I woke up at about 6:30, looked at my phone glanced around the tent at all the beautiful ones so peaceful, and went back to sleep. I eventually woke up and went out and made some coffee. The igniter on the JetBoil failed which is minimally inconvenient. The children came trickling out of the tent one by one George then finally Charlotte. Loralea made a fantastic breakfast of sausage peppers, eggs and cheese.
At Breakfast we discussed a plan for the day. It would be hiking the Dunes Ridge Trail then we wanted to go see the Homestead and the farm. These were also all things that needed to be done to complete the junior ranger workbooks anyway. Then we're going back to the visitor center to get the workbooks checked out and hopefully sworn in.
After breakfast we started working on the breaking camp. I was thinking that would be quick and easy but it ended up taking forever. At some point some I developed some arbitrary hurry up urgent compulsion and had to take a moment and remember we’re on vacation and it’s supposed to be peaceful, especially for the children. Remembering that the goal is for them to be generating happy memories I tried to re-center myself. Ultimately we got out of the campground about 1230. When we pulled out onto the roadway headed to the Dunes Ridge Trail head parking area we were all completely relaxed about the time. Parking at the dune Ridge Trail head was a mess eventually we found a spot, everybody loaded out and Loralea scouted out the trailhead for us.
The trail was a beautiful 0.7 miles the video yesterday said the trail transverses the most variety of habitat in the shortest trail and had the least elevation change but the most views. Exactly like what we were looking for.
Along the trail we saw wild raspberries, blackberries blueberries, and rosemary.
The girls said they were all delicious.
I mean ah actually they all looked beautiful and we did not taste any because of course we would not cut, pick, move or otherwise molest any protected national park wildlife, plant, soil, rock or other resource of any kind as it is all protected as per the Ranger's instructions.
Hot areas of sand on the trail had Leo complaining and we came to an agreement that whenever we found sand that was in the sun we would run to the next shady spot. Now we all felt it with bare feet and knew it to not be actually too hot but it was not something he had ever really felt before so it was a little bit scary for him and he was being a bit melodramatic about it. He had a small tantrum and actually threaten to call the SPCA at one point so I agreed we would just run across the hot parts since none of them were much more than 100 feet long anyway.
By the end of the trail George was also pretty fed up with the situation. This seems to always happen with him irrespective of trail length. We’ve done trails at parks in North Carolina and always the last 15% of the trail he is ready to be done. Loralea on the other hand said that trail was too short and she was ready to do another but she was wholly unable to convince George and he actually managed to convince her she should let him get a piggy back ride for the last couple hundred feet of sand.
After the trail, everybody hydrated and Leo of course made big drama of the situation. So much slobering and mess.
Then we headed to the farm. Both the Homestead and the farm were very cool. We learned about Joseph Bailey and his fur trading with the Indians and his farm operation. We got to call their mom and have her teach us about how farms identify their pigs with ear notching. Lea met what I think is his first pig and he was completely cool to him.
After that we went to the visitor center where Loralea and Charlotte interviewed a Ranger who had only been on the job short time but clearly seemed to enjoy it. Then they got sworn in as junior Rangers.
Now there is a funny backstory here, in the car Loralea and Charlotte had asked Carlea and George if they were not planning on doing their junior ranger program and they both said no they didn’t want to. Then George said he didn’t want to do the work book he just wanted to get the badge and the big sisters tried to explain but that’s not how it works to which he responded “I’ll use my charm”.
Oh my, I know where he’s heard that.
So, as the Ranger is offering to swear in Charlotte and Loralea he offers and asks Carlisle and George if they would also like to get sworn in and get a badge as well. George looked at Loralea and just smiles. Loralea was not even a little bit amused, but he's so cute she's not really capable of being mad at him. Especially for this.
After everyone is newly appointed junior Rangers several, actually many pictures were desired. They wanted pictures with almost all the outdoor art.
Then we loaded up in the suburban and made a beeline for a hotel just outside of Chicago. It’s a short trip today. We’ve decided the only interest we have in Chicago is pizza. This trip isn’t really geared for city touring. Chicago can be a trip in and of itself, another time. Got to Chicago and fought through the 5p.m. traffic and got to the hotel that had said on the Internet that it was pet friendly. When I asked the receptionist “you guys are pet friendly right?”
She said “as long as it’s a service animal”. That wasn’t exactly what I wanted to hear but I was not gonna be deterred so I just said “OK well he is going to be in his crate most of the time he's here anyway” I never said he was a service animal or not. I don’t feel like I was dishonest with her and one of the reviews of this particular hotel that I had read on the Internet said that one of the pros and cons combined of this place was that the hotel staff was not exactly attentive so if you needed something you are out of luck but if you need to get away with something you’ll be all right.
We all got showered and a pizza spot that came recommended by my friend Jermaine who is from around here was 0.8 mile down the street.
When we got to the pizza place I thought why not splurge and let everyone have their own small pizza and we began by letting the children order. It was my plan to just let each child get their own small pizza, then the girl behind the counter stopped and looked at me she said Um Sir, a small pizza is six slices are you sure that’s what you wanna do and initially to me that sounded perfectly normal and I looked at the menu and realized that a small pizza was $21 and then she said a small pizza should feed at least three adults. This is not small pizza that I’m used to. So we agreed on her recommendation of one small pizza and one medium pizza.
Now the pizza was going to take some time to make but fortunately just across the street was an ice cream store. I tell the lady that we are going to go across the street and get some ice cream while they make the pizzas and she's asks for my number to call me when "the pizzas are ready". I quickly glance at Loralea and wink, she rolls her eyes like an embarrassed teenager as if to say "OhmyGah Dad StahpppIT". I'm gonna be milking this making her think I think women are hitting on me when they clearly aren't for at least this whole trip. As soon as we got outside, I said something like "lost my charm huh? Looks like someone didn't think so and just tried to get your dads number". I got an eye roll from both elders that time, www.dadjokewinning.com
As much as they hate it I was able to force the children across the street for ice cream, under great duress, and significant protest they begrudgingly have a dessert first dinner. After the ice cream, back at the pizza place and pizzas were just coming out of the oven. We're taking those back to the hotel. As soon as I took them in my hand I knew something was different just based on the weight. Back at the hotel we all enjoyed the pizza even the pizza with onions and barbecue sauce was appreciated.
Then we went to bed early, as it was known what we all truly needed was a good night sleep.