Monday, June 27, 2011

A few more shots from the Dunes

More about our camping trip here.

Camp Eats!

So I think we ate pretty well on this last camping trip and wanted to share with you our meals.

I know when camping it can be hard to think of meals to make that are nutritious and easy, so I hope this gives anyone looking for some good camp eats a few ideas.

Lunch Day One
PB & J
Corn Chips
Dinner Day One

Sandwich shown above was made in our pie iron shown here.
Sandwiches, I call Mexi-Melts, were made with bread, turkey chili (no beans), shredded cheese, and green peppers.
Side of Spanish Rice made on the camp stove and cut up green peppers. Yummy!!

Lunch Day Two
Peanut butter tortillas
Spinach salad, cherry tomatoes, ranch and guacamole
Corn chips
Dinner Day Two

Quesadillas made over the fire with smoked salmon, shredded cheese and  spinach and a dab of guac
Day Two and Three Breakfast was vanilla yogurt and a banana.

I tried to plan meals that re-used some of the same ingredients like bread, tortillas, peanut butter, cheese, spinach, guacamole, etc, to cut down on the amount of food needed to be brought.

I hope this helps with planning your own yummy camping meals. Happy camping!!

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

This past weekend, hubby, pup and I packed up and headed to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore for a weekend of sun, sand and camping.

When we first got there we set up the campsite. If you are thinking about camping here, get there early; campsites are first come/first serve. We stayed in the Mather Loop at campsite M34. It was nice, but not overly roomy--if we'd had more people joining us it would have been tight--but we didn't so it was perfect. If you do have your choice of sites, I thought some of the sites along the back of the loop looked really nice, and many of the sites were much bigger. Here is our site, to give you an idea of where we stayed.

After setting up camp, we went to check out Mount Baldy on the far east side of the park. There are two ways to get to the beach from the parking lot; a short hike up and over a dune, or a little longer hike over some smaller dunes. 

Now, the trail head clearly says to only take the trail over the large dune if you are good shape--we took that trail, and are not in the best shape--don't be scared. A rest or two on the way up and anyone in decent condition will be fine. Here are a few pictures from the top of Mt. Baldy...

Looking straight out at Lake Michigan
And looking east at the beautiful power plant in Michigan City
Now to go back up the same dune to the parking lot is much more steep, but it is ultra fun to go down!

After climbing (and descending) Mt. Baldy, we walked along the beach heading west, and waded in the cold water of Michigan. 

Pup's first time in waves!

Looking down the beach
After walking for a while we took the trail through the woods back to the parking lot--it was really pretty!!

After that we hit up an incredibly crazy junk store (on the corner of second and central, if you are's a pickers paradise), brought some firewood, and spent the rest of the night playing Bananagrams, cooking and hanging out by our campfire.

Day Two started with a nice drive along Lakeshore Drive and eventually ending up at Central Beach. We swam around in the lake with puppy and then took a catnap in the sand; the weather was perfect and we were able to find a secluded spot and it kinda felt like a private beach.

Central Beach
My sandy Puppy Girl!
After hanging out at the beach for a while we started to feel a little thirsty and a little burny, so we decided to head back to the campsite for lunch. After hanging out there for a bit we went to Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk. While there are no dogs allowed on the actually beach, we enjoyed walking on the trail to the beach (paved so it's good for strollers and wheelchairs too) and out onto pier.

Trail to the beach
Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk Pavilion


"Riverwalk" Pier
After our walk back to the car I realized how tired, and hungry I was. We headed back to our campsite once again to start a fire and cook some dinner. After dinner, we played more Bananagrams and hung out around the campfire.

Sunday morning we woke up, broke camp, and headed home. It was an awesome trip! And I would recommend the Indiana Dunes to anyone--especially those in the Chicagoland region--as a quick, fun, inexpensive way to enjoy Lake Michigan's beaches.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Not the most comfortable seat in the house

Of all the comfy places in the house, this is where he chooses to take a nap. Really? REALLY?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Weeding and Sowing

Today I spent most of the day weeding the bed we put in last year next to our gravel patio. After a very busy May, the bed had not been tended to at all this season--though some of the perennials have been doing just fine without me. After weeding, hubby tilled around the plants and I planted some nasturtium around the boarders and then some more of the seeds I bought earlier in the year ( poppies and chinese forget-me-nots for this area). Though, the seeds in the front beds are sprouting up, I am always unsure how seeds will come in...I guess we'll just need to wait and see.

End of April


An improvement, right?

Resale Table Turned Garden Furniture

We found this wooden chunky leg table back in early spring at a resale store and I completely fell in love. The base is painted bright yellow, but the top needed to be stained so it could stay outside. Sooo...

1) Sand.

2) Stain. (We used transparent deck stain.)

3) Admire and put into place. 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Des Plaines River Trip--Section 2

Yesterday, Hubby and I  canoed the second section of the Des Plaines River, from Wadsworth Road to Grand Avenue. Last year we canoed section one, and loved it, so we couldn't wait to get out this year. We put in at the canoe launch at Wadsworth Road and started paddling. During this part of the paddle the river was wide with tall grass along the shores, we were paddling mid-day so the sun was strong and there was little shade on the river. We saw signs for portages but the water level was high enough we never encountered any log jams; however, about half way through the trip there is a rock damn that must be portaged. We portaged to the right side, I'd recommend portaging to the left; obviously either side works, but left is easier with less rocks to navigate and trip on. After the portage the river becomes more wooded and shady. There are several downed trees, but the trees never blocked the entire river and could be canoed around. During this portion you do canoe past some peoples backyards, but houses were set much further away. On this section, two bridges are canoed under one which is 41 (Skokie Highway) and the other is Grand Avenue. After canoeing under the bridge at Grand, our trip was almost over, since we took out at Gowe Park (behind the Old Warren High School). This trip was 6.2 river miles but only took us about 2 1/2 hours, because the river had a nice current due to the heavy rains of last month.

Here's the things I really liked about this portion of the river: 
-Easy access. Both launches were nicely kept with ample parking. The easy accessibility is really key with canoeing in a suburban area, it makes the trip convenient and straightforward allowing more people to get out and paddle.
-Lots of birds. We saw cranes and/or heron, red winged blackbirds, grackles, mallard ducks, and more that I don't know the name of.
-Plenty Deep. While I do think the river was deeper than it normally might have been, I would expect this section is nearly always deep enough to canoe without ever dragging bottom.

Here's a few things I didn't care for as much: 
-Traffic and Powerlines. Most of the river runs right along Highway 41 which means you listen to traffic for much of the trip. And on this section of the river there are high tension lines crackling overhead while canoeing through Gurnee.

Again, I think this is the trade off. While not providing a complete wilderness excursion, the trip was convenient, allowing us to paddle for a few hours on Saturday morning, and have the rest of the day to enjoy other summer activities.