With the return of frigid temperatures this week, there had to be a really good excuse to get us out for the weekend . . . there was! Alan’s niece, Kathryn, is a Senior starting forward on the Notre Dame basketball team and in the NCAAW tournament. Playing at Notre Dame on Friday night, the weekend set up for perfect timing to visit Potato Creek State Park in Indiana, just a short distance from South Bend/Notre Dame.
We got off after lunch and pulled into our site by 2:30. The website had advertised the campground as “open year-round”, but the lady at the check-in facility greeted us with: “Of course you know the bathrooms aren’t open and the water isn’t turned on yet?” Nope – we had counted on those bath houses being open! But, we quickly readjusted our weekend to celebrate “dry” camping with jugs of water to flush minimal use of the toilet and complete small cleaning chores.
With the return of cold weather in the past few weeks, we have become acclimated to chilly temps again, and the 43 degree/sunny afternoon was fine for walking around the park and sitting outside in the direct sunlight. Tom had made chili to reheat for supper, and with the time-change we were able to enjoy an extra hour of sitting out. Still, when that sun started to go down, the temperature dropped quickly, and 7:30 found us entrenched inside the Silvermine for the evening.
We woke up Friday morning to 20 degrees! That seemed like a good enough excuse to head out to eat for breakfast. We found a great little Corner Cup Cafe breakfast restaurant in nearby Walkerton that had a nice variety on the menu. Then, we took a trip in and around the campus of the University of Notre Dame – a scouting expedition in preparation for the basketball game that evening.
Alan texted several times about his movement: off work at 11:00, pick Carie up at 11:30 . . . ETA 4:00! We enjoyed a sunny afternoon walk along the paved roads and wide hiking trails down to the boat dock and seeing and hearing woodpeckers along the way! I always track my movement and exercise on my iWatch, but I learned how to record an open, outdoor walking work-out which gives details of heart rate, calories burned, elevations gained, and distance/pace traveled. Cool!
Alan and Carie pulled in at 4:15, but with the game scheduled to start at 5:00, there was just time to park the Airstream and crawl in the truck with us and head for the campus. Our game tickets were complementary from Karthryn/Carrie! We only missed the first 3 minutes of the game – during which Kathryn injured an ankle and sat out the rest of the game! The game was fast and fun and the Notre Dame Girls won, 99-81, to play again Sunday night. By 7:00 we were out the door and headed to nearby Brothers Bar & Grill for dinner! I could easily become a #1, girl’s college-level, basketball, enthusiast!
Saturday, St. Patty’s Day, we stirred at 8:00 and led Carie and Alan back to our little coffee cup restaurant for breakfast. Good food all over again. On our way back to Potato Creek State Park, we took a detailed truck tour of every road in the park – it is a big park with lots of camping loops, cabins, youth camp, horse camp, picnic areas, general store, nature center, paved bike trails, and nicely maintained hiking trails. We found the nature center open and enjoyed animal exhibits and the bird-viewing area which had just been filled with fresh seed.
At the campsite we had an all-afternoon campfire that was attended, off and on, by different ones of us. Tom, Charlie, and I hustled another work-out walk, I worked on my blog, Carie made a run for groceries, Tom took a short nap . . . and Alan pretty much held down the campfire for 5 hours! With a high of 48 degrees and a sunny sky it was a great afternoon and a wind-down to a fun weekend.
On Sunday we were up by 8:00 and off by 8:30 and home by 11:30. Turn-around time is 3 days – before heading to the annual Mothball rally at Hocking Hills.
Whether the groundhog saw his shadow or not February second, today is Thursday, March first . . . and we’re camping! The past few days have been sunny, creating the impression that spring is here! Who cares that rain moved in last night, and it was still pouring as we left home this morning . . . destination: Winton Woods in Cincinnati, Ohio!
On a side note -- today, March first, is the 146th anniversary of Yellowstone National Park, and the USA National Park system! I knew we were celebrating something!
With all the rain there was considerable flooding and cones advertised that some campground roads were closed. There was nobody at the office and we moved the cones and helped ourselves to a campsite – a nice high and dry campsite with a full cement pad and nice grass.
By 5:00 in the afternoon the rain stopped, the temperature dropped, the winds picked up, and Alan arrived.
The evening was a dinner birthday celebration for Alan: BBQ chicken, corn casserole, twice baked potatoes, cheesecake, ice cream . . . Later in the evening Alan had another birthday surprise when DW Carie drove out with a cake and to spend the night. Alan hadn’t expected this as Carie was heading for North Carolina to cheer on the Notre Dame Girl’s Basketball team – Alan’s niece is a Senior player on the team!
It wasn’t until early Friday morning that we saw the sign that the campground was closed due to flooding! Nobody had tried to uproot us, and the campground security had gone past and waved several times!
Friday morning Alan headed out for an appointment, and Tom and I proceeded to Jungle Jim’s for a morning shop-out. When we returned the sign was gone, the sun was out, the campground staff were busy, the campground bathrooms were open, and the summer seasonal $$ rates were firmly in place.
We opted for an out-to-eat lunch, Mexican, and then the boys decided it was warm enough to sit out around an afternoon campfire. I enjoyed reading in the trailer and an episode of The Big Valley on TV! At mid-day, as the temperature reached a sunny 48 degrees, Tom and I struck out to walk around the lake -- an enjoyable little 2 mile trail. People and dogs were out in full force, and again we saw a lot of signs of flooding – the Boathouse was under water!
The temperature stayed descent while we prepared our dinner and ate outside – pizza in the pie irons. As we ate, we watched campers rolling in for the weekend, until the chill of the early evening chased us into the Silvermine!
Saturday morning we did the lake-walk again . . . backwards! Well, not backwards, but the other way! Thirty-two degrees and 8:30 for one hour, then back to the Silvermine for a big breakfast cooked outdoors on the grill! See why we like camping so much?
There were big plans for Saturday afternoon . . .a trip into a Cincinnati hot-spot to meet up with son Micah. Tom, Alan and I headed to The Party Source where Micah was waiting for us. A leisurely trip through resulted in two cans of Beer Nuts for Tom and a solar light-up firefly to hang from my awning.
We then drove to Newport on the Levy and strolled the walkway along the Ohio River and out onto the Purple People Bridge. This gave us a good view of the Cincinnati Skyline and the recent flood waters – up over the serpentine steps! Inside the mall there was a wine-tasting festival in full swing, but we were not wine-inclined!
Our destination was the Hauffbrauhaus for some certified Schnitzel and pretzels and knockers and Kartoffelphannkuchgen . . . and Red Cabbage! Tom and Micah each carried a growler to be packed with beer, and we had a fun time in this noisy German watering hole.
At the point that we got back to the Silvermine, there was not much left of the weekend. We woke up to 29 degrees Sunday morning, which motivated a morning fire to this beautiful sunrise.
By 9:30 we were packed up and headed for home – all agreeing that it had been a worthy weekend celebrating the approach of a long, summer, camping season.
We don’t go camping any more . . . we go ‘streamin’ ! The “SIlvermine and His” is our 2016 23' Airstream, and ‘streamin’ is the name we use to describe our adventures. Stream along as we document everything from weekend trips to longer summer excursions and full-blown vacations. You know what they say: if you’re not in an Airstream – you’re just camping!
Tom & Ella Brown