Camping On Friday the Thirteenth- Pokagon State Park

How did this girl celebrate Friday the 13th? I went camping in a fairly isolated section of the campground at Pokagon State Park. Pokagon State Park is located in north eastern Indiana and is approximately one hour from where I live.

The park was originally called Lake James State Park, but was changed to Pokagon State Park  to  honor the state and regions Native American heritage. Leopold and Simon Pokagon were father and son and the last two notable leaders of the Potawatomi.   Please click here to learn more about the Pokagon Band of the Potawatomi.

Also noteworthy, is that Pokagon State Park was home to the Civilian Conservation Corps , Troop #556,  from 1934-1942. The CCC was created as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “New Deal” to provide employment for unmarried boys and men 18-23 (later 17-28) as a relief effort during the Great Depression.

While the CCC camp is long gone, you can still see evidence of their work in the park through the stone and log structures and also in the pines and lilac trees that still thrive here.  While on one of my hike’s, I came across one of the old stone dams. You will see a photograph of the stone dam in my photo gallery.

I wanted to mention that the staff I talked to were so nice and really helpful. Since I hadn’t visited this park before, I had a lot of questions and everyone was happy to assist me.  They also have a really nice camp store with pretty much everything that you would ever need, including bundles of fire wood. Too bad I brought my own, there’s was cheaper.

I arrived in early afternoon on Friday the 13th. I reserved my campsite in campground #2 site 247. This site is in a small cul-de-sac and is fairly isolated from the rest of the campground. On this day, it was myself and one other camper who was a few sites over. Otherwise, there weren’t a lot of people around.  I was avoiding other people at all costs as I was having an “introverted episode”.

In all seriousness, I wanted to mention that there are no bad campsites in this campground. They are all great. They are incredibly spacious and there is enough room between you and your neighbor to allow you to have some privacy.  I was overjoyed.

The first adventure that I had was when I was setting up my tent, I set it up on a nest of what I am pretty sure were fleas. Tiny and jumpy. So, I shook off and moved a few feet. I set my tent up and sprayed it with Permethrin to keep the jumpies and the crawlies away.  I didn’t have an issue after that. I am pretty sure I was standing on a nest.

This was the first time I had set up my brand new tent. In another blog entry, I wrote about ordering a Kelty Trail Ridge 3 tent and that it was a replacement for another tent that I no longer owned. That entry was called Planning and Deep thoughts-Replacing What Was Lost.  This camping trip was its maiden voyage.  This tent is great. Kelty products are quality and I honestly can’t say enough that’s positive about this tent.

After I was fairly settled in, I decided to take a drive around and get to know the park. My goal was to spend all day Saturday hiking. Lu and I hopped back in the car and drove through all of the campgrounds, we found the Nature Center, the saddle barn and the giant Toboggan Slide that the park is known to have. We walked around and explored the beach and visited with the horses for a few minutes.

I was so over the moon happy.

As it got darker I returned to my campsite and started a fire. I spent the next few hours sitting in front of the fire. I roasted some hot dogs for Lu and I to enjoy for dinner. I had my iPad with me so I could do some fireside reading. I also enjoyed some music.  Most of all, I just took a breath and relaxed.

As I was sitting enjoying the campsite, I was visited by a raccoon who was watching me through the trees. Later I learned my lesson of not having Lu tethered or leashed. After several warnings because I noticed her watching the woods where the raccoon had been, Lu saw her opportunity to go after the raccoon.

There was a short fight before I got her to come back and somehow, Lu didn’t have a scratch on her. A review of the area where the tussle occurred didn’t show any evidence of the raccoon being hurt either.  Huge miracle because based on the all the noise, I was expecting to take Lu to the emergency vet. 

Follow the rules and keep your dogs on a leash!

I decided to turn in around 11pm. It was starting to sprinkle a bit. I knew that there was rain in the forecast and pretty much didn’t care. I drifted off to sleep while listening to the rain fall outside of my tent. It was amazing.

The temperature dropped about 30 degrees over night. I experienced heavy rain and high winds for awhile. My tent held up like a champ. No leaks.  Bone dry and between Lu and my own body heat and my sleeping bag, we were warm and comfortable. Even though it was cold, it was still wonderful.

We got up, I started another fire and made some breakfast. I enjoyed scrambled eggs and some sausage. I boiled water for coffee and even made some fried apples. It was just wonderful.  Of course I shared some sausage with Lu.  We sat around for awhile and then headed out to hike for the day.

I drove to the parking lot of the Potawatomi Inn, which is located inside of the park, and left my car there for the day. Armed with water and snacks, we headed out to find trail 3. Our destination was Hell’s Point, which is the highest point in Steuben County.

It didn’t take long to reach Hell’s Point.  I have never understood why people give such horrible names to beautiful places. The only thing hellish about Hell’s Point was the climb up the stairs to get there. Or down the stairs, depending on how you come in on trail 3 to get there. It’s just an overlook.

We met two other women at Hell’s Point and had a really nice conversation about my hydration pack. One of the women explained that they both were going to “backpacking boot camp” in Vermont in June. They were looking to buy some gear. I did my civic duty and directed them to REI to look at gear and explained the benefits of being a member.

I also educated them about Lyme Disease and asked them to be vigilant about checking for ticks and suggested that they treat their clothes with Permethrin. They both took notes and one of them was Googling REI and Permethrin. I thought that was great.

Lu and I hiked along trail 3, 9 and then 7. Trail 9 was a lot of fun and loops around the Potawatomi Nature Preserve. The springtime wildflowers were in bloom and the Dogwood’s were all blooming. It was really beautiful.

I got pelted with frozen rain quite a few times. I dressed for the weather, thankfully I had brought a hat, gloves and my wool head scarf that I always just wear around my neck. I love that thing. I decided that it was better to be pelted with frozen rain than unfrozen rain. Ha!

On my way back, I inadvertently took the wrong trail and ended up doing parts of trail 3 twice. After reviewing my map, I finally found my way and started heading out of the woods. I stopped and took a break on a bench that was along the trail. I was taunted by a sign that pointed to trail #7 that was right in front of me.

After a minute or two of debating with myself, I looked at the map to see how long the trail was. It was an easy mile and a half, so I decided to go ahead and go. I was glad that I did.  Trail #7 is also known as Bluebird Hills. Between the Dogwoods in full bloom, the open meadow and the wetland, it was a breath taking sight from on top of the hill. It was like stepping into a painting.

Beautiful.

I completed the trail and headed back to my car. Lu looked wiped out. I was mostly hungry and cold. Yet, really okay with that. We drove back to our campsite to relax for a little while. It was almost 6pm.

I consulted my weather app and saw that the temps were going to continue to drop that night and it was going to rain again. I had to be up very early in the morning so I made the decision to just go ahead and pack up and go home.

Ugh. I didn’t want to leave.

I packed up and pointed my car to the west and went home. Relaxed and pretty happy.  The only thing worse than having to go home after camping out is having to put everything away when you get home.

It was the perfect weekend. I can’t wait to do it again.

Below are some photo’s I took over the weekend. I hope that you will check them out!

 

 

 

Chicago Police Memorial Foundation Run To Remember 2016

On the morning of April 30, 2016,  I traveled to the city of Chicago to participate in the 12th annual Chicago Police Memorial Foundation Run To Remember 5K & walk. This was my fourth year participating in the event.

The Chicago Police Memorial Foundation provides assistance to the families of police officers that have been killed in the line of duty and also for the officers who have been catastrophically injured in the line of duty.  They have also assisted in the purchase of ballistic vests for officers and aid the families of officers with seriously ill children.  They have been able to offer over 7.4 million dollars in assistance.  I am delighted to be a part of this every year.

You can learn more about that here.

The event starts at the Gold Families Memorial Park that is located next to Soldier Field. Soldier Field is home to the Chicago Bears. The event goes from the park along Lakeshore Dr. and then circles around along the shore of Lake Michigan. You pass by the Shedd Aquarium and also the Field Museum of Natural History.  During the last stretch of the race you pass by photographs of some of the fallen officers. It gives me goose bumps every single time. I am honored to be a part of this.

The race ends near the memorial wall in the Gold Star Families Memorial and Park.  Participants gather for a few hours to enjoy new friendships and refreshments at the after party. It’s a lot of fun and such a worth cause.

The goal for this year was $175,000 with $190,834.92 raised!!

The Annual Run to Remember is a 5K USATF certified chip-timed 5K Run combined with a noncompetitive 5K walk sponsored by the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation. The event also features a junior jog, and a family friendly after party with children’s activities. You can participate as a team or as an individual.

You can find out more on the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation’s website http://www.cpdmemorial.org/

The event next year is on May 6, 2017.  Save the date!

 

My Personal Shenanigans

I realized a long time ago how utterly ridiculous I can be with myself. While it’s true what they say about people being their own worst enemy, no matter how many times I’ve gone up against myself, I’ve learned nothing.

What’s bugging me the most about my own quirkiness is how I  know that I don’t have enough time to get my own business handled and I don’t have the time to be doing extra things for other people.  I also don’t have the cash to go along with it. Not saying no or my willingness to volunteer for things also sets me up for people to expect me to do things.

I have two examples of how I have let myself down as far as personal space and setting boundaries.  Take a moment to stretch your eyes for the rolling that they’re about to do.  These are perfect examples of how I have no one to blame but myself for being so far behind.

For the past four years, I have participated in the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation’s Run To Remember 5k.  This is a charity event that benefits not only the families of fallen Chicago Police Officers, but also those who have been catastrophically injured in the line of duty.

This is a great cause and I am delighted that I discovered this and that I live close enough to participate.  Interested?  You can check out the foundation at http://www.cpdmemorial.org/ for more information.

In the past, a friend and I have traveled up to Chicago to pick up our race packets (event t-shirt and bib with your number on it) together. We both live outside of the city so it’s just easier to car pool and we’ve picked up other participants race packets for them.  Knowing this was going to be a huge feat for me to accomplish, I volunteered to pick up people’s stuff for them again after I encouraged people to sign up for the event.

I had to go it alone this year because my friend had to work. I  also had to jump through hoops to make this happen. I ended up getting temporarily mandated to work on Friday morning when I was originally planning to go. I had to do a time exchange with a co worker for two hours. I came in early for her, on my day off, and she stayed late for me on Thursday. Then I didn’t have to work early on Friday. Go figure.

I needed that extra two hours. I got up to Chicago and my GPS decided that it wasn’t going to work. I tried two different apps on my iPhone and nothing. I determined that there was so much construction going on that it was confused and honestly didn’t know where to send me.

I was running out of time to be handling this. It was noon. I had to be to work by 4pm and I had a 2.5 hour drive back home. I was starting to get worried on top of my annoyance. I seriously didn’t have time to figure it out. The frustrating part was knowing that I was close to where I needed to be.

After an hour of putting forth an honest effort I decided to park in the garage at Navy Pier and take a cab to the training academy, where people were gathering to pick up their stuff. I figured if anyone could get me there it was a city of Chicago cab driver.

I hailed a cab and about fifteen minutes later I was on Jackson Blvd to get our stuff and back in the cab to take me back to Navy Pier to get my car and head back out of the city to go home. I was furious with myself for not being well prepared. Normally, I print out my directions and have an atlas in my car.

This adventure cost me approximately $60 between the cab and the parking garage. This doesn’t include the cost of gas to drive up there and back. I had to rearrange my time significantly and it stressed me the heck out. By the time I dropped off race packets I was ready to murder somebody and I was hungry. I made it back to town with about twenty minutes to spare.

Of course I never expected anyone to say thanks for even offer me gas money. At least I got it handled even if it cost me time and money and was probably the closest I’ve come to having a stroke recently.

My next example of foolishness occurred today.

A co-worker has for me to do a time exchange for them today for four hours. I work for them tomorrow. I got off at 6pm. Guess what I did? I volunteered to go to this same co-workers house to mow their lawn for them because their own mower is broken and the grass was so tall that they were in danger of being ticketed by the city.

I really need to know my own yard. I have to work long shifts the next two days and it’s supposed to rain. I would have preferred to  have gone to the gym and then picked up my son early and spent some time at home. I love being home in the evening. Nope. Not this lady. I went home and loaded up my mower so I could drive clear across town to mow down the jungle.

I also refused to accept payment for my services. Or accept money for gas.

I’m always happy to help and she really needed the help. However, I could have done this another time when it wasn’t interfering with the things that needed attention.  I also should have accepted the money she tried to give me.

Seriously, I could’ve put it towards that Thursday morning Chicago debacle.

 

Motivational Posters: Keeping Your Sense Of Humor

Somehow, while gripping on to my sanity, I have also managed to keep my sense of humor. I think that is one of the most important things to be able to do in life. I admit, I can be fairly twisted too. I think a lot of inappropriate things are funny. It comes with my territory.  I have to laugh or I will cry.

Due to staffing issues, we have been forced to work a lot of overtime. How much? Just a hair under being an obscene amount of overtime. Enough that I am behind in laundry, my dogs are mad at me and I stopped shaving my legs every day.

We are a tired and weary group of people.  A friend and I do our best through out our shifts to text funny pictures or what not back and forth.  Anything that we can do to distract us from our current state of being held hostage by work. Yay work!

*disclaimer*  I am not complaining. I am tired though.

I received a new “free app of the week” notification for an app called “ReType” that allows you to add text and edit photographs. They also provide several free stock photo’s for you to play with. It has everything from landscapes, the sky and even objects.

I took a short break and while I did so, I played with ReType app little bit and the urge to be silly swept over me. It could have been the lack or sleep or that I have been cooped up for too long making me so loopy.

While perusing the app, I came across a picture of a  kitten struggling to hang onto a rope, the first thought that came to mind was “Hang in there you little asshole,” I know right, perfectly reasonable response to something so adorable.

Then one thing led to another and then following was born:

image

I texted the image to a few friends who thought it was a riot.  Then that led to a post on Facebook which led to people somehow thinking that the image was my own intellectual property ( it isn’t entirely ) and begged for permission to use it.

Then of course, I had to make prints of it. Admit it, it’s funny and you want to hang it above your desk at work, home office or locker.  They actually turned out really nice. I used the Walgreen’s photo app on my phone and use the versions that I had saved to Instagram.  They’re 3×5 and full of awesome.

 

image

Oh yes, there’s more!

My inner adolescent is pleased.

Apparently others were satisfied also because several people asked me to make them a copy  so that they could have one.  I personally have the kitten hanging in my locker at work.

Personally, I adore this one although many people hate the C-word.

image

Seriously.. Just don’t.

 

image

 

 

And lastly, since I don’t want to clog up your data plan..

Often times when you’re overwhelmed at life and feeling totally bogged down, it’s hard to not feel like you’re wasting your life or even that the good days have passed you by..

So, with that said.  Remember, your dreams have died, just like the star you wished upon.

 

They're gone man..

They’re gone man..

 

I am easily amused sometimes. Albeit childish to use profanity or even laugh at this stuff,  we still  laughed and that’s what is important. For a lot of us, life is rough. We’re tired, we’re weary and we just want to make it to days off.  And payday.

 

I hope that everyone has a great Monday and an even better week!!

 

 

Operation Hilli Dig: A Funeral For A Friend

Hilli has been laid to rest.

This past February, I wrote two stories about my red Australian Cattle Dog, Hilli. I wanted to share the stories about my girls, where they came from etc. The first story I wrote about Hilli was about her adoption and adopting a senior dog.  You can read about that story here at Sweet Souls Of An Old Dog: Hilli.

Sadly, the second one that I wrote was only a week later and it was about her death. You can read about that here at Death and Friends; Hilli Has Flown Away.  Hilli had lived with me since October of the previous year. She was a sweet old girl.

If you’ve been following along, you know that I live in the midwest and it gets really cold here in the winter. Even though our winter was fairly mild this year., the ground was frozen in February. This posed a problem with her burial as I do not own large equipment that could dig a hole for me.

With the assistance of my friend, Diana, I was able to place Hilli’s body in a freezer until the ground thawed enough where we could use shovels to dig her grave site. I already knew where I wanted to bury her as far as location, but I still needed to find a spot for her grave.

Diana and I discussed the location and options in addition to how exactly we were planning to smuggle two shovels and a frozen dog into the undisclosed location to bury her.  It ended up not being as hard or awkward as I thought. Illegal? Maybe. I decided to just do it and not ask for permission. If I got caught I would apologize and ask for forgiveness.

After a lot of thought and even mentioning it to a couple of people, I determined the risk of being discovered by the police etc really wasn’t that scary and after I explained the story of Hilli, I would probably be met with understanding or at least a blind eye.

Move along, nothing to see here.

I also have the benefit of being known. It’s good to have connections, right? Amiright?  I don’t suggest smuggling your pets onto government owned property to perform a burial of your beloved canine. However, I would totally root for you.

As fate would have it, Diana had a large backpack that Hilli’s body easily fit into.  We decided to drop off our shovels and the backpack containing Hilli’s body near one of the back entrances to the undisclosed location. There’s a gate here but the fence has also fallen down and you could easily step over it. We hid the backpack and the shovels and then drove around the property to the entrance of the undisclosed location.

We hiked about a mile and a half until we selected the perfect spot. The location is up on a hill, just adjacent to the trail. It is between a ring of tall Oak trees and overlooks a wet land area that has a small creek flowing away from it.

We buried Hilli in the center of the ring of trees. In the spring, she will be covered in trillium’s. It was so peaceful.  It wasn’t weird or gross. She was perfectly preserved and looked like she had simply curled up and fell asleep. She was wrapped in her blanket and placed into the grave. We used the rocks that we dug up as a headstone.

13012797_10208509138193685_1162750747796460330_n

In our usual fashion,  we laughed at the situation. I think Hilli would have wanted that. Hilli tagged along on our winter hikes and she loved the property where we roamed. She would most definitely found the humor in the situation that presented itelself. I also believe that she appreciates what was done for her in the end.  At one point while we were still digging her grave, there was a cow in the distance that had the most eerie and demonic sounding moo, I’ve ever heard.  It was obvious that no one could see us from the road, but we couldn’t help but call out CAR!

We look so normal.

It’s stuff like this that makes me think about friends, life and things that are important. I’m lucky to have been able to have Hilli, even though she was only with me for a short time, but also that I have Diana and that she was more than willing to help me.

Below in the gallery are some shots of the undisclosed location.

 

I