The 20 Dollar Road Trip

The $20 Road trip

It had been a rough few weeks, I started a new job with the bank and left the comfort of what I knew, working in a gas station. I wasn’t fitting in and I was so far out of my comfort zone doing something new.

One of the things that can always recharge and relax me is the water. I knew I needed to spend some time by the water. I had the day off so I decided to go to Lake Michigan. I went to the ATM and got a 20 dollar bill to spend. I made it my mission to have a 20 dollar road trip. I took off down 30 headed towards Valparaiso. I stopped in downtown Valpo and walked around. I love the feel of downtown there, neat shops, lots of small restaurants with people gathering to share a meal and chat, people catching up after not seeing one another in a while, meeting for lunch, being a tourist like myself and checking out the shops. You walk around and it just feels alive. It’s hard to explain. I often wonder if the people that frequent downtown daily for whatever reason feel the way I feel when I go downtown somewhere. Being from a small town we don’t have a thriving downtown. There is a sense of community and great neighbors but it’s completely different than the atmosphere of downtown in a bigger city. I walked around to the different restaurants and looked at the menus. I think it is so handy that they post the menus on the outside of the building so you can see the price and what they have. Unfortunately I only had 20 dollars to spend and I needed 7 of that for admission to the lake. So I had 13 dollars to spend and I decided against paying 10 dollars for a salad. . I wanted to try something new still so I drove around a little more. I was just getting ready to give up and just as I was leaving downtown I found this little understated cafe called Jimmy’s Cafe. . I sat down at the little bar area to look at the menu. I sat next to a regular named Danny. He chatted with me for a bit about the area. I told him about my goal for this trip. He went back to talk to the cook and said goodbye to several of the tables. I ordered a cheeseburger and fries. It was pretty good, a basic frozen patty diner burger. What was really neat was the atmosphere. My waitress was an older lady and she was talking about a relative that had just died to the regular that was next to me. Some other people came in and she screamed and hugged them. They chatted with them and said “Oh you just made me day” It was a great downtown diner with mostly regulars. The décor was nautical and traditional vintage looking décor that hadn’t changed since they opened. It was neat atmosphere of mostly older people. I almost ordered breakfast because it looked so good coming out. I would definitely go back.

20 Dollar Road Trip Collage 5

I arrived in Chesterton for the state park, paid my 7 dollar admission and made my way to the beach. It was a beautiful day in May. It was warming up but not too hot. Walking along lake Michigan was so peaceful but the water was still COLD! I mean it had only just thawed a couple months back and it wasn’t super warm. I was going to climb one of the dunes there, other than being in the water it’s what I wanted to do. So I began. I got about half way through the sand to get to the dune and I was winded. Man am I out of shape! Being alone I thought it best not to try by myself. As I was walking back to the lake I saw some stairs. They make their way up the dune I was about to climb! Perfect! I could climb the dune but a little more easily than through the sand. I sat at the bottom of the stairs to rest and put my shoes back on. Getting a splinter would have really put a damper on the day since I had just got there. Guess what?! I’m going to climb this dune! One day I’ll climb it through the sand again like I did when I was younger.

20 dollar road trip collage 1

It turns out the stairs that I found was a start of a trail. It wound all around behind the dune. The map said it was a mile walk. Since it was early spring not a lot was growing yet and the trees were still dead and bare. There were some cactus sprouting up which was kind of cool to see in person. I took pictures of my surroundings.20 dollar road trip collage 6

20 dollar road trip collage 7It was nice taking pictures of nature, something I hadn’t done in a while. The trail wasn’t easy, lots of sand to walk through. It felt really nice getting a little winded and getting some exercise. I came out to the lake to clear my head, get rid of anger that was weighing me down, and relax and recharge. I was going to write letters to those that I had hated for in my heart and burn the letters to release the hatred. I didn’t bring my notebook with me on the walk and it was windy so I was worried about lighting paper on fire. So instead of writing the letters, I spoke them. As I was walking the path I said out loud what I wanted to write in the letter. It was very therapeutic. It really got me through the walk.

The final spoken letter was started as I was walking up a hill. It was a hard climb and I screamed and kicked and trudged my way up the hill. It was a hard walk and a really hard but important letter to get out. When I got to the top I realized not only had I made it through the letters, I made it to the top of the dune. “Here I am and this is goodbye.” I shouted to the sky. I choose to be happy! I sat at the top and rested and wept. I walked down the dune and spent more time at the lake edge rock hunting.

20 Dollar Road Trip Collage 4

I found rocks to make one of those serenity rock towers which is a lot harder than it looks. I brought my rocks home and

eventually I will try to build it again only this time I’m going to put some epoxy in between the rocks and it will last a long time!


I got bored there and wanted to see the sunset so I decided to head to New Buffalo to kill some time before the sunset by driving around. I turned the wrong way and headed towards Gary instead. I saw this quaint little lake town which had the most unique houses that were created with artistry and craftsmanship. It was its own unique community and it was beautiful. It even had its own church and general store. When I left the little town I got stuck by a train and I followed everyone around and ended up at a different public beach with a pier out to a lighthouse and I was able to watch the sunset and it was beautiful. I ended up with 5 dollars left so it was really a 15 dollar road trip!20 Dollar Road Trip Collage 2

Until Next Time!


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