Bachelor Party, Part 2: Indiana Dunes and Songs by the Campfire

Amazingly, I woke up pretty early today, all things considered. By the time 9AM rolled around, even though I had only gotten about 4 hours of sleep… I was awake. The sun was shining in through the living room windows, and next thing I knew Jim and I were up chatting.

He was heading off for a week’s vacation with his family, and so was up waiting to be picked up. We walked around the corner for coffee, and had a nice chance to catch up even more. It felt good to be able to talk, one-on-one, before everyone else got up.

After Jim left, the rest of the group slowly stirred one by one. While we had plans to travel to Indiana, it was a pretty slow-going morning and breakfast was made in the kitchen.

Fast forward a few hours. I think we didn’t really get moving until maybe 3 or 4PM, but hell… it’s not like we were on a schedule or anything. This is the view from Justin’s car, looking back at Alex’s car (Ben and Chris have joined us at this point, and are riding with).

View from the interior – Justin driving, and Dave riding shotgun. I was able to nap somewhat on the way, but not really. Still pretty surprised at how well I was functioning on just four hours.

About 45 minutes to an hour later, we arrived at Dan’s house in Gary. I had heard Dan’s name mentioned several times by Justin, and only this weekend realized that Dan and I had crossed paths before – we had both participated in a poetry reading together a few years back. He also did a Pecha Kucha presentation, right before I did mine.

Small worlds.

Out in the backyard, where there was a great little gazebo area.

And a nearby campfire area, complete with a ton of wood ready to be used.

Several of the homes in this area have large birdhouses, sitting high atop a pole. I believe these were sprinkled around the area in an attempt to help bring back the Purple Martin (I think?).

Interior of the gazebo. It had some great stonework along the sides, a stone floor, and screened in windows. There were a string of lights above the table, and the whole thing just felt perfect. Note: there’s a built-in bottle opener, attached firmly to the left of the fire/grill.

After unpacking both cars, we decided to wander down to the beach. We were near the Indiana Dunes, and a quick walk found us near the lake. This is the view from Dan’s house, looking towards the small (and somewhat hidden) path.

Rob showed up near the end of our unpacking, and joined us as we set off…

Along the way, we were surprised to find several large (and new-looking) structures. Shortly after starting on that path, we emerged into an open area and a rather large structure. There were a few folks there at the time, and it seemed like a wedding was going on.

On the other side of that building, we came across a few bridges. The interesting thing about this pathway is that at times, the actual width of the path wasn’t very wide at all.

The boys, pausing on the bridge.

Ben, looking out at the nearby bridge and dock.

This is the view “behind” us. Based on the photo of Ben above, if you did a 180… this is what you’d see.

View of the water and a second bridge. It seemed a little banged up, compared to the first bridge… and didn’t inspire a lot of confidence, as it swayed a great deal, as we were walking over it.

Rob and Alex walking along the pathway, as Justin and Dave pause to admire the view.

Over the bridge and up a slight hill… we came upon even more structures. At times, it felt like these buildings were just dropped from the sky, perfectly built. It was weird – it seemed like they didn’t belong, but provided a very interesting contrast to the natural landscape surrounding them.

Walking through, and towards the water.

As we got near the lake, we noticed a lot kites in the air. We couldn’t see much of anything, as our view was partially obscured by the nearby parking lot. On getting closer, we realized they were actually sails, not kites.

There were WAY more people on the beach than I imagined. Though I’ve been invited to trek out here in the past, this was the first time I’ve actually been out here to the Dunes. There were many people – some playing football, some strolling around, and a ton of folks windsurfing.

It was pretty beautiful to see so many sails out in the air, especially against the setting sun. Seeing the lake and the surfers slowly emerge into our line of sight, as we crested the hill, was great. Lots of folks out on the water, and several were actually getting some pretty decent air.

… like this guy.

Chris, Justin and Dave, checking out some windsurfers while Rob broke out a small kite he had brought along.

It’s not windsurfing, but it was fun nonetheless. I actually liked the fact that Rob brought along a kite – it felt like an excellent thing, the kind of thing kids would do. And I mean that in a good way, in a staying-young kind of way.

The wind along the beach was pretty fantastic. Small wonder people were out here windsurfing.

I like this photo – partly for the light, and partly for the fact that the sail looks like butterfly wings.

Alex and I split from the group and wandered around a bit, chatting. We happened across another nearby building, and spotted a statue of this man: Octave Chanute.

Here’s the text from the plaque:

Octave Chanute, 1832 – 1910. The figure of Octave Chanute is pointing toward the dune hwere, in July of 1896, he conducted his famous experiments with gliders.

These experiments had a dramatic impact on the history of aviation. The publicity generated by the experiments prompted the Wright Brothers to contact Octave Chanute. Chanute became their mentor and advisor and was the first person that the Wright Brothers contacted after their successful flight at Kitty Hawk on December 17th, 1903.

It is said that Octave Chanute is the grandfather of flight.

How awesome of a name is Octave, anyways? On top of that, it seemed fitting that we were moved to bring along a kite. Walking back, it was neat to see so many people still enamored with wind… in a place where, over a hundred years ago, early glider and flight tests were taking place.

Back at the house, bottles of scotch were opened and we settled down for a game of Ballsdurdash. The concept for this game started way back in 2003. It’s similar to Baldurdash, but we use a Slang Dictionary instead.

For prior games (and to get a sense of the rules), check out:
Game Night at Allison’s: Ballsdurdash
Ballsdurdash @ Tori’s
Ballsdurdash Overview

As we were playing, I was making jokes about how this wasn’t a typical bachelor party. Instead of strippers, what did we have? WORD GAMES! At various points in the evening, we’d return to joke about this fact with phrases like “FUN WITH LANGUAGE.”

It’s silly, and you know what? It’s exactly the kind of bachelor party I had in mind. Sitting around that table, I laughed until I cried a few times… and that’s exactly the kind of evening I wanted.

Much later in the evening (I don’t think we started a fire up until maybe 9 or 10PM), Dan showed up and hung out with us a while. He had been with his friend Aaron, shooting photos at the nearby Pierogi Fest, which was also happening this weekend. Above, Dan and Rob sitting by the newly started campfire.

Related: Prepare for Pierogi – 2005

Justin and Chris in the kitchen, preparing veggies. This was a delicious side dish of mushrooms, with lots of salt, butter and garlic, all wrapped in tin foil (and later set on top of the coals).

Alex tending to the corn.

Not sure who this is – possibly Alex again, checking on the food that’s cooking on the fire.

A view of the gazebo from outside, just prior to dinner being served. We started pretty late, and didn’t get to eating until maybe 11:00PM or so.

Inside, with lots of food and drink. We had salmon, mushrooms, a great potato dish, corn, bread, salad, and several brats and sausages. For scotch we had Lagavulin, Oban and Laphroaig. We also had tons of beers, and I’m just now remembering that we had tons of cigarettes too.

One very interesting thing that Dan had was a set of “mosquito raquets.” They were shaped like miniature tennis raquest, but held a few batteries inside the handle. You’d press a button, and if a bug came in contact with the
wire mesh… it got zapped.

Shortly after dinner, we all wandered over to the campfire. A guitar and a mandolin were taken out, passed around, and everyone hung out and played music and sang for a good while. A bottle of tequila also made its laps around the fire as well. There was some talk of motivating, and either going for a trek back out to the lake, or heading over to one of the three nearby strip clubs.

Point of fact, the one that everyone seemed to be most keen about was a strip club called “Pandora’s Box.” Mostly, I’m guessing, for the name.

While we didn’t actually end up going to the strip club, there was many a song sung about what we might have found at Pandora’s Box – silly shit that had me crying laughing by the fire.

In looking back, I kind of wish I had recorded a few of the songs – just so I could post them here and re-live the evening. There was a lot of made up music, made-up lyrics, songs sung about parts of my life, about the fine women at Pandora’s Box. It was hysterical, and you’ll just have to take my word for it.

It was a nerdy bachelor party, but my kind of nerdy bachelor party. Hanging out around a campfire until the wee hours of the night – sipping hooch and singing songs, and laughing more than we had any right to.

This Post Has 1 Comment

  1. I had no idea you managed to capture so many good snaps along the way! Truly an epically satisfying adventure, my friend. I feel like this should be an annual pilgrimage of sorts.

    chris Reply

Leave A Reply