Indiana Dunes State Park

The thunderstorm forecast for last night did not happen. It was still dry when we set out early to walk in the state park but the clouds were heavy and threatening. Today was a diversion from the Lincoln Highway to get some walking in as an antidote to all the driving. The next large lake we will see will be Lake Tahoe.
Gathering storm  Indiana Dunes 1 July 2016-1
We had decided on a couple of the trails but having parked and headed off towards the beach to begin the first, had to revise our plans. The park was still very quiet. High winds meant that walking along the beach would have felt like walking through a sandstorm and I had no need for exfoliation. I suppose I should not be surprised at the wind given our proximity to the windy city. One of the other trails had been recommended to us yesterday by a guy in the visitors’ centre as ‘the best walk in Indiana’ so we set off for that into the oak woodland that backs on to the dunes. There were numerous wildflowers alongside the trail and we caught a brief glimpse of a white-tailed deer and a six-lined race runner lizard.
Flower 4 Indiana Dunes 2 1 July 2016-1
After climbing up a dune for a view, the trail then led along a very narrow ridge which did not feel safe given the high winds. We decided to divert again and head for the bird observatory overlooking the swamp, only to find it closed. At the Nature Centre, this raccoon was doing a good job of clearing up around the bird feeders.
Raccoon Indiana Dunes 2 1 July 2016-1
A little further on, a boardwalk led into the swamp. We heard a lot of birds including a woodpecker, although did not see any and there were several frogs in the swamp. Some members of a youth camp were doing a cross-country run and while we were having a rest on a bench at a trail intersection, we helped by directing the stragglers down the correct route. By this time, we had walked almost 8 miles and the weather was improving so we decided to head back towards the beach and have a coffee in the cafeteria situated upstairs in the pavilion from where I hoped to get some good views of the lake.
Indiana Dunes 2 1 July 2016-1
The beach still had ‘no swimming’ signs up but the wind had lessened and a few people were out walking. Across the lake in the distance, I could see the skyscrapers of downtown Chicago but the cafeteria was ‘closed for winter’. I am not sure when summer is, as it is 1st July today. Back at the hotel, I have now got all the sand out of my boots, am cleaning my camera and trying to identify the wildflowers I have seen, only one done so far. Tomorrow it is time to move on again through Illinois and into Iowa, our seventh state.

Sand dunes and iron men

The weekend did not get off to a good start. A planned quiet night in with a friend on Friday ended with me tripping over something and sustaining a deep cut to my chin (and a few other bruises) which would need stitching. Five hours later and back from the hospital we managed a few hours sleep. A few weeks ago my son and his partner had expressed a wish to take some photographs of each other in their Cosplay outfits amongst sand dunes. Our nearest are at Formby Point and so the trip had been planned for Saturday. The weather forecast was promising and I was sure a beach walk would be therapeutic so we set off in the early afternoon. The roads were quiet and although there were quite a few people at the point, we found a parking space and set off to explore.

Dunes 2 Formby Point (1 of 1)

The dog enjoyed a good roll in the sand:

Flora enjoying a roll Formby Point (1 of 1)

The dune system is extensive and there was an asparagus field behind them (it is now grown at a nearby farm) but erosion is constant – rubble on the beach dates from a 1960s carpark.

Dunes 9 Formby Point (1 of 1)

We spent a couple of hours walking along the beach, behind the dunes and back via the beach. I added to my seaglass collection and took a few photographs which might inspire painting at some point.

Dunes 6 Formby Point (1 of 1)

The pine forest backing the beach reminded me of those planted along the coast in southwest France by Napoleon in order to stabilise the dunes. Red squirrels can be found here but we did not have time to do the walk where they are most likely to be seen. The Sefton Coastal path passes through and is a walk we plan to do over a weekend, possibly next spring. We will return here at a different time of year and day as it is a very special place. We continued down the coast to Crosby and walked along the beach to see Antony Gormley’s ‘Another Place’ – a hundred cast iron male figures looking out to sea. The classic time to photograph them is sunset but as James was working overnight, we had to get back in time for him to rest beforehand. There are also six figures near and in the Water of Leith in Edinburgh. So far, I have only seen one but must explore the rest. In the last two weeks we have seen the figure at Stockbridge, the Angel of the North and now some of the iron men in Crosby.

Crosby 4 (1 of 1)