Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Prophetstown State Park --- West Lafayette Indiana

Roger here....  When we knew we were spending time in Indiana, we booked two weeks at our favorite Indiana State Park.  When this park was new (Indiana's newest state park), it was simple to find a site, except during home football weekends at Purdue.  That has changed.  Even six months prior to our visit I had trouble finding a spot for two weeks.  After adjusting our itinerary a bit, I was able to secure a great campsite.  So what is the attraction?  Lots of things:  top notch full hookup and very private sites,  excellent hiking trails, beautiful scenery, history, friends, family, and serenity.  

Here is a typical full hookup campsite.  The crushed gravel pads are surrounded by a border of railroad ties, green grass, and carefully placed large rocks and trees.  No dirt or mud here, even after a downpour.

The sites are extremely private.  You do not feel like you are on display for your neighbors when you sit outside here.  This view from the roadway shows how invisible the RV units are in this very full campground.  

My view from our motor home as I write this post is essentially mature pine trees and sky.  The dove in this picture sat in the same spot every evening.  

Get a load of our campsite:

If you know us, you know we like to go on 3-4 mile hikes.  We especially enjoy our hikes when we can take our dogs without loading them into the car.  This is a perfect park in that sense.  Many of the trails consist of well-maintained grass surfaces that meander through the tall-grass prairies, ponds, and occasional stands of trees.  

There are also miles of hike/bike trails.  We don't have our bikes with us this trip (a shame), but the paved, flat surfaces are really nice for walking as well.

  The main bike trail crosses underneath this stone bridge on the way to an operating farmstead from the early 1900s.  The bridge was built from glacial boulders found in the park.

The bridge allows little-traveled State Road 225 to pass through the park without permitting access.  Our friends who have seen pictures of the bridge have expressed concern that it might not be tall enough for RVs to pass under.  It is tall enough:

As I mentioned before, many of the trails pass through tall-grass prairies.  

Using Dianne as a point of perspective (again), you can see how tall the wildflowers get in late July.  In a month the grass will be as tall as those wildflowers.

 Some of the trails pass through wooded areas.  The shade is very much appreciated on a hot summer day.

This fishing pond is a perfect place to enjoy a peaceful day.  It is 1 and 1/2 miles from the campground by hike, bike, or car.

Dianne enjoyed sampling the raspberries along the trails.  However, the wildflowers were the stars of our daily walks.

Can you spot the bumblebee?

Black-Eyed Susans

Purple Coneflowers

??  Somebody please tell me what these are!

Queen's Anne Lace, Yellow and Purple Coneflowers

The midwest has been extremely wet this summer, and sometimes stormy.  We only had one significant storm during our stay here.  However, the frequent rains have caused some flooding.

Oops!   Time to turn back!
From time to time we were forced to backtrack along the trails as we encountered unexpected (not totally unexpected) water.

We know from past visits that this area is normally not a lake, but a low-lying part of the prairie.  The trails to the Wabash and Tippecanoe Rivers were both closed.  Not a big deal, since there were miles of other trails and we had experienced them before.

Road had been closed due to flooding
One morning we decided to walk off the park property to see if we could see any of the flooding along the Wabash River.  We knew that State Road 225 (remember the stone bridge pictures?) would take us to a one-lane bridge over the river.  So, off we went.

Along the way, we passed by a reconstructed Native American village on the state park property.  It was on the site of Chief Tecumseh's confederation.  

We also passed the marker that documents the significant historical significance of this plot of land.  Looking around the area gives one's imagination quite a picture.  Tippecanoe and Tyler Too was William Henry Harrison's presidential campaign slogan, referring to the confrontation between himself and Chief Tecumseh.

We soon reached the one-lane bridge that crosses the Wabash River.  Even though it was officially closed due to the recent flooding on the other side of the river, a few cars did go across.

 This is a view from one side of the river from the bridge.  It looked to be about twice its normal width.  For our friends in Mission TX, the Wabash River is about twice the width of the Rio Grande.

These corn fields on the other side of the bridge are probably not going to have very high yields this year.   It was an interesting walk.  We were quite happy to have a campsite on higher ground.

Keeping with the theme of our Reunion Tour 2015, Dianne and I spent some quality time with four of her high school buddies.  We traveled to nearby Monticello for a dinner at Sportsman's Inn on the lake with friends who traveled from Chicago, Florida, Indy and Monticello.  In the picture below, Debbie (next to Dianne), and I had a class together at Purdue.   All those years ago, when I told her that I was dating a girl from her hometown, I had no idea that she and Dianne were friends.  Small world.

Karen, Margy (the organizer), Penny, Debbie and Dianne - FHS Class of '68
Penny, Margy, Dianne, Karen -- Lots of catching up going on!
The next afternoon, I grilled hamburgers for the group at our campsite.  It was like having four dates :-). 

 (Roger was great while my friends were visiting!   He catered to our every whim, fetching and pouring drinks, cooking burgers, and corralling our dogs so that my friends and I could have a good visit.  What a guy!  -- Dianne)

Speaking of high school...  Dianne's hometown, Frankfort, Indiana, is only a short drive from West Lafayette where Prophetstown State Park is located.  

This is Charley (L), who Charley the Cat is named for,
and his wife Leslie, pretty in pink
Her cousin, Charley, and his wife Leslie invited us to accompany them to the annual Frankfort Hot Dog Festival.  Dianne was a "Puppette"* in the Frankfort High Hot Dog Band.  

*Puppette = skimpy (for the '60s), glittery outfits, white boots,  and dance routines with pom-poms

(For some reason, Roger finds that very, very funny...Frankfort High School does have the unusual mascot name of the "Hot Dogs." -- D.) 

Jean and Bill Beard - My First Bosses (1969)!!
Dianne's first job after high school was at Beard Industries, a local business that built grain dryers. As we sat down to enjoy a concert, we were surprised to see that her first boss was being honored as this year's Legend of Frankfort.  

Waiting for the band to begin
The main event that evening was a rock concert with Frankfort graduate Kyle Cook.  Kyle was the lead guitarist (and a vocalist) for the popular band Match Box 20.  Their free concert at the Hot Dog Festival was an unexpected treat!
Frankfort's Own Kyle Cook on Vocals

We leave Prophetstown State Park tomorrow to pursue other adventures, but we will definitely be back.  Our next post... MEMORABLE SIDE TRIP TO CHICAGO.
Awesome sunset through the pine trees at Prophetstown -- photo not even enhanced

The pet picture of the day shows Big Chuck thoroughly enjoying some outside time at our campsite.  (He began his life in my cousin Charley's barn on his farm, and has never lost his love of the outdoors!  -- D.)

Pretty Boy!

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