October 18, 2018 We loaded up for a trip to visit our youngest son, Jim, his wife Jessica and our main man/grandson Patrick. They moved to Greenwood Indiana south of Indianapolis this summer. We were very eager to see them and Patrick, who at only fifteen months is rapidly changing from baby to toddler.
Greenwood is over 400 miles from our home, so we stopped at Pokagon State Park just off I-69 after we entered Indiana. Over 1,000 acres in size, this park is big! We set up the Wildcat on a large treed site and took off for a walk. The park had miles of hiking trails, bike paths and a winter toboggan run. Our campground map lead us to a nice loop trail through the woods. So pretty with the path carpeted with golden leaves that had fallen from the trees. The park has a lot to offer including a large inn and restaurant, large lake and beach area too. We barely saw a tiny bit.
This actually was our second visit, the first some 40 plus years ago, camping with my co-workers way back when I worked for Cunningham Drugstore. Pre-children – I remember only some very large and bold raccoons and there may have been copious quantities of beer. This is a picture of our “camper’. A work cap on the back of John’s beast of a truck. Inside we shared a twin bed mattress (we were both a LOT thinner back then.) It was outfitted with a Coleman stove and lantern and couple milk crates for storage and seating.
On Friday morning we left Pokagon, headed for our reservations near Jim’s home in Greenwood. We made a short detour to stop at Ickes RV Surplus near Fort Wayne. We were very pleased to find tires with two almost perfect matches to the rims on our fifth wheel. After our recent wheel debacles we had mismatched rims on the one side.
After too much traffic, we pulled into Lake Haven Retreat just south of Indianapolis, microwaved our dinner and collapsed. The next morning we hustled off to Jim and Jessica’s for breakfast and GRAND BABY TIME!!!! Little Patrick kept us nicely entertained all of Saturday. Sunday, Jim and Jessica picked us up and took us to the Indianapolis Zoo. The day was a bit cool, but sunny and no wind. Turned out to be a perfect zoo and family day. Afterwards Jim took us on a tour of Franklin College where he teaches Economics. The campus was quintessential American college with lots of red brick, a clock tower and sidewalks crossing grassy park like lawns. Jim’s, aka Professor Dr James Squires, office was upstairs in an impressively stately appointed grand old building. Jim’s love for teaching and his new work home was very evident as he led our tour. My “happy proud mom” smile was everywhere.
We said our goodbyes back at the RV with lots of sweet kisses from little Patrick. That will have to hold us until we see them again at Thanksgiving.
Before our return home we planned a visit to Hocking Hills, Ohio. Located in southeastern Ohio, the Hocking Hills Park and surrounding areas feature towering cliffs, miles of wooded hiking trails through gorges, and along the gorge rims, with waterfalls, caves and hollows galore. Perfect for this girl as one of my favorite things to do is pack a lunch, put on hiking shoes, grab a trek pole and pretend I am a real hiker as we take short hikes to see natural beauty. On the way to Hocking Hills we caught a quick glimpse of several very cool murals in Circleville Ohio. We didn’t stop but I would like a closer look someday. (picture from the net)
Our camp site reservations at Hocking Hills State Park were surprisingly hard to get considering they were midweek and off prime season. Turns out we were there right before the Halloween weekend festivities. The park was chock-full of grandmas and grandpas setting up campsite decorations ahead of the arriving kiddies. The campground has a large swimming pool (closed for the season) tent and full hookup loops. For non campers, there is another area with picturesque log cabins of all sizes. Definitely a vacation destination campground.
Our first day began with a hike to Old Mans Cave. We hiked a section of the lower gorge trail,featuring incredible rock formations and towering trees. A pretty stream meanders through that tumbles into a hole creating “the Devils bathtub”. The moss covered stone walls and bridges reminded me of ancient castles. Not knowing how much further it was to the cave we back tracked and followed the ridge trail to the cave. Old Mans cave derives its name from a hermit that lived in the cave recess and gorge area with his two dogs in the 1800’s. The hiking trails can take you further to more falls and gorges, but we had walked far enough for us and we headed back to the parking area.
We drove a few miles to Conkles Hollow where we parked and walked a paved trail through the gorge back to more beautiful rock formations and a waterfalls. We enjoyed our picnic lunch at a table near the parking area.
Our last stop was Rock House. Rock House is a large tunnel like, corridor cave formation 150 feet up on the side of a cliff. The rocks form cathedral like windows along the side. In our younger days we could have easily scampered up the steep steps cut into and from the natural stone of the cliff, but today we slowly and carefully picked our way up the uneven rock path and stairs. Of course it was completely worth it once we reached Rock House, but it is not I walk I would like in the rain or with small children.
The next day we headed east from the park to Cedar Falls and Ash Cave. More beautiful formations, more stairs, more waterfalls, endlessly abundant jaw dropping beauty and at Ash Cave we arrived just in time for a wedding taking place with the enormous cavern of Ash Cave as the backdrop. By this time we were completely walked out and nixed stopping at Whispering Cave. That’s OK- there will be lots to see and explore if we return in the future. I was so glad we included Hocking Hills, Ohio with our Indiana visit, it is an amazing place.
After winterizing the RV, as it would be below freezing at night back in Michigan, we headed home, stopping at a Cracker Barrel to overnight in their parking lot. We crossed back into Michigan around 9a.m. Just north of Ann Arbor, John pulled off to the side of the expressway. Why? A blow-out!!! When we replaced the second axle we did not buy a new tire but used the spare tire. The spare had blown. Remember those two tires we just bought from Ickes? They were happily riding in the truck bed. A call to AAA brought a service man to change the tire. He was urged to get there promptly by the police officer that stopped to check on us. The police officer waited with his lights flashing while the tire was changed and presto-chango we were back on the road in less than 45 minutes! Can’t complain about that.
We returned home to lots of cold, rain and wind and for me a trip downstate to see my Dad and some wonderful grand daughter time with Olive and Alice.
John took the fifth wheel over to Hale, where it serves as a hunting cabin for October and November. Will it hit the road again to escape Michigan’s winter? We haven’t decided yet, but hopefully our home on wheels will be rolling again soon enough. Thanks for following our 2018 adventures. Early in 2018 we wintered in Florida, so roughly 150 nights were spent in our RV in 2018. Feeling very fortunate and blessed.