Health, Stress Management, Travel

First snow 2019

It’s very unusual to just now be experiencing our first measurable snow here in central Indiana. Not going anywhere today! Was hoping to get to the hike at Clifty Falls.

So, I got out and took a few pics, still very much learning my Lumix FZ80. So nice to be able to hang out at home all warm and cozy and enjoy the beauty of nature. I did get out to shovel some snow for exercise today! Might yell at the TV some during the Colts game…



Lake Monroe Camping Trip



Lake Monroe is located 6 miles southeast of Bloomington, Indiana. It is the largest lake completely in the state of Indiana at almost 11 thousand acres. It was built in 1965 and is a reservoir. There is boating, skiing, fishing, swimming and of course jet skis and paddle boards are available for rent. They have those pontoon party boats to rent with and without the slides. It is often referred to as Monroe Lake.

This time of year the water was very comfortable warm. This was a very rainy, much cooler weekend that what we have been having of late here in central Indiana. Which turned out to be a good thing for the folks on the other jetski… more to come.

When we pulled into the Paynetown Campground in the Paynetown State Recreational Center, we were very surprised to find a PARTY atmosphere, which for us usually means trouble. Think, loud drunks. However, we were pleasantly surprised as our neighbor that had their tents essentially up against our camp sight came to greet us and ask if they were okay there. We said sure, thinking as long as you don’t mind us staring right at you all weekend! Ha! They were with a group of, humm, I’d say at least 75 family and friends spread out over this end of the campground. Could have easily been over 100 but I couldn’t tell who all was with who.

And there there are these goofballs!

Anyway, the guy was cordial and politely invited us to feel free to join in. Since we now have an extremely LOUD air-conditioner in the camper, when we are ready for bed we just shut up all the windows and turn on the AC and hear NOTHING! Could have been a tornado coming down the road and we would not have heard it! Which with very little signal and a potentially severe storm weekend, I was a bit concerned about. I also though with all these peeps, we would never fit in the concrete bath house and I had a plan to head down the hill to a low spot if needed. I digress, they seemed to settle down early and slept late, so great! It was kind of entertaining to watch the goings on with the group.

We go the heads up on ways to get down to the lake. Some of the campsites were essentially on the lake, with beautiful views. The campground is up on a bluff so there are some trails down. We were standing at the top and wondering how people were getting down there, then a guy who was fishing came up a trail right beside us we didn’t see and everyone is OHHHH, and he was laughing knowing what was going on and glad he could be of service.

It’s really pretty.

The next morning we get up and head over to the marina camp store, which is really close but needed to take the car, to see if we could rent some jet skis for an hour. There was some confusion about the prices. After getting fitted for life vests and paying the $600 deposit for damages (insert eye bulging emoji here), and getting instructions on what to do if the vessel flips over, etc. we were on our way!

Before we even get out of the no-wake zone, I look up to see these two in the water with the jet ski upside down! Here is the good part about the water being warm, and receiving instructions on how to flip back over the jet ski. Well, the instructions didn’t seem to be working, the boy as having difficulty, finally the two of them got it back up-right and were mounted again. We had STRICT instructions NOT to get withing 100 feet of ANYTHING, or else the $600 deposit would be in danger. So I dared not approach to help. The girl was freaking out a little, not sure why, but she imagined the worst I suppose. No sharks, or huge jellys in the water around these parts.


Well, we were having fun running back and forth the several miles of lake. It was surprisingly rough on the water. Lake Monroe is filled with little fingers that jet out, making it difficult to really tell where you are. The other thing is that on the water it’s challenging to really tell where other vessels are heading and how to stay out of their way. But, we stuck together and managed to buzz along having fun jumping wakes and such. I hoped the boy was seeing the fishing boats low on the horizon since he didn’t have his glasses on. And we STRICTLY followed the 100 yard rule, or was it feet. Oh well.

We had pretty much spent our hour and were heading back for the marina when we zoomed through what I was thinking was a no-wake zone. Yes, were were THOSE people. I saw several fishing boats and the water was very calm. Hum.. I lived in Florida for years with my parents and we had a small boat, and went fishing often, so I knew some rules. Well, no marina in sight we turn around and go slowly back past the fishing boats in shame. Maybe it’s up around this corner… nope, maybe that one… nope. Okay, THIS one is IT! Isn’t it? Where is this darn place??? FINALLY! We started seeing things we recognized, but it was WAY back in one of those fingers! We ended up being 1 minute late! Ha! Fortunately I’ll get my $600 deposit back in 4-5 business days!!!! It was fun.

Next, as the rain comes and goes, there are several trails we can hike at the park. Not very long, about a mile and a half. We head out on the Blue Bird trail after much struggle finding the darn thing. Looks like no one has hiked this train in many moons, though there are several grassy areas mowed when you get out of the woods.

Can you find the frog? We came upon this once amphitheater. It looked a little sad so I put on a brief show to an excited audience! Don’t they look like they are having fun? Especially the boy on the right!


This is definitely the road less traveled.


And this is how we ended up… the girl was wise enough to pack my green rain jacket… she was smart… hey, a weekend at the lake, you get wet!


Next, while the kids watched goofy cartoons on TV, I went exploring… I found this lovely little gem and chatted with the lady from Ft. Wayne. Sweet!!!


Here are some other scenes I encountered on my bike ride.

And then there is this Campground Treasure!


Sunday we woke to cloudy skies and rain. I decided we were low enough on water in the camper that we needed to go eat breakfast. We found this gem that we had seen on the way in. On Friday night it was packed, with seating outside. Seemed the bomb! So, I dragged the kids out of bed and finally announced the bus for breakfast was leaving in 5! We headed out with high hopes for the The Cabin Restaurant and Lounge!

There weren’t many there, the place smelled of some kind of chemical, possibly cleaning products, not quite sure. But, we selected a table from the totality of free tables and hoped for the best. Hey, the place had good reviews, and there were pool tables! To our pleasant surprise, the food was quite descent! The girl got to share her pancakes…


And we had eggs, gravy and biscuits, potatoes, yummy crisp bacon, and the waitress even went to the trouble of making me a whole pot of decaf coffee! We left with full bellies.

Time to pack up and head home due to the impending rain, so paddle boarding this trip. We headed to the dump station and I happened to check on one of the common fails for the R-Pod, the holder for the BLACK tank under the camper. Low and behold the nut had come off and the screw was still there! Fortunately I had purchased a case of sturdy rubber twist ties…


The smallest worked! There is no way to clamp the black tank tube to the bottom of the camper but to use what is there for the bolt and screw. Notice going out to Forrest River that yet ANOTHER owner has experienced this common fail. Such is the life of RV’s…

We are back home and showered up, ready to sleep in our own beds again. A nice weekend with the fam despite the rain!

Happy Travels!



Garfield Park Conservatory, Chicago

Park of Aub’s graduation trip to Chicago in May of 2018 to see Hamilton included our first stop at the Garfield Conservatory. I love plants! And this place had them! It’s one of the largest conservatories in the country, often called landscape art under glass. They have lots of programs and on the day we went, they were giving away some lilies I believe, but unfortunately, they ran out right before we got to them! Shucks! A nice lady in the parking lot was leaving when we arrived and filled me in on the goodies! I hated to inform others it was too late as we left and headed for the entrance to the conservatory.



The other thing I like to do is take pictures. And, now with my Pixel Xl , I can take more and better pics! Yippee! And the girl likes to get some body part in many pics.


The main room entrance is stunning. The pond reflects the glass roof. There is an artist that displays her animals seen in the canoe!

There is room after room after room filled with plants. I was mesmerized!

They had a labyrinth I took the time to walk. I can never get enough of these!

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-23,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y The kids had fun too!

I really hated to leave but the big city was calling!

More on Chicago later!

Travel on my friends!


Health, Travel

Mountain Biking at Griffin Bike Park

Griffin Bike Park is just outside of Terre Haute Indiana in Vigo County. It just opened in 2016 I believe. They honor those who have lost their lives serving our country. The Griffin family experienced this first hand with their son Dale. This is a unique mountain bike park, it has all kinds of skills apparatus and loops for little kids, terrain park with short hills you can do tricks on, and trails for all levels. Me, I just roll over the mounds, and have fun on the little kids tracks. Noah is really good at helping me be brave for the drops. He tests any drops on the trails to make sure I can roll over them without tipping over! Normally you need to get some air to land the front tire properly.

Now here is a drop a will not try but he has no issue with!!!


This park is very unique with the training aspect of it. I really wish we have something like this closer to me. There is a park being developed in my county that potentially could have something like the balance course. Mountain biking is extremely popular with plenty of youth development teams and colleges with biking programs. There are even 3 bike shops in my area. It’s good clean fun, albeit a bit dangerous, but what sport isn’t.

Noah has raced with the DINO series since he was about 8 and still enjoys racing though he doesn’t have much time to ride now with college and work.

I really enjoy riding the easy trails. I still need to get stronger to make it up the hills. But, I’m always proud when I have small successes and it’s FUN! Wheeeeeee…..

DINO also has kayaks for rent. There is a nice little lake at Griffin Park, they even have a bike jump into the water! And a bike trail over the water! We have fun cooling off on a hot day!

Our next stop will be Potato Creek near South Bend, Indiana. Will be pulling the pod with a full load of kids, they will always be my kids no matter how old they are of course, they just take up more room now!

Happy trails! ~Amy


Camping at Fowler Park, Indiana with the r-pod!

Fowler Park is on the outskirts of Terre Haute, Indiana on the western boarder with Illinois. The park is run by the county if Vigo. There is a lake with fishing, swimming, and you can have trawling motors and canoes, etc. but the lake is very small. There is a pioneer village and campground. There are 3 fingers of the lake that host electric camping spots, no water but there is a water source just past the dump station coming in and at each finger, but I’d load up the camper with potable water at near the dump station coming in. There are NO RESERVATIONS, and it is CASH ONLY! Be prepared. It is just around down the road 1/4 mile from Griffin Mountain Bike Park. There are 53 electrical hookups and 14 primitive sites. We had a 30 amp site, I’ve seen reports there are only 50 amp, we had the converter attachment just in case. The r-pods are 30 amp. It was actually cool enough that first night to leave the windows open on the pod, I tend to run hot so that is unusual. I actually slept very well,  which is also unusual. The newer bathhouse was nice:

We were able to get there at about 7:30pm on Friday and it was almost full! Lots of fishermen, families, and mountain bikers there for the DINO race, as we were. There is a KOA down the road a ways, we were hoping not to have to see if it was full or not. Our camp site had a lovely view of the cat tails. Not sure whey they only had them at our spot. But, it was a nice park none the less. It had rained a lot so we didn’t even break out the chairs. We played games and road our bikes around the lake. There is a swimming beach, pavilion available for rental, and a pioneer village that is pretty interesting, though all the buildings were locked up.

We got up and I fixed us some eggs and bacon in the Pod, bacon was sooooo good, we don’t have it often, but it’s so messy. Harder to clean up in the Pod, as is everything without a disposal. Always being water conscious. Have to wipe everything with paper towels and I re-use Kroger bags to store the trash.

We walked over to the Pioneer Village. Seems they created it by moving log cabins from all over. Lots from southern Indiana. There was a church, school house, mill, trading post, and lots more.

One of the cabins had burned down. I found this article about it.

Glad no one was hurt! Curious about the cause of the fire.

There is also this crazy ass playground at the park. We ventured in and immediately I was sorry. I hopped on to this circle thing and Noah came and pushed me around and I yelled for him to stop as I fell off the darn thing! Not sure how you are supposed to ride it safely but obviously I didn’t choose the correct way, not sure why I didn’t take a picture of it! Well, then he go on that swervey post with the green thing on top and it twists in circles at a speed where your feet don’t keep up with your body. Ha. That black maybe slide looking thing looked cool but it wobbled side to side, not sure how anyone walks up or down it. Maybe we should have hung around until some little kids showed us how to do it!



In the next post we venture into kayaking and the bike park! Stay cook, and venture on! ~Amy

Health, Stress Management, Travel

Silent Mindfulness Meditation Retreat

I knew I needed something. A time out. Upon reflection, I wanted peace. Time for myself without all the responsibilities and demands of the kids, house, yard, dog, cat, work. Don’t we all from time to time. I have not ever been good at balancing out self care with responsibilities. Well, I stumbled across a mindfulness retreat related to the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction certification program developed by Jon Kabat Zinn and the University of Massachusetts.

This was a week long retreat held at the Won Dharma Retreat center in Claverack NY! It was also a silent retreat. This means after arriving and have an introductory meeting and dinner, we stopped looking at and communicating with everyone. We ate in silence, we no longer acknowledged others as we walked around, we were even silent in our rooms with a roommate. This was for 7 days. The two leaders did communicate, teach, and lead groups where they checked in with us to see how things were going. We were allowed to talk briefly then.

It was a process letting go of the feeling of responsibility to acknowledge other human beings throughout my day. I reluctantly turned in my phone. I had no way of telling time except for the bells they rang and certain times during they day calling us to meditation sessions and meals.

This a Buddhist center that is open to all, their goal is to relieve suffering on the earth. There are practicing priests and priestesses there. The food is Korean based and delicious. I love the practice of removing the shoes before entering all buildings except the dining hall and the office. They have many retreats.

The center is eco-friendly having solar panels, recycling, gardening, oh and they make their own Kimchi, which I’m sorry to say I am not a fan of.


And there is the resident cat to take care of the critters… he loves to approach when we are meditating.


The setting is in the Catskills, beautiful, peaceful!

We spent all day in practice of mindfulness. Starting with a sitting practice at 6:00 am and ending with a sitting practice at 9:00 pm. We did sitting, standing, walking, and at times laying practice of meditation. We also did alternating days of yoga and Tai Chi.

My teachers lead us through the week, building on what we learned the days before. They really gave me tremendous insight about the potential benefits of meditation practice.

Number one is, I must practice. That is where insight is gained. I learned that being present with discomfort and not acting on it allows it to pass. I also learned that excitement is not what makes me happy. Being peaceful and calm is. There is a fight between wanting more and rejecting discomfort on a daily basis for me. I can get sucked into my thinking and my body responds as if I am in that situation, be it positive or negative. I get attached to things and beliefs.

I come from a background of believing I was not noticed. I was invisible. I best served others by not rocking the boat. I have learned over the years that my people did the best they could, they loved me the best they could. My perception is what molds my beliefs, not necessarily the truth.

I have felt separated, apart from, on the inside looking out, in fear, no confidence. I now know all that is up to me, not others. If I want to belong, I must insert myself into community, make myself vulnerable, allow others to get to know me, be interested in others. I create my separateness.

Now it is up to me to practice. I ebb and flow. I try not to judge myself, but just get back on track.



Virgin Voyage with the Podder

Honestly, I don’t know what to call my new, sweet little R-Pod 190. We are still working on the name.  I bought this small RV in April of this year, 2018.

Our family bought a nice, used, pop-up camper, um, probably 10 years ago. My son does the DINO, Do Indiana Off-road, mountain bike race series each summer. The pop-up has been a great way to attend these race sites all over the state of Indiana at the state parks. Our kids grew up camping. After they got so big, it was time to get me off the ground, out of the tent and into a camper. It has been such a great way to get outdoors, hike, bike, attend informative nature sessions. True, you might call it glamping, having AC, heat, kitchen, and even a potty with shower. Sweet!  For like 5K we got a wonderful camper that served us well for years.

Upon the divorce, I knew I wanted to continue camping. I wanted a way to continue bringing my now about adult kids along with my son’s gf with me but also be able to go by myself if I wanted. The pop-up really requires 2 people to pull out and set up the beds, etc. I did’t want to change my TV, tow vehicle, a Chevrolet Traverse with the tow package. Over the years I’ve watched the RV’s get smaller and lighter. And, finally, I found the Forrest River R-Pod. We have been out twice so far on with the new podder! Here is the first voyage.

We went to Brown County State Park, one we have visited often in the past 15 years. We have our favorite spot. Close, but not too close to the restroom with the shower. The kids prefer the restroom. BCSP does not have water at each camp site so we have to preserve. I only took one short shower and we were out of water from Friday to Sunday. We use water for cooking, cleaning, brushing teeth, and for me going to the potty, lightly if you prefer.

Kids being silly with mom photographing, Boomer being himself

We had some challenges with the hot water. The RV dealer had winterized it in the sense that they turned the valves off to go through the hot water heater. See the next post for details on how we dewinterized the rpod and got our hot water running.

Boomer loves being with us no matter where we are.

It was raining all weekend so we spent time indoors playing games and listening to Hamilton in preparation to see the show in May. The rp190 has a dinette that seats 4 and doubles as a bed for 2. Boomer and the kids above are on MY bed at the other end of the camper. 😉 It’s a tight fit for 4 but we make it work when all of us are together.


Here’s to many more years enjoying family outings in the pod!