Sense of Place: Indiana Dunes National Park

Indiana Dunes National Park

The Indiana Dunes National Park is just an hour from my hometown house in Chicago. When I was younger my family and I would drive out with our family friends to the Dunes on the weekends. During the summer and spring, we would go on hikes stopping to play in the bird watch towers and eat our packed sandwiches and sliced apples along the trails and boardwalks. In the winter times when there was snow, we would hike to the sand dunes and race our sleds down the snow-covered dunes. Many of our runs would end in us flinging off our sleds as we shot down the steep icy dunes. Indiana Dunes National Park became a place where even at a young age I could navigate, it became a place where I could recognize the birds circling above us and the long prairie grasses. Now the Indiana Dunes is a place I look back on fondly remembering small moments with friends and family in this beautiful place where we used to dread waking up early for but were throw temper tantrums when our parents tried to get us to leave. 

The Indiana Dunes isn’t necessarily in my home town but it’s only an hour commute from my house. Having a place like this so close to my house but so ecologically different allowed nature and the outdoors to become a sort of oasis for me at a young age as I spent life growing up in the city Chicago.

Sadly I haven’t been to the Indiana Dunes National Park is a while but from my google searchers, it looks exactly almost the same. When I look back at any place I remember as a child everything always looks so much smaller since I have grown. As a kid, I remember the sand dunes towering over me, completely daunting as I pushed my sled to the edge urging myself to fly down the dunes that felt like they went straight down. Physically it is the same but my perspective has changed as I’ve grown up. Looking back I feel nostalgic, almost said as we have lost touch with the family friends we ventured off with every other weekend to the Indiana Dunes National Park. 

Since I had such a great connotation of this place as a child I think it has influenced me today to be more attracted to outdoorsy and naturally beautiful places. Every feeling we have about things in our lives have been influenced by we have experienced them. Things like place attachment and place meaning all correlate with our perspective of them, I grew up feeling attached to Indiana Dunes National Park because it became a place where I was with my family, where we would play and create silly games that would entertain us for hours. So now places like these such as Centennial Woods or any backcountry I feel at home.