27th November 2005
Sturgis to Chicago, Illinois

We head South from Sturgis before turning West through Amish Country. It certainly makes the drive a little more interesting overtaking the carriages that are so unique to the Amish people.

Somewhere along the way we miss our turning and end up in the town of Niles. Realising our mistake we head west once more and decide to make the most of our unintentional detour by visiting the sand dunes on the banks of Lake Michigan. We drive down the heavily tree lined roads, unaware where the waters edge actually is. We come upon a closed gate and a parked car, and obvious signs of sand ahead. Parking alongside the other vehicle we duck under the barrier and wander down, past some toilets that have been taped up for the winter, through the imposing sand dunes and down to the waters edge.

It's incredibly quiet. The only other person we see is out walking their dog and they quickly disappear back up the path - no doubt the owner of the other car. The day is cold and the water is mysteriously still. Too still for my liking. The shore is lined with some particularly good skipping stones so I take to disturbing the mirror lake with some flinging. I even manage to break my own record and get up to 6 skips off of one stone. Hey, I never said I was a master of it or anything!

On the way back to the car I clamber up to the top of one of the sand dunes to have a look around. The landscape is pretty much the same for miles around. I scamper down the other side. Both of us need the loo and there's no one around so we stretch the warning tape to one side and use the facilities - all still fully working. I wonder why they close them?

Winding our way back through the forested roads we end up in the town of Chesterton. A sign proudly proclaims that Chesterton is 'Home of the Wizard of Oz Festival'. One can only wonder. We end up at a nice little place called 'Peggy Sue's Diner'. The walls are plastered with number plates from across the states - some with interesting patterns on them. After a fine meal of eggs and pancakes we head out to the town of Portage to see a local craft fair at the local school. We just catch the end of it - many of the stalls are being packed away. Everything is predictably Christmas themed and we don't buy anything.

The rest of the day is spent making the drive into Chicago, the last 10 miles of which is a frankly terrifying road experience. The outskirts of Chicago make Spaghetti Junction look like a well ironed ruler. We finally find our motel. It's not the nicest looking place. The receptionist is hidden away behind a thick piece of glass. We make a quick trip to the local 7/11 and hide away for the rest of the night.

Chris Cottam