Jun 012014

We decided it was time for a day trip, so we were up earlier than usual yesterday morning and on the road about 10 a.m., headed west on the Indiana Toll Road (Interstate 80/90) with Greg and Jan.

Our first stop was at the Indiana Welcome Center, but getting there was a bit of a challenge because when I talked to them, the lady on the phone said they were just off Exit 3 on the interstate in Hammond. Except there wasn’t an Exit 3! What’s that all about? We got off at Exit 1 and I asked the man at the toll booth, who explained that the Welcome Center is off Exit 3, but from Interstate 94, which was north of the route we were on! Hey, it’s all part of the adventure, right? We backtracked on surface streets for a while, found the proper highway, and eventually made our way to the Welcome Center.

So why drive so far just to visit a state welcome center? Well, because this wasn’t just any state welcome center. Besides the usual tourist brochures and roadmaps, the Indiana Welcome Center in Hammond is also home to the John Dillinger Museum.

Dillinger Museum lobby

Dillinger, a daring Depression-era bank robber, led a gang of outlaws that held up banks across the Midwest in the 1930s, laughing at the efforts of police to bring him to justice. When he was finally captured, he carved a gun out of wood, painted it black with shoe polish and broke out of jail, stealing the sheriff’s car in the process! For fourteen months the gangster eluded police until the FBI caught up with him outside of a Chicago movie theater and ended his career in a hail of bullets.

Wanted poster

The museum displays artifacts of Dillinger’s life, including family photos, guns, the trousers he was wearing when he was killed, his death mask, and the wicker basket his body was transported home in. I’ve always been interested in the gangster-era and found the small museum well worth the trip. We’ll have a feature on it in the next issue of the Gypsy Journal.

Gun display

Dillinger gang

From the Welcome Center we drove a few more miles to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Visitor Center, where we watched a video about the dunes, which stretch 15 miles along the southern shore of Lake Michigan, a natural treasure in the shadow of steel mills and power plants. Here visitors can hike miles of trails, relax on the beach, fly kites, camp, swim and picnic. There isn’t enough room here to tell you all about it, so we’ll do that in our next issue.

Lakeshore view 2

But we weren’t done yet! Last week we met Joel and Patricia Majot at their vendor booth at the Shipshewana Flea Market, where they were selling kites and spinners. Joel had invited us to their shop, Windsongs, in Michigan City and offered to let me test fly a dual line sport kite. Since I’ve got a dual line Prism Snapshot 1.9 speed foil and a couple of Revolution 1.5 SLE Quad Line Stunt Kites I thought I should at least get a feel for the stunt kite.

Windsongs Kite Shop

We took a Premier Widow down to the beach, where the wind was blowing from 10 to 15 miles per hour, and after giving me some quick instructions, Joel handed me the lines and turned me loose. And I promptly crashed it! Then I got it into the air again, and quickly crashed it again! After some more pointers from Joel, I finally managed to actually fly the thing for a while, going through a couple of simple maneuvers and getting a feel for it. I’m not 100% sold on the idea of adding another kite to my inventory yet, but I’m giving it a lot of thought.

We opted to take the slow route home along U.S. Highway 12 instead of the interstate, and we passed through some pretty farmland and a few small towns along the way. By the time we got back to Elkhart about 6 p.m. we were all famished, so we took a quick vote and decided on King Wha for a delicious Chinese dinner. It was a long day, but a lot of fun.

Today we plan to hang out here at home, with Terry wrapping up our end of the month paperwork and me getting some writing done.

Today is your last chance to enter this week’s Free Drawing for an autographed copy of So, You Want to be a Full-Time RVer? by John and Kathy Huggins of Living the RV Dream podcast fame. Whether you’re a wannabe, a newbie or a fulltimer with years of RV travel under your belt, you’ll learn something from this excellent book. All you have to do is click on the Free Drawing link and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn this evening.


Thought For The Day – Pretending to be a functional adult can be exhausting.

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Nick Russell

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  4 Responses to “Gangsters And Sand Dunes”

  1. Have added a welcome center to our list, who knew?

  2. How big are the kites? I was wondering how much room they took up. Do they easily fold up?

  3. Jan,
    Some kites have a wingspan of as much as 8 feet but they disassemble fold up and store in a kite bag you can throw in the back of a car or store anywhere.

  4. When you come to Minnesota you probably want to add this to your to do list: http://www.wabashastreetcaves.com/cavetour.html

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