I’m up at what turns out to be the normal time. My watch has disconnected itself from my phone (that’s convenient) now it’s an hour different from the phone, which is actually accurate. Once everybody else wakes up we had corn beef hash and Charlotte wanted an egg. They played with the neighbor children for a while and then we got everything straightened at the campsite. Now that we've tidied up adequately I would say we moseyed out of the campground at about 1230 and headed over to Indiana dunes national park visitor center to pick up junior ranger books.
After we complete all the activities we can on our own we have to watch a movie and it's "required" by the books that we go to the beach to complete some of the rest. Don’t threaten me with a good time.
After the movie as I was talking to one of the rangers about the importance of their social distancing characters cutouts blah blah, whatever blah, Loralea came up and softly put her hand on my arm(that's our polite signal for "I need you, but don't want to interrupt") and as I looked down to say, "ok just a second sweetie", I see that she’s holding a napkin to her mouth and there’s some blood on it. WhattheWHAT? She quickly explains that she’s lost that wiggly tooth. Happy for her I found a small plastic bag and secured the loose tooth above the driver side visor until we can get back to her mom. They prefer to do the tooth fairy donations at their moms house because they have a special Tooth fairy pillow there.
Getting back to the suburban everything was fine, Leo was in the back resting comfortably at a nice 72°. That was reassuring to know that for a brief time we can all go away and leave the car running in a temperate parking lot and have him secured in the back and the engine cooling system will be just fine. The amount of condensation that had drained out of the suburban in the front and from the muffler was impressive and had run completely across the parking lot.
On to the beach we went. We're supposed to meet up with the ONeal‘s at the parking lot in the Dunes State Park, I texted the dad Dave but I had zero signal. As were pulling up to the gate I see the campground full sign again and chuckle to myself about how it played out yesterday and how it all ended up so much for the better and how now we’re on the way to meet the Wu-Tang Dad Dave and his family that we had befriended because at this park the campground was full. We get up to the gate and after the ribbing I had caught from my two oldest daughters yesterday about having "lost my southern charm" and having “too many white hairs”. I’BeeDam, I was hell-bent that I was going to make a "friend" out of his guard at the gate so as I pulled up I got a got my tires as close to the curb as I could and leaned out the window and said hey friend and in my best southern accent and we chatted momentarily she asked me how I was and I said "oh I have no complaints at all". Bantering back and forth until she said are you from Indiana to which I replied “no maa’aam although I’d like to think it’s not true do I sound like I’m from Indiana to you?” She of course said no but explained that it could’ve been way southern Indiana I guess. She then charged us the Indiana resident rate for our admission to the State Park and said it was because she had enjoyed listening to me talk so much. I looked up in the rearview mirror at Loralea, smiled like it was in slow motion feeling hella smug and she looked back at me and grinned, both knowing what each other was thinking and she said "all right dad I take it back". I'll mark that was a W.
The beach though was absolutely miserable for me. The children loved it! If I’m honest about this situation the night before when we had been talking with the neighbors at the campsite they kept saying about going to the “beach” tomorrow it genuinely caused me some mental acrobatics to reframe what they were meaning by the beach every time they said it because, we’re in Indiana and beach is ocean to me. It’s 45 years of beaches mean ocean and salt air but I will say that when we got to this beach it fit the description. The waves weren’t as big obviously the water wasn’t salty you don’t have to worry about sharks or I thought you didn’t have to worry about jellyfish but the O’Neals told me there are freshwater jellyfish but I think thats an inlanders snipe hunt to be honest. It was just as hot the sand stuck to you just as much it was just as hard to pull the wagon through so all that part was still the same.
Everything was fine until Leo realized it was moving water which is apparently either his absolute sworn enemy or he believes is the force that intends to kill him. Because the crazy energy, fear, anxiety whatever you call it from him this day was clearly going to be much more difficult. The minute he gets around any moving water whether its ocean waves lake Michigan waves apparently, or the churning current of a flowing river he goes bonkers crazy and it takes a lot of effort and attention to get him to calm down or sit down. If I can sit him down and facing away from the water he can chill out but it’s easier task said than done. So once I got sunscreen on everybody and floaties on the younger two I let them get in the water. Then I tried to let Leo go swimming as well. As far as I know he’d never been swimming before. He can do it though, but all he wanted to do was try to bite the waves so we go out past the waves and he would only fight to turn around to get back to where the waves were so he could bite them. It was exhausting and infuriating at the same time, so I took him out of the water back to our homebase where I had our ground cloth laid out he immediately shook his water all over me, I expected that but then he wallowed all over the sand rolling around back-and-forth coating himself in sand as thoroughly as he possibly could which should be great for sleeping in a tent, damnit. Thank God I bought him that collapsible dog crate. Last night it proved to be the best camping purchase I’ve ever made because he did not make so much as a peep all night long. I fought with Leo to stay down and stop whimpering, whining, crying and barking at the waves for the next somewhere between 45 minutes an hour until finally I told the girls that we needed to leave to be able to get at least one opportunity to swim in the pools at the campsite. That planted the seed and 10 or 15 minutes later they were ready to go. I think we had a total of two hours or so at the beach, which seemed plenty for them Lord knows more than enough for me. Pulling the cart back up the hill with Leo attached and bucking like a bronco on one side was exhausting. I saw other dads looking at me and I could tell they'd look away quick as if to say to themselves "at least I'm not that guy, man he's got his hands full". It was a challenge to the ol' positive attitude, even more by the time we got back to the car with everybody covered in sand and sweat it probably took another 30 minutes to get everybody cleaned up enough to get back in the car then I decided the best way for any kind of mitigation of the mess that was Leo, was to brush him. So I’d brush him holding him still with one hand and brushing him with the other. Lorelea would pull the hair off the brush, as it got full and throw it out in the parking lot since I didn’t have an extra hand to do it. That worked pretty well and by the time we finished and close the back of the suburban Leo plopped down on the floor and Loralea and I as we were chatting turned around and looked across the parking lot and there were probably 15 clumps of Leo’s hair smaller than footballs but bigger than softballs being blown across the parking lot, we coined the name tumble Leo’s. We did bump into the Oneal's also on their way out. As it turned out he had no signal either so wouldn't have gotten my message even if I had, had signal to get it out to him. They had actually been on the beach only a hundred feet or so from where we were but we didn't see each other.
No pictures from the beach because I was just to um, preoccupied.
We went back to the campsite via the Wal-Mart to pick up a few things we had forgotten, like a bottle Jack, which you can buy at Wal-Mart here, not what I came for but I mean if its here right. Then back to the campground and straight to the pool.
We stayed at the pool for a couple hours or so until they closed at eight and then played at the playground a bit.
Back at the campsite we eat hotdogs cooked over the campfire. This time I got smart and bought a 16 pack of hotdogs and an eight pack of buns so it won’t bother me one bit when the children eat their hotdogs with no bun, this usually drives me nuts, haha problem solved.
After dinner we sat around the fire for a while drinking Indiana Craft Soda Root Beers, and each making up stories before heading to bed around 9. Today was another good day.