After a good night’s sleep in Gurnee IL (preceded by a comped key lime pie that was to die for at the local pub), I hit the road again. I rounded the loop around the southern part of Lake Michigan. There’s a Lake Michigan Circle Tour route marked along the way (sort of) but (a) my GPS does not really comprehend “Scenic Route” as a concept — not that most of the route is all that scenic — and (b) that route is periodically difficult to follow as signs aren’t always posted especially along some of the more meandering and circuitous local roads.
So between ignoring my GPS a good bit of the time and losing track of the marked route, I more felt my way than anything else.
I was surprised how little of the time I could actually see Lake Michigan along the route. Some of the most amazing views but least accessible for photographing en route, were along Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive and South Shore Drive.
I crossed uneventfully into Indiana, along quiet roads through the back side of sleepy towns.
As I got into more rural areas, a snake slipped across the road in front of me.
Though I was perfectly safe and going 60 mph, I still yelped and flinched and checked my rear view mirror – – creature unharmed. I wondered, as I twinged along my route, whether I would have felt less unsettled if I had hit it. I know it wasn’t a nice thought (it was just minding its own business), or a rational one (it wasn’t posing any danger to me).
I’m rarely rational when it comes to snakes. Even a good half hour later, my interest in visiting Indiana Dunes Park (or getting out of the car at all) was still diminished. Even so, I couldn’t hide in the car forever (probably).
I drove around the park areas and then stopped briefly by the visitor’s center, which was safe enough (being somewhat removed from the wooded and marshy areas that mostly make up the outer edges of the park).
An hour later I caught myself kicking around in the car, then realized that in my peripheral vision, the movement of the key ring and light shifting on the car floor was giving me the illusion of something moving around my feet.
Phobias are fun, yo.
I started to pull myself together after that. No, really.
A couple of meandering hours later I pulled into Sarett Nature Center (where I had hoped to take a quick hike) but the skies opened as I pulled in. (Probably just as well. I’d probably have been afraid of every twig on the trail and every leaf fluttering in the breeze.)
So I headed to Twelve Corners Winery, my other To Do while in Benton Harbor, MI.
I had heard they were a great little place to stop in and have lunch (for me, now a somewhat overdue lunch) and a glass of wine. Apparently this is true because the place was hopping. A group I would guess were a bachelorette party (based on the gender of everyone in the party and the white limo outside) were enjoying themselves.
The winery also had some kind of joint event with a local BBQ place going on simultaneously. It wasn’t so busy you couldn’t get in, and there were seats available, but everyone working there had their hands pretty full.
The long and short of that was not being able to get the attention of anyone there, so I ended up heading back to find my hotel and some food.
A few short excursions locally in the rain, and Michigan was feeling like a bust so far.