sandwich (BLT) while Kelly had half sandwich and a salad.  We did get to a CVS where we bought wine and a cork screw, forgetting water and ice. By the time we got to the room we were too tired to even open the bottle.

Tomorrow on the road to either Minnesota or Mt Rushmore.




About Kelly McClymer

Kelly is a writer, a mom, and a reading tutor for children with dyslexia. Plus, she is totally addicted to her iPad. Curse you, Steve Jobs.