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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Sharon In Charge

I got in to our rental house at 9:00 p.m. last night and it was up with the pink sunrise to get hopping on our list of things we wanted to see.  Our first stop was the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Visitor Center to try to plan out our "must sees" for the next few days.  Sharon was like a kid in a candy store at the brochure racks and her enthusiasm was catching.  After we watched the videos about the park (I was horrified when they said that by the year 2050 half the current species on the planet could be extinct, think about that for a few minutes) we consulted with the ranger about some of the ranger led hikes coming up and came up with a rough plan for the next few days.  I kind of just gave myself over to what Sharon had in mind and let her come up with a plan of action, which was a new experience for me! (And one that turned out very well, I might add.)

Pam's caught on camera for a change

After a quick look-see at the campground and the Beverly Shores train station we headed over to the Great Marsh Trail.  We didn't do the whole trail, just started at one parking lot and made our way to the other with an overlook in between.  But it was nice to be out of the car for a few minutes, and the fall color is just starting to happen which was a treat for the eyes.  

 A local artist thought so too, obviously, and we caught him in action on the paved portion of the trail.

We also caught a Great Egret in action fishing for lunch!

From there we moved on down to the Lake Michigan lakeshore to catch a peek at the Century of Progress Homes.  This is something I might have missed and would have been sorry about.  I have a great fascination with the Chicago World's Fair (1893 Columbian Exposition), and at first thought these homes were part of an exhibition there, but later realized they were part of the 1933 Century of Progress International Exposition.  They were purchased by a real estate developer and moved to the Indiana Dunes, four of the five traveling by barge down the Lake Michigan shoreline.

For more about each individual home follow this link, but my favorite was the  Florida Tropical house.  Its large open roof terraces were perfect for a home situated on a slight dune rise above the lake.  And who wouldn't love that crazy pink color?  The home is subleased for 30 years to an individual who agreed to pay for restoration and to open the home to the public once a year.  Restoration to the home is estimated at approximately $450,000.

 In contrast to the World's Columbian Exhibition's "White City" the Century of Progress Exhibition featured Art Deco buildings in a colorful rainbow palette.  The homes exhibit demonstrated modern conveniences and building materials  A few more interesting facts from the fair: elephants were used to move trees during construction of the fair, almost 50 million people attended, and in addition to being able to watch alligator wrestling there was a building that had live babies in incubators on exhibit.  Also in attendance was the Graf Zeppelin airship which circled Lake Michigan near the exhibition for 2 hours, landed for 15 minutes and then departed for Ohio.

Another stop we made today was to visit Coffee Creek Watershed Preserve, a worthwhile place to visit that wouldn't have probably even been on my radar.  It was a nice place for an evening stroll along its paths and boardwalks, and a great example of what thoughtful urban planning could accomplish.  (The photos below are courtesy of Sharon's camera)

Sharon loves the sound of water

Also part of their intelligent landscaping design was this green roofed restroom.

The preserve features more than 500 species of plants, and if we had arrived a month ago I'm sure we would have been wowed by the flower displays.

There were even a few rather large trees in the preserve, which was such a contrast to the younger forest growth we saw down by Lake Michigan in the morning.

At the end of the day we both agreed our many mini-stops made for a fun first day and a good overview of the area.  We also did the Dune Succession Hike and spotted a fun mural in historic downtown Chesterton, but I'll post those photos separately.  Tomorrow and Saturday we have lots more to see and do as well!

Shady ladies?

But for now all is quiet at the rental house except for the sound of crickets and waves outside my window.  Time to rest up for all the IRL excitement tomorrow with my IRL friend!


  1. This looks like such a wonderful day! I enjoyed tagging along!

  2. Looks nice - I haven't been to Indiana Dunes in years.

    Have you read "The Devil in the White City?" True story bout the Columbian Exposition. Excellent book.

  3. Wow, we covered a lot of ground today, didn't we? After a great night of sleep, I'm ready to go again!

  4. Wow what a great day. Sharon in charge, I love it and that first picture of you. GREAT hat! I had never heard of the Century of Progress Homes. You Shady Ladies are making me really anxious to see the Indiana Dunes area. Crickets and waves outside your window sounds divine!!

  5. Looks like a perfect setting for your time with your friend. I'm with Sherry, I've never heard of the Century of Progress Homes. Thanks for background.

  6. Came y your blog via Sharon's. Love your photos, especialy the one with the milkweed seeds popping out!