“Is this heaven? No, It’s Iowa.” – Field of Dreams
As I left Forest City, IA, I scanned the road atlas searching for my next destination. My general heading was southeast towards Chicago. Dubuque was about 200 miles away in that direction. And right near Dubuque was another one of those red dots marking a point of interest. Just near Dyersville the words “Field of Dreams” stood out in red.
Field of Dreams
In 1989, Kevin Costner starred in the movie Field of Dreams. He played an Iowa corn farmer named Ray Kinsella, who plowed up a few acres of his corn to make a ball field. He did this because he heard the words – “If you build it, he will come.” I didn’t hear the words, but when I saw then on the map I knew that’s where I had to go.
The ball field and farm-house are still there just a couple of miles outside of Dyersville, IA. It all looks just like it did in the movie. The Lansing family, who rented out their property for the movie, owned the house and ball field until 2011. The property is now called The Field of Dreams Movie Site and is open to the public from April through November. Admission and parking is free.
The setting is typical rural Iowa – a modest old white farm-house surrounded by corn fields. I arrived on a Saturday and the parking lot was almost full. What I found interesting is that most people where not there to gawk and take pictures of the ball field. Most were there to play on the field – to hit a baseball into the field, to pitch from the pitcher’s mound, to play catch, and to run the bases. To play on the field where Shoeless Joe and others were brought back to life. Even though the movie came out almost 30 years ago, most of the people on the field were kids.
Corn surrounds the outfield just like in the movie. And it’s planted just like in the movie, with the rows facing into the ball field. Walking through the corn onto the field seemed popular with most of the older folks.
The words that Ray Kinsella heard and the ones that Terrence Mann spoke (“people will come”) were prophetic. The Field of Dreams is a popular place. Over 65,000 people come to visit each year. To play like a kid on a special ball field in rural Iowa where dreams come true.
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore
Leaving Iowa, I continued my way eastward with a quest to get to Grand Rapids and visit the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum. Along the way, I found a couple of stops that caught my attention.
In 2016, I got a US National Parks Passport book. This little book is a place to collect stamps of the National Parks, National Monuments, National Historic Sites, National Seashores, and National Lakeshores that I visit. I’m glad I got the book because it motivates me to seek out and visit these places. Also, collecting stamps has become a bit addictive. Sort of like “counting coup” of visits to National places. So far, I’ve got 38 stamps in just one year.
As I made my way past metro Chicago and continued towards Michigan, I saw a sign for the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. I’ve never spent any time on or around Lake Michigan. So, I figured “what the heck”, it’s on the way and I might as well check it out (and collect a stamp).
The Lakeshore is a large protected track of the Lake Michigan shore line just east of Gary, IN. It covers 15 miles of the lake shore and encompasses 15,000 acres. There’s a visitor center that helps you figure out where to go to access the lake. I was there for just a quick visit, but I was disappointed that there’s only one beach access area that has parking for RV’s.
The one area where I could park (the West Beach area) was about 7 miles back from where I had just come. I figured each beach area probably looked similar to I decided to park at Indiana Dunes State Park, which is situated nearby and right in the middle of the National Lakeshore.
Van Buren State Park
Visiting the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore enticed me to see if I could find a place to camp on the lake that was sorta kinda on my way to Grand Rapids. I wanted to experience the Great Lakes with something more that just the photo-op that I got an Indiana Dunes. I found a great place at Van Buren State Park.
This state park is on the lower western shore of Lake Michigan near South Haven. It has a small beach area and a large campground just 500 yards off the lake. I happened to arrive during a stretch of perfect summer beach weather. The next few days forecast was for sunny weather with day time temps in the low 80’s. With that type of forecast and no schedule, I decided to stay for two days.
It was time well spent. After spending the past three days behind the wheel following the white lines, it was nice to take a pause and do some beach sitting.
Here’s a video I made of my stay at Van Buren State Park.
This visit planted the seed of an idea for a future RV road trip. Slowly meandering around the Michigan shoreline and going up into Canada might be a good way to spend next June.
After two perfect days, I left to visit the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids.