It was 1992 and I was 16 years old when I ventured to the Indiana Dunes. I was on a summer mission trip with our church packed in a charter bus full of teenagers and adult sponsors. Honestly, I don't even remember being told where we were going, just that we should bring a bag with our swimsuits and a towel. We onloaded from the bus and I glanced around to take in the scenery.
It was the first time I ever visited Lake Michigan (still the only one of the Great Lakes I've traveled to so far). I'd been to the ocean so I was accustomed to waves, but for a kid from Oklahoma where most of our lakes are manmade reservoirs that supply water to nearby towns, Lake Michigan was absolutely breathtaking. It reminded me so much of the ocean, but without the scent of salty water. In Oklahoma, we can always see the opposite shore of any lake, even the biggies like Grand Lake O' the Cherokees or Texoma. (Okies, if I'm wrong here & we have a lake big enough that you can stand on one shore and not be able to see the opposite shore, let me know & I'll hop in the car to visit it!) Lake Michigan was different...the opposite shore was no where in sight. I headed to the bath house to change into my swimsuit. In just the short walk from the parking lot my shoes were covered in sand and I struggled to change clothes and pack my shoes and clothes into my bag without filling it with sand. I had tucked my beloved camera for the trip to the dunes, but gave up on using it for fear of getting it covered in sand. (I still REALLY wish I had taken at least one picture there!) I spent the afternoon swimming in Lake Michigan with my friends. We sat and chatted on the beach gazing across the water and up at the giant dune behind us. We watched the guys rolling down the sand dune over and over again. It was a beautiful, hot day and we were already tired from traveling (& truth be told I was more than a little homesick), so an afternoon of carefree fun was wonderful for us all.
When we all loaded up on the bus at the end of the afternoon, we tracked sand everywhere. We tried to kick it off of our shoes and shake it off of our bags and clothes, but sand seemed to stick to everything and find its way into every nook and cranny in our clothing, shoes, and bags. Our sweet bus driver must have had quite a challenge cleaning the bus after our trip!
I even remember finding sand in my bag when I returned home from the trip, a sweet reminder of my day on the shores of Lake Michigan and playing in the Indiana Dunes.
Have you been to the Indiana Dunes? I'd love to hear about it if you have! And if you'd like to learn more about this unique National Park, you can snatch our Indiana Dunes American Heritage Adventure Letter or better yet subscribe to our letters and let us help you fall more in love with America one letter at a time!