Welcome to August! How can it be August already??
Sit back...relax....I think this will be a lengthy post!
We departed the Shirley Creek Horse Camp in the Hoosier National Forest Monday morning trying to dodge raindrops. Monday looked to be the better weather day vs. Tuesday. In this lifestyle, weather is the primary dictator! We did experience some rather active activity at the horse camp on Saturday, however.
There must have been 20 or more horse trailers at our back door (literally!) by 10:30a.m. It was like a riders' convention! Bo did fairly well, considering all the hub-bub. This lasted til late afternoon, then most everyone headed back home. We were happy about that and hoping our next stop would be void of so many "trespassers"! LOL!
We drove over to Shoals, IN - about 35 minutes - got gas, ice and just a few groceries. Then, only 4 miles out of town we arrived at the Martin State Forest. It's a good thing I have a lot of practice in setting up camp as the rain was definitely coming in, as predicted. I've said before, I really don't mind the rain. It is a refreshing change of pace after days of sun. Reminds me of how I felt about it when I lived in the desert! This was pretty much our view until late Tuesday morning.
But, since then, it has been gorgeous!
Martin State Forest is a bit over 7,000 acres with more of the feel of a state park than just a forest. It was established in the 1930's to salvage abandoned farmland and put the existing timberland under sound management practices and adequate fire protection. We are in the official "campground"...there is no off the beaten path dispersed camping here. This stop was a HUGE "rule breaker" for me! Anyone see why??
Yep! I'm actually PAYING for a campsite!
In all of the places I've been throughout the U.S., this is the first time I've ever paid over $5!
(And even that was only once!)
Why?? Well, no really good reasons....but 1) I didn't want to have to drive far to our next spot; 2) I've lived so long for "free" that when you average it all out, this site is like 1 cent/day; and 3) it has a few primitive "luxuries":
- Paved lane
- Four bathrooms
- A DUMPSTER
- Five potable water faucets
- Nice shaded sites
- Walk-to "attractions"
- 5-bars/4G for Verizon
May not sound like much, but trust me, it's almost like going to a hotel!
We really like the water faucets!
No one else was here so we could park anywhere, but out of the 26 sites on this curvy lane, we chose the last one on the left at the end of the cul-du-sac. It is in a corner, so there's forest on two sides; the site is huge; the site nearest us at the end of the lane is on a pretty steep angle, so even if a number of campers would show up this weekend, no one would chose that one; there are no sites across from us; and there's an "unofficial" trail across the lane for Bo's free roaming walks. So, for us, it makes for the "perfect" site!
This is how large our site is!
No one will be parking on top of us...
As usual, our first order of business is checking out the walks and trails. So, once the rain let up on Tuesday, we started with the unofficial trail across from us.
After a few minutes walk, maybe ten, we came upon a pavilion and playground with its own parking lot. Come to find out, there are several of these throughout this park. Really nice for family/friends get-togethers or to just let kids get rid of some extra energy in a natural setting. But this is so far away from us, we would never be bothered by its visitors. So, we walk this trail a few times a day but we don't go down to the pavilion. There are a few offshoots to explore before getting to the shelterhouse, as they call it.
Next on the agenda was checking out the official trail that leaves the campground up near the entrance. There were no maps in the kiosk, so off we went again, with no clue! But, we did have water this time! And this is "civilized primitive" so I wasn't too concerned.
We came upon this minute pond....probably a lot of creatures in here...it's almost a bog.
There were several little footbridges along the way...
On we went. maybe 3/4 of a mile....low and behold! another shelterhouse...
this one looks to be new as there is still a little construction going on around it.
But, across the road was what we were looking for!
A few raindrops here and there, mingled with sun,
but we wanted to walk the trail that went around the lake.
A little rain wasn't going to stop us! It was a nice, cool day.
And off we went...
Some pretty rest stops along the way...
Bo is really mesmerized by bodies of water....
What's a walk without a few native plant photos?!
That concludes our walk around this little lake.
Back at our starting point....
During our first walkabout around Martin Lake I saw this sign. So, on another day we went back over to investigate.
I had read something about this and wanted to check it out. It's only about a .25 mile winding trail, once you get about a third of the way around the lake. This is the Hoosier Woodland Arboretum and contains about 3 acres and was established in an existing wooded area. They are continuously adding to this already present collection of trees. Currently there are about 60 different species. The goal is 80 to 100. Here's a sampling of the current population:
Here are some snippets of our little walk while we identified these trees...
In between trail walks and reading more mysteries, it's pretty important that we actually eat meals! When we stopped in Shoals, I picked up a boneless pork loin roast, not really knowing how I was going to prepare it....but it was on sale :-) So, yesterday, I pulled out the GoSun solar cooker, seasoned the pork and added some peaches... who needs the fire pit??? I put it to good use, tho'...
Being under many trees, I had to keep moving the GoSun to get the maximum exposure to the moving sun, and Bo made sure he was guarding something that was maybe going to be a treat later!
And 1-1/2 hours later what a treat it was! I have to say, this was probably THE BEST pork loin roast I have ever had! Sooooo moist and it cuts like buttah! Perfection! Nothing ever dries out in the GoSun. This will be enough for 3-4 meals...yummy sandwiches for lunch!
Moving on....earlier it was mentioned that this forest (and others) were taken over by the state of Indiana for several reasons...one being "fire protection".
Within this state forest is the Willow Valley Fire Tower...
I really wanted to go up to the top, but I chickened out!
Not far from Martin Lake...a walk-able distance, but we drove over there yesterday...
is another pretty lake...
The same scenario as Martin Lake...a trail going around the entire water feature...
so just some photos, no explanations needed...
Last but not least...
Bo grabbed my attention to get this shot!
Both of these lakes are relatively small, filled with bass, and make for great little hikes
rain or shine!
I've mentioned on just about every post lately, something about our nighttime visitors....almost a given at most campsites. The critters learn quickly that people food can usually be found...even just a discarded egg shell or tomato top tossed into the woods. But this makes them unafraid to come right into your camp, looking for more. Bo guards the kitchen during the day, but gives up his job when it's time to go to bed.
Soooooooo.....you never know what you might find every morning!
Evidently they don't care for....
Speaking of critters, and what one might find in the mornings....finding these two insects on two separate mornings in the "kitchen" may have been the peak highlights of this location!
Rosy Maple Moth
I put the walking stick back on the ground...
can't beat that camouflage!
I didn't mind these two interesting nighttime visitors!
That ends this adventure at the Martin State Forest Hotel! Well worth the $13!
Thanks for joining me!
Will be back at home base on Monday for a few days or so,
Enjoy your first August 2018 weekend!