Friday, August 12, 2011

To Michigan!

In which I again attempt to bike through Indiana and camp at Indiana Dunes State Park...

After my slightly less than stellar experience on Wednesday I decided to bike AROUND Gary instead of through it. Perhaps Gary's a fine place during the day. Perhaps I'll find out some other time.

Meanwhile, turns out there's a pretty awesome bike trail system just south of Gary. The Oak Savannah Trail connects to the Prairie Duneland Trail, which connects to the Calumet Trail. I biked across Indiana almost without riding on any car roads.

Partway through my ride I stopped at a gas station to use the bathroom and refill my water bottles. I discovered an outlet on the outside of the gas station so I parked my bike next to it and plugged my phone in to charge it. A few minutes later a rattly Oldsmobile pulled up alongside me. The window rolled down to reveal a heavily wrinkled face. "Hey buddy," the face said. "Hey buddy," I said. "Are you going somewhere?" asked the face. "Yup. New York". The face contorted itself: "Oh. My. Goodness. Well, in all my years. I'm 86..." (I didn't tell the face that it looked at least 90) "...and I have never seen something like this. Are you traveling alone?"
"Really? Alone? Are you sure?"
I looked around to make sure I didn't have a companion I had been thus far unaware of...
"Yes, alone."
"How many weapons are you carrying?"
"Wait here a sec," the face said, and opened the car door to reveal that it was connected to the stooped body of an old man. The body hobbled into the gas station and emerged a few minutes later, straining under the weight of a 32oz Pepsi. "Here, drink this. I'm gonna worry about you."
The face and the body got back in the car together, and the Oldsmobile pulled out of the gas station. A shriveled hand poked out the window to wave an arthritic goodbye.

A few hours of pedaling later, I rolled into Indiana Dunes State Park. "Campground Full," a sign declared. I rode over to the entrance station and a dour looking park ranger opened the window. "Hi," I said, "I know that the sign says you're full, but I'm just a tiny bike. Can you find me a place to camp? I'll still pay." "Nope," said the ranger. "But I just biked sixty miles and now it's getting dark. Are you SURE you can't let me set up my tent somewhere?" I batted my eyelashes. "Nope," said the ranger. I looked at my map. The next nearest campground listed was Warren Dunes in Michigan, thirty-five miles away. After scarfing a bag or jerky, a bag of cookies, two fig bars, and a multivitamin, I pointed my bike towards Michigan and started pedaling. I suppose I could have stealth camped anyway in Indiana Dunes without anyone being the wiser, but by that point I was fed up, and ready to be out of Indiana.

After twenty miles of biking in the dusk, and then the dark, I spotted "Judy's Motel/Camping/Campers/Yard Sales". The office was closed, so I taped $10 and a note to the door and pitched my tent between two Winnebagos. I drank the two (by then warm) beers I had purchased a couple miles before arriving at Indiana Dunes. I fell asleep to the sounds of cars whizzing by, thirty feet away on Highway 12.

Today's mileage: 80.2 (no time for painting, wah)

Total trip mileage: 353.17

Pleasant View (needs to be labeled around here...)
Nuclear Plant near Indiana Dunes
After biking 80 miles


  1. Thank God you're through Indiana! Folks must be friendlier in Michigan. Tell them you know the Hudsons.

  2. Hope you got some sleep and some good painting time in today.