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!

 

 

 

Planning and Deep Thoughts-Replacing What Was Lost

The warmer weather is starting to make me itchy to make plans for the upcoming summer.  There are so many things that I want to do. Last year, I didn’t get to travel anyplace spectacular.  Due to the merger that happened at work, we weren’t permitted to use our vacation time until this year. Also, I was dealing with Lyme Disease and probably wouldn’t have been able to do much if I had gone someplace.

I have two weeks of vacation time to burn before the end of the year! Also, I have been feeling a lot better physically over the past few weeks. I am hoping that this means things are looking up. Lyme sucks, I’ll post about that later.

I’ve had to replace some things over the past few years. One of these things being my camping tent. My ex took my tent. I don’t know why. He wasn’t outdoorsy and didn’t care about it when we were together. However, he felt that it was his.  Sadly, he probably ended up giving it to Goodwill.

While I was married, I didn’t get to do a lot of camping anyway. I went on day hikes and when I did travel to go hiking, I went alone and chose to get lodging vs backpacking and staying out on the trail someplace.

It has been a few years since my divorce and my son, Dom, is about to turn eleven. He likes to be outside and even enjoys hiking. He thinks he’s something special when he wears his Camelbak hydration pack. I have been thinking about taking him camping for quite awhile.

I started looking at different options online. It has been a really long time since I have looked at getting new gear or replacing certain things that I used to own. It turns out that the tent that I owned probably wasn’t so great after all and I could do better.

After about three weeks of researching and reading reviews, I decided to get a Kelty Trail Ridge 3 dome tent. Kelty is a good brand and this particular tent has really good reviews.  I’m anxiously awaiting for its arrival.

I hate that I do this but, sometimes making a purchase like this makes me think of where I have been or where I am going. Things have gotten a lot better since my divorce. It has been six years this past April 10, that it was final.  Coincidentally, this was the date that I finally ordered the new tent.

Little by little, life has come full circle. I just have to be patient for some things.

While I am waiting for our spiffy new tent to arrive, I have been researching sleeping bags.  I’ve also been going through boxes of things that have been moved probably 4 times in the past 6 years that haven’t been gone through in ages. I found my old griddle and other cookware.  It has been patiently waiting for me.

This is exciting. I’ve traveled all over the place but I haven’t been on a real camping trip in a long time. I am looking forward to it. I will probably take Dom for one or two days at a time to see how it goes. He takes after his mama so I am certain that he will love it.

 

 

 

 

 

Death And Friends- Hilli Has Flown Away

My intention was to write blog posts for each of my dogs. All three of them have a story. We all have stories, but I think that dogs that have come from the shelter situations and have passed through many hands, have greater ones to tell.

This past week I had written about my eldest dog, Hilli, in a post titled “Sweet Souls Of An Old Dog-Hilli”. Hilli was a senior Australian Cattle Dog that I had adopted this past October. Hilli had been dumped at a shelter in Oklahoma for being “too old”. I took her despite the issues that came with her and she proved to make up for all of that with love.

It is with regret that a week later, Hilli has passed away.

I was home for the day after spending my morning at the market and was in pretty high spirits because I had finally located some curtains with patterns that I could live with for the upper level windows of my house.  I was happily doing house work, including laundry.

Hilli liked to lay on her bed in the basement. Just adjacent to where she liked to take her naps is the laundry room. When you run the dryer, it gets comfortably warm and creates the ideal environment for napping. I think that’s why she liked to lay down there so much.

I was making my way down the steps to change the laundry out and as I came to the bottom of the stairs I noticed that Hilli didn’t look quite right and on closer inspection, I realized that she was gone. It had only been a matter of minutes since she had flown away.

I called my friend Diana, the friend I hike with a lot, and told her the news. Diana and her husband own a lot of property so I wanted to see if I could bury her there. I’ve also never had anyone pass away at home or in the middle of winter before, so that posed a problem.

We decided that the best thing to do was to place Hilli in the freezer until the ground thawed and we could give her a proper burial.  After some discussion and debating on whether or not we would get in trouble or if we cared that we would get in trouble, we decided that we were going to place her on the grounds in one of the parks where we liked to hike.

It might seem gross to some people to place her in a freezer for a couple of months but I think it’s the best thing to honor her life. She deserves it. She lived all of those years and in the end, was dumped by the people who were supposed to love her.

I don’t know that Hilli was ever mistreated. If she had been, she didn’t show it. Hilli was a very loving dog and never knew a stranger.  She was always very sweet and receptive to everyone that she met.

But.. In the end, she was dumped and left with an unknown future. Her former owner probably has no idea that a breed specific rescue had taken her out of the shelter and transported her to Illinois to be adopted out to someone in north central Indiana.

Whomever had her probably assumed that she was just put to sleep and never gave it a second thought. If they even cared enough to give it a second though. Probably not though. Any decent person with a conscience would never have left their senior partner behind like that.

The last five months of her life were spent hiking, napping, eating and playing with my ten year old son. I know that she really enjoyed the time that she spent out on the trail and even though she was older, she had no trouble keeping up.

It only makes sense to lay her to rest in one of the places that she came to know and really enjoyed spending time at. I think I have the perfect spot in mind. The hard part is going to be sneaking on to the property with a shovel. I’m sure it will be fine.

I have just a little anxiety over knowing that I have a frozen dog in my best friends freezer. It’s also kind of comical and it’s like Diana told me “Everyone needs a friend that will let you keep a body in their freezer,”

How true is that?

I enjoyed my time with sweet little Hilli. I wish I could have had more time with her. I just hope that her last few months on Earth were happy and comfortable and that she never felt any sadness and if she did, it was only for a moment.

She will be missed.

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Hilli getting a drink during one of our hikes