Griffith Central Park – Griffith, Indiana: Half Mast

Using up what’s left of the sunlight, I decided to take a casual ride down to Griffith’s Central Park. Just off Broad Street and not too far from the Erie-Lackawanna Trail, this local treasure was always a good fallback destination whenever I was short on time.

Just a stone’s throw away from my grandparents old house on Elm Street, I had often spent most of my childhood playing in the park. While the jungle gym has greatly evolved since I was a toddler, and its decor more sophisticated, this new beauty still felt like an old friend.

Tykes ran around the playground laughing and screaming, a group of friends gathered around the sand volleyball courts still pumped up from the London Olympic games, as a father took pictures of his kids scaling the M4A1E8 Sherman Medium Tank. With all that had changed aesthetically here over the years, somehow the people remained the same.

Drawn to the memorial in the park’s far corner, I noticed that the American flag stood at half mast in remembrance of 9/11. Walking over and peering into the reflective granite of the monument, my visage was cast onto its shining surface. As I looked at my image brushed onto the dark rock, I couldn’t help but feel grateful knowing that without the sacrifice of our veterans, there wouldn’t be a reflection at all.

Munster, Indiana: Bikes, Bakeries & Bumpy Sidewalks

Today’s impromptu ride led my father and me all the way out to the gorgeous town of Munster. Rarely getting to venture out that far given the lack of trails connecting to the area, I knew I’d be hard pressed to get as much sight seeing in as I could.

Braving the Griffith sidewalks along 45th Street, the two of us were given quite an unwelcome and fairly aggressive massage as we bounced up and down on our seats like kids on a broken carousel.

Sidewalk sailing over to Main Street, we were eternally grateful once we reached The Munster Bike Path. The smooth, black asphalt looked like a five star resort to our sore and bruised behinds.

Enjoying the simple pleasures of a leisurely ride down the trail, we swept behind the breathtaking hills and crystal ponds of the Centennial Park Golf Course. Even though I don’t consider myself to be a golfer in any sense of the word, I couldn’t help but fantasize about renting a golf cart and riding through those majestic mounds of green. Knowing my father though, he would probably attempt to force me to play a few holes with him which would inevitably destroy my moment of zen.

Continuing down the path, it didn’t take long for the Centennial Park Golf Course to merge with plain, good Ol’ Centennial Park. This beautiful vista brushed over the remains of an old dump (literally), was a wonderfully serene scene. There was a modern, steel concert stage resting at the edge of a pond, its orange and silver coat reflected off the water’s surface in various shades. A variety of abstract sculptures littered the canvas (no pun intended considering the park’s history), each bringing its own distinguishable element of inspiration, from a pipe frame containing multiple spinning mirrors to more subtle iron structures, begging you to interpret their meaning.

Although, I could’ve spent an entire day in this sublime haven, I knew the sun would not cooperate. It was time to move on.

Just across the street from Centennial Park, we made our way to The Community Veterans Memorial. One of the most elaborate veterans memorials I’ve seen in Northwest Indiana, there was no question in my mind that this was a must-see stop on our tour of Munster, especially given our country’s reflection this week on the 9/11 tragedy.

Leaving our bikes behind in respect, my father and I walked down the curving brick path, meditating on the sacrifice of America’s heroes. From the names beneath our feet to the visceral depictions of war-torn soldiers represented in the memorial, it was almost incomprehensible to understand the true weight that war carries. Even though we’ve been at war for many years now, I don’t think it’s a burden we ever will or want to bear.

After our sobering moment on the hills of The Community Veterans Memorial, we were both more than ready for some comfort food.

My father and I almost never go through Munster, whether it be by car, bike or foot, without stopping at 8314 Calumet Ave, otherwise known as Munster Donut. Open 24 hours, seven days a week, Munster Donut is the perfect place to satisfy your spontaneous case of the munchies every time.

Long Johns, chocolate rings, apple crumbs, and Bavarian cremes! The analogy of “a kid in a candy shop” may have never really appealed to me as a child, but to this day, whenever you talk donuts, I understand completely! Faced with all the glorious choices of these sugar filled, frosted and powdered rings, I found myself over-sensitized and already hyped up from the caffeine and sugarcane floating in the air. As my father paused, pondering the selections, I pushed him to the side and ordered the one thing I always come here for, two chocolate Bavarian creme donuts!

Perhaps inspired by my predictable and uninspired choices, my father ordered a powdered Bavarian creme for himself and an angel creme and apple crumb for my mother. Probably to be saved as a peace offering later.

With the sun setting and the donuts melting in the bottom of my backpack, the two of us set out home faster than we came out, eagerly awaiting a glass of ice cold milk and golden brown dough bursting with Bavarian creme!