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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Hiking "Brooks" style

After a late start (around 1:30) Ron and I headed to Indiana University to hike around the hilly campus. Turns out Kate is a graduate--she didn't even tell us! What a modest pup! The campus is vast and filled with forested walkways that thread among massive limestone classrooms and dorms. Students walked purposely down the paths, every one of them looking down at their cellphones as they marched along. Quite a few were on bikes, however, and they were generally hooked up via headphones, listening to class lectures no doubt.

 We love to meander around campus settings, of course, Kent State University is our favorite haunt and we try not to focus on the fact that we are long past the time of belonging to a collegiate group! At one point, we got a bit lost and Ariel, a college freshman, cheerfully led us to our desired stop. What a sweetie. She wants to be a dentist and take over her dad's practice someday. I asked her how many students were on campus and she thought maybe 20,000, then decided that might be the number of freshmen! Actually, there are about 40,000 total students at IU.

This had been the home of the university president for many years. It is now used for special occasions and it is situated in the center of the campus. Come to think of it, that might be why it is no longer used by the person in charge. ha.

I had a great time taking photos of the campus, then discovered after 2 hours of walking around that I had forgotten to put the SD disk back in the camera! Ron was game to walk around all over again so that I could recapture the photos. You could say that we were walking around in circles.  Speaking of which, it was a beautiful drive between Nashville and Bloomington. We plan to visit the T.C. Steele home and art studio tomorrow which is located between the two towns.

You are looking at the largest and oldest covered bridge in Indiana and the only one of 4 in the country that is a two lane covered bridge! Built in 1835, it was moved to the Brown County State Park entrance.

One of the many barns of the area captured my attention on Old 46, on the way to the T.C. Steele enclave.

At the old age of 60, renown artist, T. C. Steele, started an art colony in Brown County. First a successful portrait painter, he discovered Brown County and painted landscapes with his artist wife and encouraged painters to visit and live the artist colony.

We enjoyed the tour and history of the enclave. I am inspired to try watercolor painting again, maybe try oils for the first time. Fiber arts has been my focus for many years, but, I started out with watercolors in high school and again years later. I'm eager to give it a try!

Our last evening in Brown County was a bit chilly. Let's just say it was a three dog night! Little did we know that you need your LP tank (liquid propane) full in order to run the furnace in the RV.  We had emptied the tank (who knew you had to monitor such a thing) and when we got up , I was sure the furnace was BROKEN. Our generous camp owner, Frank, informed us that, yes, you need propane to create heat. I say, I was willing to learn to fill the tank and he tactfully mentioned that you need to be licensed for the task and he would do it as long as I agreed not to touch any of the valves. No problem! Ron and stood clear of the process and voila! We had filled the tank and had heat again.

Heading home to Sandusky in record time and only one near death experience, we "docked" Nina back at our home campground. We quickly decamped and are preparing for our first duo camping with Bob and Paulette. Yes, they have a similar camper and we anticipate many many happy camping adventures ahead with them. Anna, their camper, and Nina, will get acquainted this weekend at East Harbor State Park. Wish us god speed!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Nashville ,Indiana

Ron and I got our first cup of coffee of the day at the Daily Grind at 1:30 pm. We'd had quite a busy morning first. Let me just say that camping has yet to be restful! We woke early (for us) at 8am and while I walked each dog separately, Ron spruced up the campsite a bit. We decided to preview our next campground before making our move. This turned out to be a really smart idea. The Brown County State Park campgrounds were just as crowded as could be , with the added challenges of trees everywhere. We wondered if we were qualified for backing into some of the spaces we saw! Next, I asked Ron to check out the showers-umm, pretty "basic"he reported. Lastly, we discovered that the Park provides electric only. No water. Well, we haven't learned how to fill our fresh water as of yet, and we don't really know how much water we go through in a typical day. We'd have to leave the campsite and drive to the water station during the course of our 4 day stay. With that, we headed back to the Last Resort Campground and asked if we could stay on there! Ah, home sweet home. GREAT showers, FULL hookups, and, best of all, the pick of the sites! We settled on a private site at the back of the campground and started to pack up for the one block move.

This was when I discovered that Ron had tossed one of my running shoes away. Not that I run, but, it is a nice walking/gym shoe.  I admit, I did have each one in a recycled grocery plastic bag that we use for dog , um, well, you know.... And, having stepped in poop earlier, I put the offending shoe in a bag to deal with later!  Ron  had tossed our kitchen garbage, "doggie" bags and my shoe in one larger bag and tossed it all in the giant dumpster that all campers were actively using. You guessed it. We went dumpster diving, explaining our plight to other campers as they came up to contribute their trash.  You might think that that was the extent of our misadventures, but, no, there's more!  As Ron was disconnecting the sewer, he stripped the threads and couldn't extract the hose,  and had, well, a bit of overflow...ahem. We hailed the owner of the campground, Frank, who came to our rescue, and, conveniently had a new connector he could sell us. By now, it was 1:30 and we headed for the coffee shop below to recover from our move from lot 35 to lot 50!

Fantastic coffee, first opened in 1977, and a place that Janet had introduced me to in many years ago. I was glad it was still there!

We happened to arrive just as a parade of VWs drove through the town-we didn't see any Carmen Ghia's, tho, we did see several VW busses and lots of bugs, a few Things, and one Passat!

Ok, this is shocking news. I actually enjoyed going through an art gallery. Oh my gosh. I enjoyed it so much that I bought a dvd on the artists of Brown County and tomorrow we're going to the estate of T.C. Steele to view his house and studio on 200 acres.  We've also got a tour of the University campus in Bloomington on tap for tomorrow. I bet the three dogs will be a hit! We've seen more dogs this week, then at the IX Christmas Classic Dog Show. Well, maybe not that many (3,000) but a lot. Lots of labs and goldens and a few standard poodles. Several Great Danes, Irish Wolfhounds, many tiny dogs, too. Apparently, tourist/shoppers bring their dogs to Nashville!

Below is a brand new Airstream that was an anniversary edition of the first Airstream. Sweet! We enjoyed chatting with the owners.  As we've discovered, campers are proud of their rigs, big and small, old and brand new. We are on a fast and vast learning curve and have found that others are very generous with their tips and forgiving of our newbie status. I'm not sure how long we can claim that as an excuse for our travails, but, we figure we get a least two years!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Last resort campground

Ok, for our second ever camping on the road with Nina, we decided to head to Brown County, Indiana. I've been here twice before with Janet Ford, and so, I knew it was in the beautiful rolling hills of southern Indiana, near Bloomington, the home of the Indiana University, and that Nashville was a sweet little town of artists shops. As this was a rather last minute decision to scrap a trip to Newport, Rhode Island (with a free one week stay at an inn, and airline tickets already purchased, we didn't really have the time to reserve a campsite with much advance notice. This, it turns out, is not a good idea.  Ron was up for the driving challenge (6 hours) of mostly 4 lane (his request) and, at the suggestion of Cathy Steffenhagen, we decided to look at the weather map and select an area with the best weather for a week of camping. Check. It is 67 degrees, the fall leaves are fabulous and the scenery is sweet.

I selected the Brown County State Park Campground, having seen the area before. However, the campground was full until Sunday evening, so, we found a temporary campground. See photo above. Let me say this, it reminded me of scary stories told around the campfire of a deserted woods with a man with a hatchet hunted unsuspecting lonely campers......Boo! In addition to making a BIG MISTAKE in camp grounds, we backed up into our space and put a big hole in the back of the spare tire cover of Nina. Ouch. After a very uncomfortable, and disturbingly quiet night, we hunted for another campground.

This is it. Wall to wall huge rv units. I mean HUGE. We have the smallest rig on the site. The campers are all pros, and for some strange reason, none of them seem to mind that we are closer than Harlem apartments! Now these rigs cost upwards of $150,000 to $200,0000 each and I can imagine that they each have very nice, spacious homes, with nice grounds. So, what, in heaven's name, are they doing in such tight quarters and having a blast? Clearly, I have much to learn about the rv lifestyle.

The photo above, is of the scary campground in which I felt like we were on the property of an abandoned outdoor drive in movie.

I will say that the view was spectacular.
Imagine this, the big rig campers are starting their gas grills, music is softly playing, and, as I sit under our awning, the rig next door is starting their cooking, two toy fox terriers, outside in pens. This is a really unfamiliar subculture of campers to me. Everyone is very friendly, very happy to be here, often the campers are traveling in groups of 3 or 4 rigs and I have the urge to interview everyone to get their story!  I am proud to stay that we are holding our own thus far. All three dogs are sedate, and, quite a hit, I must say. The standard poodles are quite a great ice breaker!Marilyn is quietly lying by my side, outside near the fire rig. Kate and Jack are lounging in the rig. Ron is preparing a dinner of rice and chicken with squash and a salad. Earlier, I arranged for a car rental from Enterprise in Columbus, Indiana and tomorrow we'll explore the area! All is well and I am one happy camper. The only thing that would make me happier would be to have Bob and Paulie as our next door neighbors for the adventure!  The purchased their Class C 31 foot rig last week and we plan to accompany them on their first adventure next week!