Where in the world is Echo: Hammond, IN

I made a trek to Hammond, Indiana to interview Lana Totten, a Reborn doll maker. Reborn dolls are lifelike dolls that are usually babies. They serve many purposes in people's lives outside of the normal realm of play. To learn more about the role of dolls in people's lives, look for the story "Beyond Barbie" in the upcoming print issue of Echo. 

I don't know much about the geography of Indiana, so I assumed I could take a South Shore Metra train, since I thought Hammond was near Gary. While I was correct about it's location, I definitely don't consider it Metra accessible. (It was a two-hour train ride--with a transfer--and then a mile and half walk to Lana's home!) 

Then I was kind of freaking out. Would I have pay $50 for an Uber ride? Do I  have to cancel on Lana? 

A friend of mine is one of the lucky few who live in downtown Chicago with a car. After promising to help pay for gas and/or buy him food, I roped him into giving me a ride. We took the Chicago Skyway for the quick, 35-minute trip, of course battling traffic. You really can never get away from Skyway backup. 

Hammond is a very small but sprawling town. Typical of northwest Indiana, it is flat and full of oddball restaurants and business, as well as gas stations with super cheap gas.

Once we found Lana's house, my friend awkwardly dropped me off and then left, presumably to fill up on gas and stop at the nearby White Castle. 

The interview went well. We chatted for about an hour and I got many awesome photos. I also fell in love with Lana's ancient pug. I gained an insurmountable well of knowledge about reborns after chatting with Lana. She was so passionate in the way she explained her craft, which she clearly takes very seriously. The interview was a great window into her world and I'mr really grateful to have met her. 

After my friend picked me up, we went through the McDonald's drive-through (a foreign concept when living downtown without a car) and I snagged some chicken nuggets, which were definitely rewarding. 

The mini-trip was actually pretty awesome. I'm always excited to get out of the city for awhile and feel like my regular self. And chicken nuggets are always a bonus.