Posts Tagged ‘Warren Dunes State Park’

Indiana wants me

Sunday, 14th June 2009; 1:49 pm - Location: , , ,

dune-overlookThe night was rainless but dewy, so everything outside was damp. I woke this morning around 6:00 to the sound of birds -lots of them – chirping. I took my time breaking camp… because I could. I went for a short hike which started with a climb up one of the big dunes, right by the campground. I did it barefoot, figuring I’d be coming right back down. The slope was at least a 30degree incline, and I admit I had to stop a few times to catch my breath. The view from the top immediately took it away again. I could see forever to both east (behind me as I climbed) and west (over the Lake). But I couldn’t work up the nerve to go back down the way I’d come. I can handle heights when I don’t have to look at them, so the climb up with my face in the sand was OK. But the climb down… no go. As I stepped closer to the slope, and still couldn’t see the path down (making it look like a sheer drop), my acrophobia kicked in. Rather than stress myself out, I turned around went down the other (much gentler) side.

buckAfter retrieving my shoes I kept walking, and had a pleasant surprise. I stopped briefly on a bridge through some wetland, turned my head, and there was a buck staring at me, motionless. He couldn’t have been much more than 20 meters away. He was so still that at first I wasn’t 100% sure he was real, then he moved an ear. He stood perfectly still long enough for me to get out my camera, fight with the autofocus (which kept locking onto plants in front of him) and take a couple decent shots before he abruptly leaped out of view.

Around 9:00 am I pushed the loaded scooter from the campsite to the ranger office rather than upsetting the quiet of the morning for my fellow campers. Two-stroke engines are annoyingly noisy. After leaving the state park I continued south, just past the Indiana border… so I’ll be able to say later that I’ve covered the whole way from Indiana to Wisconsin. On the return trip I went some distance on a local access road which runs along the Red Arrow Highway, which has itself been superceded for most travel by I-94. Two degrees of separation from the expressway, but still going my way: perfect.

I’ve stopped in South Haven again, this time for lunch, at Subs ‘n’ More on Phoenix Street, the “main street” that runs directly from the interstate to the harbor, and loaded mostly with tourist-focused shops for the last few blocks to the waterfront. It’s sunny today which means watching out for sun when I stop. My protective riding gear does a good job the rest of the time.

Late night in the dunes

Saturday, 13th June 2009; 11:10 pm - Location:

Staying out at the beach until sunset wasn’t a bad idea. I knew it would get dark after that, but I had time to get back to the campground.

Except that I had the notion to take a different route back. Not so great an idea, in retrospect.

I thought it would be more interesting to hike north along the beach and take another trail back across the dunes, then back south through the woods. So there was a hike along the beach, as it got darker. I could still see my way easily, though.

I finally got to the trail back, and after climbing the dune it took me into the woods, where it got darker. The trail also descended rapidly, and eventually reached a spot where the day’s rain had collected. I’d made my way around a large puddle on the way to the beach. This was no puddle. It was hard to see through the dark, but as far as I could see ahead, there was water covering the trail. The woods were thick and there was no sign that previous hikers had blazed a spur around the obstacle. I was forced to backtrack.

There was a third trail nearby that I could take, but at that point I was getting tired (yeah, I’m out of shape) and I didn’t want to risk another dead end. So I hiked back over the dune, back down the beach, then back over the dune again to the campground. And through the aforementioned puddle. By the time I got back I needed the flashlight, and had been out in the day-use part of the park for an hour past “closing”.


Saturday, 13th June 2009; 9:55 pm - Location:

Not the most spectacular sunset, but one takes what one gets.


Warren Dunes State Park

Saturday, 13th June 2009; 8:35 pm - Location: ,

warren-dunes-siteI got to Warren Dunes about 7:30 pm, still plenty light out, but not a lot of daylight to spare. The ranger told to me to put my vehicle permit on the passenger side of the dash, but I suggested that since I’d left the sidecar at home, maybe he could give me a piece of tape so I could stick it to the handlebars. 🙂 I got some surprised looks as I buzzed into my campsite, but wasted no time getting the tent set up.

Warren Dunes is a fairly typical Michigan state park, with all the good and bad that entails. It’s in some nice woods, and they left lots of nice big trees in place, and some woods between the sections, so each site at least has some nature in its “back yard”, and there are a fair amount of bushes and such so you don’t have to stare too much at your next-door neighbors. But they’re still packed pretty tight compared to the wilderness campgrounds I’m used to, and of course every site is still open to the “street”. The crowd this weekend was a mix of RVs, pop-up trailers, and tents. (Quite a few Illinois licence plates.) I was the only on there on two wheels, though. I rolled my eyes at some of the elaborate homes-away-from-home that some campers had constructed, but to each his own, I suppose. I’m sure some of them thought me a rather odd duck with my backpacking gear strapped to a scooter.

After making camp I set off for the beach via one of the trails. Rather than scaling the incredibly steep dune climb right outside the campground, I took the path around, which still included a bit of climbing and descending. The beach was mostly deserted. It’s still a bit early in the season for swimming in the Lake to be much fun, and it had been raining here most of the afternoon (and still mostly overcast), so I can’t say I’m surprised.

chicago-skylineI managed to snap a telephoto portrait of the Chicago skyline from across the Lake. As a kid I got the notion that Chicago was right at the southern tip of Lake Michigan, so I have to keep reminding myself that it’s really on the west side and actually extends north a ways. Of course here I am pretty close to the southern end of the Lake myself. And this far south, it’s just barely narrow enough to see across, obscuring the shorter buildings of Chicago, but still showing the skyscrapers.


Saturday, 13th June 2009; 8:10 pm - Location:

Memo to self: If you bring along a second camera as a “spare”, make sure it has a memory card.

Shakedown cruise flight plan

Saturday, 23rd May 2009; 4:13 pm - Location: , , ,

I’ve set a date and itinerary for the MI way shakedown cruise. I’ll be leaving on Saturday 13th June, spending the night at Warren Dunes State Park just north of Indiana, and returning home the next day. I’ll take Chicago Drive and the Blue Star and Red Arrow Highways there and back, explore the Indiana shoreline a little, maybe sample some Harbor Country wine, and whatever else occurs to me to do.

Looking at the online reservations for the state park, it became clear that weekends later into the summer were going to sell out soon. Even the weekend I’ve chosen only offered a handful of sites left, from nearly 200. (And that’s because my equipment is only a single tent.) I’m guessing a lot of Chicagolanders plan to put their toe over the state line. The weekend before was a little more open, but I have plans then, and the weekend before that is too soon.

See, I’ve decided to make this a fully equipped shakedown, with everything I plan to bring on the long trip, whether I need it or not. But I don’t have it all yet. In particular I need a cargo carrier for the rear rack. Maybe a fancy “top case”, maybe just a covered milk crate… I’m still exploring the options.

But now I have a deadline.