Charlotte had a bit of an upset tummy overnight which has me concerned for her. She says it’s hurts only a little but she wants to “get everything out” and try to have some breakfast. She has no complaints otherwise and reports only having had a headache before this started. She’s so pragmatic, when I was asking her if there was anything I could do to help she very matter of fact said “you can get some sort of a bucket or something for me to keep close to me when we’re in the car”. That wasn’t really what I had in mind but ok.
For some reason somebody (Stefanie) taught Leo how to tell time. So, 7 o’clock sharp he’s up as usual to go out. That’s fine I’ll bring the today’s outfits, swimming stuff and shower stuff back up with me anyway. Then hopefully breakfast.
The girls wanted and genuinely need to sleep in. Not the blues. As you know Leo was up at 7 then George and I were up and bored. I zoned out on my phone, stated watching Tik-Tok. The girls and I have an aspiration that were gonna make one to “Fancy Like” so if I’m honest I was watching a few to see if there’s any way I can pull it off. Well well as it turns out my man has a concert coming up not irrationally out of the range of this trip. If Canada indeed does not open the border maybe I can surprise the girls with adding a concert to itinerary. We’ll see. I won’t tell them yet though. Finally up and spry around 9:15-930 we’re downstairs to get some breakfast. The elevator doors opened to show all the chairs in the dining room are up. I actually wasn’t too disappointed because the half sheet checkbox “menu” gave me low expectations for the food but the children were clearly disappointed. We come around the corner and the guy that’s mopping sees the green sheets in the children’s hands and his eyes and whole posture completely lit up. I don’t know if this guy is on commission or what be he clearly has a personal investment in how many breakfast they sell, which put together with the previously confusing thing front deck clerk said about how “Breakfast on Sunday’s is new to us” like who says that. Anyway this fine interesting gentlemen was going to have to remop the floor now. I know that pain. So I suggested that we would prefer to eat on the back patio and he was clearly appreciative. So the children made their order and we retreated to the patio. We had breakfast by a little creek that was pretty but probably actually just some man made contaminated rain water runoff flood control device. It was to straight to be anything but man made. Only a few minutes went by and all 5 meals came out the back kitchen door. The younger two devoured theirs Charlotte is still a little gun shy with regards to the tummy, Loralea and I decided to save have for later. Off to the pool with checkout time approaching they’re agreeable to 18 minutes of swimming.
That gives us 2 minutes to get back to the room and 40 minutes to get showered and shined to make the 11 o’clock checkout. Although I don’t get that they’re all that concerned about it really. The lady cleaning the room a few doors down told me when we came out that she wasn’t going in our room today. I’ll rush em enough under the guise of check out time but really so we make the dunes at a good and reasonable time. We left the hotel got the car all packed and the mood of everyone is delightful which is a great feeling. When I took the bell cart back in the hotel the lady asked me if I had a dog, we’ll not a dog but a “pit” specifically. My inner dialogue was rude as Leo was literally 4 feet away from her and directly on my left 3 minutes ago but, I just said “No ma’am he’s a German Shepherd” (now my inner dialogue switched to a ridiculous German accent because I can not take my self seriously for a full minute strait). She replied, “oh ok well I never noticed him so I took the pet fee off your room for you” and smiled. Oh, OH OK now I was understanding the situation. “Thank you so much ma’am I know you didn’t have to do that but I definitely appreciate it. I hope you have a good day. “
We spend some time in Lima at the Walmart getting “provisions” (that’s always sounded like the most pretentious way to say groceries but it seems to fit here since we even got 2 hairbrushes). I got the stuff packed into the cooler, fuel and oil (it burns it) into the suburban, a salted caramel something or another coffee from the Starbucks and we’re on the road. I tell the children we’ve got maybe 3.5 hours driving time and they’re elated. They all fell asleep thinking it was over 5. The drive to the dunes was mostly uneventful. We did get to see some of America’s agriculture fans. If you’ve never seen these, you should. They’re amazing. The scale and magnitude can’t be done justice in a photograph but if grids of these arraigned all over the Midwest is what it takes to keep American agriculture at the top I’m all for it. Here’s the best I could do at capturing it.
They must help keep the crops cool and the bugs off the crops. Past the agriculture fans and on to the Indiana Dunes Campground. We arrived just before 5 P.M. local time, no reservations, because I don't really do that. If I was traveling internationally and didn’t know the language I’d certainly eliminate as much risks and uncertainty as possible but on solid American soil and everything I need with me I’ll take the chance and enjoy the adventure, “Vacilando”. Guess what, you already know, we arrive and CAMPGROUND FULL. AightDen, challenge accepted so we get into the line of cars because I’ve seen this ruse on the cross country trip and it played out well in our favor many times then. I roll down my window and Charlotte’s window. At this point in the trip she happened to be sitting behind me. I was gonna try to sweet talk the guard into telling me about and letting me get that one site that they don’t book anymore because it’s not big enough for any RV but a tent for such a nice guy and delightful family would probably fit perfectly. We pull up to the window, I put on my best Rhett-esque charm to absolutely no avail at all. As we are pulling away from the gate house to make out U-Turn of defeat my sweet Loralea says something like wow daddy these people here are NOT like North Carolina people. Ha, no honey, no they are not. We are not in North Carolina anymore. Well truth be told for someone who may not plan a lot and mostly avoids reservations I also do not set myself up for failure when it’s easily avoidable. I had called another campground as we waited in the long long line for the gate. The other campground was 11 minutes away and said they had several sites available for two nights. So, I had a decent backup plan and I saw a few pictures, star ratings, and reviews on the Google and it looked like we’d be ok. Off we went. As we arrived at the Lake Shore Camp resort my heart sank, a dilapidated run down trailer park in complete shambles. We’re driving past single wides that have been so unattended to they’ve collapsed down onto themselves.
No one says a word, I’m driving through slowly thinking this can’t be, this is not good, this is not what I saw. My dear Loralea, in her most diplomatic I’m going to be strong voice says “Um daddy, this place looks bad”. I just said back “oh yeah baby you right, my babies ain’t staying no place like DisHere” AND about that time we noticed a nice new vinyl fence starting on the left side. My smile creeps back. As we continue you can see more and more big and fancy campers. Mostly 5th wheels and park models but whatever. We get to the gate and get sent to the “ranger station” as I walked in the girl behind the desk is reprimanding some 10-13 year old boys like they were her little cousins. They were clearly engaged in some Tom Sawyer like behavior and she had a stern air of familiarity but also with sincere care. I can’t say what but some harmless mischief was being perpetrated. She remembered talking to me and made a map for me with all the available spots highlighted and the best most efficient route to see them all and suggested I have a look and let her know which I wanted. Sweet, exactly what I was hoping for. I love presenting the girls with reasons to deliberate and make compromises and agreement and convey pros and cons. I do it every chance I can. I briefed my crew on the mission and off we went. We saw probably 12 sites. Consideration was taken for ground conditions, neighbors, nearby dogs, proximity of the potty, and levelness of the table (we learned that one the hard way at Pilot Mountain). We marked them off until we had narrowed it down to two and then like the final pageant contestant we had a winner and she was a beaut. Back in the office, I mean “ranger station”, I took Loralea with me so this girl in here could expunge that gate house attendant from her memory. While we’re completing the transaction some dude walks in with a WuTang jersey on. Aight, lets see, so I look at him and say straight off “two for fives, two for fives”. Sure enough he hits back “they got garbage down the way”. Ahhh yeah this in the spot we were supposed to be. We get some firewood and peruse the store then head to our site when we get to our site, before we even pull in I hear both Carlea and George nearly squeal with excitement the campsite beside us that was vacant is now occupied and they have children clearly their age. I already know where this is gonna go. If you Carlea you know too. Guess who the dad was, yUp WuTang dad. This is gonna be a fun campsite. I got the tent up in what seemed like record time I don’t know if I put it up folded better last time or if there’s something about this trip that things are just flowing as they’re supposed to so far. Once the tent was up I made some hamburger helper all the children were some reason feigning for. The children were so delightful to watch playing. For as much as George tells people he doesn’t like “pinks” he sure seems to gravitate to them. So the Oneal’s , that’s the camp neighbor family name, had a Lucy that Loralea pointed out to me he kept moving his seat beside. She leaned over to me really subtle and mature and said “you see what’s happening don’t you”.
It was really cool and I hadn’t noticed it before actually. Loralea has a mature and independent personality at one point in the evening she and I were leaned into each other narrating the interaction between Carlea and her new friend like we were sports casters. She’s cool and better than me at some things which is a cool feeling as a parent. She asked me to buy her a book by her favorite author “The One And Only Bob” before we left and Ive watched her reading it in all the free moments. She’s nearly done with it and its almost 400 pages. Charlotte was first to bed tonight which makes sense when you consider she was up and down most of the night last night.
Anyway the neighbor dad, Dave tells me in conversation that Lucy (George’s friend) packed more outfits for this trip than the rest of the family combined. I myself saw probably 3-4 different that night and the parents are cool with it because that’s who she’s is and they let her be. It was cool to see. Carlea made a friend as well. They were digging up worms with a stick and catching Rolly-Pollies and putting them into a little red solo cup habitat. Then they watched a video on what they eat. It was cute.
After the children all went to bed me and Dave and one of his buddies sat around the fire drinking beer until way to late. Today was a good day.
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