Towards the end of September 2016 (I can’t remember the specific dates) my OPT visa which allowed me to work in the United States for one year was coming to an end and at this stage I was in my grace period. I had packed up my furniture and all my clothing, sold my bed, signed over my lease to my apartment to another actress and I was ready to leave LA and go back to South Africa. There I would continue working, spend time with family and apply for my next visa. But, there was something that I got to do before leaving the States, I got to explore Lake Michigan.
To say I REALLY needed this is an understatement. I was very focused on acting because I wanted to make sure that I got the most from my OPT year so I was working as much as possible and this trip around Lake Michigan came at just the right time. A wonderful surprise from my boyfriend, it was so much fun. I’m not a travel blogger so I’m not going to harp on about every single place we visited and every bit of food we ate haha, but I will tell you about my three favorite parts of the trip and share some photos.
Seeing Chicago for the first time
So Corban (my boyfriend) wanted us to start the trip in Chicago, as seen in the picture above, for no other reason except that it was convenient for him haha. He didn’t know know that I had never been to Chicago and that it’s a city I’ve always wanted to visit so for me it was a super special place to start. I wouldn’t say he doesn’t like Chicago but let’s just say it’s not his favorite place, so we didn’t spend too long in the city and anyway the point was to get out of the city. We spent most of our time at Millenium Park and the surrounding areas. We took some pictures at Cloud Gate (aka The Bean), had the best soup and bread at some local restaurant around there and we went to go watch the movie “Sully” (Starring Tom Hanks). I enjoyed all of this and Corban enjoyed taking pictures of everything haha, he’s a photographer (amongst many other artsy professions). I liked Chicago, it’s a great memory for me, except they really do need more public toilets, just saying.
A glass of wine under the stars
Okay, we didn’t have any glasses it was more like a bottle of wine under the stars, close enough. While driving around the lake, we found a nice beach area to stop and admire the stars. I love how the lake reminds me of the ocean; it’s really huge and seems never ending. Corban had a small blanket for us and some wine and we enjoyed each other’s company while looking up at the stars. This is my favorite Lake Michigan memory. This whole trip wasn’t planned but it all came together pretty spectacularly. This night in particular just reminded me about life and how it can still have beauty even in the darkest moments. At night the beach is still as beautiful and the sun always rises.
Pictures: 1. Breakfast on a different day around the lake. 2 Fun at the lake
The sand dunes
It was like we were in the desert. I’ve never been surrounded by so much sand in my life. Corban and I both agree that this was the best place we visited. We camped nearby so we were all set to spend the day at the dunes. I just enjoyed walking around and looking at how vast it was, the funny thing is if you climbed high enough you could see the lake not too far away and just like that I’d be taken out of my “desert” get-away. The contrast of the dunes and the water made for some amazing pictures and the best day of 2016 for me. One of Corban’s pictures even got chosen as one of National Geographic’s "Facing Your Fears" assignment.
Check out the full story here:
Pictures: 1& 2 Fun in the Dunes, 3 National Geographic selection
Till next week! :)