My turn

Get out the bikes and head for a family adventure this summer

2013-07-07T00:00:00Z Get out the bikes and head for a family adventure this summerBy Bill Vargo Times Columnist
July 07, 2013 12:00 am  • 

The long Fourth of July holiday weekend is coming to a close. With so much more of the summer to enjoy, I thought it would be appropriate to highlight a few things that we can do in this great weather.

First, enjoy the many trails and bicycle routes in and around our corner of the state. When you look at the Northern Indiana Regional Planning Commission greenways map of trails, the northwestern most corner of the state is teaming with trails connecting communities from Dyer, Highland and Griffith north to Munster, Hammond and Whiting all the way into the southeast side of Chicago.

More adventurous souls could find their way south into Schererville, Merrillville and Crown Point to points much farther south and east.

For those of us who remember the old days of navigating the side streets and busier arterials to get around the county, this is a boon and has opened the way for younger riders to get safely around without putting their safety at risk.

Along the way, you can see the world at a faster pace than walking but at a much slower pace than the typical 40-mile an hour zoom through traffic bearing down on you on both sides.

Many of those same routes are used by people coming and going from the festivals, markets, and celebrations throughout the summer, so keep that in mind as you travel.

A bicycle ride in the early morning could also bring with it a surprise. That is the time of the day when many deer are out and about, hunting for food.

It can be quite a sight to come upon a deer only a stone’s throw away. They will generally take a little longer to move on because you are not posing the same threat that a one-ton car or much larger truck might.

Don’t forget to make your way up to Lake Michigan or one of the other smaller area lakes. There is the vastness of Lake Michigan, which can overwhelm the senses, but there are also smaller lakes which can bring things down to a level mesmerizing by its tranquility.

A simple ride from Main Square in Highland to downtown Griffith can be just as inviting as going farther to Munster’s Centennial Park or downtown Hammond and up to Whihala Beach.

Since school has let out we have struggled to get our children outdoors and away from video games. The only sure way to really get them moving, we have found, is to involve them in an adventure.

A fully aired-up set of tires, a bottle of water and a few dollars in the pocket could take you a few miles to a Dairy Queen or a hot dog stand all the way into the next town. You will discover a new world, just off the beaten path, complete with a way to get back to the main road. Put the bikes in the car and you can combine a beach experience with the trails as well.

The Indiana Dunes has its own complex web of trails, both paved and unpaved, right along the shoreline. Dunes on one side and lakefront just beyond the next rise. Who says we don’t have enough to do in Northwest Indiana? All we need is a means of getting there and the imagination necessary to make it happen.

The opinions are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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