After picking Lizzie up from the Cleveland airport, we drove to Middlebury, Indiana, and spent the night at a KOA. We played basketball and took a very-needed dunk in the pool to cool off. We ventured five miles north to White Pigeon, Michigan for breakfast since Lizzie hadn't been to the state. Then we traveled to West Beach in Indiana Dunes National Park.
Indiana Dunes has an interesting story. Years of conflict between developers looking to create a "Port of Indiana" and environmentalists looking to conserve the Lake Michigan waterfront have ended in an odd landscape. A state park and a steel plant break up the 15,000 acres of national park. It's a strange combination, but a good compromise, too, I guess.
We walked a loop trail around West Beach, which includes a lot of stairs, a boardwalk through the forest, and (for some, not me) a dip into the frigid Lake Michigan. The water was just below 60 degrees according to the internet, and I only managed to go in up to the ankles. Look how clear it is, though!
After the park, we drove to the Wisconsin Dells and camped in Mirror Lake State Park for the night. It was a beautiful, serene park surrounded by water parks and amusements galore. I imagine many midwestern families vacation here based on all the attractions and hotels. The lake had canoers and fishers, and it was nice to walk around and admire.
Finally, we ended up yesterday in South Saint Paul, Minnesota, and this morning in Minneapolis. We visited the Longfellow Gardens and Minnehaha Falls before Lizzie got on a plane back to Boston. Minnehaha Regional Park was huge and beautiful. The waterfall was a nice bonus, and the park has opportunities to view it from every angle.
The Twin Cities have a ton of green space along the Mississippi River, and I'll have to make a point to come back so I can see more of it. Minnesota is also the Land of 10,000 Lakes (there's actually nearly 12k), so it has gorgeous scenery and waterfront views everywhere. I'm spending the night in nearby Maple Grove before driving tomorrow to my 50th state! I can't wait to see what North Dakota has in store for me.