“If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make a change”
State 6: Indiana - July 11, 2017
We woke up in Martinville, IN, after hot and sweaty night sleep. Our first stop scheduled for today was Gary, IN to visit the childhood home of the Prince of Pop; Michael Jackson. Whether you like him or loathe him, no one can deny Michael Jackson's accomplishments and contributions to the music industry. The reviews warned us that MJ’s house was not in a good neighborhood, but nothing could have prepared us for depravity we saw. There was an immediate change in the neighborhood the moment we crossed the city limits into Gary. This city is the most economically debilitated place we have visited on our trip thus far, and it appears it has been this way for decades. Businesses were not only long closed, but the buildings were literally crumbling apart and signs were precariously hanging off the buildings. Houses making up entire city streets, were either abandoned, foreclosed, boarded up, or collapsing on themselves. The roads were littered with potholes, and driving through Gary was like attempting to navigate a mine field. Poverty was rampid, and you could see the sorrow on the faces of the sad souls who wandered the streets aimlessly, and we felt very sorry for the residents of this city. This depression went on for block after block, and mile after mile until we finally reached Jackson’s childhood home. It was a very small well maintained white house, at the end of a street named in his honor. The house was in fact so small; it was hard to imagine the entire large Jackson family living under that one roof. The house was surrounded by a large metal fence, and was not open to the public. A monument stood in the front yard commemorating the Michael Jackson’s passing in 2009.
It was very interesting to see Jackson's origins. He came from a huge family, survived an abusive father, and rose above extreme poverty to become one of the most famous and talented artists of our time. Yes, he was unusual, and he definitely was controversial. Above all else, I believe Michael Jackson was largely misunderstood, and I possess a better appreciation for MJ’S accomplishments after seeing where he came from. On a very eerie note, as we drove away from the Jackson’s home, Thriller started playing on the radio, and the hairs stood up on the back of our necks.
We then headed west across the northern border of the state to the Indiana Dunes National Park. It features the largest fresh water dune system in the entire world, and sits at the mouth of Lake Michigan as its southern shore. This was our first opportunity to view Lake Michigan on our trip, and it was quite impressive. Lake Michigan is the only one of the 5 Great Lakes entirely within the US borders, and is larger than the entire state of West Virginia. This is why Lake Michigan has been referred to as America’s 3rd coast line after the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of course. While standing on the shore of the lake, it did appear as vast as an ocean. We were treated to a 3-mile drive along the coastline soaking in all of the sun and splendor of the day, before abandoning ship (parking Rosie), and setting in a course for the shore. The topography of the park was extremely unusual. At first, we were walking through a dirt path in the woods to get to the beach. Then then the dirt path transitioned to a sand path as we continued our walk through the woods. Then the woods disappeared suddenly, and a gigantic sand dune appeared before us. After scaling the Mount Everest of sand dunes, we were rewarded beautiful views of lake Michigan coast line pictured below.
We then drove 3 hours south to central Indiana, and found a Walmart in Crawfordville, IN to spend the night.