Lake Michigan Circle Tour Day 2: East Shore > Indiana Dunes

Blue Boat Coffee in Leland

An embarrassing amount of time after the actual trip (a month and a half), I’m finally picking up where I left off in my post about day one of our Lake Michigan circle tour.

We fell asleep at the Grand Traverse Lighthouse campground with good intentions: we’d wake early, hike their trails, then venture south down the east shore to the Indiana Dunes for a night. Those intentions went out the tent’s dripping-wet, plastic window when we awoke to grey skies and a cold drizzle. Sure, we could’ve hiked anyway, but we decided to see if we could drive out of the rain. Spoiler alert: the rain followed us around the lake (or vice-versa) until the last day.

 

 

 

We packed up our damp gear and dourly started our day, starting with a coffee and pastry at Blue Boat Coffee in Leland. Our spirits were much improved after a hot beverage and warming cinnamon pastry, and we felt ready to tackle the day ahead.

Our morning drive wound down through Glen Arbor and past Empire, and as we sped along the back country roads, Brady suggested we keep an eye out for free-range eggs to combine with the ramps and fiddleheads from the day before for a homemade brunch. Soon enough we saw a sign out on the road for eggs, and we pulled up to discover they had not only eggs, but fresh asparagus.

Michigan Asparagus Farm

We grabbed a small bundle, consulting with the farmer’s grandson about how he liked to eat it: “steamed, I guess”—he wasn’t the chattiest kid, but he smirked and bit into a piece when I asked him if he liked it raw, adding “It’s OK.” I suspect his attitude was a little put on considering his suppressed laughter.

Michigan Asparagus Farm

Eventually we made it to Frankfort which had the sweetest little farmers’ market with an impressive selection, and we grabbed a hunk of local cheese to round out our breakfast plan.

We set up a cooking station in their little park between rainfalls, spreading our camp gear out to dry on the benches. I’m not sure the locals were thrilled with our setup…

 

 

 

The breakfast was all Brady’s work, really: scrambled eggs with cheese and ramps crammed into a soft tortilla with hot sauce and mayo, with some tender-crisp asparagus and fiddleheads on the side (we couldn’t fit everything into the wraps).

We washed it all down with some cherry soda (which I loved) and cherry flavoured barbecue chips (which I did not love, surprisingly).

This wound up being one of my favourite meals of the trip, and I was glad for the luck of snagging asparagus, fiddleheads, and ramps all in their prime. Here is a super flattering picture of me eating the wrap, and a close-up of the wrap itself.

 

 

 

From there our afternoon went smoothly, if rainily, as we drove down the shore. I had to pull aside on one of the busier highways for Brady to drive since 120 kilmetres per hour is a little out of my comfort zone.

We paused in Michigan City to orient ourselves, grabbed some Amish pie on the way out of town (I was mainly driven by hunger and the compulsion to eat every “specialty” I saw at this point), and headed off.

Amish Pie

We imagined something along the lines of the Carter Bay dunes, so when we got to the gate and heard there was only one site left we jumped on it. It wasn’t quite what we expected.

We settled into our site—one of maybe three tents amidst over 100 RVs, some with large-screen TVs on the sides—and immediately headed to the dunes. While they had a certain post-apocalyptic charm to them (huge, industrial operations billowing smoke on either end: see below), we hadn’t exactly found the relaxing haven we’d expected. We were excited to find some extensive, weirdly deserted nature trails as it was getting dark though.

The night concluded with a game of cards, some pie, and cheddar popcorn before we hit the hay. We were onto Chicago the next day and wanted a good start.

Indiana Dunes

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