Have you had an adventure outside with friends or family lately? As the cooler temperatures bring a sense of relief to many — especially those who suffer in higher heat and humidity — it’s a fine time of year to get outside. I credit my wife for three trips our family has made recently, enjoying parks, trails and lakefront dunes.
The first was a memorable Sunday we spent at Bonneyville Mill Park, picnicking along with other families, playing with flying discs and admiring the dahlia garden. Though the mill itself is an obvious focal point, our favorite spot in the park was on a small bridge, just below a small waterfall. Taking off our shoes, we waded into the stream, finding shells and other evidence of life in the stream bed. Our kids loved it.
Then there was our time on the Pumpkinvine Trail. I’ve been riding by myself there for exercise recently, as it strengthens a knee of mine still recovering from an injury. On this past Sunday, I rode to Middlebury in a light rain while my family drove to Krider Garden, where we met. In the woods, I noticed more din from the cicadas, while in meadows and open fields you may notice an increase in crickets, grasshoppers, and katydids.
The DeFries Calendar Garden is still probably our favorite garden in the county, but we loved Krider’s many interesting features, including statues, colorful beds, and meandering paths. Green frogs by one pond were the largest I’ve seen, and several spaces in the garden include benches inviting peace, quiet, and rest. Our kids, however, did not rest, exploring every path, discovering benches cut into rock, and finding insects. I’m pretty sure they’ll want to return there, too.
I’ll admit I had doubts about what happened next. Amy took Natalie and Jonathan on a bike ride back to Goshen via the Pumpkinvine, while I drove the vehicle home. I’d praise any child who could ride 14 miles, but my own kids? It took several hours and stops, but they did it, and I’m proud of them for that accomplishment.
Maybe it’s not news to many of you, as the Pumpkinvine is already a gem in your mind, but it continues to improve. If you’ve not been on the new section yet — completed in June, just before the annual ride — I encourage you to ride it. Kudos go to volunteers and workers who helped make that trail possible.
For the third example of getting out in Michiana, our family went a little farther afield. Everyone seems to know about the beaches of New Buffalo, South Haven and St. Joseph. But have you tried Michigan City’s sands? We were impressed with its proximity to home — just an hour and 15 minutes — and the charm of its municipal beach area. We liked, too, how small the Washington Park Zoo was, nestled on dunes right by the lakefront, with remnants of Works Progress Administration (WPA) projects, especially the observation tower with commanding views. Having been to several other zoos in the area, we delighted in this place, which was new to us, and hardly crowded for a Labor Day holiday.
To finish off our visit to Michigan City, we had a casual dinner at the Sunset Grille, an outdoor restaurant that satisfied our end-of-summer cravings. Yes, summer is drawing down, and hints of autumn are already around us. In addition to outdoor excursions, it may be time to focus again on your yard and garden. I am grateful for so many lovely places around us, and I am grateful, too, for the gardens, parks, and trails right here in Goshen. See you out there.