Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Spending time in Illinois

We left Tipsaw Lake and headed to yet another gem…Sam Parr State Fish and Wildlife Area in Newton, IL.  It is a small campground, has paved sites with decent spacing; 50A; no water hook-ups at individual sites but there were water spigots between sites.  All this for $18 a night! And, we were in the trees which was nice as our main air conditioner decided it was time to quit!

It was a wonderful place to ride bikes and chill…so that’s what we did.

Dan chewing on wheat from the field

Sam Parr Lake

Our site
We were only there 2 nights but we really enjoyed our find!!

We had made reservations at a Corp of Engineer campground for the 4th of July.  Lake Shelbyville in Illinois is HUGE and has about 1500 campsites that are either on the north side of the lake (us!) or the south side of the lake (everyone else!).  Not sure how we did it (luck?!) but we made reservations on the quiet side.  Suited us just fine!!

The ride to the campground was nothing but farmland!  Corn and soybeans!!  And boy was it flat!!

We had booked 12 days and filled it with a mixture of sight-seeing, bike riding,  smoking meat, playing cards, exploring the area, and chilling!

We started our stay off by celebrating Syl’s birthday!
Birthday bike ride

Lake Shelbyville
Itty bitty bunny that Syl spied

Where to now?

After the bike ride and picnic lunch, we stopped by to see the town’s Sunken Garden….
Pretty sunflowers

Syl getting a close-up

She pet a bumblebee!!
I love hydrangeas

Syl and Gin

There was a really neat old building in the town park…
Chautauqua Auditorium from 1903

We also explored the Corp of Engineer’s Visitor’s Center….
Riding across the dam

Pretty lake but too busy for us

Syl and her birthday pie...blueberry of course!

Dan shredding smoked pork butt - Best BBQ ever!
Gin, Syl, and I also tie-dyed one day.  Fun times

We also celebrated Gin's birthday (early!) one day but I guess I was too busy eating to get any pictures!!

Before we knew it, it was time for us to head out to our next destination!!

Monday, July 4, 2016

A summer of gems!

We found another “gem” in the forest.  Tipsaw Lake Recreation Area is part of the Hoosier National Forest in southern Indiana.

Two things were really interesting about our stay at Tipsaw Lake.  One, we could not find out the name of the town the campground is located in.  County, yes; town, no.  We had to use GPS coordinates.  And two, we were right on the line of Central Time Zone and Eastern Time Zone. Apparently, Indiana observes both depending on which county you are in.  We would bop back and forth between the two when we were out exploring.  

We had reserved sites in the Catbrier Loop as it was one of the smaller loops and was geared more towards big rigs.  We are tucked in the woods, it’s very much our type of preferred campground, and we ended up extending our stay 2 additional nights.

We quickly found out that southern Indiana is HOT, HOT, HOT.  We did our best to stay cool though.

The camp hosts had told us about a neat hike we would like.  It is called Hemlock Cliffs and is part of the National Forest.  It is about 30 minutes from the campground and was in a canyon so the temps would be cooler.   We set off one morning to check it out.
Hitting the trail

Beautiful rock formations

It's a long way down

This reminded me of coral

and a close-up

Who knew that rocks could be so interesting?

Trees can grow in the most unique places....
and so can ferns!!

So many neat caves
We saw some mighty TALL hemlocks

Taking a break

It was quite evident that people liked to slide down into the canyon

Taking time to enjoy all of God's creations
This rock reminded us of a UFO! 

Who knew this was Indiana?
We got to the part of the trail that had a “lollipop loop”.  Dan, Syl and I decided to check it out.
Dan scouting it out...

It looked do-able!

Ok - now I wasn't so sure!  To Dan's left is the "cliff" part of the trail.

Oh my!!
At this point, I figured I had seen all I needed to and was getting ready to turn around.  My fear of heights was getting the best of me.  But, both Dan and Syl encouraged me to continue on. Ahhh….peer pressure!  So I did.  And, I was so glad that I did.  It was absolutely breathtaking.
Syl enjoying a moment 

One last look
Gin had left us a few clues as to where she was on the trail and we quickly found her.  The temps were climbing and we were ready to finish the hike.  But, not before we saw this scary creature.
Oh no - it's attacking Dan!

Dan fighting the monster!
Doesn’t this look like some type of creature (we called it an alligator), with his mouth open and eyeball up top?

The weekend warriors (family campers) were out in full force when we got back to the campground. We spent the rest of the day Friday watching them as our entertainment.  We laughed ourselves silly. Saturday we spent hunkered down at our sites playing cards (learned a new card game!) and relaxing. Sunday was chore day and Monday we were supposed to explore Spring Mill State Park and West Baden Hotel (gangster hangout in the early 1900s) but the weather did not cooperate.  Looks like we will have to come back to the area to explore those areas!