Saturday, August 20, 2011

#35. Mount Baldy at the Dunes

Family vacations are a strong tradition in my family. Nearly every summer, four of my father's siblings and families caravan alongside ours to the shores of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The drive is long and treacherous--nearly 16 hours of my uncles speeding through the hills of the Smoky Mountains. Every year we begrudge the trip, but once we reach the beach we always forget the miserable commute.

Because of these annual drives to the beach, I always assumed that it was necessary to travel hours to get to a decent beach. I mean why else would we put ourselves through such torture every summer? Thanks to this blogging expedition, however, I uncovered this lifelong scam. Just three hours away lie the Indiana Dunes, a treasure trove of beautiful beaches on Lake Michigan, a body of water large enough to be passed off as an ocean when standing on the shoreline.

My trip to Mount Baldy, a 126-foot high sand dune, followed my trip to the Shipshewana Flea Market. After an hour and a half drive from Shipshewana to Michigan City, the dune loomed large in front of me.

Posterior of dune, as seen from parking lot
As if the sheer size was not enough, a sign at the beginning of the trail to the dune warned of the difficult hike that lay ahead.

Needless to say, I was intimidated. Surprisingly, however, the hike was pretty easy. Paved paths and stairs aided in the ascent; the only difficult part was at the end and lasted for maybe twenty feet. And the view at the top is so beautiful that the last twenty feet are completely worth it.

Looking down at the gorgeous water and feeling the soft sand on my feet, I hardly felt like I was in Indiana. Then I looked to the east and saw a giant coal factory. Oh well, I guess one can't be too picky.

Factory aside, the beach at Mount Baldy was picturesque. I visited around 5 pm, so the beach was largely empty save a few families.

Sand castles left behind by a family
At the shoreline, the sand of the dunes gave way to tiny smooth pebbles. I found the pebbles to be preferable to sand as they are easy to shake off and don't leave one with the annoying lingering graininess of sand. My friend and I waded to our knees in the cool clear water. Once we returned to shore we napped on a sun-dried log, worn out from the long day of driving and shopping.

Basking in the sun on the nearly deserted beach was utterly relaxing. The distant cries of seagulls, soft breeze, and warm sun made for cliched tranquility. After a couple of hours of taking in the beach, we departed for the much less exotic streets of suburbia.

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