Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Favorite Hiking Trail in Indiana

Hi all - Dianne here.  Well, it wouldn't be a trip to Indiana without visiting Turkey Run State Park and going on my favorite hike in the state.   We will be here for the next two weeks, and will meet up with our friends, the Gemmers, for some kayaking fun later on.  

This morning Roger, the dogs, and I took a 5 1/2 mile hike.  We took trail 7 from the campground, criss-crossing over a small stream, 

then on trail 6 over to trail 1. 

 We passed by the Turkey Run Inn

 lodge, the suspension bridge,

 then on trail 1 along Sugar Creek to the covered

 bridge, where the trail turns away from the creek and loops  back.   We passed through an area of huge old-growth walnut and sycamore trees.  My pedometer registered 11,790 steps, many of which were up and down on

 wooden or rock 

staircases.   Even the dogs were worn out by the time we got back to the motor home!

The rugged hiking is worth the effort, though, because the topography of this state park is different than any other.   Sandstone deposits were carved out by glacial meltwaters, giving some fantastic rock structures.  There are also large "erratics," bedrock boulders carried here from Canada on the glaciers.   These trails are well known to most Hoosiers, and Turkey Run is one of the most popular parks in the state.   The trails are normally shady and cool, even on a hot, humid summer day in Indiana.

In addition to hiking, there is also horseback riding on bridle trails, and canoe, tubing, or kayak trips down Sugar Creek.

 Every year for the past three years we've met our friends here to go kayaking down Sugar Creek.   This year we both have our own inflatable kayaks, so we might try it with our own boats.

In the fall, visitors can see the beautiful fall colors (see the covered bridge photo we took a couple of years ago when we were here in the fall),

 and can experience Parke County's Covered Bridge Festival.

  Halloween is a fun time to camp in the campground, because people get into the spirit and decorate their campsites for some ghoulish fun.   We did that a few years ago and really enjoyed it.

Of course, I must include at least one close-up photo of woodland fungus!


 This bright orange one was especially large and brightly-colored. 

Tomorrow we must take a day away from here, drive home to water, weed, mow, pick up apples, and take care of things at our house for sale in Pendleton.   

Friday, July 24, 2009

Prophetstown State Park

Roger here...  Prophetstown State Park, just outside Lafayette, IN, has, without a doubt, the best campground of any state park in Indiana - beautiful and extremely well-managed. 
 The fact that it is only five years old may be a factor here.  We are currently in a full-hookup site (including sewer, rare in an Indiana State Park).  The site (#151) is spacious, landscaped, and very private, even though we are in one of the few open areas.


  The unbelievable landscaping creates extreme privacy even in the pull-through sites. 

 We picked this particular spot because we were sure that it would provide a southern sky for our satellite connection.  Little did we know that we would have spectacular views of the tall-grass prairie (from the sitting area), as well as the blue spruce landscaping from the front 


 We have stayed here before on fall weekends so that I could attend a few Purdue football games.  On the last visit a few years ago, I went to the game with Kaia, who got her picture taken with a couple of Purdue

 cheerleaders (GO BOILERS!).  She had a great time watching the band, and the traditions, until the game started.  I bribed her with food treats, but we left at half time.  It was an August game, WAY TOO HOT, and she wanted to get back to the friends that 

she had made at Prophetstown's state-of-the-art playground, that includes a cool zip-line. 

 The main reason for this particular visit is to spend some time with Dianne's cousins, who live nearby - big cookout tomorrow night.

Dianne mentioned that the Lafayette Journal Courier stopped by our site to do an article about this state park's fifth anniversary (very funny about the make-up, I am still smiling).    The newspaper reporter indicated that there are many updates scheduled regarding this fledgling park, including a lodge, swimming pool, more land, and additional trails.  It is exciting that this, already outstanding state park, is only going to get better.  (Dianne here:  They didn't quote us in the newspaper story, but here's a link to the photo they took, even though they spelled my name wrong.  [I'm used to that].   The photo is on page 2 of the article.  The article is interesting and includes future plans for the park.

Dianne also indicated the joys of trail one,  just behind our site.  After she left today to reunite with her high school classmates, I took the boys (Jasper and Chaplin) on a two-mile hike on the trail.  The trails here are very different than most Indiana State Park trails.  In most Indiana state parks, the trails are in deeply-forested oak-hickory or maple-beech areas.  There are certainly forests at Prophetstown, but the beauty here is in the wildflower-filled, tall-grass prairies and marshland.  

Another intriguing feature of Prophetstown (named after Tecumseh's brother, the Prophet), is the  authentic 1920's farmhouse, barn, garden, livestock animals, Indian village, and concession stand that sells pork, lamb, beef, that has been raised on the state park farm, as well as farm-fresh eggs.  The farm is run as it would have been in the 1920's - very authentic and very cool.  Dianne purchased hamburgers for our cookout with her Robison cousins. We are planning to buy some pork burgers and brats before we leave here to share with our friends, the Gemmers, when we see them at Turkey Run State Park in a few days.  (Dianne here:  I also purchased an old-fashioned apron that they sell in the gift shop, made from authentic patterns by the "apron ladies" who sew them for the gift shop.  Since I don't have a dishwasher in the motor home and must wash dishes by hand, the old-fashioned "full coverage"

 type apron is fun and practical.)

Last night I took some pictures of the

 sunset, probably too late for a great picture, but beautiful,  nonetheless.  The very, very dark picture with the colored lights shows the "festive" lights

 that I set up in the screen house for tomorrow night's cookout with Dianne's cousins.  Sorry for the poor picture - way too dark.  Dianne will update you about the cookout soon.

Take a Hike!

all, Dianne here. This blog will be mostly photos of a relaxing hike I took about 7:30 this morning behind our camp site at Prophetstown State Park outside Battleground, Indiana. Roger will do a separate blog describing Prophetstown SP later.


#1 starts right behind our site, and is a grassy trail leading through TALL grass prairie and prairie wildflowers.

The prairie grass was actually over my head.

I tried to imagine what it must have been like for the pioneers who settled this area, when there were vast expanses of this tall, tall prairie grass.

I took my bird book, binoculars, and camera and set out while the heavy dew

was still on the foliage. I knew it was going to be a good hike when I saw a cedar waxwing before I even got onto the trail. I will list all the birds I saw and/or heard at the bottom of this blog, in case you couldn't care less about birds, so you don't have to read through that unless you want to. My new birding CDs have really helped me, and it was fun to identify several of the bird songs I've already learned from the CDs.

There were lots of deer trails and trampled grasses, but I didn't see a deer. The only animal I spotted was a young rabbit

who let me get pretty close before it jumped into the weeds.

There is a wooden bench a short distance down the trail, and I took advantage of the vantage point to lay down on the bench and look up into the tree

branches above my head.

There were also wild black raspberry

bushes along the trail, and I cheated the birds out of a handful of ripe berries for my morning oatmeal. In case you think I'm weird for eating oatmeal in the summer, this is "summer oatmeal" that I make the night before. Here's the recipe:

1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1 small container of unsweetened applesauce*
1 applesauce container of milk
1/8+ teaspoon salt

*The reason I spend more money to buy the individual cups of applesauce is for storage purposes. It's much easier to store those in the cupboard than to have a large glass applesauce container jammed into the refrigerator.

I usually mix this up and add some frozen blueberries the night before. Sometimes I substitute plain nonfat yogurt for some or all of the milk. I mix this into the bowl I plan to eat from the next morning, cover it, and put it in the fridge. In the morning I sprinkle Splenda on it and eat it cold. (It could be warmed in the microwave if you want, but I like it cold in the summer)

After my hike it was a real treat to add my handful of blackberries and have my oatmeal with another cup of coffee.

Before my hike, I asked Roger if he thought I'd see anybody. I was anxious to get going and didn't want to take time to change clothes or for makeup. We decided chances were slim to none that I'd see anybody, since it was only 7:30 in the morning and the campground was practically deserted. After my oatmeal I sat down with Roger to finish my coffee and watch the birds in the meadow behind our site. Of course, who should walk up but a newspaper reporter from the Lafayette Courier Journal and a photographer, doing a story on the state park!! Luckily Roger did the interview, and the only photo they took of me was the back of my head, looking through my binoculars at the meadow. That's what I get for being lazy in the morning!

Today I am driving a short distance to Frankfort, Indiana, my home town. I am meeting some girlfriends from high school there to attend the annual "Hot Dog Festival." Yes, it's true, our high school mascot was called the Frankfort Hot Dogs!!

Stay tuned for Roger's blog about this great campground at Prophetstown State Park outside Lafayette, Indiana.

Here are the birds I both saw and heard this morning: catbird, cedar waxwing, field sparrow, rufous-sided towhee, robin(s), barn swallows, tree swallows, chickadee, gold finch, house finch, northern cardinal, chipping sparrow, and I THINK a common yellowthroat. I heard a whip-por-will, but couldn't get a look at him, and I heard red-winged blackbirds but didn't see them, either. The catbirds were especially loud and raucous. This campground is near both the Tippecanoe and Wabash Rivers, and there are pine and deciduous trees, broad expanse of meadows, and even some wetlands. A great habitat for lots and lots of birds.