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.

 

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