Thursday, July 26, 2018

Decisions...Decisions... -- July 26, 2018

Well, Bo and I have been in the midst of glorious summer days here at the Hoosier National Forest horse "decisions...decisions"... do we go or do we stay?  We decided to stay a little while longer!  Plus, my schedule at home base says I don't need to be back until August 6th, so there's still plenty of time for the next campsite....which is going to break a rule...but more about that when we get there next week.

Really, the weather has been great.  Every time rain has been predicted, we've gotten maybe 10 drops!  Not too good for grass and warding off forest fires, but nice for camping, in general.  

Off and on there has been a little activity around here.  A few tent campers have stayed a night or two, then moved on.  But they were quiet and not really near us.  One day, in particular, all the locals must have contacted each other to meet up here at the horse camp!

That was okay...they only stayed a few hours and virtually all that time is out on a trail.  Bo isn't fond of the "intruders", and goes into the van until they leave the area, but I don't mind these visitors.  I never get tired of looking at the beautiful horses!

There are all kinds of horse trailers from the fairly basic ones that get you from one local area to the trailers with A/C for the horses and practically RV accommodations for the riders.  But this one was really my favorite, although it didn't offer any bells and whistles for the horses or the riders!  Loved all the rust! It serves its purpose...

 Time for a little adventure!

One day, albeit a little warmer than other days, Bo and I started down the trail right next to our campsite.  We walk a little  part of this trail several times a 15-20 minutes round trip, and if no one is around, which is most of the time, he can be off-leash.  Well, this day I took my camera along and thought we'd walk just a little further than we usually do to try to get some new photos and hopefully find the creek that's supposed to be around here.  It was nice and quiet in the forest and so we just kept walking...and walking...and walking.  All the while, I was noticing that we were continually going downhill.

We did, finally come across the "creek".....and much to our dismay, it was totally dry.  Another reason so little rain is not a good thing for the ecological balance of things...

Now the adventure begins!  Having realized we were very far from our original elevation and that turning around now would be an almost vertical climb [uphill], we decided that we would just continue onward.  When I mentioned I brought my camera along, did I mention I had brought anything else???  Noooooooo!  No phone,  no water, no map.....nothing!  I really didn't think we would be out so long.

So, we just kept walking.  Surely the loop would come around soon and we'd be back at our starting point.  Along the way, though, I was glad I had brought my camera along...


Bo found this guy and was pretty intrigued by him!

After walking quite a bit further, getting pretty parched and tired and hot, and not really knowing where we were, I couldn't help but think of one of my RV adventures, "Stranger in a Strange Land - July 17, 2014"....almost exactly 4 years ago!  If you were with me back then, you might recall it....if not, here's the link.

It's kind of comical now, but there was nothing funny about it then!

Anyway, FINALLY we came across a map posted along the path at an "intersection".  I should have taken a picture of it, but I was so intent on just figuring out where we were, I didn't even think of it.  DUH!  I memorized it in my head and saw if we went one mile to the left, then took the next two lefts, we'd be back at base camp.  "Decisions...decisions". Turning back now was definitely not an option, as I remembered the terrain that we had experienced was all downhill with a lot of we turned left, UP A HILL (which I hoped wasn't going to be an indication of things to come), and hoped for the best!  Walking....walking....walking....boy, another mile+ sure seems like a long way at this point!  We stopped and rested a couple of minutes a few times, but I just wanted to keep going.

We FINALLY got to the next intersection and the picture in my head remembered we had to go .3 miles to the left, then another .3 miles to the left and we'd come out at the horse camp.  We had made it this far, so what was another 1/2+ mile??

Obviously, we did make it back!  Bo fared very well.....and I actually did too, all things considered....except I really needed some water.  I know the signs of dehydration, and luckily, I hadn't experienced that quite yet.  As we made our way into the common area, I stopped at the kiosk for a trail map. I really wanted to see where we'd been!

Our 3 mile "walk"!  It was a good thing we made that left  turn for the 1.0 mile jaunt!  Otherwise, instead of  1.6 miles further to base camp it would have been another 2.8 miles.  I don't think so!  LOL!  Anyway, we made it!  Of course there is a simple moral to this story.....don't keep walking....walking....walking without water and a map!  But, it's a good thing I like adventures....I can keep my cool and not get too panicky.  That serves no purpose!

Well, now I've really wrapped up our time here at the horse camp in the Hoosier National Forest.  I can't imagine that anything else is going to happen that will be blog-worthy.  I do expect to pull out of here early next week....probably Tuesday.  Will  have to watch the weather.  It's not far to the next camping spot.

Oh -- we did run into town yesterday for a very fast grocery/ice pickup since we were going to be here a little while longer.  Coming into town, we got a quick glimpse of the West Badin Springs Hotel/Casino that I mentioned a few blog posts ago.  No time to stop.....but sometime we will!

So long for now!  Thanks for continuing to view my posts!
Have a great weekend!


Thursday, July 19, 2018

Return to Hoosier NF - New Camp! -- July 19, 2018

Hello from a new camp in the Hoosier National Forest in Indiana!

Because I just arrived yesterday and plan to stay here several days, I'm not divulging the camp name right now, but I will say it is another horse camp.  It is another FREE campsite for 14 days, but I won't be staying that long as I have another camp in mind, maybe half-way through this excursion.

OK - let's get started!  It was only about a 3.5 hour drive from home base....seemed very short compared with the 8-hour drive to and from Michigan.  This site isn't too far from a couple of towns...5-7 miles, but in itself, it is quite remote.  There's 2 bars of 4G service here, which works fine except for blogging/downloading photos...then it's a bit slow, but I'm not complaining!  

This campsite consists of a wobbly loop...not a huge loop, but situated so nothing seems cramped.  There are picnic tables, fire rings, and because it's a horse camp, hitching posts at each campsite and in common areas.  There's vault toilets and livestock water....not for human consumption.

 I'm parked on the right side of this end of the loop....

It's a huge site and shaded except for mid-day, but I can move the van forward and backward a little to capture some shade during those few hours.  While I was at home base, I finally got around to adding Reflectix to all of my windows.  There are still plenty of hot days left in this summer, so that will reflect and insulate the large windows.  It's a great product! Available in rolls at Lowe's and Home Depot.

The canopy is totally hidden from the loop lane and I put up waterproof, very lightweight tarps for extra privacy and sun protection.  Only on two sides at this site.

I am sitting right at the trail head.  But, because I'm the only one here and the upcoming weather forecast doesn't lend itself to perfect camping, I decided it wasn't going to be very "busy". Rain coming in overnight and for the next several days.  But, I don't really mind as it keeps people away and keeps the temps lower.  I have a perfectly comfortable van, the waterproof canopy, plenty of books, art supplies, and the internet, so the weather really isn't a deterrent for me, at all.  But for most campers and horseback riders, it wouldn't be optimal.  But, it's gorgeous today, so I got out and took my photos!

One rider probably had the same thoughts I did...get out today!
 (There is a $35/yr riding permit fee...or $5 for day use.)

The rider covered his steed's face and eyes with a fly mask to protect it from flies.  
The mask is semi-transparent and made from a mesh allowing the horse to see and hear
while wearing it.

He parked his trailer away from us, but as he rode nearer to begin his ride, Bo stayed in the van! The trail is a big loop through the forest and ends up where he parked his trailer, so we will only have close visitors at the start of their journey.  He was probably around the trail in about 45 minutes. 

 And off they went down the trail....

We had already taken our trail walk this morning...

I mentioned earlier that this camp has only NON-potable water.  This was the reason I came to this campsite first. Believe it or not, I have, in various containers, 30 gallons of water with me.  That's about the same amount as a Class C RV tank!  The next site has drinking water, so, theoretically, I could stay here until I run out of water...which would be a pretty long time...and then fill up only as I need it at the next site.  The other way around would have been very cumbersome.  There's a method to this van dwelling madness!  LOL!

Since I probably won't be posting again from here....there's really not that much more to show I'll show you my "setup".  I absolutely LOVE this foldable camp table ($60 Walmart-online.)

I did modify it a bit for my own personal preferences.  Where the camp stove is sitting (on a piece of plywood), is actually where an included plastic tub fits down into the frame for dish washing.  Well, I don't wash dishes continuously, so to have that sitting there day in and day out just wasn't feasible for the way I live.  I would much rather have the stove here instead of up on the work area where it would take up the entire space.  I like having the "counterspace".  The metal drying rack/utensil holder still fits at the end.  I keep the plastic tub, plates, silverware, and paper towels in the zipper canvas section.  When I pack up, I just put everything in the plastic tub then it's right at hand for the next stop!

At the upper end is my pressurized sprayer (3 gallons). It's just like what you have on your home kitchen sink.  I use it to rinse off dishes and cookware and to give Bo his special "spray treat" of water.  Closest are my two nozzled water containers (2.5 gallons each) for hand washing, etc.

Eventho' I have lots more in containers under the platform bed, I only actually use a very minimal amount of cookware and utensils from day to saucepan, one small iron skillet, one non-stick skillet. one coffee pot to heat water and one mug....that's it!  I can cook anything with just these items. 

A knife, a rubber spoon/spatula, a turner, a pasta ladle and a stove starter.
That's it for utensils!

Oh...and I still use my great GoSun solar cooker!


Camping for very extended amounts of time is easy-peasy when you have what works best for your particular way of living.  But, most often you are in the "wilds", so critters are bound to find something of interest!

He took my ketchup bottle
and left his mark behind on my camp chair!

That's a wrap from this very pretty, and quiet, horse camp site in the Hoosier National Forest.  I'll post again from here if anything interesting happens, but more than likely, I won't be blogging again until my next stop.  

Enjoy your weekend....even if it's raining!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Sea of Green -- July 11, 2018

Our last stop on the train leaving Michigan! 

We left the Marzinski Horse Camp site near Manistee, MI last Monday....having no idea if the spot, about 30 miles south, we had in mind next would have merit as it was just prior the 4th of July.  A mid-week holiday leaves a lot of flexibility as to when people are going to be traveling.....and taking camping spots.  So off we went, fingers crossed!

It was back roads from Manistee down to the general area of Free Soil, Michigan....odd name for a town, but it must have some history.  Pretty soon we found our turn off....

We weren't actually going to the Recreation Area, but there's FREE camping just 1.5 miles prior to the primary destination for most people.  One little turn off the main road and we were on our way down a well preserved, sandy, gravel road where these campsites are supposed to be located.  

Yep!  Just a short way and we came upon one - empty! but continued on down the road just to see what else might be available.  The second site was perfect, but occupied....third site pretty good, but occupied.   These sites were very far apart, which was a big plus.  However, after these three sites, the road got a little dicey....there were available sites, but just not easy to navigate, plus they were very far from level, on little hillsides, among very close together trees, and very sandy car paths.  If you remember my post from RVing....I got so stuck in the sand outside of Wickenburg, AZ that I had to have a semi-tow truck drag me out.  Let's NOT do that again, I reminded myself!   So, we got turned around and headed back to Site 1.1

Not bad for a holiday week.  The biggest minus was it was literally, right on the road.  But, free and in a beautiful forest, so I wasn't complaining.  So, in no time flat, we were all set up and ready to see what we could see.  

The van is about 5 feet from the road, in a bit of sun, and sitting at about a 25* angle.  I prefer the canopy next to the van, not behind me somewhere, so I can just hop out the side door and be under cover, but, again.....FREE and beautiful!  

"So we sailed up to the sun.....til we found a sea of green..."

That's ALL I've been able to think about since we arrived.  Even if we weren't in a yellow submarine!
MILES of ferns....nothing else at all growing beneath the trees.  It is mesmerizing!  No photographs can really capture what this is like....ferns as far as you can see...."a sea of green"!

There is a trail that took off from our site, so that was a 3-4 times/day walk for Bo.  It leads up to a ridge with a two-track "road".  Once up there he could run free which is such a huge treat for him.  He races like the speed of light through the woods and all the ferns.  He loves it!  

Holiday "traffic" soon began, however, on the campsite gravel road.  It wasn't horrible or constant, but it was obviously busier than it probably usually is.  We got used to the cloud of dust that surrounded us every time a car went by.  The van is completely covered in dust, reminding me of the desert.  But, FREE, and a beautiful forest!

There isn't much vegetation besides the lush, ferny undergrowth, but we did find a few interesting tidbits of nature...


After every hike, Bo looked forward to his "spray water treat"!

We were lucky to have this spot because lots of would-be campers came by during the week looking for a spot.  Really glad we decided to head right over here from Manistee early.  Here's the real deal with this spot.  It's 1.5 miles from the Lake Michigan Recreational Area, it's FREE for 14 days, and if you want to go to the Rec Area, it's only $5/day (or $15 for 7 days!) for a day pass.  A super inexpensive vacation!  What's at the Rec Area???  These photos will tell the story! 

Wow!  Did you do the math for your 7-day vacation?  $2/day, if you boondock-camp.  What a deal!  There is a campground at the Rec Area, but it is considered a "light" usage area.  Don't ask me why!  Who wouldn't want to come here?  There's a playground for kids and for me, a water pump and dumpster.  Anyway, it's gorgeous!  If it was dog-friendly, I would have been at the beach every day.  There's also a walk-up look out...

I wouldn't suggest this 151-step ascent if you have any mobility issues.  Even with the flat landings every so often, it was a strenuous climb.  Honestly, the view wasn't really superb.  Perhaps this was built before the trees were as large as there are now, but it was still pretty. 

What else can I say about Lake Michigan?  It's a natural, inland wonder!

There's spotty internet at the I'm 5 miles away writing the post.  It's good enough at the site for texting but it goes from No Service to 3G to 1X to 4G constantly.  For the most part, tho', I was able to live with it.

Two days ago, Monday, "Mark from New Hampshire" who was in Site #2, came by and said he was leaving if I wanted his spot.  That was thoughtful!  I didn't have to think twice about that!  I literally threw everything in the van an grabbed that perfect spot!  After all, we weren't leaving til Saturday and sleeping on that incline was getting old.  In 45 minutes we were set up at the second site.  

Still "on the road", but sitting back about 40 feet vs. 5 feet and it is perfectly level....and huge!  And shady all day!  One guy came by asking if I was leaving because in his words, too, "it's the perfect spot".  Early bird catches the worm!  LOL!

Bo adapted to the new site quickly!


I don't often build's just too warm in the summer, I think, to sit around a campfire, but at this site, someone took the time to build a really nice fire pit and it is way 100+ feet... where the van is sitting so, if one were to build a fire, the smoke wouldn't be in your camper.

This site could easily accommodate several tents or a large RV....very "family-friendly".  Now that the holiday "traffic" is over, only an occasional vehicle has passed by the site.  Here are a few more shots from around this site..."sea of green" everywhere!

I am not getting tired of the fern forest...

What do I do all day besides take photos and take nature walks??  Reading mysteries is a favorite past time....I've read all these books, plus a few more since arriving in Michigan...

Through the trees we've had some pretty sunsets...


But the best ones were...

Back to home base "civilization" on Saturday....then where?  Who knows??  But I'm not saying we won't be coming back to Michigan sometime!  Except for those few hot days that everyone else experienced, the weather has been summer-perfect, the road trip up the shoreline was great, and the two national forest sites have been very easy to live with!  

So, until next long from Michigan's "sea of green" fern forest and it's glorious Lake!
Take care!