That daring odd man on the gliding machine

After 15 straight days on our bikes – and with five more cycling days yet to come – we decided to take a break from our Great American Rail Trail Expedition To The Mississippi River.

Lake Michigan was but an hour and a half drive to the north. And so we set out for a day at Indiana Dunes National Park. (OK, fine, I chose it because I thought I heard somebody call it Indiana Jones National Park. Well hush my fedora!)

But nonetheless we persisted.

On the way we passed a U.S. Steel plant spouting flames high into the sky. What’s the deal with that?

This is Walt outside the Visitor’s Center. I had to warn him not to climb up on the bison. The park rangers are very touchy about that sort of thing.

A very enthusiastic ranger recommended that we go in search of the fabled beaver. It wasn’t easy since road construction detours conspired to nearly throw us off the track.

This is the place where the fabled beaver is reputed to live.

This is us in search of the fabled beaver.

This is reputed to be the habitat of the fabled beaver. But the actual FB – probably also obliged to detour due to road construction – was a no show.

Left: Indiana Dunes way back when. Right: Indiana Dunes now. I tried to get Bruce to dance like the free spirits upper left but no dice.

Listen, I know you’ve been fed a steady diet of aviation propaganda. Which is why you still think Kitty Hawk was the birthplace of flight. But this guy Octave Chanute (i.e. the patron saint of flight) was soaring over these dunes on his homemade gliders when the Wright boys were still fixing bicycles.

They called him crazy. But people say the same thing about me. And I don’t listen either.

As a matter of historical note (I am reliably informed by a sign on the Visitor’s Center wall) Wilbur and Orville adapted Octave’s wing designs for their lawn mower- (not, contrary to popular belief, giant rubber band-) powered biplane.

Apropos of nothing at all (there’s my favorite phrase again) that’s Chicago looming up just on yonder horizon. It is reputed to be a toddlin’ town.

This Deco-esque Pavilion was built in 1929 as a bathhouse at a princely sum of $100,000. It’s since been restored and we had a great lunch there. (All except for Rosie, who got grumpy because nobody was feeding her or even dropping food on the floor.)

The whole time we were there this guy was industriously rearranging the sand. I have no idea why.

You need to know that the water temperature in Lake Michigan was 47 degrees. Hence my derring-do as I stood in it up to the very tops of my feet for seconds at a time.

All in all it was a very nice interlude at the beach. But we have business to be about and miles to go before it’s done. On Day 16 we’re back on our bikes and headed into Illinois.

Indiana wants me. Lord I can’t go back there.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s