Travel

Lake Monroe Camping Trip

 

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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.

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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!

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This is definitely the road less traveled.

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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!

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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!!!

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

And then there is this Campground Treasure!

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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…

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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…

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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!

~Amy

Travel

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.

 

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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.

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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!

~Amy

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!!!

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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

Travel

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.

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SkipBo!

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