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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Beaches, Sand Sculptures, & Sun

From Florida to Indiana, by way of Missouri, I've learned to deal with the change in weather. One thing I found moving away from the Sunshine State was that there were more beach days in the summer up north. That was the catch, beautiful cool and sunny days with no beach; muggy, humid, and scorching summers with miles of coast. 

Eight years after my move away from the Space Coast that has changed. After I moved to the area a few years ago, it took me months to visit the "beach" on Lake Michigan. After driving past it on several occasions, I made that turn into the Indiana Dunes State Park. We paid a fee to park, the beach was somewhat crowded, but it was so wide. We hiked up the dunes along a path and looked back at the coastline. You couldn't see anything but the blue lake. No waves to drag you under, and no sticky salt water to burn your eyes. 

I went back a couple of more times to show the out-of-towners our beach, but never went back for myself.

This week while my mother was in town, she asked about going to the Michigan City Zoo. I'd never been and never thought of going. With a little research online and talking to friends I determined it might be a nice day out. The animals are said to be treated well. The small space is well-shaded for a winter walk. There was a fee to park, but it gave you access to the whole park, which included the beach.

After our zoo adventure, we walked out to the beach. The soft sand was warm. The water was blue. The breeze was cooling. It was a perfect beach day, and I was on the beach! It finally clicked!

This weekend we visited the Dunes State Park for their 16th Annual Sand Sculpture Contest. We arrived early, an hour and a half before judging. We positioned our blanket with a good view of the lake and a team working hard on a large mound of sand. The seagulls squawked and the kids laughed as they built sand castles. We laid on the beach and took in the sun. 

After we had enough sun we walked along the coast, zigzagging through the beginnings of sand sculptures. They had a half hour before judging and were making good progress. The projects were varied: faces emerging from the sand, spikes forming on the dragon's back, moats filling with water. 

The sand was hot under our feet as we walked to the car. We had to hit the farmer's market before it closed.

Maybe next time I'll bring a bathing suit. Maybe next time I'll make a sand sculpture of my own. A perfect summer beach day, and a perfectly wonderful beach.

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