Yesterday was Easter Sunday. I think I mentioned before that when we planned this long weekend trip we hadn't looked at a calendar and had no idea it was Easter weekend because the kids' spring break is ALWAYS the first week of April and it didn't even occur to me that Easter would be the last Sunday of March. Whoops. I'm sad we missed the family dinner and an egg hunt with cousins, but I'm glad we got away.
For the past several years since Kaylin has refused to miss school for family vacation, we have only taken family trips during the busiest times of the year. Hotel rates are outrageous and prices are jacked up on everything. Northern Michigan on Spring Break? Not so much... I'm thinking we might be the ONLY family who decided to do this :) We've had absolutely no trouble finding hotels and when we do, they're like $60 a night, including a hot breakfast and an indoor pool. Right now we're staying at a halfway decent Comfort Inn in Porter, Indiana, and when I drove around the building (on a return trip from a nearby park with a large pond full of ducks) at 8pm, there were only 10 cars parked at this 3 floor hotel minutes from Indiana Dunes. The kids had the pool to themselves for the hour I sat with them and then one family with two small children came and a group of adults came to use the hot tub. Not bad! Also, we didn't go ANYWHERE that wasn't free (including several beaches that charge for entry in the summer) so this has been a pretty cheap vacation. Of course, we did go to Northern Michigan at a time that's still cold and snowy...
My final impression of Michigan is that it is the Land of Litter and Christmas Tree Farms. If I drive past a Christmas tree farm in Illinois, it is such a novelty I think it's cute. In Michigan, it seems like 90% of the trees you pass are or were Christmas tree farms. I have no idea, but I'm guessing the tree farms are better for the environment than corn and beans (especially the ones that have grown up), but they still made me sad. The highway litter was abundant and disgusting. To be fair, it's probably been covered with snow for months, but man, I have never seen such a dirty state except maybe the panhandle of Texas. I was very much expecting Michigan to be similar to Wisconsin- clean and beautiful- and that I would love it. I definitely didn't love it! I would like to go back to the U.P. someday and go to the nature preserves and Whitefish Point. However, I think I'll drive up through Wisconsin.
Yesterday, once we finally made it out of the Land of Litter and back into the Indiana Dunes area, we stopped at a nice beach where you could walk way out to a lighthouse. I found my lifer white-winged scoters along with MANY red-breasted mergansers and horned grebes. The kids played in the sand and we finally got the owl kite up. It was a beautiful day, sunny and warm, and we stayed at the beach for at least a couple of hours, before heading to our hotel where we ordered pizza and the kids swam for two more hours. As soon as it's light, I'm heading out birding by myself while Gene and the kids sleep in and then we're going back to Indiana Dunes State Park for a few hours before we head home. I'm excited because since it's April 1, every bird I see will be a month bird. We need to make it home before 6pm to pick up Scout the wiener dog. Other than the very long drives, this has been a fun vacation. Both kids want to come back to Indiana Dunes ASAP, so it's great that we got to spend half of our time here. I'm looking forward to several more days off at home and have a huge mental checklist that I'm sure I'll fail to complete :)