Category Archives: Indiana

Indiana Part II: Columbus

Even though we spent a full month in Bluffton, we decided to make a another stop in the southern part of the Hoosier State, and spent a week in Columbus. We stayed at a quiet campground on I-65 which was south of Indianapolis, north of Louisville, and west of Cincinnati (in The Midwest Triangle).

A polar plunge was in the forecast and we were about to find ourselves in the middle of ‘snow-vember’. Since there was a good chance we would be hibernating at the end of our week, we braved the extra-cold-but-at-least-dry weather on the front end of our visit and got to as many attractions in the area before the roads  became too much of a nightmare.

Since we were staying in Columbus, the downtown of that interesting community was first on our list. Although Columbus is a small town within America’s heartland, it has a few advantages that set it apart from most all other agricultural communities – anywhere. First of all, it is the global headquarters for Cummins, Inc. The same engine that powers our Monaco. When a world-wide company is based in a small town of 45,000, it is a good bet that the local economy is strong and thriving. Secondly, because the late J. Irwin Miller, former Cummins chairman and philanthropist, was part of the city’s leadership in the 1960’s – big dreams and goals were lined out in a vision that would help Columbus become ‘the very best community of its size in the country’.

Fifty years later, Columbus is ranked sixth in the nation for Innovative Architecture. It has been recognized as one of the 100 Best Small Art Towns in America, one of America’s Safest Cities, one of the Best Places to Live and Launch a Business, AND one of the top Historical Places in the World. Everywhere you look you see municipal buildings, private properties, gardens, sculptures and other attractions designed by world-class creators like I.M. Pei, Dale Chihuly, Robert Venturi, Eliel and Eero Saarinen, and many more.The most interesting thing to me about the collection of world-class architecture is that the predominately modern designs are all set seamlessly within the backdrop of historical Empire and Victorian styles.

There were snow flurries dancing through the air the entire time we walked around the streets of downtown, but nothing was sticking to the ground and we were grateful. After the dogs were satisfied with their outing, we put them in the warm car parked in a public garage, and went to get a cup of hot chocolate at the famous Zaharakos Ice Cream Parlor – which opened its doors for business in the same building in 1900. We also stopped into a local historic brewery and pub to grab an early dinner before heading back to our campsite.

The next day we visited Nashville and Bloomington. Nashville is a tiny little artist colony located in the Blue Hills of Brown County. It was about a 30 minute drive west from our campground. The little town was full of art galleries and American craft boutiques. We stopped there for a late breakfast, and then walked through some shops on the way back to our car. After our bellies were too full, we continued driving west for another half-hour until we got to Bloomington. Since we like to visit university campuses, we found a parking garage in the middle of Indiana University and walked the dogs throughout the beautiful grounds filled with elegant limestone buildings. We also wandered around the downtown square before returning to the car.

Our last outing from this stop was to Indianapolis. Mike found a Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives restaurant in the ‘little Mexico’ section of town called The Tamale Place. We drove there first and had a yummy lunch of nachos, tamales, chips, salsa, rice, and black beans. After we were stuffed (again), we drove into downtown Indy and parked near the White River State Park. It was game day for the Colts on this Sunday afternoon, and our parking lot was starting to fill up with tailgate parties. Once again, we walked the dogs through the streets of downtown to see the important spots like the iconic War Memorial, the State Capitol Building, and Lucas Oil Stadium. As our walk was coming to an end, it started to snow. We took that as our cue to get back home before the roads became icy and treacherous.

The snow kept coming down for about 12 hours, and we woke up the next morning to a winter wonderland. The only problem with the pretty snow covering is that Mike acquires even more chores to tackle as the white stuff piles up. He spent most of the morning up on the roof shoveling snow and ice before all the  extra wet weight found some obscure crevice and started melting to the inside of our rig. He is an ace at preventative maintenance. He also wrestled with our water hose connection where we hooked into the campground’s utilities. It is a bit of a challenge to keep water running in an outdoor hose when the temperature stays in the 20’s for days on end! Our water connection was completely frozen one morning, so we just disconnected from that source and switched to our fresh water holding tank. It was still flowing, and we were grateful for our ‘back-up system’.

The first snow ever for The Monaco was last year in South Carolina. Here is a shot of the coach's first snow of the SEASON. I have a feeling we are going to see more of the white stuff this winter than we did last year.

The first snow ever for The Monaco was last year in South Carolina. Here is a shot of the coach’s first snow of the SEASON. I have a feeling we are going to see more of the white stuff this winter than we did last year.

The snow-kissed nature trail at our campground.

The snow-kissed nature trail at our campground.

cold

cold

Walking through the state park that is adjacent to downtown Indianapolis.

Walking through the state park that is adjacent to downtown Indianapolis.

Lucas Oil Stadium is where the Colts play. Snow was forecast during the game, but they have a roof that closes.

Lucas Oil Stadium is where the Colts play. Snow was forecast during the game, but they have a roof that closes.

Indiana State Capitol Building

Indiana State Capitol Building

The iconic round-a-bout of Indianapolis.

The iconic round-a-bout of Indianapolis.

Can you spot Mike in our campfire area?

Can you spot Mike in our campfire area?

The courthouse square in Bloomington.

The courthouse square in Bloomington.

The main entrance to Indiana University.

The main entrance to Indiana University.

The buildings on the IU campus are all built with beautiful limestone from quarries in the area.

The buildings on the IU campus are all built with beautiful limestone from quarries in the area.

I didn't expect the campus buildings at IU to be so ornate and 'formal'.

I didn’t expect the campus buildings at IU to be so ornate and ‘formal’.

Nashville, Indiana. Artist mecca. I dragged Mike into a few shops on the way to our car after breakfast. Let's see... I found some beautiful hand- carved and hand- painted Christmas ornaments for $45 each, which I did not purchase. I also found a fantastic iron and reclaimed wood dining room table with matching chairs - although I have no dining room. I could have wandered through every shop and gallery for the rest of the day, but my hubby was not so keen on that idea. Mike was very excited to hear me say "ok, let's go".

Nashville, Indiana. Artist mecca. I dragged Mike into a few shops on the way to our car after breakfast. Let’s see… I found some beautiful hand- carved and hand- painted Christmas ornaments for $45 each, which I did not purchase. I also found a fantastic iron and reclaimed wood dining room table with matching chairs – although I have no dining room. I could have wandered through every shop and gallery for the rest of the day, but my hubby was not so keen on that idea. Mike was very excited to hear me say “ok, let’s go”.

Breakfast selfie.

Breakfast selfie.

We originally drove to Nashville to eat at the renowned Nashville House Restaurant because my friend, Debbie, told me we needed to have some of their famous fried biscuits. Unfortunately for us, we got to town too early and they weren't open yet. We settled for a place next door instead. It was a shrine to Bobby Knight disguised as a sandwich shop. Although I do not care for Bobby Knight, the food was quite good and filling. And no one scowled or yelled at us while we were there.

We originally drove to Nashville to eat at the renowned Nashville House Restaurant because my friend, Debbie, told me we needed to have some of their famous fried biscuits. Unfortunately for us, we got to town too early and they weren’t open yet. We settled for a place next door instead. It was a shrine to Bobby Knight disguised as a sandwich shop. Although I do not care for Bobby Knight, the food was quite good and filling. And no one scowled or yelled at us while we were there.

The elderly lady that took this picture of me at the historic 1900's Zaharakos Ice Cream Parlour used to hang out there as a teenager.

The elderly lady that took this picture of me at the historic 1900’s Zaharakos Ice Cream Parlour used to hang out there as a teenager.

Columbus is a very interesting city with a large collection of public art - in the form of sculptures AND buildings.

Columbus is a very interesting city with a large collection of public art – in the form of sculptures AND buildings.

The traditional 1874 courthouse square in Columbus is across the street from a huge building designed by the famous architect I.M. Pei. The contrast doesn't seem like it would work, but it does.

The traditional 1874 courthouse square in Columbus is across the street from a huge building designed by the famous architect I.M. Pei. The contrast doesn’t seem like it would work, but it does.

 

Cummins Global Headquarters

Cummins Global Headquarters

 

Indiana Part I: Bluffton

Mike does most of the research and selections for our campground locations. I do most of the research for our daytrips and outings once we get to our new locations. We have learned to divide up the ‘chores’, so neither of us gets too bogged down with the time it takes to line up travel plans. We don’t have a long and detailed itinerary planned for The Lower 48 in 48 Tour, which is a little counter-intuitive for the organizer in my brain… but I’ve learned to go with it.

With regard to where we move along our route from stop to stop, the process is not too complicated. We usually have a brief discussion about the general direction and distance we would like to shoot for on our next leg of the journey. Mike takes that basic information and typically starts by looking at a map of campgrounds on a website called www.allstays.com.  He starts whittling down the options after looking at things like price (our goal is between $30 and $40 per night), hook-ups, online reviews, and satellite photos. We learned that all parks are not open year -around, so the search gets a little more tough in the winter months when some places are closed for the season. Once he finds a workable option, he calls for the reservation and then gives me the details. I don’t often ask too many questions until the decision is complete.

When I left Michigan to fly to Oregon for my uncle’s funeral, the plans for our next stop had not yet been finalized… I knew we were planning to go to Indiana, but I was still waiting to find out where that would actually be.  Mike picked me up at the airport in Grand Rapids upon my return, and we decided to go have dinner to catch up on the last five days. When I asked if he had made our next reservation in The Hoosier State, I was slightly surprised that his first selection criteria for this location had been the proximity to a reputable hospital and medical community. As he was explaining to me how the hospital was about 45 minutes from the campground, I remember wondering why there had been no discussion of any hospital services at any other time we had discussed Indiana.

It turns out that a growth had been discovered on Mike’s left thyroid back in 2011 before The Martins American Adventure had ever commenced. He had a biopsy done at that time and, when the results came back negative for cancer, he chose to ignore the issue. Fast forward to three year later, and the growth was becoming too large to ignore. While I was away on my trip, he decided that he was going to see a doctor at our next stop in Fort Wayne and (if necessary) schedule surgery. I had been suggesting he go see a doctor about his neck for several months, but Mike does not listen to my advice. He waited until I went out of town and then had the brilliant idea all by himself to go see a doctor. Typical. I call it Reverse-Idea-Origination-Syndrome. This is how it works: I have an idea. I tell it to Mike.  He puts it in the back of his brain for a week or two (or a few years). One day it miraculously pops to the forefront of his thoughts and he magically thinks he thought of it all by himself. Then he suggests his brilliant idea to me. I praise him for being so smart, creative, blah, blah. We proceed with the plan.

Oh well, I don’t care how we got there, I was just happy to learn that the Bluffton/ South Fort Wayne KOA would be open until October 31st. Mike said he thought that would be enough time to get taken care of and healed back up before we moved again.

We arrived on a Wednesday at the beginning of October. Mike had his first appointment with Dr. Herr at Ft. Wayne ENT on Friday morning. Friday afternoon he had an ultra sound, and the following Thursday we were back at the doctor’s office for results. Dr. Herr confirmed the thing was BIG and needed to come out. The next step was a biopsy on the following morning. We waited about a week for those results to come back. Thank goodness they were negative – just like the 2011 report. Now Dr. Herr knew he would be doing a routine thyroid operation and not cancer surgery. We were all relieved for that. Mike went in a few days after that for the surgery, and then had one -week recovery time before it was time to travel again.

In between doctor visits we mainly just watched the fall colors transform the landscape. We walked the dogs on several hike and bike trails throughout the region, cooked, read books, and enjoyed as many campfires as possible. It was a low key stop that turned out to be somewhat unexpected but very successful.

After I got Mike home and situated on the day of his surgery, my work was done. The dogs took over from there, and made sure he took his pills and consumed lots of water. They also regularly inspected his bandages to make sure he was healing properly.

After I got Mike home and situated on the day of his surgery, my work was done. The dogs took over from there, and made sure he took his pills and consumed lots of water. They also regularly inspected his bandages to make sure he was healing properly.

Geese - Mike's highlight of our walk in downtown Fort Wayne.

Geese – Mike’s highlight of our walk in downtown Fort Wayne.

Our campground was surrounded by soy bean fields on three sides.

Our campground was surrounded by soy bean fields on three sides.

Corn or soybeans, take your pick. That was the vista from wherever we were standing in Northeastern Indiana.

Corn or soybeans, take your pick. That was the vista from wherever we were standing in Northeastern Indiana.

There was a patch of woods behind our campground, before the soybean fields started. I found a little path that ran from one end to the other.

There was a patch of woods behind our campground, before the soybean fields started. I found a little path that ran from one end to the other.

Yellow

Yellow

After the leaves finished turning, the mornings became a little frosty.

After the leaves finished turning, the mornings became a little frosty.

One good thing about the dogs is that they are ready to start their day at sunrise. I can't say I'm ever elated to get out of my cozy bed at dawn, but then I get to see things like this ... and the day is off to a good start.

One good thing about the dogs is that they are ready to start their day at sunrise. I can’t say I’m ever elated to get out of my cozy bed at dawn, but then I get to see things like this … and the day is off to a good start.

Red

Red

Orange

Orange

Fort Wayne is situated at the confluence of three rivers - the St. Joseph River, St. Marys River, and Maumee River. This was a pretty municipal park along the St. Mary's River Hike & Bike Trail.

Fort Wayne is situated at the confluence of three rivers – the St. Joseph River, St. Marys River, and Maumee River. This was a pretty municipal park along the St. Mary’s River Hike & Bike Trail.

There was a nice trail system along the rivers throughout Fort Wayne.

There was a nice trail system along the rivers throughout Fort Wayne.

This KOA had a dog park where Piper and Cessna got lots of play time.

This KOA had a dog park where Piper and Cessna got lots of play time.

Mike thought about getting a license for some dove hunting on public lands, but then his surgery got in the way. We spent one Saturday driving throughout the county looking at sunflower fields and doing recon. It was from this ridge looking out over a lake that the fall colors were so invigorating for the first time during our stay. After that day, it seemed like every tree simultaneously changed to a shade of orange, red, or yellow.

Mike thought about getting a license for some dove hunting on public lands, but then his surgery got in the way. We spent one Saturday driving throughout the county looking at sunflower fields and doing recon. It was from this ridge looking out over a lake that the fall colors were so invigorating for the first time during our stay. After that day, it seemed like every tree simultaneously changed to a shade of orange, red, or yellow.

The Wabash River ran through the little town of Bluffton, so we had a nice trail on which to walk the dogs.

The Wabash River ran through the little town of Bluffton, so we had a nice trail on which to walk the dogs.

Mike wanted to get the oil changed in the Monaco before winter. He picked a day when the weather forecast was good and scheduled an appointment at a Cummins shop in Fort Wayne. When the time came, he drove the coach into town while I waited back at our camp with Piper, Cessna and my Kindle.

Mike wanted to get the oil changed in the Monaco before winter. He picked a day when the weather forecast was good and scheduled an appointment at a Cummins shop in Fort Wayne. When the time came, he drove the coach into town while I waited back at our camp with Piper, Cessna and my Kindle.

By the time we were ready to go, the leaves on the trees had completed their metamorphosis, and were mostly gone from the trees.

By the time we were ready to go, the leaves on the trees had completed their metamorphosis, and were mostly gone from the trees.

Sunset through the trees

Sunset through the trees

You can see the patch of woods at the far end of the campground.

You can see the patch of woods at the far end of the campground.

We had the place to ourselves the whole time we were in Bluffton. The campground got a little busier on the weekends, but was never crowded.

We had the place to ourselves the whole time we were in Bluffton. The campground got a little busier on the weekends, but was never crowded.

When we arrived, everything was still green.

When we arrived, everything was still green.